Nithing (infamous), a most insulting epithet, anciently used in Denmark and throughout the whole of the north of Europe. There was a peculiar way of applying it, however, which greatly aggravated its virulence, and gave the aggrieved party the right to seek redress by an action at law. This was by setting up what was called a nithing-post or nithing-stake, which is thus described by Mr. Blackwell in his valuable edition of Mallet's Northern Antiquities: "A mere hazel twig stuck in the ground by a person who at the same time made use of some opprobrious epithet, either against an individual or a community, was quite sufficient to come under the legal definition of a nithingpost. Several superstitious practices were, however, commonly observed on the occasion, which were supposed to impart to the nithing-post the power of working evil on the party it was directed against, and more especially to make any injuries done to the person erecting it recoil on those by whom they had been perpetrated. A pole with a horse's head, recently cut off, stuck on it, was considered to form a nithing-post of peculiar efficacy. Thus when Eigil, a celebrated Icelandic skald of the 9th century, was banished from Norway, we are told that he took a stake, fixed a horse's head upon it, and, as he drove it into the ground, said, 'I here set up a nithing-stake, and turn this my banishment against king Eirek and queen Gunhilda.' He then set sail for Iceland, with the firm persuasion that the injuries he had received by his banishment would, by the efficacy of his charmed nithing-post, recoil on the royal couple they had, in his opinion, proceeded from. Mention is frequently made in the sagas and the Icelandic laws of this singular custom. We are told, for instance, in the Vatsndaela Saga that Jokul and Thorstein, having accepted a challenge from Finbogi and Bjorg, went to the place of meeting on the day and hour appointed. Their opponents, however, remained quietly at home, deeming that a violent storm which happened to be raging would be sufficient excuse for their non-appearance. Jokul, after waiting for some time on the ground, thought that he would be justified in setting up a nithing-post against Finbogi, or, as would now be said, in posting him for a coward. He accordingly fashioned a block of wood into the rude figure of a human head, and fixed it on a post in which he cut magical runes. He then killed a mare, opened her breast, and stuck the post in it, with the carved head turned towards Finbogi's, dwelling."

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