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Eddic, Skaldic, and BeyondPoetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway$
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Martin Chase

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257812

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257812.001.0001

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Rattus rattus as a Beast of Battle? Stanza 12 of Ragnars Saga

Rattus rattus as a Beast of Battle? Stanza 12 of Ragnars Saga

(p.102) Rattus rattus as a Beast of Battle? Stanza 12 of Ragnars Saga
Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond

Rory McTurk

Fordham University Press

Rory McTurk discusses Stanza 12 from Ragnars saga, a late-thirteenth-century saga about a legendary Viking-Age hero. The stanzas in the saga date from a time when the rigid definitions of meters recorded by Snorri Sturluson had fallen by the wayside. The stanzas consist of the standard eight lines, and the lines seem to aim at the required syllable count of six—though it is often not achieved. Some couplets are linked by alliteration, but rhyme is rare and haphazard. The construction of kennings is likewise flexible. This raises the question of whether the stanzas are corrupt and should be emended to make them conform to Snorri’s rules. McTurk argues not, and he offers here a rationale for editing and interpreting this particular stanza without emending the manuscript. His suggestion is unorthodox and ingenious, and points the way to new approaches to this kind of poetry, where traditional methods have reached dead ends or even led scholars astray. His suggestion is valuable as a methodological example: how is an editor to approach a kenning that seems to fall outside the guidelines of the Snorra Edda?

Keywords:   Ragnars saga, Snorri Sturluson, Snorra Edda, interpretation of kennings, skaldic poetry, editing, skaldic meters, Rory McTurk

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