Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Þhorn Harkv 6I

[4] leik Freys ‘the sport of Freyr <god> [BATTLE]’: Snorri apparently understood the kenning to mean ‘battle’, given that he cites the stanza in evidence of Haraldr’s war-making over the winter. Since Freyr is not generally known as a god of war but rather of fertility, it has been suggested (by Ólafur Briem: see ÍF 26, 112) that this may instead refer to some fertility rite associated with Yule. Yet leikr is not otherwise known to have the meaning ‘sacrifice, offering’ that its cognate OE lāc may have. Toasts were, however, drunk to Óðinn, Njǫrðr and Freyr at Yule, as observed in Hkr (ÍF 26, 168). Hkr 1991 suggests as an alternative that ‘Freyr’s sport’ is love, but this would seem to contradict the point of the stanza, which is that Haraldr has never cared for ease and pleasure.


  1. Bibliography
  2. ÍF 26-8 = Heimskringla. Ed. Bjarni Aðalbjarnarson. 1941-51.
  3. Hkr 1991 = Bergljót S. Kristjánsdóttir et al., eds. 1991. Heimskringla. 3 vols. Reykjavík: Mál og menning.
  4. Internal references
  5. Kari Ellen Gade 2009, ‘Heimskringla (Hkr)’ in Kari Ellen Gade (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 2: From c. 1035 to c. 1300. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 2. Turnhout: Brepols [check printed volume for citation].


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