E-Ching wrote:
>>Besides, the ON sagas are not the oldest
>>source of information about the root word in this case.

Keth replied:
>I think they are the oldest source for most "Norse" words,
>unless you want to add runic inscriptions, which do
>give information about some words.

hm? I would say that eddic and skáldic poetry are significantly older
sources for Norse language use than the sagas, with runic inscriptions
being sources of urnordisch (Proto-Norse) rather than Old Norse - and if
you agree with oral-formulaic theory (I certainly do), it's possible to
consider eddic poetry as a significantly older use of language than the sagas.

>Notice also that it is "ulfr" that is
>used for PN's. A varg is a "niþing".

Here I would make a big point that "varg" and "níðing" appear to have
started off with different meanings and became closer in meaning by the
saga-writing period (anyone who's studied these changes more than I, please
correct me) - as this conversation has made fairly clear, a "varg"
originally meant "criminal", and became applied to outlaws and
wolves. However, "níðing" in the oldest usages distinctly means "coward,"
especially someone who chickens out of a duel or battle, and this developed
into "dishonourable person" in general, and often directly to outlaws
("griðníðing" being especially notable).

As an example of the difference, I would personally say Grettir Ásmundarson
spent much of his adult life as a varg, but was never a níðing - and IIRC,
the narrative voice calls him a varg while his enemies call him a níðing,
so the author of Grettis saga *might* be showing a similar attitude. (I
wouldn't go out on a limb defending that one, though.)

>In Rome btw, the she-wolf was a "lupa".
>Romulus and Remus were nursed by a she-wolf, as you may recall.

In Latin, "lupa" is also slang for a prostitute (rather similar to some
English slang), which makes a bit more sense than having a city founded by
feral children - unless we're using the logic of "gods taking the forms of
animals to have semi-divine human children," in which case this appears to
be a lesser form of it, where Romulus and Remus weren't descended, but were
just raised by a goddess. My guess is probably Acca Larentia, who was an
Etruscan mother-goddess with sacral prostitution, until the Romans got
ahold of her and she became patron of streetwalkers... ;->


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