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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to stanza

8. Bósa saga 8 (Busla, Buslubæn, 8) — Busla [Vol. 8, 34]

[6] hestar streði þik ‘may stallions violate you’: Counted among the gravest insults in Old Norse society is the suggestion of passive homosexuality (cf. Meulengracht Sørensen 1983, 18-20; Almqvist 2002, 141; Price 2005, 254-6). It culminates not infrequently in the accusation of having changed sexes. Thus an anonymous Icelandic mocking verse in Hkr (ÍF 27, 270-1) about the Danish king, Harald Gormsson, and his jarl, Birgir, depicted the two men as stallion and mare (Anon (ÓTHkr) 1I; cf. Almqvist 1965-74, I, 119-85). Although the matter might generally remain at the level of obscene imagery, the line in Busl takes it to excess with the threat of real, repeated rape by stallions. On the verb streða ‘screw’, as a keyword in the context of níð, cf. Meulengracht Sørensen (1983, 17-20) and Price (2005, 253).


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