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Insults, violence, and the meaning of <i>lytegian</i> in the Old English <i>Battle of Maldon</i>

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Abstract

The history of impoliteness &#8212; of which insults are a part &#8212; and violence are intertwined. In medieval Germanic cultural history, this link manifests itself in historical-pragmatic contexts such as <i>sennur</i>, whettings, and flyting-to-fighting scenarios, which are surveyed in this paper. The ethological origins of such interactions are called into question with reference to the Freudian death drive. Based on the connection between insults and violence, a novel definition of Old English <i>lytegian</i> in the <i>Battle of Maldon</i> is offered, namely &#8216;jeer, insult&#8217;, with comparative support from Icelandic.

References

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