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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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SnH Lv 11II/4 — dróttins ‘a master’

Sýr es ávallt;
hefr saurugt allt
hestr Þjóðolfs erðr;
hanns dróttins serðr.

Sýr es ávallt; hestr Þjóðolfs hefr erðr allt saurugt; hanns serðr dróttins.

There is always a sow; Þjóðólfr’s horse has a completely filthy prick; he is a master-fucker.

notes

[4] serðr dróttins ‘master-fucker’: Lit. ‘master’s fucker’. All earlier eds treat this as a cpd dróttinserðr, which is translated as ‘having been used sexually by the master’. However, the p. p. of the strong verb serða ‘use sexually’ is sorðinn, and the only possible cpd which could denote ‘having been used sexually by the master’ is dróttinsorðinn. Serðr dróttins ‘a master-fucker’ (so both mss) implies that it was the horse and not the master who was the aggressor. Serðr must be a nomen agentis, similar to brjótr ‘breaker, destroyer, conqueror’ (from brjóta ‘break’; see LP: brjótr), njótr ‘user, enjoyer, owner’ (from njóta ‘use, enjoy, own’; see LP: njótr), vinnr ‘performer, achiever’ (from vinna ‘perform, achieve’; see SnE 1998 I, 40, II, 427). It seems that Halli’s insult, which was certainly on the surface directed at Þjóðólfr, was indeed double-edged. Halli implies indirectly that Þjóðólfr, the master of the horse, was also a serðr dróttins (the cl. hanns serðr dróttins ‘he is a master-fucker’ could be applied to Þjóðólfr as well as to the horse), who had used his dróttinn, i.e. Haraldr, as a woman. This interpretation is also in keeping with the current reading and interpretation of l. 1 (see the Note to l. 1 above). For similar allusions in the prose of Snegl, see the verbal exchange between Halli and Haraldr at the beginning of the þáttr (see ÍF 9, 263-6; Andersson and Gade 2000, 243-4).

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