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Power over Men and Power over Words: The Poet-King Ragnarr Loðbrók

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  • Anna Solovyeva

This article addresses an aspect of the image of Ragnarr loðbrók that often eludes scholarly attention — namely, his role as a poet. Ragnarr has a prominent position in Old Norse- Icelandic literature as a king, a hero, and an ancestor of powerful kings and chieftains. In Snorra Edda, especially in the redaction of Codex Uppsaliensis, Ragnarr is also remembered as a poet. Most prominently, in Skáldatal, found in Codex Uppsaliensis and Kringla, Ragnarr is named among the first skalds; moreover, according to this list, his wife Áslaug and their sons were also skalds. To understand this intriguing statement, I shall give an overview of poetry attributed to Ragnarr and his family in Old Norse sources, explain the contexts in which Ragnarr is seen as a poet, and follow Skáldatal in placing Ragnarr and his family alongside another legendary hero and poet, Starkaðr inn gamli. This line of argument makes it possible to shed light on the liminal position occupied by Ragnarr and his family in the skaldic tradition and on the ideas about the origins and development of skaldic poetry extant in the Old Norse-Icelandic literary sources.

Original languageEnglish
JournalViking and Medieval Scandinavia
Pages (from-to)221-244
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • fornaldarsögur, Ragnarr loðbrók, skaldic poetry, Skáldatal, Snorra Edda, Starkaðrinn gamli, Uppsala Edda

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