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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

7. Anonymous Poems, Máríudrápa, 3 [Vol. 7, 480-1]

[4] stjarna sjóvar ‘star of the sea’: That is, stella maris ‘star of the sea’, a common Lat. epithet for Mary, which was popularised in the Christian West in the antiphon Ave maris stella for the Feast of the Assumption and became a commonplace in Marian poetry, though it was the result of a serendipitous scribal error. It originates in Jerome’s Liber Interpretationis Hebraicorum Nominum (or Onomasticon), an etymological dictionary of biblical names (Antin 1959). Jerome glosses Miriam, one of several Hebrew renditions of the Virgin’s name, more or less correctly as stilla maris ‘a drop of the ocean’ (cf. Antin 1959, 137). An early copyist mistook the i in stilla for an e, and the image of the ‘star of the sea’ was born (Warner 2000, 262-3). On the relationship between the Antiphon Ave maris stella and Mdr, see Notes to sts 30-6 below.

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