Forged with Powerful Words

A Study on the Old Norse atkvæði in Context

In: Amsterdamer Beiträge zur älteren Germanistik
Michael Micci Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies, University of Iceland Reykjavik Island

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The Old Norse-Icelandic literary corpus offers a rich and specific lexicon for spells, charms, magic, and other paranormal events. This article offers an etymological overview of the term atkvæði and a selection of textual occurrences in order to investigate the semantic possibilities of the term beyond the context of witchcraft. The founding hypothesis is that a careful look at atkvæði through various types of texts from different periods of time may highlight its origin in a pre-literate phase of the Old Norse-Icelandic culture where the boundaries between magic, poetry, and law-making were not as clear as the contemporary readers might reckon.

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