ŮËRSDR┴PA 17:1-4

Codex RegiusCodex TrajectinusCodex WormianusEmended & Modernized
17 : 1-4 VariantsVariants 
Bif■iz ha/ll ■a er hof■i  Bif­isk h÷ll ■ß er h÷f­i
hei­reks of kom brei■v  Hei­reks of kom brei­u
vnd fletbiarnar fornarundir, fornanundir, fornanund fletbjarnar fornan
fotleG ■vrnis veGiar;■rasis■rasisfˇtlegg Ůrasis veggjar;

Although it must be admitted that the statement of this half-stanza is rather peculiar, I must agree with most of the editors that it must be read:

Ůrasis (Ůurnis) h÷ll bif­isk, ■ß er of kom brei­u h÷f­i Hei­reks und fornan fˇtlegg veggjar fletbjarnar, i.e. "The hall of Ůrasir [cave] shook, when Hei­rekr's [Geirr÷­r's] broad head was brought underneath the ancient leg of the wall of the floor-bear [pillar]".

Both Ůrasir (or Ůurnir, if so preferred), and Hei­rekr "heath-king", must be read as generic giant-names, here referring to Geirr÷­r.

Ůrasis (Ůurnis) h÷ll ] "the giant's hall" is the cave. Whether we read Ůrasis or Ůurnis is irrelevant to the meaning. This genitive may just as well (or also) be taken with the kenning for "pillar", see below.

■ß er of kom brei­u h÷f­i Hei­reks und ] is rather puzzling at first sight. The construction must be be impersonal, i.e. kom + dative = "when the broad head of Hei­rekr (Geirr÷­r) was brought underneath" [the pillar, see below]. If Snorri can be relied upon, Geirr÷­r, at this point of the action, tries to hide behind a pillar in order to avoid Thor's retaliative missile. So why is his head mentioned here? Is it because he aimed the red-hot lump at Thor's mouth, and expects Thor to do likewise? It seems reasonable. After all, the giant needed tongs in order to throw the deadly missile, and thus can't hope to catch it with his "arm-mouths", like Thor did. Und "underneath" is similarly puzzling. If we are to suppose that the giant attempted to protect himself BEHIND the pillar, why does the poet say und "under"? I suspect this may be explained by the pillar-kenning (below), where the pillar is referred to as "the leg of a bear". A frightened bear-cub will seek the protection of his mother, the she-bear, and attempt to hide underneath her body, surrounded and protected by her embracing legs. Und "under" implies "subjugation", "humiliation". Perhaps the poet meant to express the giant's cowardice, when he realizes that his opponent is mightier than he is.

fornan fˇtlegg veggjar fletbjarnar ] "the ancient leg of the wall of the floor-bear" is a kenning for "pillar". Fletbj÷rn is a permissible kenning for "house, dwelling", cp. veggr viggjar in 1:5-8. As we have already seen, this dwelling is a cave, the walls of which are of stone. The "leg" of the cave's rocky walls can only be seen as a stone pillar, perhaps a supportive one, which keeps the roof of the cave from collapsing.

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