The ancient Norse had many proverbs and sayings about life that might come in handy if you find yourself stranded on a desert island with only Vikings around.
The “nordic sayings” is a collection of 80 Viking wisdom sayings and proverbs. The book includes quotes from the Norse sagas, poetry, and folk songs.
Note from the editor: The Hávamál (“Sayings of the High One”) is a collection of Old Norse poetry from the Viking era that dates back over 1,000 years. The deity Odin is credited with a collection of proverbs and wise sayings in Stanzas 1-80. The maxims deal with the laws of being a guest and displaying hospitality, which were not just a matter of etiquette for the Vikings, but also a matter of honor. They also provide basic advice on how a guy should behave and live a worthy life.
1. Before moving further, check all doorways; it’s impossible to determine where opponents could be hiding inside a home.
2. All praise the givers! A visitor has arrived; where should he sit? He is in a hurry, since he must try his luck on the roads.
3. A man needs food and rainment wherever the fell has traveled; fire is required by him who has come in and whose knees are chilled.
4. Water, a towel, and a kind invitation, a nice greeting are all required of him who comes for refection; if he can acquire it, conversation and response are also required.
5. Wit is necessary for those who travel long distances; at home, everything is simple. He who knows nothing and sits among the taught is a laughingstock.
6. In his opinion, no one should be prideful, but rather careful in their actions. When the wise and taciturn enter a place, the careful are seldom harmed; because no one ever has a stronger friend than profound sagacity.
7. A watchful visitor who comes to reflect preserves a cautious quiet, listens with his ears, and examines with his eyes: thus every sensible man searches.
8. He who wins reputation and good words for himself is content; that which a man must have in the heart of another is less certain.
9. He is content who, while alive, enjoys renown and intelligence; because poor advice has often come from another’s breast.
10. No one carries a heavier weight on the road than a lot of common sense; that is regarded to be better than wealth in a foreign land; such is the indigent’s resort.
11. There is no worse provision on the journey he cannot carry than too much beer-bibbing; beer is not excellent for the sons of men, as it is claimed.
12. No man can take a worse provision from the table than too much beer-bibbing: the more he drinks, the less control he has over his own thinking.
13. Oblivion’s heron is so named because he hovers above potations and snatches men’s thoughts. I was enslaved at Gunnlöd’s home by the pinions of this bird.
14. Inebriated At that crafty Fjalar’s, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I was, I It’s the finest intoxication when everyone regains their senses afterward.
15. A king’s offspring should be taciturn and wise, and brave in battle; joyful and generous everyone should remain till the hour of his death.
16. A fearful man believes he will live forever if he avoids fighting; but, old age will not spare him, even if spears spare him.
17. When a fool enters a home, he gapes, mutters or remains quiet to himself; but when he drinks, the man’s thoughts is revealed all at once.
18. Only he who travels much and has a lot of experience understands what disposition each man is guided by, and who has common sense.
19. Let a man carry the cup, but drink gently of the mead, talk well, or remain mute. If you go to bed on time, no one will chastise you as if it were a fault.
20. A greedy guy, if he is not temperate, will eat himself to death. His gut often causes a foolish guy amid the sensible to chuckle.
21. Cattle know when to return home and stop grazing, but a fool never understands how big his stomach is.
22. A sad and ill-conditioned guy sneers at everything; one thing he doesn’t realize, but should, is that he is not without flaws.
23. A stupid man lies awake all night, studying everything; he then falls asleep; and when daylight arrives, everything is as it was.
24. A idiot considers everyone who grin at him to be his friends; he does not feel it when he sits among the wise, even though they talk poorly of him.
25. A fool believes that everyone who talk well of him are his friends; nevertheless, if he goes to court, he will discover that he has few supporters.
26. A fool believes he knows everything if confronted with a tough situation; nevertheless, if put to the test, he has no idea what to say.
27. A ignorant guy who comes among people should keep quiet; no one knows that he understands nothing unless he speaks excessively. He who previously knew nothing will continue to know nothing, no matter how much he talks.
28. He considers himself intelligent because he can ask questions and chat; no one can hide his stupidity since it travels among others.
29. He who is never quiet utters too many fruitless words; a garrulous mouth, if not curbed, sings frequently to its own detriment.
30. No man shall have another gazing-stock, even though he comes to his home as a stranger. If he is not questioned, many people believe they are smart and can sit in a dry habit.
31. If he goes to the air, Clever imagines himself as the visitor who jeers a guest. He who eats flesh has no way of knowing if he is conversing with adversaries.
32. Many guys are friendly, yet they will torture each other at the table. That conflict will always exist; guests will be irritated.
33. A guy should have early meals often, unless he is going to a friend’s home; otherwise, he will sit and mope, seem half-famished, and be unable to enquire about many topics.
34. The route to a terrible friend’s house is long and indirect, even if he lives near the road; but the roads to a good friend’s house are straight, even if he lives far away.
35. A visitor should go rather than remain in one area all of the time. If someone stays at another’s home for too long, the welcome turns unwanted.
36. One’s own home, no matter how tiny, is the greatest; everyone is his own master at home. Even if he just has two goats and a straw-thatched cot, it’s better than begging.
37. It is ideal to have one’s own home, tiny as it may be, for everyone is his own master at home. He has a bleeding heart since he needs to beg for food at every mealtime.
38. Leaving his weapons in the field, no one should advance more than a foot’s length; because it is difficult to predict when a man may require his weapon on the route.
39. I have never seen a guy who was so kind and hospitable that he declined a gift; who was so generous with his riches that he hated a reimbursement.
40. No one should be in need of the possessions he has acquired; because the despised is often spared what was planned for the dear. Much worse than feared occurs.
41. Friends should gladden one other with arms and vestments, especially those that are most visible in themselves. If everything (else) goes right, givers and requiters are the best of friends.
42. A man should be a friend to his buddy, and gifts should be returned with gifts. Men should accept laughing with laughter, but leasing with lying should be avoided.
43. A man should be a friend to his friend, both to him and to his friend; but no one should be a friend to his opponent.
44. Know that if thou hast a friend in whom thou hast complete faith and from whom thou wouldst draw benefit, thou shouldst meld thy thinking with his, exchange presents, and visit him often.
45. If thou hast somebody in whom thou hast little faith, yet wishest to get benefit from him, talk him fairly, but consider craftily, and lease pay with deceit.
46. But of him, whom thou little trustest, and whom thou suspectest of his devotion; before him, thou shouldst laugh, and talk contrary to thine thoughts: requital should resemble the gift.
47. I was once young, and I was traveling alone when I got lost; I believed I was wealthy until I met another. Man is the source of man’s delight.
48. Liberal and daring folks enjoy the best, seldom cherishing pain; but, a base-minded man dreads everything, and the niggardly feels uncomfortable even with presents.
49. In a field, I gave away my clothes to two wooden men who pretended to be heroes when they received cloaks: a naked man is vulnerable to ridicule.
50. A tree on a hilltop withers, with no bark or leaves to protect it: such is the guy whom no one favors: why should he live long?
51. For five days, love is hotter than fire amongst false friends; nevertheless, when the sixth day arrives, it is quenched, and friendship is severely harmed.
52. Praise is often for a little purchased, rather than anything magnificent. I made a friend out of half a bread and a skewed vessel.
53. Tiny are the sand grains, little are the brains, little are the minds of (some) men; because not all men are intelligent in the same way: men are everywhere in half.
54. Each one should be somewhat knowledgeable, but never over-smart: the lives of those men whose lives are prettiest are those who know much well.
55. Everyone should be somewhat intelligent, but not too so; because a smart man’s heart is seldom pleased if he is all-wise who possesses it.
56. Everyone should be somewhat smart, but never over-wise. His future will be unknown to everyone; his mind will be devoid of worry.
57. Brand burns from brand to brand till it is extinguished; fire is hastened from fire. A man is recognized by his words, but a fool is known by his shy quiet.
58. He who wishes another’s property or life should rise early. A lethargic wolf seldom catches food, and a sleepy man rarely wins.
59. He who has few employees should wake early and attend to his task; he who sleeps the morning away is considerably hindered. Energy is responsible for half of wealth.
60. A man understands the measure of dry boards and roof shingles; of firewood that may suffice, both measure and time.
61. Let a man ride to the Thing, washed and refitted, even if his clothes aren’t in excellent shape; no one should be embarrassed of his shoes and breeches, nor of his horse, even if it isn’t a nice one.
62. Every wise man, who will be regarded as wise, should inquire and share. If just one person knows, the second may not; if three people know, the whole world knows.
63. When he arrives to the sea, the eagles over the ancient ocean, he gasps and gapes; such is a guy who comes amid many and has few supporters.
64. Every wise man should utilize his might with caution, for when he gets among the brave, he will discover that no one is the most hardy.
65. Every guy should be circumspect and reserved, and suspicious of trusting friends. A man frequently pays the price for the things he speaks to another.
66. I arrived far too early in many places, but much too late in others; the beer was either consumed or not ready; the disliked seldom strikes at the right time.
67. If I had required a supper, I should have been welcomed here and there; or two hams should have hung at that real friend’s, one of which I had eaten.
68. The sight of the sun is finest among the sons of men, and the sight of fire is best among the sons of men, provided a man’s health may be had with a life devoid of vice.
69. No guy needs anything, even if his health is poor: one of his sons is happy, one is wealthy, and one is known for his good actions.
70. It is preferable to live, even if it is a miserable existence; a living man can always obtain a cow. The wealthy man’s property was consumed by fire, and death loomed at his door.
71. The halt can ride a horse, the one-handed can herd cattle, and the deaf can fight and be useful: being blind is preferable than being burned, for no one gains anything from a dead.
72. A son is better after his father’s departure, even if he was born late. Gravestones are seldom seen along the roadside unless they have been erected by a kinsman to a kinsman.
73. Two are enemies: the tongue is the head’s bane, and I anticipate a hand beneath every robe.
74. He who is certain of having a good time while traveling is happy at night. (The yards on a ship are little.) An autumn night is variable. The weather varies a lot in five days, but much more in a month.
75. He (only) knows not who knows not, that many ape each other. One individual is wealthy, while another is impoverished; neither should be blamed.
76. Cattle, relatives, and even ourselves die; yet a man’s good name never dies if he has earned it.
77. Cattle die, relatives die, and we ourselves die; yet there is one thing I know that never dies: judgment on the dead.
78. Stockpiles that are overflowing I saw Dives’ sons, and they now wield the beggar’s staff. Such wealth is as fleeting as the flicker of an eye: friends are the most fickle of creatures.
79. When an ignorant man gains riches or the affection of a woman, pride increases inside him, but knowledge does not: he becomes more and more arrogant.
80. Then it becomes clear, if you ask him about runes, those known to the lofty ones, which the great powers designed and the great talker painted, that he should keep silent.
Make sure to listen to our Viking mythology primer:
The “viking quotes about drinking” is a list of sayings and proverbs from the Vikings. The list was compiled by Eirik the Red, who is considered to be the first Viking in history.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some Viking sayings?
A: Here are some Viking sayings.
To kill a cow, you must first draw your sword. “You cant catch wolves in sheeps clothing. The best time to plant is when you dont need the harvest. One cannot win without playing fair and square.
What was the Viking motto?
What did Vikings say before battle?
A: By the gods, this is going to be good.
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