Ynglingatal and the Early Scandinavian Kings
This chapter demonstrates how the commemoration of a king’s ancestors could be used to consolidate his political position and provide a shared history for the community. It focuses on the sequence Ynglingatal, by the poet Þjóðólfr ór Hvini, and its preservation in the later Ynglinga saga. The poem helps to establish a lengthy and near-mythical genealogy for the Norwegian ruling family. However, the poet himself does not focus primarily upon the deeds of these rulers during their lifetimes; rather, their deaths and the ways in which they are commemorated emerge as the central concerns of the poem. It is shown that Þjóðólfr explores two different forms of commemoration—the construction of monuments and the composition of verse—as a means of evaluating their efficacy in the articulation of social memory.
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