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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 135VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 135’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 440-1.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

Um engar sakir        skaltu aldri deila
        við hygginn hal;
gjöld af guði        hygg ek garpa taka
        fyrir reiði rangs hugar.

Skaltu aldri deila við hygginn hal um engar sakir; ek hygg garpa taka gjöld af guði fyrir reiði rangs hugar.

You must never argue with an intelligent man for the sake of nothing; I think that bold men get repayment from God for the anger of a wrong mind.

Mss: 1199ˣ(75v), 624(147)

Readings: [1] Um engar: so 624, fyrir unnar 1199ˣ    [2] deila: so 624, saka 1199ˣ    [3] við hygginn: so 624, aldyggvan 1199ˣ    [5] garpa taka: at gumnar taki 624    [6] fyrir: om. 624;    rangs: konungs 624

Editions: Skj AII, 195, Skj BII, 208, Skald II, 109; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 31, Gering 1907, 37, Tuvestrand 1977, 145, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 122.

Notes: [All]: Lat. parallel: (Dist. IV, 34) Contra hominem iustum prave contendere noli: / semper enim deus iniustas ulciscitur iras ‘Do not contend wrongly against a just man; for God is always angry at unjust anger’. A similar topic is dealt with in st. 70. — [1-3]: 624’s reading is chosen here, because 1199ˣ seems corrupt: Fyrir unnar sakir | skaltu aldri saka | aldyggvan hal ‘you must never accuse a very trustworthy man on account of committed crimes’; the repetition of sakir/saka is suspect, and l. 3 lacks alliteration. Emendation to hugdyggvan hal would restore the alliteration in l. 3 (Hallgrímur Scheving has hugdyggva hali for l. 3). Skj B takes 624’s reading and emends l. 3 to við hugdyggva hali, based on Hallgrímur Scheving’s text, but in doing so blends two quite separate ms. traditions.


  1. Bibliography
  2. Skj B = Finnur Jónsson, ed. 1912-15b. Den norsk-islandske skjaldedigtning. B: Rettet tekst. 2 vols. Copenhagen: Villadsen & Christensen. Rpt. 1973. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger.
  3. Skald = Kock, Ernst Albin, ed. 1946-50. Den norsk-isländska skaldediktningen. 2 vols. Lund: Gleerup.
  4. Tuvestrand, Birgitta, ed. 1977. Hugsvinnsmál: Handskrifter och kritisk text. Lundastudier i nordisk språkvetenskap A:29. Lund: Blom.
  5. Hermann Pálsson, ed. 1985a. Áhrif Hugsvinnsmála á aðrar fornbókmenntir. Studia Islandica/Íslensk Fræði 43. Reykjavík: Menningarsjóður.
  6. Gering, Hugo, ed. 1907. Hugsvinnsmál. Eine altisländische Übersetzung der Disticha Catonis. Kiel: Lipsius & Tischer.
  7. Hallgrímur Scheving, ed. 1831. Hugsvinnsmál, ásamt þeirra látinska frumriti. Skóla hátið. Viðeyar Klaustri: prentuð af Helga Helgasyni, á kostnað Bessastaða Skóla.

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