• Fiorella Di Fonte Università degli Studi G. D'Annunzio Chieti-Pescara


the stjúpmœðrasögur are those sagas that focus on the clash between a hero and his evil stepmother, who, eventually, put a spell on him. These curses can be considered as a climax in the struggle between the two characters and they can be considered as the beginning of the adventures that the hero will have to face. In these statements, there are some terms related to cursing which are particularly suitable for a semantic study, together with a search for the cultural references that characterize them. In particular, in this paper, I will point out how the choice of the vocabulary of cursing changes according to the historical period in which the saga is set: the terms are more specifically linked to the concept of seiðr, when the narration takes place in 'ancient times', preceding the first settlements in Iceland, during a period still defined as pagan. Whereas in those sagas whose events are close to the Christian conversion and the Icelandic colonization, there are more generic words, not related to magical knowledge. These kinds of terms take on a different meaning, which is related to the semantic and cultural sphere of cursing if they are introduced in a magical context.