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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, 20 [Vol. 1, 429]

[1-4]: The helmingr is syntactically difficult and the unanimously attested samr resists explanation. As none of the proposed interpretations is satisfactory and no alternative ms. readings for samr exist, it has been obelised in the Text. Most previous eds emend samr: (a) to sumr ‘some (envoy …)’ (Jón Þorkelsson 1884, 63); (b) to ‘that (envoy …)’ (Hkr 1893-1901; Skj B), though it is unclear to whom this would refer; (c) or most audaciously to the rare adj. svífr ‘unreliable’ (Skald; NN §2757), giving svífr vas ôrr ‘the envoy was unreliable’. Other scholars avoid emendation by ingenious interpretations of samr. (d) ÍF 26 construes samr as an attributive adj., ‘seemly, worthy’ from sama ‘to suit, befit’, qualifying ôrr oddbraks ‘the envoy of the point-clash [BATTLE > WARRIOR]’, and similarly ÍF 29, Hkr 1991, with variants on ‑braks. But such an adj. is not well attested in verse or prose; the single, later skaldic parallel is breks ósamr ‘disinclined to treachery’ GunnLeif Merl I 2/7VIII. (e) Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 3) suggests samr meaning ‘constant’, hence hinn ... var um æfi samr oddflagðs árr ‘that one ... was [his] whole life an envoy of the point-trollwife [AXE > WARRIOR] devoted (to Óláfr)’. (f) Kock, as an alternative to his construal in Skald, also proposes a tmesis, óðbragðssamr vas ôrr ‘the envoy was very deceitful’ (NN §512).


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