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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Anon Hsv 57VII

Tarrin Wills and Stefanie Gropper (eds) 2007, ‘Anonymous Poems, Hugsvinnsmál 57’ in Margaret Clunies Ross (ed.), Poetry on Christian Subjects. Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages 7. Turnhout: Brepols, pp. 395-6.

Anonymous PoemsHugsvinnsmál

text and translation

Gæzku safna        skal gumna hverr,
        sá er vill hyggindi hafa;
æðri speki        fær maðr aldrigi,
        en hann við syndum sjái.

Hverr gumna, sá er vill hafa hyggindi, skal safna gæzku; maðr fær aldrigi æðri speki, en hann sjái við syndum.
‘Every man who wants to have wisdom must accumulate virtues; a man never gets more wisdom than [if] he guards himself against sins.

notes and context

Lat. parallel: (Praefatio Libri II, 6-9) Si quid amare libet vel discere amare legendo, / Nasonem petito; sin autem cura tibi haec est, / Ut sapiens vivas, audi quae discere possis, / Per quae semotum vitiis deducitur aevum ‘If your fancy is to love something, or you want to learn of love by reading, seek out Ovid [Publius Ovidius Naso]; but if this is your concern, to live as a wise man, hear those things you may learn, from which a lifetime removed from vice is drawn’. The Icel. text of the preface to Book II avoids specific mention of the two Lat. authors Virgil and Ovid, in the latter case possibly because his Ars Amatoria ‘Art of Love’ appears to have been somewhat controversial in Icel. classrooms, to judge by the well-known incident reported in Jóns saga helga (JBp 2003, 19, 84, 125), in which Bishop Jón forbade the future bishop Klængr Þorsteinsson to study this and similar books.



Text is based on reconstruction from the base text and variant apparatus and may contain alternative spellings and other normalisations not visible in the manuscript text. Transcriptions may not have been checked and should not be cited.

editions and texts

Skj: Anonyme digte og vers [XIII], [C. E/5]. Hugsvinnsmál 58: AII, 180-1, BII, 195, Skald II, 102; Gering 1907, 16, Tuvestrand 1977, 103, Hermann Pálsson 1985, 67.


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