loki: Loki, Alberich & Odin (Default)
Ergi, like the adjective argr from which it is formed, has a strongly pejorative sense: it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that no other Norse word was able to provoke such violent feelings and reactions. According to the opinion of the time, the application to a man of the term argr (or its synonym by metathesis ragr) meant that he was 'unmanly' in various ways, and in particular that he was a coward and a homosexual. 
[...]
If sexual perversion as such had been the object of contempt and moral disapprobation, the latter would surely have been expressed in the laws dealing with obscene libels. But this is not the case: rather it would seem that it is the feminine sexual role which makes the allegations of ergi particularly injurious and in fact intolerable for the recipient. This assumption is further supported by the fact that the Norwegian laws already mentioned include insults likening a man to a female animal (berendi) among the words liable to the highest personal recompense. to liken a man to a male animal cost only half as much (halfréttisorð). Accusing a man of having given birth to a child, i.e. of having performed an exclusively female sexual function, is added by the Gulathing Law to its list of 'full penalty words' (fullréttisorð) indicating the severest recompense to be paid.
[...] 
In the mythological poetry we encounter comparable charges that a man has taken the shape of a woman. I am referring primarily to Lokasenna. When the gods reply to Loki's words of abuse they find effective points of attack in his mythical past. Three times it is said that he is argr and indeed the matter is well documented: at the dawn of time he mated in the guise of a mare with the stallion Svaðilfari. The fruit of that union is the horse Sleipnir, which thus has Loki as its mother.

It is therefore obvious that Loki is guilty of shameless ergi.

― "Níð, ergi and Old Norse moral attitudes" by Folke Ström (Med. / Fil.Dr, Biblioteksråd Gothenburg, 1973)
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loki: Loki, Alberich & Odin (Default)
one hundred and one lokis!

October 2012

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