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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 44VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 44’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 387-8.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

Fé þik eigi tæla lát,        þótt þér fagrt sýniz,
        né til síngirnu snúi;
annars eign        girniz illr at hafa;
        sæll er, sá er sínu unir.

Lát eigi fé tæla þik, né snúi til síngirnu, þótt sýniz þér fagrt; illr girniz annars eign at hafa; sæll er, sá er unir sínu.

Do not let money entice you nor turn [you] to covetousness, although it may seem attractive to you; a bad person desires to own another’s possession; he is fortunate, who is content with his own.

Mss: 1199ˣ(73r), 723aˣ(80), 696XV(1v), 401ˣ(1v), 624(142)

Readings: [1] þik eigi tæla lát: þik eigi tæla 723aˣ, láttu þik eigi tæla 696XV, ‘[...] fagvrt se’ 624    [2] þótt: so 696XV, 401ˣ, þótt at 1199ˣ, þat 723aˣ, om. 624;    þér fagrt sýniz: ‘þier fagurt [...]’ 696XV, lát þú þik eigi tæla 624    [3] til síngirnu snúi: so 624, þat til þín girnd snúiz 1199ˣ, þó þér komi girnd í geð 723aˣ, ‘[...] snuazt’ 696XV, eða til sinkr snúiz 401ˣ    [5] girniz: girnstu 401ˣ, fýsiz 624;    illr: aldri 401ˣ;    at: ‘a[...]’ 624;    hafa: ‘h[...]’ 696XV    [6] sæll: snotr 624

Editions: Skj AII, 177-8, Skj BII, 193, Skald II, 100; Hallgrímur Scheving 1831, 14, Gering 1907, 13, Tuvestrand 1977, 95, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 56.

Notes: [All]: Lat. parallel: (Dist. I, 29) Quod vile est carum, quod carum vile putato: / sic tu nec cupidus nec avarus nosceris ulli ‘Take that which is cheap to be dear, that dear to be cheap; thus you will be known to no-one as greedy nor avaricious’. Although the phrasing in both versions of ll. 1-3 is quite different, they both render the Lat. distich equally correctly. Therefore it remains uncertain which version is closer to the original translation. Avarice is quite a common topic in medieval literature. In Hsv it is also mentioned in sts 22, 73, 96, and 97. There is a parallel in content in Sól 63. — [1-2]: 624 reads quite differently: [þótt] fagrt sé | lát þú þik eigi tæla ‘Do not let money entice you, although it seems attractive’ (AM 148 8° has þó). — [3] né snúi til síngirnu ‘nor turn [you] to covetousness’: 624’s reading is taken here following Skj B. Although it differs substantially from the other mss, they all have problems. 1199ˣ’s reading þat snúiz til þín girnd ‘it may turn desire to you’ alliterates somewhat irregularly on þat and þín and could be corrupt; additionally, snúaz cannot take an acc. object. Hermann Pálsson bases his text on 401ˣ, which requires emendation: eða til sínku snúisk ‘or turn [you] to covetousness’. 696XV has a lacuna. 723aˣ has yet another version: þó þér komi girnd í geð ‘although desire comes to your mind’, but does not fit very well semantically with the previous ll. Skj takes 624’s version but emends síngirnu (from síngirna) to síngirni, although the former is attested.


  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.
  8. Internal references
  9. Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper 2007, ‘ Anonymous, Hugsvinnsmál’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 358-449. <> (accessed 23 September 2021)
  10. Carolyne Larrington and Peter Robinson (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Sólarljóð 63’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, p. 341.

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