--- In norse_course@yahoogroups.com, "Patricia Wilson"
<originalpatricia@...> wrote:
> There were a couple of words new to me - that seemed to be composed
of other words - moðurætt - I could piece enough of it together to
make Weak or flattened but I am not satisfied with the definition -
MM&HP have given it as flat on your back but I don't like that either
- I am quibbling of course
> "Laust þú mér nú," segir Skarphéðinn, "en þó skalt þú í móðurætt
falla áður
> við skiljum."
> "You have struck at me now" says Skarpheðin "but even so (just the
same) you will fall weak and tired before we part / are finished

The use of 'móðurætt' here seems to be a bit mysterious, so you're
right to quibble. The word itself normally means: móður + ætt = the
mother's side (of a family). But as far as I know, this expression 'í
móðurætt falla' is peculiar to Njáls saga. CV interprets it "to fall
mother earth, to die" [
http://lexicon.ff.cuni.cz/png/oi_cleasbyvigfusson/b0435.png ].
Fritzner is less sure:

en þó skaltu í móður ætt falla áðr vér skiljum Nj.45 (7019), af
hvilken Sætning Ordene "í móður ætt" Nj. II, 1368 er oversat ved de
latinske Ord: in gremium matris (ad avos maternos), uden at den rette
Forstaaelse af disse dunkle Ord derved erbleven lettet.

"...from which sentence, the words 'í móður ætt' are translated by
Latin 'in gremium matris' ('ad avos maternos'), without thereby
clarifying the true understanding of these dark (mysterious) words."


in gremium matris = in one's mother's lap/bosom/womb
ad avos maternos = to one's maternal ancestors

So, I don't know... Could it mean, "now you're going to your
ancestors" (i.e. die)? But then why the mother's ancestors in
particular? Or has it been garbled from some other word. MM & HP's
interpretation "flat on your back" makes me wonder if they've
connected it with the adjective 'móðr' "tired" (thinking of MnIc.
lá-réttur, adj. "horizontal"??) -- but I'm just guessing there. Or,
could this be an obscure reference to something Sigmund's mother's
family were known for, or something that happened to one of them, some
lost anecdote, and now Sigmund will follow their example? But then, I
don't think the saga tells us anything about his mother or her
ancestors, does it?