Níð

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Sean Lawing (Bryn Athyn College of the New Church)
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Níð

is the Old Norse term for an insult tradition in medieval Norse society.

Níð

means “scorn, libel, calumny”, and indicates a particular form of ritual defamation that manifests in both verbal and sculptural forms. Verbal or tongue

níð

(

tunguníð

) comprises scandalous verses,

níðvísur

, sexually defaming or libelous in nature such as that a man has borne children or becomes a mare every ninth night. Sculptural

níð

(

tréníð

), literally “timber-

níð

”, occurs when a pole, a

níðstöng

, is varyingly carved with runes or persons in sexually compromising positions. A horse’s head or even an entire horse may be impaled on the pole and the resulting apparatus turned towards an enemy. Raising the

níð

-pole is accompanied by an incantation, formula, or libelous verse…

3071 words

Citation: Lawing, Sean. "Níð". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 September 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=19661, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19661 Níð 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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