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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Hfr ErfÓl 8I

Kate Heslop (ed.) 2012, ‘Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld Óttarsson, Erfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar 8’ in Diana Whaley (ed.), Poetry from the Kings’ Sagas 1: From Mythical Times to c. 1035. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 1. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 413.

Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld ÓttarssonErfidrápa Óláfs Tryggvasonar
789

Upp ‘’

upp (adv.): up

notes

[1] sǫgðu upp lǫg ‘proclaimed the laws’: The usual phrase in the sagas for the formal recitation of the laws at the Alþingi (Íslendingabók, ÍF 1, 16). The personification of weapons (here, axes proclaiming the law) is rare, though cf. ÞGísl Búdr 6/3, 11/4, and Note to Hókr Eirfl 4/6.

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sǫgðu ‘proclaimed’

segja (verb): say, tell

notes

[1] sǫgðu upp lǫg ‘proclaimed the laws’: The usual phrase in the sagas for the formal recitation of the laws at the Alþingi (Íslendingabók, ÍF 1, 16). The personification of weapons (here, axes proclaiming the law) is rare, though cf. ÞGísl Búdr 6/3, 11/4, and Note to Hókr Eirfl 4/6.

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lǫg ‘the laws’

lag (noun n.; °-s; *-): layer; (pl.) law

notes

[1] sǫgðu upp lǫg ‘proclaimed the laws’: The usual phrase in the sagas for the formal recitation of the laws at the Alþingi (Íslendingabók, ÍF 1, 16). The personification of weapons (here, axes proclaiming the law) is rare, though cf. ÞGísl Búdr 6/3, 11/4, and Note to Hókr Eirfl 4/6.

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lǫgðar ‘’

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lægiss ‘’

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lǫgþiss ‘’

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lagðisk ‘laid aside’

leggja (verb): put, lay

[1] lagðisk: ‘lo᷎gþiss’ 54, ‘lęgiss’ Bb, ‘lo᷎gdar’ Flat

notes

[1] lagðisk ‘was laid aside’: This emendation seems to have been first proposed by Sveinbjörn Egilsson (SHI 2). ‘Lo᷎gþiss’ (so 54) and ‘lo᷎gdar’ (so Flat) may be inflected forms of lǫgðir ‘stabber’ here, while Bb has ‘lęgiss’, gen. sg. of lœgir m. ‘sea’. However, neither gives sense with líf skjótt firum ‘life quickly for men’. The rare use of leggjask in the sense ‘to cease, lay aside’ may have confused scribes and led to corruption.

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firum ‘for men.’

firar (noun m.): men

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hlífa ‘of shields’

hlíf (noun f.; °-ar; -ar): shield, defence

kennings

Gǫlkn hlífa
‘Monsters of shields ’
   = AXES

Monsters of shields → AXES
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gnóg ‘enough’

gnóg (adv.): [enough]

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feigðar ‘the doom’

feigð (noun f.): death

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gǫlkn ‘Monsters’

galkn (noun n.): [monsters]

kennings

Gǫlkn hlífa
‘Monsters of shields ’
   = AXES

Monsters of shields → AXES

notes

[4] gǫlkn ‘monsters’: The kinship of this word with base-words of axe-kennings such as flagð ‘troll-woman’ and gýgr ‘giantess’ suggests an axe-kenning (and so Meissner 148) rather than a sword-kenning, as implied by the prose context. The two other skaldic instances of galkn, in Hókr Eirfl 7/4 and Anon (Gunnl) 2/4V (Gunnl 2), also combine it with words for ‘shield’. The exact meaning and etymology of galkn are uncertain (ÍO, AEW: galkn).

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við ‘at’

2. við (prep.): with, against

notes

[4] við bǫlku randar ‘at the walls of the rim [SHIELDS]’: (a) Bǫlkr here seems most likely to function as the base-word of a shield-kenning (Reichardt 1928, 57-8), perhaps specifically one denoting the shield-wall (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 3 ‘wall of people’; and cf. hnitvegg ‘clash-wall’ [SHIELD], st. 7/6). (b) Both Finnur Jónsson (in LP: 1. bǫlkr 2) and Kock (NN §475) suggest randar bǫlku means ‘shield section [of the laws]’, cf. erfðabǫlkr ‘inheritance section’. Kock takes this with the main clause, which thus becomes an extended metaphor: ‘axes’ law’, proclaimed við randar bǫlku ‘in accordance with the “shield section”’, results in imminent death (for the shield-bearers, presumably). While undeniably attractive, and supported e.g. by Ohlmarks (1958, 447), this interpretation is rather tenuous. Við bǫlku ‘in accordance with the [law-]section’ is otherwise unknown (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 4). (c) In Skj B Finnur Jónsson construes bǫlkr randar as a battle-kenning (most likely ‘storm of the (shield)-rim’, cf. LP: 2. bǫlkr ‘storm’), and takes við randar bǫlku with the intercalary clause, which produces ‘life soon ended for men in the battle’.

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randar ‘of the rim’

rǫnd (noun f.; °dat. -/-u; rendr/randir): shield, shield-rim

kennings

bǫlku randar;
‘the walls of the rim; ’
   = SHIELDS

the walls of the rim; → SHIELDS

notes

[4] við bǫlku randar ‘at the walls of the rim [SHIELDS]’: (a) Bǫlkr here seems most likely to function as the base-word of a shield-kenning (Reichardt 1928, 57-8), perhaps specifically one denoting the shield-wall (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 3 ‘wall of people’; and cf. hnitvegg ‘clash-wall’ [SHIELD], st. 7/6). (b) Both Finnur Jónsson (in LP: 1. bǫlkr 2) and Kock (NN §475) suggest randar bǫlku means ‘shield section [of the laws]’, cf. erfðabǫlkr ‘inheritance section’. Kock takes this with the main clause, which thus becomes an extended metaphor: ‘axes’ law’, proclaimed við randar bǫlku ‘in accordance with the “shield section”’, results in imminent death (for the shield-bearers, presumably). While undeniably attractive, and supported e.g. by Ohlmarks (1958, 447), this interpretation is rather tenuous. Við bǫlku ‘in accordance with the [law-]section’ is otherwise unknown (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 4). (c) In Skj B Finnur Jónsson construes bǫlkr randar as a battle-kenning (most likely ‘storm of the (shield)-rim’, cf. LP: 2. bǫlkr ‘storm’), and takes við randar bǫlku with the intercalary clause, which produces ‘life soon ended for men in the battle’.

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bǫlku ‘the walls’

bǫlkr (noun m.; °dat. belki; acc. bǫlku/bǫlka): section, room, wall

kennings

bǫlku randar;
‘the walls of the rim; ’
   = SHIELDS

the walls of the rim; → SHIELDS

notes

[4] við bǫlku randar ‘at the walls of the rim [SHIELDS]’: (a) Bǫlkr here seems most likely to function as the base-word of a shield-kenning (Reichardt 1928, 57-8), perhaps specifically one denoting the shield-wall (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 3 ‘wall of people’; and cf. hnitvegg ‘clash-wall’ [SHIELD], st. 7/6). (b) Both Finnur Jónsson (in LP: 1. bǫlkr 2) and Kock (NN §475) suggest randar bǫlku means ‘shield section [of the laws]’, cf. erfðabǫlkr ‘inheritance section’. Kock takes this with the main clause, which thus becomes an extended metaphor: ‘axes’ law’, proclaimed við randar bǫlku ‘in accordance with the “shield section”’, results in imminent death (for the shield-bearers, presumably). While undeniably attractive, and supported e.g. by Ohlmarks (1958, 447), this interpretation is rather tenuous. Við bǫlku ‘in accordance with the [law-]section’ is otherwise unknown (ONP: bǫlkr, balkr 4). (c) In Skj B Finnur Jónsson construes bǫlkr randar as a battle-kenning (most likely ‘storm of the (shield)-rim’, cf. LP: 2. bǫlkr ‘storm’), and takes við randar bǫlku with the intercalary clause, which produces ‘life soon ended for men in the battle’.

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Óláfr’s Norwegians hold the Swedes’ ships with grappling hooks as they had the Danes’, and overrun them: Saugdu suerd þeirra eín log aullum Suium þeim er þeir komu hoggum vid ‘Their [the Norwegians’] swords spoke one law to all the Swedes they landed blows on’.

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