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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

1. 28. Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, 2. Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar, 3 [Vol. 1, 405]

[3-4] bǫr fangs dolga ‘tree of the tunic of strife [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIOR]’: (a) Bǫr(r) (lit. ‘conifer’) is the base-word of this man-kenning, and dolga is gen. pl. of dolg n. ‘strife, enmity, combat’ (see HHund I 20/3, for the pl. meaning ‘battle, strife’). Gen. pl. of dolgr m. ‘enemy’ is also grammatically possible, but very unlikely since dolgr in kennings is usually the base-word. Fang, usually ‘grasp, hold’, here refers to a garment (Meissner 165; AEW: fang 2). (b) Gram ‘lord’, the alternative to bǫr, found in a single ÓTOdd ms. as well as most Hkr mss and all ÓT mss, would yield dáðǫflgan gram ‘deed-mighty lord’ and drengi fangs dolga. The latter phrase is explained by Kock (NN §2448) as ‘warriors of enemies’ tussle [BATTLE > WARRIORS]’, where dolga is gen. pl. of dolgr m. ‘enemy’ and fang is ‘tussle, grappling, wrestling’, but his battle-kenning lacks solid parallels (the C14th fundr dolga ‘meeting of enemies’, Anon (FoGT) 18/4III, does not function as a kenning in its context) and drengr ‘warrior’ is unsatisfactory as a base-word of a warrior-kenning, as it is identical to the referent (Meissner 28-9). (c) The latter objection also applies to drengi fangs dolga ‘men of the tunic of strife [MAIL-SHIRT > WARRIORS]’, tentatively suggested in Hkr 1991. Gram is probably a corruption, inserted by a scribe who did not understand the kenning as it stood (ÍF 25; see also ÍF 26).

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