Hi, I’m Old Norse specialist Dr. Jackson Crawford . One thing that’s often forgotten by those that don’t often read the sagas is that Norse Society was very litigious The Medieval Scandinavian law codes are one of our major sources for information about Norse culture and their pages must number in the hundreds . One of the most interesting and archaic is Grágás . A series of laws developed in Iceland before Iceland joined the Norwegian Kingdom in 1262 These laws which I’ll use as an example here include many kinds of words that a man can be found legally culpable for having said . Some of the most surprising include the working of (this is the word used in Old Norse when you make poetry as you work it) yrkja is the making of mansǫngvar . Literally maiden-songs : love songs The idea seems to be that if you compose a love poem about a woman that you might make her fall in love with you and then her father who has the right to marry her off then has to deal with the fact that she’s in love with someone he doesn’t want to marry her to . The penalty for composing love poetry is death . Or full outlawry . Which means exile from Iceland forever and no protection from the law while you live there . There are also words that it is illegal to call another man . The specific words vary from a very short list to a very long list in different law codes . Grágás simply says in the main text that if a man utters words that it is illegal to kill him for that the man that those words have been said about has to prosecute for it . Presumably to find out if the words are true . One of the specific words it’s illegal to call another man is argr or ragr . This is kind of a general locker room insult . It means cowardly, weak, homosexual . This is the most horrible thing you can call another man in Old Norse but there’s also another word specifically forbidden is stroðinn that means a man that has been sexually violated by another man . So much the same meaning as argr or ragr . And in other places you see other words considered forbidden like merr which means mare . You can work out the obvious sexual implications of why calling a man a mare would be offensive . And you also find in the sagas many other words that are considered to bring upon the speaker a liability of death . Like calling a man blauðr . Which means moist or wet and this has connotations of a feminine trait . So even though we think of the Vikings as solving everything with axes and swords they do fight with words and with law and in many of the Icelandic sagas we find law cases brought against men for using forbidden words . Or people killing each other over simple words . Over the last part of December I’m planning on doing a summary of Njál’s saga with some brief commentary and we’ll see a little bit about the kind of insults that begin bloodshed in the Society in that saga . Well, from above Georgetown, Colorado I’m wishing you all the best .