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Full-Text Articles in Law

Feeling Another's Pain: Sympathy And Psychology Saga Style, William I. Miller Jan 2014

Feeling Another's Pain: Sympathy And Psychology Saga Style, William I. Miller

Articles

Progress is hardly a given in the humanities or the suspect sciences. In many ways we are not quite as astute as our grandparents, and they not as much as theirs, and so forth in an infinite entropic regress. Would I trade Montaigne or Stendhal’s psychological acumen for even the best work that comes from social psychology departments? In this short essay I want to show just how good some medieval people, medieval Icelanders to be exact, were at understanding the mental and emotional states of others, and if of others then presumably, though not necessarily, also of themselves ...


Is A Gift Forever?, William I. Miller Jan 2007

Is A Gift Forever?, William I. Miller

Articles

What are the rules regarding gifts you receive? Can you give them away? If so, must you conceal that you have done so from the original giver? Or is there a statute of limitations, after which any right the original giver has to feel wronged or to burden you with guilt for undervaluing it by giving it away rightly expires? Even an heirloom might exhaust its sacredness. Sometimes the sacred has a half-life, as might be the case, for instance, with your grandmother’s dining set. Can the giver ask for his gifts back if you try to give them ...


Deep Inner Lives, Individualism And People Of Honour, William I. Miller Jan 1995

Deep Inner Lives, Individualism And People Of Honour, William I. Miller

Articles

With the exception of St Augustine and perhaps Abelard, often praised as modern before their time, it is not unusual to find it maintained that the individual was not available in any serious conceptual, psychological or even sociological way before the seventeenth century. Our thick and deep self, according to this view, is thus a rather recent phenomenon. Some more expansive souls find the individual already emerging a century earlier, during the Reformation. Within the last three decades, medievalists, chagrined at being contemned by classicists on one flank and an alliance of Renaissance scholars, early modernists, modernists and post-modernists on ...


Of Outlaws, Christians, Horsemeat, And Writing: Uniform Laws And Saga Iceland, William I. Miller Jan 1991

Of Outlaws, Christians, Horsemeat, And Writing: Uniform Laws And Saga Iceland, William I. Miller

Articles

Our word law is a loanword from Old Norse.1 It makes its earliest appearances in Old English manuscripts in the late tenth century. At that time the Old English word for law was, believe it or not, æ, written as a digraph called "ash." Now most readers, myself included, tend to experience anxiety when we confront a ligatured vowel like ae and so we untie it as a prelude to getting rid of it altogether: we turn an aesthete2 into an aesthete before finally humiliating him (or her) as an esthete, all to resolve our nervousness. King Æthelred the ...


Beating Up On Women And Old Men And Other Enormities: A Social Historical Inquiry Into Literary Sources, William I. Miller Jan 1988

Beating Up On Women And Old Men And Other Enormities: A Social Historical Inquiry Into Literary Sources, William I. Miller

Articles

The Icelandic sagas, besides being one of the most impressive literatures existing in any language, preserve detailed accounts of feud and legal action, and describe with intelligence and care the general techniques and strategies of dispute processing. They also contain, incidental to the narrative, information about values and law, marriage and death, householding arrangements and the systems of exchange, naming patterns, and so on, for those who care to coax such information from the texts.


Some Aspects Of Householding In The Medieval Icelandic Commonwealth, William I. Miller Jan 1988

Some Aspects Of Householding In The Medieval Icelandic Commonwealth, William I. Miller

Articles

There has been much, mostly inconclusive, discussion about how to define the household in a manner suitable for comparative purposes. Certain conventional criteria are not very useful in the Icelandic context, where it appears that a person could be attached to more than one household, where the laws suggest it was possible for more than one household to be resident in the same uncompartmentalised farmhouse; and where headship might often be shared. Definitions, for example, based on co residence or on commensalism do not jibe all that well with the pastoral transhumance practised by the Icelanders. Sheep were tended and ...


Ordeal In Iceland, William I. Miller Jan 1988

Ordeal In Iceland, William I. Miller

Articles

Ordeal holds a strange fascination with us. It appalls and intrigues. We marvel at the mentality of those cultures that officialize it; we feel a sense of horror as we imagine ourselves intimately involved with boiling water or glowing irons. And we don't feel up to it. So our terror and cowardice becomes their brutality and irrationality. I am not about to urge to reinstitution of ordeals, although most practicing lawyers will tell you that that is still what going to law is, a crapshoot they say. What I want to do is call attention to the difficulty of ...


Gift, Sale, Payment, Raid: Case Studies In The Negotiation And Classification Of Exchange In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller Jan 1986

Gift, Sale, Payment, Raid: Case Studies In The Negotiation And Classification Of Exchange In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller

Articles

Near the end of Eyrbyggja saga Porir asks Ospak and his men where they had gotten the goods they were carrying. Ospak said that they had gotten them at Pambardal. "How did you come by them?" said Porir. Ospak answered, "They were not given, they were not paid to me, nor were they sold either." Ospak had earlier that evening raided the house of a farmer called Alf and made away with enough to burden four horses. And this was exactly what he told Porir when he wittily eliminated the other modes of transfer by which he could have acquired ...


Dreams, Prophecy And Sorcery: Blaming The Secret Offender In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller Jan 1986

Dreams, Prophecy And Sorcery: Blaming The Secret Offender In Medieval Iceland, William I. Miller

Articles

An eminent legal historian once noted that the fundamental problem of law enforcement in primitive societies is that of the secret offender. The Icelandic legal and dispute processing systems depended on a wrongdoer publishing his deed, or at least committing it in an open and notorious manner. No state agencies existed to investigate and discover the non-publishing wrongdoer. But there were strong normative inducements to wrong openly; one's name was at stake. There was absolutely no honor in thievery, only the darkest shame; the ransmadr, on the other hand, suffered no shame for his successful raids, even if he ...