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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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ESk Geisl 47VII

Martin Chase (ed.) 2007, ‘Einarr Skúlason, Geisli 47’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 45-6.

Einarr SkúlasonGeisli
464748

Gyrðisk ‘girded himself’

gyrða (verb): gird

[1] Gyrðisk: so Bb, Gerðisk Flat

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hála ‘with the well’

hála (adv.): vastly

kennings

hála herðum naðri véttrima*
‘with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings ’
   = SWORD

with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings → SWORD
Close

herðum ‘hardened’

2. herða (verb): strengthen

kennings

hála herðum naðri véttrima*
‘with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings ’
   = SWORD

with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings → SWORD
Close

heldr ‘rather’

heldr (adv.): rather

Close

náliga ‘’

náliga (adv.)

Close

síðarla ‘late’

síðarla (adv.): [late, tardily]

[2] síðarla (‘sidallá’): ‘naliga’ Bb

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á ‘in’

3. á (prep.): on, at

[2] á: at Bb

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kveldi ‘the evening’

kveld (noun n.; °-s): evening

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glaum ‘noise’

glaumr (noun m.): noise < glaumkennandi (noun m.)

kennings

Glaðr glaumkennandi gunnar
‘The happy noise-tester of battle ’
   = WARRIOR

The happy noise-tester of battle → WARRIOR
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kennandi ‘tester’

kennandi (noun m.; °-a; kennendr): bringer, conveyor, tester < glaumkennandi (noun m.)

[3] ‑kennandi: vekjandr Bb

kennings

Glaðr glaumkennandi gunnar
‘The happy noise-tester of battle ’
   = WARRIOR

The happy noise-tester of battle → WARRIOR
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gunnar ‘of battle’

gunnr (noun f.): battle

[3] gunnar: ‘grimo’ Bb

kennings

Glaðr glaumkennandi gunnar
‘The happy noise-tester of battle ’
   = WARRIOR

The happy noise-tester of battle → WARRIOR
Close

glaðr ‘The happy’

2. glaðr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): cheerful, glad

kennings

Glaðr glaumkennandi gunnar
‘The happy noise-tester of battle ’
   = WARRIOR

The happy noise-tester of battle → WARRIOR
Close

vétt ‘of sword’

vétt (noun n.): sword < vættrim (noun f.): sword-ring

[4] véttrima*: ‘vetþryma’ Flat, vettrimar Bb

kennings

hála herðum naðri véttrima*
‘with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings ’
   = SWORD

with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings → SWORD

notes

[4] naðri véttrima* ‘snake of sword-rings’: The meaning of véttrim is obscure, but it is usually understood to refer to a metal ring either between the sword guard and the sword handle or between the pommel and the sword handle; see LP: véttrim; LT, 290. For possible etymologies see Sijmons and Gering 1903-31, III.2, 210. Naðr véttrima is clearly a kenning for ‘sword’, and Einarr’s choice of naðr ‘snake’ as the base-word may evoke the image of the sword creeping away from the man like a serpent. The emendation adopted here requires véttrima to be gen. pl., while Bb’s reading, adopted by both Skj and Skald, makes it sg.

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véttrimar ‘of sword-ring’

vættrim (noun f.): sword-ring

Close

rima* ‘rings’

rim (noun f.; °; -ar): [rings] < vættrim (noun f.): sword-ring

[4] véttrima*: ‘vetþryma’ Flat, vettrimar Bb

kennings

hála herðum naðri véttrima*
‘with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings ’
   = SWORD

with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings → SWORD

notes

[4] naðri véttrima* ‘snake of sword-rings’: The meaning of véttrim is obscure, but it is usually understood to refer to a metal ring either between the sword guard and the sword handle or between the pommel and the sword handle; see LP: véttrim; LT, 290. For possible etymologies see Sijmons and Gering 1903-31, III.2, 210. Naðr véttrima is clearly a kenning for ‘sword’, and Einarr’s choice of naðr ‘snake’ as the base-word may evoke the image of the sword creeping away from the man like a serpent. The emendation adopted here requires véttrima to be gen. pl., while Bb’s reading, adopted by both Skj and Skald, makes it sg.

Close

naðri ‘snake’

naðr (noun m.): snake

kennings

hála herðum naðri véttrima*
‘with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings ’
   = SWORD

with the well-hardened snake of sword-rings → SWORD

notes

[4] naðri véttrima* ‘snake of sword-rings’: The meaning of véttrim is obscure, but it is usually understood to refer to a metal ring either between the sword guard and the sword handle or between the pommel and the sword handle; see LP: véttrim; LT, 290. For possible etymologies see Sijmons and Gering 1903-31, III.2, 210. Naðr véttrima is clearly a kenning for ‘sword’, and Einarr’s choice of naðr ‘snake’ as the base-word may evoke the image of the sword creeping away from the man like a serpent. The emendation adopted here requires véttrima to be gen. pl., while Bb’s reading, adopted by both Skj and Skald, makes it sg.

Close

réð ‘decided’

ráða (verb): advise, rule, interpret, decide

[5] réð: nam Bb

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rofnaðisk ‘was waning’

rofna (verb): broken

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ítrs ‘of the splendid’

ítr (adj.): glorious

kennings

ítrs landreka
‘of the splendid land-ruler ’
   = Byzantine emperor

the splendid land-ruler → Byzantine emperor
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land ‘land’

land (noun n.; °-s; *-): land < landreki (noun m.): land-ruler

kennings

ítrs landreka
‘of the splendid land-ruler ’
   = Byzantine emperor

the splendid land-ruler → Byzantine emperor

notes

[7] landreka ‘[of the] land-ruler’: According to Snorri Sturluson (Hkr, ÍF 28, 370), this man was the Byzantine emperor Kirjalax, who was identified by Metcalfe (1881, 76 n. 6) as Alexios I Komnenos, who reigned 1081-1118. More recently, however, Benedikz (1978, 122) has proposed an identity with Alexios’s son John II Komnenos.

Close

reka ‘ruler’

reki (noun m.; °-a; -ar): ruler < landreki (noun m.): land-ruler

kennings

ítrs landreka
‘of the splendid land-ruler ’
   = Byzantine emperor

the splendid land-ruler → Byzantine emperor

notes

[7] landreka ‘[of the] land-ruler’: According to Snorri Sturluson (Hkr, ÍF 28, 370), this man was the Byzantine emperor Kirjalax, who was identified by Metcalfe (1881, 76 n. 6) as Alexios I Komnenos, who reigned 1081-1118. More recently, however, Benedikz (1978, 122) has proposed an identity with Alexios’s son John II Komnenos.

Close

undir ‘under’

undir (prep.): under

Close

ógn ‘battle’

ógn (noun f.; °-ar; -ir): terror, battle < ógnfimr (adj.)

[8] ógn‑: so Bb, orm‑ Flat

notes

[8] ógnfimr ‘battle-deft’: The reading of Bb. Flat’s ormfimr can only make sense in context if orm- ‘snake-’ is construed as meaning ‘sword’, in connection with sword-kennings with ormr as the base-word. See Chase 2005, 155 n.

Close

fimr ‘deft’

fimr (adj.; °compar. -ari, superl. -astr): agile, deft < ógnfimr (adj.)

notes

[8] ógnfimr ‘battle-deft’: The reading of Bb. Flat’s ormfimr can only make sense in context if orm- ‘snake-’ is construed as meaning ‘sword’, in connection with sword-kennings with ormr as the base-word. See Chase 2005, 155 n.

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Interactive view: tap on words in the text for notes and glosses

Sts 47-50 conclude the narrative of Óláfr’s sword, Hneitir. A soldier in the army of the Greeks (44/7, 8) had the sword under his head one night, as he slept in the open air. When he woke, he found that the sword had moved and was lying on the ground some distance from him (st. 48). This miraculous happening took place on three successive nights (st. 49) and came to the attention of the Byzantine emperor, who bought it from the soldier and had it mounted over the altar of a church (st. 50).

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