RSDRPA 14:1-4

Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended & Modernized
14 : 1-4 VariantsVariants 
Oc hamloga himni  Ok hm loga himni,
hallfylvingvm vallar  hall- fylvingum vallar
trovz r v troivivitrusk r, vi tri
tvngls bra solar rvngv;solirsolir-tungls br- salar rungu;

I find previous editors' interpretations of this half-stanza more or less impossible to accept, and would like to offer a new reading:

(r) rungu hm himni loga brtungls vi tri (hall-)salar, ok r trusk (vi) hall-fylvingum vallar (hall-salar), i.e. "they forced the high heaven of the flame of the brow-moon [rr's head] against the rafters of the (rock-)hall [cave], and were crushed against the rocks of the plain (of the rock-hall) [floor]".

The editors agree that this is a description of the giantesses thrusting Thor's chair against the ceiling, and his retaliation, but they wildly disagree on the actual interpretation of the words. We find fylvingum variously interpreted as swords, spears, and walking sticks (i.e. dat. pl. of the masc. fylvingr). Such a word can only be found in Nafnaulur, as a heiti for "sword", but it has been pointed out that this may be based on an erroneous interpretation of rsdrpa. The word fylving (feminine) occurs in a stanza in Gsla saga, where it seemingly meens (hazel)nut, and is used as a simile (or kenning) of the tear falling from the eye (in the same stanza the tear is also referred to as sjnhesli "the hazelnut of the eye").

The above reading is basically a rejection of the readings of most editors, because they seem ludicrous to me. Faulkes, in his recent edition, reads: r trusk fylvingum = "they were stabbed by swords". This is obviously impossible, and is basically a repetition of Finnur Jnsson's fantasy of Thor (and jlfi - fylvingum is plural) reaching down from the chair, and slaying the two giantesses with their swords. This is ridiculous, because in the next half-stanza Thor is said to have broken their backs. Snorri, at least, realized this, and painted a picture of Thor thrusting the chair back onto the giantesses, thus breaking their backs; but for some reason he felt it necessary to bring the imaginary (?) Grarvlr into play here. The way I see it, no Grarvlr, no sword is needed here. Thus:

Thor is offered to sit down in a chair (amusingly described as the giantess' hat in the last half-stanza). The two daughters of Geirrr are crouching underneath the chair. When Thor sits down, they rise, thus attempting to crush Thor's head against the ceiling of the mountain-cave. For a brief moment Thor is helpless, but at the last minute, when his skull is about to be crushed, he raises his arms, grabs hold of the cave-rafters, and with his extraordinary strength, thrusts back. His strength is greater than that of the two giantesses, the chair plunges back downwards, and the two giantesses are crushed to death, their backs broken, against the rocky floor of the mountain-cave.

This is the scenario the poet is describing in the current half-stanza. He has already established various important facts: Thor has entered the giants' cave, he has been offered a dangerous chair to sit upon. This chair is the giantess' hat, i.e. they are crouching underneath. So let's take good look:

Ok hm loga himni,
hall- fylvingum vallar
trusk r, vi tri
-tungls br- salar rungu;

(r) rungu hm himni loga brtungls vi tri (hall-)salar, ok r trusk (vi) hall-fylvingum vallar (hall-salar), i.e. "they (the giantesses) forced the high sky of the flame of the brow-moon [Thor's head] against the rafters of the stone-hall [the cave's ceiling], and [as a result] they were crushed against the stone-nuts of the plain of the stone-hall [the rocks of the cave's floor]."

Such a reading, of course, assumes that some of the words in the half-stanza serve double duty. We have already seen examples of this in Eilfr's dense poetic diction (particularly in 6:1-4), and in the current example such usage seems especially appropriate. The poet is expressing two separate acts, which are mirror-images of each other: a) The giantesses push the chair up, in order to crush Thor against the ceiling; b) Thor pushes the chair down, in order to crush the giantesses against the floor.

r "they" (feminine) serves as the subject of both sentences. In the first sentence, the verb (rungu "forced, pressed") is active, in the second it is passive (trusk "were crushed").

The ok at the beginning of the stanza may serve a pregnant purpose, i.e. it should be understood as bi ok "both - and", i.e. "not only - but also".

The cave-imagery can also be read in various ways, using intricately interlocking interpretations:

hall-salr = stone-hall = cave
tr (hall)salar = rafters of the (stone)hall = (cave)ceiling
vllr (hall)salar = plain of the (stone)hall = (cave)floor

hall-fylving = stone-nut = rock
hall-fylvingar vallar hall-salar = the stone-nuts of the plain of the stone-hall = the rocks of the floor of the cave

Perhaps the rocks which litter the floor (vllr = plain) of the cave are seen as having fallen from the cave's walls and ceiling, as nuts fallen from a tree onto a plain?

Finally, the preposition vi "against" must be seen as serving a parallel purpose in the two sentences: vi tri "against the rafters (of the ceiling)", and vi hall-fylvingum "against the rocks (of the floor)".

hm himni loga brtungls ] Brtungl "eyebrow-moon" is a kenning for "eye". The logi "flame" of the eye is the "flash, gleam of the eye". The himinn "sky" of the "brow-moon's flame" is the head, or perhaps, more properly, the top of the head, i.e. the skull. The adjective hm is perhaps incidental - hr himinn = "high sky", but since the kenning refers to Thor's head, the meaning might be high = noble. It is possible that here the "flame of the eye" has a special reference to Thor, cp. rymskvia 27:5:8, where Thor disguises himself as Freyja, and the giant rymr comments upon his bride's (Thor's) eyes: Hv eru ndtt / augu Freyju? / ykir mr r augum / eldur um brenna, i.e. "Why are Freyja's eyes so fierce? It seems to me that they are spouting flames."

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