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Nīþ

"Nidingr" redirects here. For the band, see Nidingr (band).

In historical Germanic society, nīþ (Old Norse: níð Old English: nīþ, nīð; Old Dutch: nīth); was a term for a social stigma implying the loss of honour and the status of a villain. A person affected with the stigma is a nīðing (Old Norse: níðingr/ᚾᛁᚦᛁᚴᛦ, Old English: nīðing, nīðgæst, or Old High German: nidding). Middle English retained a cognate nithe, meaning "envy" (cf. modern Dutch nijd and modern German Neid), "hate", or "malice."

A related term is ergi, carrying the connotation of "unmanliness".

Contents

Ergi and argr or ragr can be regarded as specifying swearwords. Ergi, argr and ragr were the severe insults made by calling someone a coward, and due to its severity old Scandinavian laws demanded retribution for this accusation if it had turned out unjustified. The Icelandic Gray Goose Laws referred to three words that were regarded as equal to argr by themselves. Those were ragr, strodinn, and sordinn, all three meaning the passive role of a man in sexual activities, being womenly, and being subserviant. Another semantic belonging to argr, ragr and ergi was, from the Gray Goose, "being a sorcerer's friend."

Examples from Old Scandinavian Laws: The Gulathing law referred to "being a male bottom," "being a thrall (slave)," "being a seiðmaðr (wizard)," the Bergen/Island law referred to "being a seiðmaðr," "being a sorcerer and/or desiring same-sex activities as a [passive] male (kallar ragann)," the Frostothing law to "desiring male same-sex activities as a bottom." Thus, it is apparent that ergi of a níðingr was strongly connoted not only with sorcery, unmanliness, weakness, and effeminacy but also especially with lecherousness or sexual perversion in the view of Old Scandinavian people during the Early and High Middle Ages. Ergi of females was considered as excessive lecherousness bordering raging madness, ergi of males as perversity, effeminacy and the passive role within same-sex intercourse between men, while an active role of a man, who had been included into same-sex intercourse, was not to be tinged by ergi, ragr, argr or níð.

Further information: Niðing Pole

Níðings had to be scolded, i. e. they had to be shouted in their faces what they were in most derogatory terms, as scolding (Anglo-Saxon scald, Norse skald, Icelandic skalda, OHG scelta, Modern German Schelte; compare scoff, Modern Dutch schelden, Anglo-Saxon scop, and flyting) was supposed to break the concealing seiðr spell and would thus force the fiend to give away its true nature.

The actual meaning of the adjective argr or ragr [Anglo-Saxon earg] was the nature or appearance of effeminacy, especially by obscene acts. Argr was the worst, most derogatory swearword of all known to the Norse language. According to Icelandic law, the accused was expected to kill the accuser at once.

If the accused did not retort by violent attack, either right on the spot or by demanding holmgang, yielding either the challenging accuser to take his words back or the accuser's death, he was hence proven to be a weak and cowardly níðingr by not retorting accordingly.

Beside by words, scolding could also be performed by pejorative visual portrayals, especially by so-called níðstangs or nīþing poles. These were usually single poles with a carved man's head, on which a horse or a horse's head was impaled. In two attested instances (Bjarnar saga Hítdælakappa ch. 17, Gísla saga Súrssonar), two níðstangs were arranged so as to suggest homosexual intercourse.

A "classical definition of ergi is found in the scoldings (see section below) of opposing warriors Gudmund and Sinfyötli in the New Helgi song, offending each other as earg and thus challenging each other before a fight. Gudmund perjorates Sinfyötli in verse 36:

Verse 36
Prince you cannot
talk about me
like that,
scolding a
noble man.
For you ate
a wolf's treat,
shedding your brother's
blood, often
you sucked on wounds
with an icy maw,
creeping to
dead bodies,
being hated by all.

and in following verses 37-39 Sinfyötli rebuts this:

Verse 37
Walkury, an abhorrent
monster have you been
frightening, and earg,
by Odin!
The Einherjars
fought in desire
about you
stubborn whore.

Verse 38
Hag on Warinsey Island
that was you
so insidiously
conjuring illusions.
You said that
the only warrior
you desired to marry
was I, Sinfyötli.

Verse 39
On Sága's Inlet
you gave birth
to nine wolves
fathered by
Sinfyötli.

In accordance with these more detailed descriptions of what constituted ergi as appearing in the New Helgi song, the Gulathing law referred to eacans swearwords further describing earg as "being a mare," "being a pregnant animal," "being a bitch," "having indecent intercourse with animals," the Bergen/Island law referred to "biting another man," "being a pregnant animal," the Frostothing law to "being a female animal," the Uplandslag law to "having sexual intercourse with an animal." It's worth to note that such activities as being "a pregnant animal" and having intercourse with animals are activities which are attributed to the god Loki in Lokasenna and Gylfaginning.

Further information: Early Germanic law

The seiðr used prominently by níðings was linguistically closely linked to botany and poisoning. Therefore, seiðr to a degree might have been regarded as identical to murder by poisoning.[citation needed] This Norse concept of poisoning based on magic was equally present in Roman law:

[The] equality in Germanic and Roman law about equalling poisoning and magic was not created by influence of Roman laws upon Germanic people, even though an identical conception was indeed manifest in Roman law. This apparent likeness is probably based upon the shared original primitive conceptions about religion due to a shared Indo-European origin of both people.

Níðing poisoning ties in with the legal Germanic differentiation of murder and killing. Criminal murder differed from legitimate killing as by being performed in secret insidiously, away from the eyes of the community that had not been involved in the matter.

Sorcery [in Norse antiquity] equalled mysteriously utilizing evil forces, just as mysterious and abhorrent a crime as sexual deviancy. As for theft and murder, even more recent common Old Scandinavian belief still regarded them to be so closely associated to magical practices as to be entirely impossible without these latter. Those that were capable of breaking open heavy locks at night without being noticed by watchdogs nor waking up people had to be in command of supernatural abilities. Equally weird were those that were capable of murdering innocent lives. They were aided, guided, or coerced by an evil force to do their evil deeds.

Since sorcery "was not accepted officially, it could not serve the kinship as a whole, only private cravings; no decent person was safe from the secret arts of sorcerers," and as nīþ was insidiousness, a níðing was also thought to be a pathological liar and an oathbreaker, prone to committing perjury and especially treason. Summing up the relations between nīþ and criminality:

Severe misdeeds were perjury deeds, especially if they had been committed insidiously and in secret. Such perpetrators were nithings, despicable beings. Their perjury deeds included: Murder, theft, nightly arson, as well as any deeds that harmed the kinship's legally protected rights (treason, deserting to the enemy, deserting from the army, resisting to fight in a war, and perversion). [Furthermore these deeds included] any crimes offending the deities, such as breaking a special peace treaty (for example thing peace, armistice, security of the ceremony places and buildings, or a special festivity peace), trespass, defilement of graves, sorcery, finally all perjury deeds indicating moral degeneration, such as oathbreaking, perversion, acts of nasty cowardness [i. e. any acts] of moral degeneration.

This excessive mass of níðing associations might at first seem cumbersome and without any recognizable pattern. However the pattern behind it is outlined in the following sections.

The immediate consequence of being proven a níðing was outlawing the exile. (see for example)

The outlawed did not have any rights, he was exlex (Latin for "outside of the legal system"), in Anglo-Saxon utlah, Middle Low German uutlagh, Old Norse utlagr. Just as feud yielded enmity among kinships, outlawry yielded enmity of all humanity.

"Nobody is allowed to protect, house, or feed the outlaw. He must seek shelter alone in the woods just like a wolf." "Yet that is but one aspect of outlawry. The outlaw is not only expelled from the kinship, he is also regarded henceforth as an enemy to mankind."

Ancient dehumanizing terms meaning both "wolf" and "strangler" were common as synonyms for outlaws: OHG warc, Salian wargus, Anglo-Saxon wearg, Old Norse vargr.

Outlaws were regarded as physically and legally dead, their spouse was seen as widow or widower and their children as orphans, their fortune and belongings were either seized by the kinship or destroyed. "It was every man's duty to capture the outlaw and [...] kill him."

Níðings were considered to re-enter their bodies after death by their seiðr magic and even their dead bodies themselves were regarded as highly poisonous and contagious. To prevent them from coming back as the undead, their bodies had to be made entirely immobile, especially by impaling, burning up, drowning in rivers or bogs (see also Tacitus), or even all of the above. "Not any measure to this end was considered too awkward."

It could be better to fixate the haunting evil's body by placing large rocks on it, impaling it [..]. Often enough, people saw their efforts had been in vain, so they mounted destruction upon destruction on the individual fiend, maybe starting by beheading, then entirely burning up its body, and finally leaving its ashes in streaming water, hoping to absolutely annihilate the evil, incorporeal spirit itself.

Further information: Seiðr

It was believed that the reason for a nīþing to resort to insidious seiðr "witchery" in order to cause harm instead of simply attacking people by decent, belligerent violence to achieve the same end was that it was a cowardly and weak creature, further indicating its being direct opposite of Old Norse warrior ethos. Earg is often but translated as "cowardly, weak". By definition, any seiðberender (practitioner of seiðr) was immediately rendered argr by these very despicable magic practices.

Nīþ did not only motivate practicing seiðr but was regarded the most likely motivation of all for practicing seid. The nīþing used its malicious seiðr magic to destroy anything owned and made by man, ultimately the human race and Midgard itself.

Since primitive societies exclusively attributed their fear of evil sorcerers [i.e., seiðmaðr] to the sorcerer's motivating envy, all Indo-Germanic proverbs on the matter indicate that passive envy easily turns into aggressive crimes. He who envies is not satisfied to passively wait for his neighbours to run into accidents by coincidence to secretly gloat over them (while his gloating habits are widely accepted as a fact), he makes sure that they will live in misery or worse. […] Envy brings death, envy seeks evil ways.

Hence, the nīþing was regarded as a mythological fiend "that only exists to cause harm and bring certain undoing." Harboring a nīþ was regarded as destroying the "individual qualities that constituted man and genetical relation," making deviant, perverse, and ill instead so that this fiend was considered the direct opposite of decent man and its [nīþ] as contagious.

[Nīþings] were aided, guided, or coerced by an evil force to do their evil deeds. Hence, a nithing was not only degenerated in a general [moral] sense [...] it had originally been a human being of evil, fiendish nature that had either sought evil deliberately or had been taken into possession by evil forces unwillingly.

Nithings were thought to be suffering of physical ailments and were associated with crippledness. Most notably were limping as an outer indication of being a nithing (such as in the story of Rögnvald Straightleg whose last name was in fact but an ironic offence as his legs were actually crippled), and the belief that sorcerers would not only give birth to animals but also to crippled human children.

[...] a nithing was not only degenerated in a general [moral] sense [...] This [moral] degeneration was often innate, especially apparent by physical ailments.

These physical afflictions were regarded as furthermore supporting weakness of a nithing. It was often hard to distinguish these attributes from actual physical illness, and since "any eeriness and incomprehensibility was what made people suspect a person of being a nithing, whether this was based upon physical anomalies or mental traits", they were often regarded as mentally ill even during ancient times already, as defined by actually or perceivedly deviant social behaviour and feeling.

Runestone Sm 5 uses the opposite of niðingr, or oniðingr, to describe a man who died in England.

Nithings sometimes practiced seid in female clothes regardless of their biological sex, and they were considered to lose their physical biological sex by that act if they had been male before. More recent dialect forms of seid linguistically link it to "female sex organs." Also, there exists (or existed) evidence on the Golden horns of Gallehus that male initiates of seid were ritually "effeminated" or made to appear "genderless" (such as by using "women's clothing" such as robes, as do priests of other religions, in order to manipulate the genderless spirits).[citation needed]

According eacans in the Gulathing law were "having born children as a male," "being a male whore," while the Gray Goose referred to "being a woman each ninth night," and "having born children as a male."

Although no runic inscription uses the terms níð or níðingr, several Viking Age runestones use the term oníðingr, which with the o- prefix means the opposite of níðingr, to describe a man as being virtuous. Rundata translates this term as "unvillainous." This term is used as a descriptive term on runestones Ög 77 in Hovgården, Sö 189 in Åkerby, Sm 5 in Transjö, Sm 37 in Rörbro, Sm 147 in Vasta Ed, and DR 68 in Århus, and appears as a name or part of a name on inscriptions Ög 217 in Oppeby, Sm 2 in Aringsås, and Sm 131 in Hjortholmen. The same alliterative Old Norse phrase, manna mæstr oniðingR, which is translated as "the most unvillainous of men," appears on Ög 77, Sm 5, and Sm 37, and DR 68 uses a variant of this phrase.

  1. The last attestations recorded by the OED date to the early 15th century. See also the entry níþ from Bosworth & Toller (1898/1921). An Anglo-Saxon dictionary, based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth, edited and enlarged by T. Northcote Toller, Oxford University Press
  2. Heusler, Andreas (1937). Isländisches Recht - Die Graugrans (in German). Weimar.
  3. Seebold, Elmar (Ed.): Art. arg, in: Kluge. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, 24. Auflage, Berlin, New York 2002, S. 58.
  4. Meißner, Rudolf (1935). Norwegisches Recht - Das Rechtsbuch des Gulathings (in German). Weimar. p. 123.
  5. Meißner, Rudolf (1950). Stadtrecht des Königs Magnus Hakonarson für Bergen - Bruchstücke des Birkinselrechts und Seefahrerrechts der Jónsbók (in German). Weimar. pp. 65, 105, 347, 349, 437.
  6. Meißner, Rudolf (1939). Norwegisches Recht - Das Rechtsbuch des Frostothings (in German). Weimar. p. 193ff.
  7. Ruth Karras Mazo: Sexualität im Mittelalter. Aus dem Amerikanischen von Wolfgang Hartung, Düsseldorf 2006, pp. 275-277.
  8. Jan de Vries (1957). "Die Religion der Nordgermanen". Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. 2: 51.
  9. Gering, Hugo (1927). B. Sijmons (ed.). Kommentar zu den Liedern der Edda (in German). Halle. p. 289.
  10. Heusler, Andreas (1911). Das Strafrecht der Isländersagas (in German). Leipzig. p. 56.
  11. Sammlung Thule (Band 9) (in German). 1964. p. 99.
  12. Meißner, Rudolf (1935). Norwegisches Recht - Das Rechtsbuch des Gulathings (in German). Weimar. p. 27.
  13. Meißner, Rudolf (1950). Stadtrecht des Königs Magnus Hakonarson für Bergen - Bruchstücke des Birkinselrechts und Seefahrerrechts der Jónsbók (in German). Weimar. pp. 89, 345, 397.
  14. Schwerin, Claudius v. (1935). Schwedische Rechte - Älteres Westgötalag, Uplandslag (in German). Weimar. p. 35.
  15. Schrader, Otto (1928). Reallexikon der Indogermanischen Altertumskunde (Band 2) (in German). Berlin. p. 697.
  16. Philippson, Ernst Alfred (1929). Germanisches Heidentum bei den Angelsachsen (in German). Leipzig. p. 208.
  17. Vordemfelde, Hans (1923). "Die germanische Religion in den deutschen Volksrechten". Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten (in German). Gießen. p. 131.
  18. Ernst Klein (1930). "Der Ritus des Tötens bei den nordischen Völkern". Archiv für Religionswissenschaft. 28: 177.
  19. Lehmann, Alfred (1925). Aberglaube und Zauberei (in German). Stuttgart. p. 40.
  20. Conrad, Hermann (1962). Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (Band 1): Frühzeit und Mittelalter (in German). Karlsruhe. p. 49.
  21. Schröder, Richard; Eberhard v. Künßberg (1932). Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (in German) (7 ed.). Berlin/Leipzig. p. 80.
  22. Schwerin, Claudius v. (1950). Grundzüge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (in German). Berlin and Munich. p. 29.
  23. His, Rudolf (1901). Das Strafrecht der Friesen im Mittelalter (in German). Leipzig: Weicher. p. 166.
  24. Brunner, Heinrich (1961). Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (Band 1) (in German). Berlin. p. 166.
  25. His, Rudolf (1901). Das Strafrecht der Friesen im Mittelalter (in German). Leipzig. p. 176.
  26. Brunner, Heinrich (1961). Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (Band 1) (in German). Berlin. p. 167.
  27. Weiser-Aall, Lily (1933). "Zur Geschichte der Altgermanischen Todesstrafe und Friedlosigkeit". Archiv für Religionswissenschaft. 33: 225.
  28. Brunner, Heinrich (1921). Grundzüge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (in German) (7 ed.). Munich/Leipzig. p. 192.
  29. Rickenbacher, Franz (1902). Das Strafrecht des alten Landes Schwyz (in German). Leipzig. p. 31.
  30. Fehr, Hans (1948). Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (in German). Berlin. p. 16.
  31. Clemen, Carl (1932). Urgeschichtliche Religion (in German). Bonn. p. 22.
  32. E. Maaß (1927). "Die Lebenden und die Toten". Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum. 25 (49): 207.
  33. "Herwörlied der Edda". Sammlung Thule (Band 1) (in German). 1936. p. 210ff.
  34. Grönbech, Wilhelm (1954). Kultur und Religion der Germanen (Band 1) (in German). Darmstadt. p. 340.
  35. Hentig, Hans v. (1954). Die Strafe - Frühformen und gesellschaftliche Zusammenhänge (in German). Berlin, Göttingen, and Heidelberg. p. 328.
  36. Rudolf His (1929). "Der Totenglaube in der Geschichte des germanischen Strafrechts". Schriften der Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität zu Münster. 9: 3.
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  38. Vordemfelde, Hans (1923). "Die germanische Religion in den deutschen Volksrechten". Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten (in German). Gießen. p. 148.
  39. Brunner, Heinrich (1961). Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte (Band 1) (in German). Berlin. p. 264.
  40. Wilda, Wilhelm Eduard (1842). Das Strafrecht der Germanen (in German). Halle. pp. 100, 504.
  41. Jan de Vries (1957). "Die Religion der Nordgermanen". Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte. 2: 66.
  42. Schwerin, Claudius v. (1950). Grundzüge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte (in German). Berlin and Munich. p. 30.
  43. His, Rudolf (1928). Deutsches Strafrecht bis zur Karolina (in German). Munich and Berlin. p. 56.
  44. Glob, P. V. (1966). Die Schläfer im Moor (in German). Munich. p. 58.
  45. Grönbech, Wilhelm (1954). Kultur und Religion der Germanen (Band 1) (in German). Darmstadt. p. 344.
  46. Hermann, Paul (1929). Das altgermanische Priesterwesen (in German). Jena. p. 46.
  47. Helm, Karl (1926). Die Entwicklung der germanischen Religion. Heidelberg. p. 361.
  48. Josef Weisweiler (1923). "Beiträge zur Bedeutungsentwicklung germanischer Wörter für sittliche Begriffe". Indogermanische Forschungen. 41: 16, 19, 24.
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  50. Schoeck, Helmut (1966). Der Neid - Eine Theorie der Gesellschaft (in German). Freiburg and Munich. p. 24.
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Look up nithing in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Nīþ
Nith Language Watch Edit Nidingr redirects here For the band see Nidingr band In historical Germanic society nith Old Norse nid Old English nith nid Old Dutch nith was a term for a social stigma implying the loss of honour and the status of a villain A person affected with the stigma is a niding Old Norse nidingr ᚾᛁᚦᛁᚴᛦ Old English niding nidgaest or Old High German nidding Middle English retained a cognate nithe meaning envy cf modern Dutch nijd and modern German Neid hate or malice 1 A related term is ergi carrying the connotation of unmanliness Contents 1 Nid argr ragr and ergi 2 Scolding and nidstang 3 Nith and criminality 4 Nith and witchcraft 5 Association with physical disability 6 Association with effeminacy 7 Runestones 8 See also 9 ReferencesNid argr ragr and ergi EditErgi and argr or ragr can be regarded as specifying swearwords Ergi argr and ragr were the severe insults made by calling someone a coward and due to its severity old Scandinavian laws demanded retribution for this accusation if it had turned out unjustified The Icelandic Gray Goose Laws 2 referred to three words that were regarded as equal to argr by themselves Those were ragr strodinn and sordinn all three meaning the passive role of a man in sexual activities being womenly and being subserviant 3 Another semantic belonging to argr ragr and ergi was from the Gray Goose being a sorcerer s friend Examples from Old Scandinavian Laws The Gulathing law 4 referred to being a male bottom being a thrall slave being a seidmadr wizard the Bergen Island 5 law referred to being a seidmadr being a sorcerer and or desiring same sex activities as a passive male kallar ragann the Frostothing law 6 to desiring male same sex activities as a bottom Thus it is apparent that ergi of a nidingr was strongly connoted not only with sorcery unmanliness weakness and effeminacy but also especially with lecherousness or sexual perversion in the view of Old Scandinavian people during the Early and High Middle Ages Ergi of females was considered as excessive lecherousness bordering raging madness ergi of males as perversity effeminacy and the passive role within same sex intercourse between men while an active role of a man who had been included into same sex intercourse was not to be tinged by ergi ragr argr or nid 7 Scolding and nidstang EditFurther information Niding Pole Nidings had to be scolded i e they had to be shouted in their faces what they were in most derogatory terms as scolding Anglo Saxon scald Norse skald Icelandic skalda OHG scelta Modern German Schelte compare scoff Modern Dutch schelden Anglo Saxon scop and flyting was supposed to break the concealing seidr spell and would thus force the fiend to give away its true nature 8 The actual meaning of the adjective argr or ragr Anglo Saxon earg was the nature or appearance of effeminacy especially by obscene acts Argr was the worst most derogatory swearword of all known to the Norse language According to Icelandic law the accused was expected to kill the accuser at once 9 If the accused did not retort by violent attack either right on the spot or by demanding holmgang yielding either the challenging accuser to take his words back or the accuser s death he was hence proven to be a weak and cowardly nidingr by not retorting accordingly 10 Beside by words scolding could also be performed by pejorative visual portrayals especially by so called nidstangs or nithing poles These were usually single poles with a carved man s head on which a horse or a horse s head was impaled In two attested instances Bjarnar saga Hitdaelakappa ch 17 Gisla saga Surssonar two nidstangs were arranged so as to suggest homosexual intercourse 11 A classical definition of ergi is found in the scoldings see section below of opposing warriors Gudmund and Sinfyotli in the New Helgi song offending each other as earg and thus challenging each other before a fight Gudmund perjorates Sinfyotli in verse 36 Verse 36 Prince you cannot talk about me like that scolding a noble man For you ate a wolf s treat shedding your brother s blood often you sucked on wounds with an icy maw creeping to dead bodies being hated by all and in following verses 37 39 Sinfyotli rebuts this Verse 37 Walkury an abhorrent monster have you been frightening and earg by Odin The Einherjars fought in desire about you stubborn whore Verse 38 Hag on Warinsey Island that was you so insidiously conjuring illusions You said that the only warrior you desired to marry was I Sinfyotli Verse 39 On Saga s Inlet you gave birth to nine wolves fathered by Sinfyotli In accordance with these more detailed descriptions of what constituted ergi as appearing in the New Helgi song the Gulathing law 12 referred to eacans swearwords further describing earg as being a mare being a pregnant animal being a bitch having indecent intercourse with animals the Bergen Island law 13 referred to biting another man being a pregnant animal the Frostothing law 6 to being a female animal the Uplandslag law to having sexual intercourse with an animal 14 It s worth to note that such activities as being a pregnant animal and having intercourse with animals are activities which are attributed to the god Loki in Lokasenna and Gylfaginning Nith and criminality EditFurther information Early Germanic law The seidr used prominently by nidings was linguistically closely linked to botany and poisoning 15 16 Therefore seidr to a degree might have been regarded as identical to murder by poisoning citation needed This Norse concept of poisoning based on magic was equally present in Roman law The equality in Germanic and Roman law about equalling poisoning and magic was not created by influence of Roman laws upon Germanic people even though an identical conception was indeed manifest in Roman law This apparent likeness is probably based upon the shared original primitive conceptions about religion due to a shared Indo European origin of both people 17 Niding poisoning ties in with the legal Germanic differentiation of murder and killing Criminal murder differed from legitimate killing as by being performed in secret insidiously away from the eyes of the community that had not been involved in the matter Sorcery in Norse antiquity equalled mysteriously utilizing evil forces just as mysterious and abhorrent a crime as sexual deviancy As for theft and murder even more recent common Old Scandinavian belief still regarded them to be so closely associated to magical practices as to be entirely impossible without these latter Those that were capable of breaking open heavy locks at night without being noticed by watchdogs nor waking up people had to be in command of supernatural abilities Equally weird were those that were capable of murdering innocent lives They were aided guided or coerced by an evil force to do their evil deeds 18 Since sorcery was not accepted officially it could not serve the kinship as a whole only private cravings no decent person was safe from the secret arts of sorcerers 19 and as nith was insidiousness a niding was also thought to be a pathological liar and an oathbreaker prone to committing perjury and especially treason Summing up the relations between nith and criminality Severe misdeeds were perjury deeds especially if they had been committed insidiously and in secret Such perpetrators were nithings despicable beings Their perjury deeds included Murder theft nightly arson as well as any deeds that harmed the kinship s legally protected rights treason deserting to the enemy deserting from the army resisting to fight in a war and perversion 20 Furthermore these deeds included any crimes offending the deities such as breaking a special peace treaty for example thing peace armistice security of the ceremony places and buildings or a special festivity peace trespass defilement of graves sorcery finally all perjury deeds indicating moral degeneration such as oathbreaking perversion acts of nasty cowardness 21 i e any acts of moral degeneration 22 This excessive mass of niding associations might at first seem cumbersome and without any recognizable pattern However the pattern behind it is outlined in the following sections The immediate consequence of being proven a niding was outlawing the exile see for example 23 The outlawed did not have any rights he was exlex Latin for outside of the legal system in Anglo Saxon utlah Middle Low German uutlagh Old Norse utlagr Just as feud yielded enmity among kinships outlawry yielded enmity of all humanity 24 Nobody is allowed to protect house or feed the outlaw He must seek shelter alone in the woods just like a wolf 22 25 Yet that is but one aspect of outlawry The outlaw is not only expelled from the kinship he is also regarded henceforth as an enemy to mankind 25 Ancient dehumanizing terms meaning both wolf and strangler were common as synonyms for outlaws OHG warc Salian wargus Anglo Saxon wearg Old Norse vargr 26 Outlaws were regarded as physically and legally dead 27 their spouse was seen as widow or widower and their children as orphans 26 their fortune and belongings were either seized by the kinship or destroyed 28 29 It was every man s duty to capture the outlaw and kill him 30 Nidings were considered to re enter their bodies after death by their seidr magic 31 32 33 and even their dead bodies themselves were regarded as highly poisonous and contagious 34 To prevent them from coming back as the undead their bodies had to be made entirely immobile especially by impaling 35 36 37 burning up 38 39 40 41 42 43 drowning in rivers or bogs see also Tacitus 43 44 or even all of the above Not any measure to this end was considered too awkward 34 It could be better to fixate the haunting evil s body by placing large rocks on it impaling it Often enough people saw their efforts had been in vain so they mounted destruction upon destruction on the individual fiend maybe starting by beheading then entirely burning up its body and finally leaving its ashes in streaming water hoping to absolutely annihilate the evil incorporeal spirit itself 45 Nith and witchcraft EditFurther information Seidr It was believed that the reason for a nithing to resort to insidious seidr witchery in order to cause harm instead of simply attacking people by decent belligerent violence to achieve the same end was that it was a cowardly and weak creature further indicating its being direct opposite of Old Norse warrior ethos 46 47 Earg is often but translated as cowardly weak By definition any seidberender practitioner of seidr was immediately rendered argr by these very despicable magic practices 48 Nith did not only motivate practicing seidr 49 but was regarded the most likely motivation of all for practicing seid 50 The nithing used its malicious seidr magic to destroy anything owned and made by man ultimately the human race and Midgard itself 51 Since primitive societies exclusively attributed their fear of evil sorcerers i e seidmadr to the sorcerer s motivating envy all Indo Germanic proverbs on the matter indicate that passive envy easily turns into aggressive crimes He who envies is not satisfied to passively wait for his neighbours to run into accidents by coincidence to secretly gloat over them while his gloating habits are widely accepted as a fact he makes sure that they will live in misery or worse Envy brings death envy seeks evil ways 50 Hence the nithing was regarded as a mythological fiend that only exists to cause harm and bring certain undoing 52 Harboring a nith was regarded as destroying the individual qualities that constituted man and genetical relation 53 making deviant perverse and ill instead so that this fiend was considered the direct opposite of decent man and its nith as contagious Nithings were aided guided or coerced by an evil force to do their evil deeds Hence a nithing was not only degenerated in a general moral sense it had originally been a human being of evil fiendish nature that had either sought evil deliberately or had been taken into possession by evil forces unwillingly 18 Association with physical disability EditNithings were thought to be suffering of physical ailments and were associated with crippledness Most notably were limping as an outer indication of being a nithing such as in the story of Rognvald Straightleg whose last name was in fact but an ironic offence as his legs were actually crippled 54 and the belief that sorcerers would not only give birth to animals but also to crippled human children 55 anithingwas not only degenerated in a general moral sense This moral degeneration was often innate especially apparent by physical ailments 18 These physical afflictions were regarded as furthermore supporting weakness of a nithing It was often hard to distinguish these attributes from actual physical illness and since any eeriness and incomprehensibility was what made people suspect a person of being a nithing whether this was based upon physical anomalies or mental traits they were often regarded as mentally ill even during ancient times already as defined by actually or perceivedly deviant social behaviour and feeling 56 Runestone Sm 5 uses the opposite of nidingr or onidingr to describe a man who died in England Association with effeminacy EditNithings sometimes practiced seid in female clothes regardless of their biological sex and they were considered to lose their physical biological sex by that act if they had been male before 57 More recent dialect forms of seid linguistically link it to female sex organs 58 Also there exists or existed evidence on the Golden horns of Gallehus that male initiates of seid were ritually effeminated or made to appear genderless such as by using women s clothing such as robes as do priests of other religions in order to manipulate the genderless spirits 59 citation needed According eacans in the Gulathing law 12 were having born children as a male being a male whore while the Gray Goose 2 referred to being a woman each ninth night and having born children as a male Runestones EditAlthough no runic inscription uses the terms nid or nidingr several Viking Age runestones use the term onidingr which with the o prefix means the opposite of nidingr to describe a man as being virtuous Rundata translates this term as unvillainous This term is used as a descriptive term on runestones Og 77 in Hovgarden So 189 in Akerby Sm 5 in Transjo Sm 37 in Rorbro Sm 147 in Vasta Ed and DR 68 in Arhus 60 and appears as a name or part of a name on inscriptions Og 217 in Oppeby Sm 2 in Aringsas and Sm 131 in Hjortholmen 61 The same alliterative Old Norse phrase manna maestr onidingR which is translated as the most unvillainous of men appears on Og 77 Sm 5 and Sm 37 61 and DR 68 uses a variant of this phrase 62 See also EditHostis humani generis Malakia in ancient Hellenic society formerly Classical definition of effeminacy Moral turpitude Raca in Semitic languages Shame strokeReferences Edit The last attestations recorded by the OED date to the early 15th century See also the entry nith from Bosworth amp Toller 1898 1921 An Anglo Saxon dictionary based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth edited and enlarged by T Northcote Toller Oxford University Press a b Heusler Andreas 1937 Islandisches Recht Die Graugrans in German Weimar Seebold Elmar Ed Art arg in Kluge Etymologisches Worterbuch der deutschen Sprache 24 Auflage Berlin New York 2002 S 58 Meissner Rudolf 1935 Norwegisches Recht Das Rechtsbuch des Gulathings in German Weimar p 123 Meissner Rudolf 1950 Stadtrecht des Konigs Magnus Hakonarson fur Bergen Bruchstucke des Birkinselrechts und Seefahrerrechts der Jonsbok in German Weimar pp 65 105 347 349 437 a b Meissner Rudolf 1939 Norwegisches Recht Das Rechtsbuch des Frostothings in German Weimar p 193ff Ruth Karras Mazo Sexualitat im Mittelalter Aus dem Amerikanischen von Wolfgang Hartung Dusseldorf 2006 pp 275 277 Jan de Vries 1957 Die Religion der Nordgermanen Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte 2 51 Gering Hugo 1927 B Sijmons ed Kommentar zu den Liedern der Edda in German Halle p 289 Heusler Andreas 1911 Das Strafrecht der Islandersagas in German Leipzig p 56 Sammlung Thule Band 9 in German 1964 p 99 a b Meissner Rudolf 1935 Norwegisches Recht Das Rechtsbuch des Gulathings in German Weimar p 27 Meissner Rudolf 1950 Stadtrecht des Konigs Magnus Hakonarson fur Bergen Bruchstucke des Birkinselrechts und Seefahrerrechts der Jonsbok in German Weimar pp 89 345 397 Schwerin Claudius v 1935 Schwedische Rechte Alteres Westgotalag Uplandslag in German Weimar p 35 Schrader Otto 1928 Reallexikon der Indogermanischen Altertumskunde Band 2 in German Berlin p 697 Philippson Ernst Alfred 1929 Germanisches Heidentum bei den Angelsachsen in German Leipzig p 208 Vordemfelde Hans 1923 Die germanische Religion in den deutschen Volksrechten Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten in German Giessen p 131 a b c Ernst Klein 1930 Der Ritus des Totens bei den nordischen Volkern Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft 28 177 Lehmann Alfred 1925 Aberglaube und Zauberei in German Stuttgart p 40 Conrad Hermann 1962 Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte Band 1 Fruhzeit und Mittelalter in German Karlsruhe p 49 Schroder Richard Eberhard v Kunssberg 1932 Lehrbuch der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte in German 7 ed Berlin Leipzig p 80 a b Schwerin Claudius v 1950 Grundzuge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte in German Berlin and Munich p 29 His Rudolf 1901 Das Strafrecht der Friesen im Mittelalter in German Leipzig Weicher p 166 Brunner Heinrich 1961 Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte Band 1 in German Berlin p 166 a b His Rudolf 1901 Das Strafrecht der Friesen im Mittelalter in German Leipzig p 176 a b Brunner Heinrich 1961 Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte Band 1 in German Berlin p 167 Weiser Aall Lily 1933 Zur Geschichte der Altgermanischen Todesstrafe und Friedlosigkeit Archiv fur Religionswissenschaft 33 225 Brunner Heinrich 1921 Grundzuge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte in German 7 ed Munich Leipzig p 192 Rickenbacher Franz 1902 Das Strafrecht des alten Landes Schwyz in German Leipzig p 31 Fehr Hans 1948 Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte in German Berlin p 16 Clemen Carl 1932 Urgeschichtliche Religion in German Bonn p 22 E Maass 1927 Die Lebenden und die Toten Neue Jahrbucher fur das klassische Altertum 25 49 207 Herworlied der Edda Sammlung Thule Band 1 in German 1936 p 210ff a b Gronbech Wilhelm 1954 Kultur und Religion der Germanen Band 1 in German Darmstadt p 340 Hentig Hans v 1954 Die Strafe Fruhformen und gesellschaftliche Zusammenhange in German Berlin Gottingen and Heidelberg p 328 Rudolf His 1929 Der Totenglaube in der Geschichte des germanischen Strafrechts Schriften der Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Westfalischen Wilhelms Universitat zu Munster 9 3 Peuckert Will Erich 1942 Deutscher Volksglaube des Spatmittelalters in German Stuttgart p 111 Vordemfelde Hans 1923 Die germanische Religion in den deutschen Volksrechten Religionsgeschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten in German Giessen p 148 Brunner Heinrich 1961 Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte Band 1 in German Berlin p 264 Wilda Wilhelm Eduard 1842 Das Strafrecht der Germanen in German Halle pp 100 504 Jan de Vries 1957 Die Religion der Nordgermanen Altgermanische Religionsgeschichte 2 66 Schwerin Claudius v 1950 Grundzuge der deutschen Rechtsgeschichte in German Berlin and Munich p 30 a b His Rudolf 1928 Deutsches Strafrecht bis zur Karolina in German Munich and Berlin p 56 Glob P V 1966 Die Schlafer im Moor in German Munich p 58 Gronbech Wilhelm 1954 Kultur und Religion der Germanen Band 1 in German Darmstadt p 344 Hermann Paul 1929 Das altgermanische Priesterwesen in German Jena p 46 Helm Karl 1926 Die Entwicklung der germanischen Religion Heidelberg p 361 Josef Weisweiler 1923 Beitrage zur Bedeutungsentwicklung germanischer Worter fur sittliche Begriffe Indogermanische Forschungen 41 16 19 24 Seid Old Norse seidr on the Germanic Lexicon Project a b Schoeck Helmut 1966 Der Neid Eine Theorie der Gesellschaft in German Freiburg and Munich p 24 Gronbech Wilhelm 1954 Kultur und Religion der Germanen Band 1 in German Darmstadt p 251 Fries Jan de 1964 Die geistige Welt der Germanen in German Darmstadt p 50 Gronbech Wilhelm 1954 Kultur und Religion der Germanen Band 1 in German Darmstadt p 105 Sammlung Thule Band 14 in German 1965 p 124 Hentig Hans v 1954 Die Strafe Fruhformen und gesellschaftliche Zusammenhange in German Berlin Gottingen and Heidelberg pp 316 318 E Maass 1925 Eunuchos und Verwandtes Rheinisches Museum fur Philologie 74 432ff Strom Folke 1956 Loki Ein mythologisches Problem in German Goteborg p 72 Stromback Dag 1935 Seyd Textstudier i Nordisk Religionshistorika Nordiska Texter och Undersokningar in Swedish 5 29 31 Danckert Werner 1936 Unehrliche Leute Die verfemten Berufe in German Bern and Munich p 195 Project Samnordisk Runtextdatabas Svensk Rundata a b Zilmer Kristel 2005 He Drowned in Holmr s Sea Baltic Traffic in Early Nordic Sources PDF Tartu University Press p 178 ISBN 9949 11 090 4 Archived from the original PDF on 2011 07 20 Naumann Hans Peter 1994 Hann var manna mestr onidingr Zer Poetizitat Metrischer Runeninschriften In Hoops Johannes Beck Heinrich eds Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde in German Berlin Walter de Gruyter pp 490 502 ISBN 3 11 012978 7 pp 499 500 Look up nithing in Wiktionary the free dictionary Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Nith amp oldid 1040945537, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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