Selvarv Stigard wrote:
> 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

Well, I wasn't differentiating that much.
I meant any ON Ms., whether law text, poetry or saga.
Also, remember that the sagas are an important source
of scaldic poetry. For example, Ynglingasaga, that some
consider old, is entirely contained in a saga.
See also "the battle of Goths and Huns", also
preserved within the body of a saga text.

> sources for Norse language use than the sagas, with runic
> being sources of urnordisch (Proto-Norse) rather than Old Norse -
and if

There are also runic inscriptions in the younger futhark.
In that sense runic inscriptions also provide information
about Old Norse.

> you agree with oral-formulaic theory (I certainly do), it's possible
> consider eddic poetry as a significantly older use of language than
the sagas.

I don't know. "oral-formulaic" sounds a bit "high brow" to me.
There has been too much back and forth discussion about that.
Eysteinn, for example, claims with great intensity that there
is no question that all eddic poems were composed in Iceland
by Icelanders -- and must hence be assigned a late date.

> >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
> started off with different meanings and became closer in meaning by
> saga-writing period (anyone who's studied these changes more than I,

I am not sure if there is a unified concept lying behind
"niðing" as some have claimed, almost elevating it
to a sort of mythic key. To me it seems more
like an ordinary mundane word that can take on several
meanings depending on the context.

> correct me) - as this conversation has made fairly clear, a "varg"
> originally meant "criminal", and became applied to outlaws and

Maybe a reflection of the old excecution method of criminals,
which was strangling by means of a rope. In German "wuergen"
means to strangle.

(and maybe they also used snares for wolves??)

> wolves. However, "níðing" in the oldest usages distinctly means
> especially someone who chickens out of a duel or battle,

I have also seen this use of the word.
But then it was in the context of the
phrase "every man's nithing".

In other contexts, such as "niðingsverk", it does however
seem to indicate a work of destruction. i.e. someone who
destroys things that all normal people agree are good and

>and this
> into "dishonourable person" in general, and often directly to
> ("griðníðing" being especially notable).

That is yet another meaning.
Also "mat-níðingr" = someone who does not wish to share
food with his guests. In the same way a "griðníðing" must
mean someone lacking in generosity. (to grant absolution
to opponents)

If you look in the sister languages of Old Norse, you will
see that niid/neid is always related to some of the classical
negative emotions, that is, greed, avarice, jealousy, anger
and hate. And I suppose that is also the "basic" meaning of
the word. (e.g. "nijdig als een spin" -- angry like a spider)

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

How about it if he worked evil ? (níðingsverk)
Would that make him a "níðing" ?

> >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
> 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
> ahold of her and she became patron of streetwalkers... ;->
Yes, you are right, the roman prositutes were called "lupa".

I thought it was funny that the Anglo-Saxon she-wolf was called
"weargyn" - because it almost sounds like "virgin" :)