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SECOND THOUGHTS ON SKLDSKAPARML

Skldskaparml: Snorri Sturluson's ars poetica and medieval theories of language. Viking
Collection 4 by Margaret Clunies Ross; P. Meulengracht-Srensen; G. W. Weber
Review by: Frederic Amory
Scandinavian Studies, Vol. 62, No. 3 (SUMMER 1990), pp. 331-339
Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the Society for the Advancement of
Scandinavian Study

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40919159 .


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SECOND THOUGHTS ON SKLDSKAPARML


Frederic Amory
University
ofSan Francisco
arspoeticaand medievaltheories
SnorriSturlusoris
CluniesRoss. Skldskaparml:
Margaret
and G. W. Weber.
of language.VikingCollection4. Ed. P. Meulengracht-S0rensen
Press.Odense, 1987. Pp. 210.
OdenseUniversity
I have sometimesthought
thatin thepreindustrial,
traditional
societiesof Europethe
is one sure
appearanceof an ars poetica of eithermedievalLatinor vernacularliterature
it codifieshas "arrived"but also thatthecultureto which
signthatnotonlytheliterature
and the ars belong has achieved some special historicalimportance.To
the literature
"arrive,"let me add, can onlymeanin theculturalcontextof Europeto gain equal critical
statuswiththe classical literature
of Rome, or even independencefromthe same. This
of minemayat least serveas a reminder
thatsuch artesas thePoetrianova (ca.
thought
1210) of Geoffreyof Vinsauf,the SnorraEdda (1220-25), or The ThirdGrammatical
Treatise(1245-52) of lfrPrarson,and theDe VulgariEloquentia(1304-06) of Dante
offermuchmore in the way of culturalself-assessment
thanthe collectionsof literary
touchstones
and tropesand thetechnicaliaof versification
withwhichtheyare replete.
It is one of the intellectualvirtuesof MargaretClunies Ross's studyof Snorri's
- together
withtheHttatal,themosttechnicalpartof his Edda- thatshe
Skldskaparml
neverloses sightof whatis discernedas his hiddenculturalagendaforOld Norsepoetry
in herdiscussionsof the technicaldetailsof his poeticsor skaldicverse. She has striven
to integrate
theSkldskaparml
withtheothermainpartsof hisEdda, especially
throughout
withthe Prologueto the whole (Heusler's "gelehrteUrgeschichte"),
in whichSnorri'
s
culturalagendais veiledin a Biblicalmythof theoriginsof theScandinavians,
theirgods,
and theirlanguage(cf. Skm. 8, withthe Prol.). This striving
of hersaftertheunderlying
is somewhatslightedthereby
unityof the whole is admirable,even thoughGylfaginning
and Httatalscarcelydiscussed.Wherewe shouldhave any seriousreservations
abouther
in herreconstructions
of theEuropeanbackgrounds
of Snorri'
s
aims,however,is primarily
Clunies Ross's littlebook,
learning,above all, of his linguisticprecocity.Nevertheless,
withits novelinsightsintoSnorri'smaterials,its dedicationto theunityof his work,and
its drivingargumentation,
is boundto stimulate
and directfuture
researchon SnorraEdda
and therefore
deservesour closestattention
now.
Thereare perhapsthreeor fourmain topic areas thatthe book coversat length:1)
thethematic
connectionof theProloguewiththeSkldskaparml,
of
2) Snorri'sgrammar
to metaphor,
and 3) thelatinatephilosophicaland
poeticdictionand his seemingantipathy
ofhismythopoetics.
I shallcondenseintoshorter
linguistic
background
synopsesthecoverage
of each of theseareas in thebook and insertrectifications
and addendawhereappropriate.
(1) The Prologuehas been isolatedby Heuslerand his pupilsfromSnorraEdda as a
learnedinterpolation,1
but morereasonablyit is usuallyread as the introduction
to the
further
adventures
withtheAesirof theSwedishking,Gylfi,whomOdin came intocontact
withon his migration
north,at the end of the Prologue.CluniesRoss, however,on the
Scandinavian
Studies62 (1990): 331-39

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332

Scandinavian Studies

in Skldskaparml(eh. 8, quotedp. 16), has refocusedthe


basis of one cross-reference
Snorri's
section,so thatthe latterwill reflectlinguistically
Prologueon thepoetic-diction
Biblical
benignreligiousattitudesto Scandinavianpaganismas outlinedin his prefatory
who had a glimmering
of thetrueGod fromtheir
Scandinavians,
mythof thepre-Christian
of His creation(p. 28).
"earthlyunderstanding"
The emphasisof the [Snorrd'Edda lies muchmoreon therelationship
between
and poeticexpressionin naturalreligionsthanon theuniversal
religiousthought
of late Romangrammatical
applicability
theory[as withThe ThirdGrammatical
Treatiseof lfrPrarson].
Thisstatement
oftheconnection
is supported
betweenthePrologueandSkldskaparml
witha stringof correspondences
betweenthem.Since thepre-Christian
Scandinavianshad
perceivedafterthe Flood thattheearthwas an animatecreature,whose verystoneswere
like the teethand bones of animals,and since theirunderstanding
of God through
nature
was stillof theearthearthy,or sensory,thetolerant
Snorriwas disposedin his presentation
of thepoeticlanguageof thepagan skaldsto investtheterm"kenning"withthemeaning
of senseperception
ofkenning
(pp. 51 f.) andto adoptthe"animistic
principle"
interpretation
and a "nonfigurative
approach"to theirfiguresof speech (p. 175), whichhe took to be
world-view"of the skaldsand theirforebears
"literallytruein termsof the mythological
(p. 116; cf. pp. 142 and 149). Moreover,thepowerof namingthingsthatAdam and his
Scandinaviandescendantsexercisedover creationset a precedentin Snorri'seyes forthe
onomastickenningsof the skalds(pp. 61 and 115). Indeed,the"Asian" languagethatthe
Aesirof Troyimposedon theScandinavianswhentheyoverranthemmayhave
wandering
comprisedforhimthepoeticlanguageof thepaganskalds,beingat once "theclassificatory
and expressivetool of intelligent
animists. . ." (p. 115).
All this, one mightsay, is squeezinga greatdeal out of one cross-reference
at
8, whichharksback in thePrologueonlyto thelapses of faithof Adam's
Skldskaparml
oftheTrojanAesir,
descendants
beforeand afterthefloodand to theself-misrepresentations
towards
wholetthemselves
be exaltedas godsovertheScandinavians.
Snorriwas no rigorist
thepaganmythsas de facto
Scandinavianpaganism,butwouldhe have evercontemplated
truthsin and forskaldicpoetry?The whole episode of "the deceivingof Gylfi,"which
of thehuman
CluniesRoss has slighted,testifiesto the illusorinessof the mythologizing
Aesir,theultimateauthorities,
doingsof theirdivineancestors,
by rights,on themythical
thattheythemselves
are thegods
butwho "also deceiveGylfiand his people intothinking
of Snorricontroverts
aboutwhomtheyhave toldthestories."2The euhemerism
theoriginal
and theirmagical
and theirmythsat everyturn,untilfinallythemyth-makers
myth-makers
of Gylfaginning
. A confirmation
of the
abode disappearintothinair, at the dnouement
notto be expected
in mythology
or poeticlanguageis therefore
validityof theirauthority
fromhim.
of SnorraEdda, thereis a
On theotherhand,apartfromthe"gelehrteUrgeschichte"
thatSnorrimusthave been awareof and that
dimensionto Old Norse mythology
literary
clericalreadersof classicaltexts,
he mayhave respondedto in the mannerof continental
of the Romangods a fictionalintegumentum
who saw in the poeticmythology
enclosing
some kernelof truth,as thatOrpheusis the body, Eurydicethe soul of man.3Thomas
has spotteda passage in Skldskaparml
Krmmelbein
4, overlookedby CluniesRoss, in
whichthismannerof readingtextsseemsto be illustrated.
The storyis told here of a familyof giantsin whichthe threesons were leftan
of gold.
inheritance
by the father,to be measuredout equallyamongthemin mouthfuls
withus thatgold
Hence, Snorri'sinterlocutor,
Bragi,explains,"theexpressionis current
is called the 'mouth-reckoning'
[munntal]of thesegiants,and we conceal the matterin

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Skldskaparml

333

conundrums [rnar] or in poetry in such guise that we call that [i.e., gold] the speech or
the words or the talk of these giants." As Snorri puts it more compactly elsewhere (Skm .
88), to play with words in poetry is "to compose secretively"- "at yrkja flgit." In these
passages the expression munntal or tal is more of a metonymthan a metaphor like that of
Orpheus for the human body, and the wordplay (ofljst) turnson mere equivocations with
homonyms,but nonetheless metonomyand equivocation, as well as etymology,were recognized means in medieval hermeneutics of either embroidering integumenta on a text, or
- and he did- he
divesting it of them. If Snorri used all these means of interpretation
probably also regarded the core "truths" of Old Norse mythology and skaldic poetry as
more artificialthan real, like most medieval interpreters
of literature.As against the veracity
of the Bible, it must be remembered, profane literaturecould achieve, if anything,only a
precarious fictional status in the Middle Ages. On the whole, then, the integumentum
concept of poetryand mythologyseems to me perfectlydesigned for Snorri's mixed attitudes
- the hidden
towards the pagan mythsof his countrymenand for his unannounced intention
agenda of Snorri- to reconcile the native poetryof Scandinavian paganism with the imported
culture of Christianity.For already in the concept a similar provisional reconciliation of
Roman poetry and mythwith Christian beliefs is presupposed.
(2) Clunies Ross's impressionof Snorrias what Marianne Moore would call a "literalist
of the imagination" is projected onto his grammar of poetic diction, with the result that
littleplace formetaphoris allowed in it- a surprisingresultconsideringjust how metaphorical
the skaldic kennings are. But in her opinion it was Snorri's nephew lfr Prarson who
gave pride of place to metaphorin his trope-centeredGrammaticalTreatise, whereas Snorri,
underthe triplesway of his own fantasyabout the pre-ChristianScandinavians, the cosmology
of the school of Chartres,and the logocentricspeech-philosophyof the neo-Platonic William
of Conches, Abelard, and the so-called "terminists"of the twelfthcentury,eitheraccounted
for skaldic metaphoringon unrhetorical,grammatical, mythological,and logical-philosophical grounds or else simply avoided it in favor of nonfigurativeexpressions, for example,
metonyms(pp. 26, 30). This overburdened thesis is indubitablyone of the most debatable
novelties in Clunies Ross's book. Even though she concedes that Snorri could have had no
direct acquaintance with the speech-philosophers of twelfth-century
France, their linguistic
concerns and his manifestingindependentlyof each other "fundamentalintellectual preoccupations of the age" (p. 33), yet she regularly ascribes to him the scholastic methods of
Abelard and William of Conches withoutever asking herselfwhethertheirmodus operandi
conforms to anything we might know about the mental habits of Snorri from his other
writings {Heimskringla and Egils saga). Obviously, it does not. Scholasticism, generally
speaking, was as foreignto medieval Iceland as feudalism. We shall descend to details on
this topic below, under (3), but firstI want to canvass some of Clunies Ross's remarks on
Snorri's paradoxically "nonfigurativeapproach" to poetic diction, in order to clarify this
alleged avoidance of metaphor of his.
She claims (p. 31) that in the Skldskaparml there is no allusion to the translatio
poetica of metaphor, "whether by means of Latinate technical terms or more informally."
True, Snorri did not have a term for metaphorical transferencelike framfring
, which his
nephew lfr coined, but in his firstworking definitionof kennings (Skm . 7) he speaks
informallyof a metaphoricaltransferof names fromthe god Tyr to Odin, as in such kenning
formationsas hanga-Tyr,farma-Tyr, and the like. So, says Snorri, with each god to be
named thus, "Jbtek ek med heiti af eign annars ssins ea get ek hans verka nkkura
. . .," which we may English, "I then transfer[to him] with an appellative the property
of anothergod or mention some of his deeds ..." The verb phrase taka af clearly renders
the sense of translatioin this context. Clunies Ross, however, would object that the "Tyr"

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Scandinavian Studies

memberof thecitedkenningswas understood


by skaldsand theiraudiencesmorelikelyas
of Odin (pp.
a commonnoun for "god" thanas the name of the fellowsovereign-god
- "the
wouldthenbe reducedto nonmetaphorical
99-102);5theseOdinkennings
periphrases
But
this
was
not
Snorri
understood
of
the
"the
of
etc.
the
way
god
hanged,"
god cargoes,"
of namesand appurtenances
fromone
thesekennings,whichhe has analyzedas transfers
god to another.In doingso, he has reviveda fadedonomasticmetaphor,
just as he revives
an old mythological
metaphorformen and womenas treesby retelling,in Gylfaginning
this
6, themythof thecreationof the firstman and womanfromlogs, and embellishing
in Skldskaparml
40 withfancifulassociationsbetweentreenamesand various
metaphor
homonymsfor men and women(cf. Clunies Ross, pp. 108-10). These revivalsdo not
withmetaphor
butrathertheopposite.Clunies
suggestthatSnorriwas avoidingencounters
Ross appeals (p. 114) to RobertaFrankas witness,in herpaper"Snorriand theMead of
avoidanceof themetaphorical
Poetry,"to a persistent
meaningsof kenningsforthepoetic
at
mead in Skldskaparml10, butthisskaldicexpertdoes notpointto sucha "tendency"
all.6
Linguistically
envisaged,theproblembeforeCluniesRoss seemsto be thatshe fails
to findanyconsciousness
of thesemanticfactorof similarity
or analogy(no primeof LIKE)
of skaldicmetaphor,
and consequently
she has magin Snorri'
s mythopoetic
interpretations
nifieda tendency
of his to "literalize"everymetaphor
he meets,usuallywitha "truestory"
sense.
of its mythological
meaningbutalso withverbalquibblesaboutits latentfigurative
characterof
It is notto be presumed,however,thatSnorriwas blindto themetaphorical
themajority
of thekennings.Even CluniesRoss has to admitthathe maderoomsomehow
in his kenningsystemformetaphorically
constructed
gold kennings,god kennings(pp. 94
notes"theextendedmetaphorical
and98), and skykennings
usage"
(p. 130), and sherightly
in Httatal217. How, then,
thathe recommends
constructions
(p. 132) in thenygervingar
in his kenningsystem,and whatwoulditreally
did theliteraland thefigurative
go together
a "thoughtkenningsof the skalds?Let us perform
implyto "literalize"the metaphorical
on thisquestionby way of answeringit.
experiment"
withmetaphorical
discourseof anykind,thereadingor listening
interpreter
Normally,
- some
construesthe flow of figurative
expressionsin it in the lightof a plainerreality
inhabit.
and thespeakeror writerbothmentally
largerworldoutside,whichtheinterpreter
A difficult
textis thusfitted
to a worldcontextthathelpsto makesenseof it. Exceptionally,
however,this hermeneutic
procedurecan be reversed.In the wordsof the literary-text
so thatit makessense
theutterance
linguist,SamuelLevin,"Instead,thatis, of construing
in the world,we construethe worldso as to make sense of the utterance."7
Ordinarily,
in
the figurative
meaningof a metaphorwill residein thetext,and its literalcounterpart
the figurative
and the literalmaybe transposed
an aspectof the world,butexceptionally
(by a consonaiof the world),thetextnow beingliteralizedas CluniesRoss wishes,and
as a poeticcreation,"a forestof symbols"in Baudelaire'sphrase.
the worldtransfigured
In the exceptionalcase, Snorriand we shouldhave to read skaldicpoetryno longeras
visionexaltedby myth.But of courseSnorriwouldhave balked
butas truthful
literature,
at such a readingforthe reasonthatthe symbolismof the Old Norse mythswas tainted
withthe illusionismthatdeceived Gylfiand withthe generalfalsityof the old pagan
was nearerthenormthanthe
Scandinavianreligion.Snorri's criticalposition,accordingly,
kenningslike dvergaskip (Skm. 5 and 11, "dwarfs'ship"), for
exception:metaphorical
meaningin theskaldictexts,whiletheirliteralmeaningemerges
poetry,
keeptheirfigurative
in mythsof his retelling,forexample,in the storyof Suttungr'srescueof the dwarves
- their"ship" to shore.The
fromthe tidalrock in returnforthe poeticmead fromthem
in his kenningsystemas so manysubstantive
mythsin theirrapportwiththetextsfunction
reference
pointsfora bygoneworldof paganism,to whichSnorriowed poeticallegiance,

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Skldskaparml

335

wouldbe the
but no religiousfaith.In Levin's linguisticparlance,Old Norse mythology
kennings.
"encyclopedicknowledge"neededto decipherunfamiliar
of Snorri'ssourcematerials
forCluniesRoss's orientation
(3) The chiefinspiration
articleof the Dronkes,"The Prologueof the Prose Edda,"8 in
comes froma well-known
andreligioustolerance
whichinteralia theyassertthatSnorri'slove of wisdom,creationism,
schoolof Chartres
overtones
of thephilosophical
in his Prologuehave neo-Platonic
(section
neo-Platonicabout the down-to-earth
VI). Althoughin factthereis nothingparticularly
Prologue,this lead startedour authoron her search for the grammaticaland logicalEurope(p. 20). I shall runover
philosophicalsourcesof SnorraEdda in twelfth-century
some itemsin Snorri'sgrammarof poeticdictionand cosmologyforwhichshe proposes
As we shall see, theDronkeswerenotthesafestof guides
Latinantecedents.
continental
to his Europeansources.
that
These putativesources fall undertwo headings:the medievalneo-Platonism
in Abelard
thatis personified
in theschoolofChartres
andtheearlyscholasticism
culminates
and his dialectics.BernardSilvestris,authorof thecreationpoem Cosmographia,
Thierry
and gramthephilosophical
of Chartres,
expounderof theHexameron,and thephilosopher
whomayhaveaffected
marianWilliamof Concheswerethegroupof Frenchneo-Platonists
andevenhispoeticgrammar
Snorri'scosmology,his mythography,
(pp. 48, 72-73, 104-05,
134, 154-55, 167); but thislast was also subjectto the logic of Abelardand his school
andthe"new"poeticsof thetwelfth
to thethirteenth
(pp. 32, 73, 107). The "new"grammar
centurieswere alreadyexposed to terminist
logic, and SnorraEdda and thePoetrianova
in theirphilosophical
on metaphor
of Vinsaufwillconvergetogether
ofGeoffrey
perspective
or "organic,"butnot a rhetorical,
as a text-integrated
figureof speech(pp. 33-34, 175).
So farCluniesRoss, aftertheDronkes.
howthesediverseintellectual
influences
Ifone shouldwonderto oneselfparenthetically
mighthave impingedon Snorriout in Iceland, we are to be advisedthatneo-Platonism
and thenewgrammar
couldhavebeenavailableto himorallyor in theformof "anthologies
homefrom
[?] or lecturenotes,"whichsome of thetraveledOddaverjarmayhave brought
the continent
to Oddi, when Snorriwas being educatedthereunderthe tutelageof Jn
of Alexanderof Villedieuand
Loptsson(pp. 14, 28, 73, 157). The advancedgrammars
Eberhardof Bthunewereechoedby Snorri'snephewin TheThirdGrammatical
Treatise,
but,accordingto CluniesRoss, thenephewwouldhave had littleto teachtheuncle,since
rhetorician
and Snorrian incipientspeech-philosopher
lfrwas an old-fashioned
(cf. p.
- almosteverything
- up to themysterious
officesof theZeitgeist
26). Thatleaves therest
of theage," p. 33).
to spreadaround(cf. "thepreoccupations
But to beginwiththe suspicionof neo-Platonism
thathangsover Snorri'sPrologue,
the earthliness
of the wisdomof the pre-Christian
Scandinaviansoughtto have indicated
of thiswisdom,whichmay well be the giftof God as in Wisdom7,
the conventionality
be a loan fromPlato. As theneo-Platonist
Adelardof Bath
17 ff.,10butcouldnotremotely
declared,"Unde nee ex sensibusscientia,sed opinio oririvalet."11Sense perceptionin
neo-Platonic
was incapableof trueknowledgeor wisdom.CluniesRoss and
epistemology
PeterDronke,however,seem to be agreedthatSnorrihimselfhad possibly"quitea keen
subtletiesas themedievalneo-Platonic
disunderstanding"
(p. 134) of such metaphysical
tinctionbetweenthe elementsas unseencauses {elementa)and the elementsas natural
. Snorrionlyhad to alludeto the"chiefelements"(= fourelements)in
effects(elementata)
thePrologueto earnthismistaken
whichis otherwise
notwarranted
compliment,
anywhere
by thetenorof SnorraEdda (pace P. Dronkeas in n. 38 to p. 134).
Much moreintriguing
is Snorri'spossiblerelationship
to Geoffrey
of Vinsaufand the
Poetrianova, therepresentative
Latinpoeticsof theearlythirteenth
century.CluniesRoss

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has made out the two literarytheoreticiansto be exponents of a nonrhetorical"fully organic


conception of metaphor" (p. 33). but in the passage she quotes in translation from the
Poetria, 11.737-45 (p. 34), to exemplify the integrityof the figure, she does not observe
that Geoffrey is defending metaphorical transsumptioagainst the logician Adam of Petit
Pont's imputationsthat it is a fallacy of speech. By Geoffrey's defense the integrityof
metaphorbecomes ethical, not "organic," as the lines on the "hypocrisy" of word-painting
se semper
(11.742-45) intimate. Hence when Geoffreyprescribes for the discourse, "...
sermo coloret / Intus et exterius . . ./ Se nisi conformetcolor intimus exteriori,/ Sordet
13
ibi ratio . . ." (11.737-38, 741-42),
he is asking in the name of reason for no more and
no less than an ethical conformitybetween the textual figure of speech and its image in
the poet's mind- withoutthatinnerbond, "reason will be besmirched" by a vice of language,
the "hypocrisy" of superficial word-painting.
Snorri does not share these ethical preoccupations, presumably because figurative
language was not logically fallacious in his poetics, but are there,then,no "formalsimilarities
between [his] Edda and the Poetria nova" as Clunies Ross somewhat arbitrarilyconcludes
(p. 34)? This question is for others to answer. I would hazard the guess, however, that
Snorri's ironic term for elaborate wordplay, ofljst ("too clear," "obvious"), was his wry
reaction to those literarytheoreticianslike Geoffreywho not only equated the literal with
lightness and light and the figurativewith heaviness and obscurity but also attemptedto
harmonize these antitheticalattributesin a chiaroscuro style of discourse (cf. with Skm .
SS, Poetria, 11.832-43).
The grammatical terminologyof Snorri in his poetics has been preliminarilysorted
out by Clunies Ross, who assigns a number of his terms to Latin contexts or Latin roots.
Thus "kenning," in the meanings of "doctrine" and "sense perception," was defined for
him by the translatorof the Old Norse Elucidarius (pp. 51 f.); kennt heiti approximates
to Priscian's synonymum, under the gloss of William of Conches thatsynonymsdenominate
and signifythe same thing (pp. 47 f.); sannkenningembraces the grammatical category of
nominalized adjectives or paronyms (nomina adjectiva like "grammaticus"), which can
denote both universal qualities and, secondarily, individual substances- cf. the "true substance" of sannkenningarin Httatal 216 (pp. 71-75); and einkar nafn (= lfrProarson's
eiginligt nafn) translatesnomen proprium, Priscian's proper noun that in the curious gloss
of William of Conches "makes presentitselfalone" and therebydesignates only the individual
with a name, while the common noun (nomen appellativum = lfr's sameiginligt nafn)
has universal scope of designation (p. 104).
Into these Latin/Old Norse pigeonholes Clunies Ross has slipped here and there
scholastic ideas of grammarthat would have been beyond Snorri's ken and that in any case
create needless complications for his poetics. It is, for instance, quite predictable fromher
overestimation(and Peter Dronke's) of Snorri's taste for metaphysical subtleties that in her
view he should "probably" have been aware of William of Conches' s gloss on the proper
noun of Priscian, that"it makes presentitselfalone," and so realized beforehandthe logical
flaw in his first working definition of kennings (Skm. 7), namely, of exchanging the
individual names of gods to form god kennings when these names were "universally" not
transferable(pp. 105-06). To remove the flaw, he had recourse to a semantic notion of
Abelard's that permittedtransferrednames in a translatio poetica to take on a temporary
secondary meaning according to context, as Tyr does in designating Odin metaphorically
14
(p. 107). Thus Snorri's exchange of names between Tyr and Odin would not entail another
naming, a freshimpositio of Tyr's identityon Odin, and the flaw is eliminated by having
Tyr "own" the name of Odin conditionally, in a given context.
Unfortunately,this scholastic reconstitutionof the firstworkingdefinitionof kennings
in Skldskaparml 7 may involve a misapprehension on Clunies Ross's part. She and

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337

of thedefinition
to theend thatTyrshall
AnthonyFaulkeshave slantedtheirtranslations
in thistextforOdin to "own"Tyr's
"own" Odin's name,15butit is muchmoremeaningful
name forOdin, Odin would be the
name.16If so, insteadof "Tyr"being a temporary
of thisappellativeas of any of the othernumerouspseudonymsin his
constantreferent
in thesentence,"P eignasthannnafnit,en eigi hinn,
possession.It dependson whether,
var [Skm. 7]" ("thenhe possessesthenameand nottheone who was named"),
er nefndr
one correlatesthefirstpronounwithOdin and the secondwith"some othergod," thatis,
alternative
seemsnearerSnorri'sintentions
(minus
Tyr,or theotherwayround.The former
any scholasticcomplications).
- fornafn
- whoseLatinprovenience
I havereservedtillthelasta moottermofSnorri's
has beendisputedby CluniesRoss, who wouldderivethetermfromgrammatical
pronomen
thanrhetorical
is somewhat
rather
pronominatio
(pp. 29, 42, 65-66, 77-78); butthederivation
of the term(Skm. 84) thathe was
irrelevant
because it is plain fromSnorri'sdefinition
ignorantof whata Latinpronounwas or did whenhe wroteof "/u heiti,er mennlata
nfnmanna.Pat kllumvr vikenningar
eoa sannkenningar
eoa fornfn."
In
gangafyrir
English:". . . thoselocutionsthatpeoplemakeprecedemen'snames.We call thembynames
or 'true' kenningsor 'prenames.'"It is no use pretending
thatthisunmeaningdefinition
- it
can be squaredwiththeperiphrastic
and substitutive
roles of thekennings17
syntactic
cannot.Snorridid notknowthe Latinmeaningof pronomenand has naivelyjust spelled
out theliteralIcelandicmeaningoffornafn(= "beforethename") in his definition.
If he
had knownthe Latintermin the original,we shouldhave heardof something
fromhim
morelike his latinizing
"fornafn
aersettista nafnsins"18
("a pronoun
nephew'sdefinition:
is putin place of a propernoun").
of thepropermeaning
Now, I submitthata manof letterswho was honestly
ignorant
and definition
of a pronounis hardlythe one to busyhis brainswithscholasticgrammar
andneo-Platonic
whichwereforever
closedto himanyhowbytheirspecialized
metaphysics,
- forexvocabularies.The few latinatetechnicaltermsthatinfiltrated
his culturalmilieu
einkar nafn,fornafn,edda (**edo!)- delimit sharplySnorri's
ample, hfudskepnur,
and imperfect.
Of the philosophicalliterature
knowledgeof Latin,whichwas elementary
on thecontinent
he wouldperhapshave been able to profitfromsome of thepopularizing
worksofHonoriusof Autun,whoseElucidariusl,59, in Latinor Icelandicwas thelikeliest
sourceof Snorri'smicrocosmicapplicationof the fourelementsin the Prologue, and
whoseDe ImagineMundiwas the closestencyclopedicmodel forthe overallschemain
SnorraEdda of themacrocosm(see CluniesRoss, pp. 158 ff.). Snorri,however,did not
lettheIcelandicElucidarius-translator
definetheterm"kenning"
forhimreligiousnecessarily
Of thetechniquesof Latintext-exegesis
or composition,
ly or philosophically.
etymology,
and metaphor,
and theintegumentum
homonymous
wordplay,metonym
conceptwerealso
all withinhis reach. But beyondtheselimitsone can onlyguess whetherhe dubbedthe
of Vinsauf'sstylisticideal of the clair-obscure
wordplay"ofljst"in reactionto Geoffrey
as in Poetrianova,11.832-^3.
Severalconclusionsfollowfromthislongreview.For one thing,themaindifference
betweenSnorriand lfrPrarson,his nephew,is shownto be, not thatthe one is a
and the othera rhetorician,
but ratherthatthe uncle had small Latin
speech-philosopher
and the nephewa greatdeal. The difference
betweenthemis in linguisticdegreeand not
in intellectual
kind,sincetheywerebothmenof letterswithan Icelandicpassionforpoetry.
To the extentof theirLatin, theirculturalagendasdiverged:lfr,withhis panoplyof
latinaterhetorical
figures,unfeignedly
hoped to assimilateskaldicverseto the canonsof
ancientand medievalLatin literature;
Snorrimore deviouslyaimed, as I have said, to
reconcilethe nativepoetryof Scandinavianpaganismwithnorthern
and its
Christianity

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338

Scandinavian Studies

importedculture, withouteither bowing the knee to Baal or condemning the old culture of
medieval Scandinavia. In their agendas, lfr was a professed internationalist,Snorri an
unassuming nativist. Clunies Ross has correctlyconceived Snorri's hidden agenda, but she
goes a step too far in the rightdirection when she engages him in the mythopoeticcause
not only of the pre-ChristianScandinavians but of theirconquerors, the euhemerized Aesir,
too. That indeed would be bowing the knee to Baal.
Another thing entirely is Snorri's originality, especially in his grammar of poetic
diction- an originalitythat, contradictorily,has spurredscholars like the Dronkes, Faulkes,
and Clunies Ross to ever wider searches of patristic and medieval Latin literaturefor his
sources, even though two of the foremost students of Snorra Edda, Frank20 and Clunies
Ross herself (passim), have had to acknowledge how slight are the ties that bind him to
the central European academic communities. What Snorri was ignorant of and what he
independently accomplished with his poetics have both been buried under a steady accumulation of Latin auctoritates, which have been heaped on his Edda by industrious,but
unreflecting,scholarship since 1950, when the present lines of research were laid out by
Walter Baetke in his "Die Gtterlehre der Snorra-Edda" (1950). Thus the precocity of
Snorri's insightsinto poetic language has been badly mistaken for a linguistic sophistication
fully abreast of the latest European movements in philosophy and grammar. But back at
the text of Skldskaparml 7, as translationsof the passage will reveal, there is still no
scholarly consensus on the gist of his firstworking definitionof kennings, which is the
keystone of his implicit theoryof names. Whether this theorywas his or somebody else's
in Europe evidently cannot be decided until this text and parallel passages elsewhere have
been internallyelucidated to everyone's satisfaction.
The daring and the deftness of the book under review should not go unpraised,
however. It is, very honorably, the business of scholarship to tread the brink of sheer
improbabilityin sustaining a bold hypothesis, and though we stand away from such performances, they are for our benefit, if only because they demarcate the ne plus ultra on
lines of research that we may have been fruitlesslypursuing. Clunies Ross's monograph is
a landmarkby which we can get our bearings again to returnto Skldskaparml for a better
appreciation of Snorri's critical accomplishment.

1
Similarly, but still unpersuasively, Klaus von See in his new book, Mythos und
Theologie im skandinavischen Hochmittelalter(Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1988), pp. 28-29.
2 A. Faulkes,
"Pagan Sympathy," in Edda, ed. R. J. Glendinning and Haraldur
Bessason (Manitoba: Universityof Manitoba Press, 1983), p. 304.
3 On the
integumentumconcept, merely mentioned by Clunies Ross (p. 14), see H.
Brinkmann,MittelalterlicheHermeneutik(Tbingen: Max Niemeyer, 1980), pp. 169, 176,
180-84.
4 See his
paper "Feia Skldskap," in Akten der fnftenArbeitstagungder Skandinavisten, ed. H. Uecker (St. Augustin: Dr. Bernd Kretschner, 1983), pp. 117-29.
5 There are several
in the nomenclahomonymiedoublets of name and noun like Tyrltyr
tures of the Old Norse and Latvian pantheons; cf. W. Lauer, Der Name (Heidelberg: C.
Winter, 1989), p. 144.
6 Cf. Frank's
paper in the Festschriftfor Turville-Petre,Speculum Norroenum, ed.
U. Dronke et al. (Odense: Odense UniversityPress, 1981), pp. 155-70, esp. the words on
p. 159, ". . . Kvasis dreyri . . ., a metaphor for intoxicatingdrink ..."

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Skldskaparml

339

7 As in thesymposium
on Metaphorand Thought,ed. A. Ortony(Cambridge,Eng.:
Press, 1979), p. 131.
CambridgeUniversity
8 In theJakobBenediktsson
ed. EinarPtursson
andJonas
Festschrift,
Sjtiuritgerdir,
Kristjnsson
(Reykjavik:StofnunrnaMagnssonar,1977), I, 153-76.
9 See Bjrn M. lsen's prefaceto his editionof the work(Copenhagen:Fr. G.
Knudtzon,1884), pp. xxxviii-xxxix.
10Faulkes,"Pagan Sympathy,"
p. 288.
11De eodemet diverso,ed. H. Willner(Mnster:
Die Aschendorffische
Buchhandlung,
1903), p. 13.
12Cf. hisFallacie 1 on "transsumptio
termini"
in L. M. De Rijk'sLogica Modernorum
(Assen: Van Gorcum,1962), I, 553.
13As in E. Farai's editionin Les artspotiquesdu XIIe et du XIIIe sicle (Paris:
LibrairieHonorChampion,1962), p. 220.
14Cf. Abelard'sLogica Ingredientibus
, ed. B. Geyer(Mnster:Die Aschendoffische
1921), p. 121.
Buchhandlung,
15Cf. withCluniesRoss's, p. 39, Faulkes'stranslation
of SnorraEdda forEveryman
York, 1987), p. 64.
Library(London/New
16So A. G. Brodeurin his translation
Foun(New York:The American-Scandinavian
Kurt
dation,1916), p. 96, and R. Meissnerin Die Kenningarder Skalden(Bonn/Leipzig:
Schroeder,1921), p. 2.
17Cf. Faulkes's mistranslation
in his versionof SnorraEdda, p. 152.
18Third Gram. Treatise, ed. B. M. Olsen, 57.
p.
19Cf. Y. Lefvre'sedition(Paris:E. de Boccard,1954), 371, and thenoteto
p.
pp.
115 f.
20"Snorriand theMead of
Poetry,"pp. 155 f., n. 3.

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