----- Original Message -----From: Eysteinn BjornssonSent: Friday, February 16, 2007 10:41 PMSubject: [norse_course] Re: móðurætt ???
It is true that the expression has often been
interpreted as referring to death (i.e. a "falling"
to (mother) earth), but as Einar Ólafur Sveinsson
has pointed out (in the ÍF edition) this is not at
all necessary. Also, it is rather difficult to see
how the expression could really mean that.
In fact the expression is well known in modern
Icelandic (at least it was well known to me when
I was a child), and means "to lie on one's back"
as opposed to "í föðurætt", which means to lie on
one's stomach. I hardly need to explain to the
group why mother lies on her back and father on
If we accept this, then Skarphéðinn is simply saying:
"you're going to lie on your back (like a woman) ere
I'm through with you!"
Personally I don't for a minute think this has anything
to do with "Mother Earth" or "ancestors in the mountain".
I have, since I was a child, understood this instinctively
to refer to a position "appropriate to the mother", i.e
the "submissive" position. Think of "ætt" as "átt", and
I think you'll come to the same conclusion. There's a
couplet in a ríma, which goes:
Bersi féll í brúðar átt [i.e. on his back]
og bar sig lægra,
where "brúðar átt" (the bride's direction) is synonymous
with "móðurætt". It's about lying on one's back, nothing
more, nothing less.
--- In norse_course@ yahoogroups. com, "llama_nom" <600cell@... > wrote:
> --- In norse_course@ yahoogroups. com, "Patricia Wilson"
> <originalpatricia@ > wrote:
> > There were a couple of words new to me - that seemed to be
> 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
> - 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
> móðurætt falla' is peculiar to Njáls saga. CV interprets it "to
> mother earth, to die" [
> http://lexicon. ff.cuni.cz/ png/oi_cleasbyvi gfusson/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
> 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."
> http://www.edd. uio.no/perl/ search/search. cgi
> 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,
> lost anecdote, and now Sigmund will follow their example? But
> don't think the saga tells us anything about his mother or her
> ancestors, does it?