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Vikings Behaving Reasonably

Nordic "Hóf" in Civic and Legal Rhetoric

129 pages
Amsterdam University Press

Rather than being the lawless barbarian society that history and popular culture have painted it, medieval Scandinavian culture was complex and nuanced. This book fundamentally challenges our stereotypes of the Vikings, and interrogates the use of a “rhetoric of reasonableness” (hóf) in medieval Nordic society to give voice to this hitherto silenced tradition.

Civic rhetoric relied heavily on hóf to keep community customs manageable. In small towns and villages without central bureaucracies, reasonableness became important to the peaceful functioning of civil society.

Legal rhetoric was also based on hóf. If civic actions became potentially violent, then the courts needed means of redress, and a way to maintain the peace in the locality. The Scandinavian tradition of court cases appears both in the early laws and in several sagas, allowing a picture of the rhetorical stance of hóf to emerge through Nordic legal processes.

Author Bio
Robert L. Lively ================ Robert L. Lively is a professor at Truckee Meadows Community College. He holds a PhD from Arizona State University in the History of Rhetoric. His interests include rhetoric in the Medieval North, literacy studies, and science fiction and fantasy in popular culture.