Magic in Old Icelandic Prose Texts

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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“Magic” is a highly problematic term which scholars are gradually discarding in favour of terminology reflecting internal perspectives. This is because our modern notion of “magic” is burdened by bias, and has historically represented “the religion of the other” (Davies, 41). The most recurrent terms to identify magic practices in Old Icelandic texts are





seiðr, trolldómr

(Maraschi, “Magic, Miracles, and Rituals”; Meylan, “The Magical Power of Poetry”, 46). For instance, the medieval Icelandic law code known as


(written down in 1117) punishes “galldra…gørningar…fiolkýngi” with lesser outlawry, and sometimes with permanent banishment (


, 22; Mitchell, 347). According to this law code,


consists of…

2270 words

Citation: Maraschi, Andrea. "Magic in Old Icelandic Prose Texts". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 June 2023 [, accessed 15 June 2024.]

19719 Magic in Old Icelandic Prose Texts 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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