The Norse Wisdom There lies less good than most believe In ale for mortal men. A man knows nothing if he knows not That wealth oft begets an ape. A coward thinks he will live forever If only he can shun warfare. Tell one your thoughts, but beware of two. All know what is known to three. A silly man lies awake all night, Thinking of many things. When the morning comes he is worn with care, And his trouble is just as it was. Elder Edda • Unlike Norse Religion, there are several collections of wise sayings that do not reflect upon heroism at all. • Norse wisdom-literature gives a view of life. • These writers, who seemed to have much age and experience, have retired from the battle field and now see things from a different point. A paltry man and poor of mind Is he who mocks at all things. Brave men can live well anywhere. A coward dreads all things. I once was young and traveled alone. I met another and thought myself rich. Man is the joy of man. Be a friend to your friend. Give him laughter for laughter. To a good friend’s house The path is straight Though he is far away. No man has nothing but misery, let him be never so sick. To this one his sons are a joy, and to that His kin, to another his wealth. And yet another the good he has done. In a maiden’s words let no man place faith, Nor in what a women says. But I know men and women both. Men’s mind are unstable toward women. None so good that he has no faults, None so wicked that he is worth naught. Moderately wise each other should be, Not overwise, for a wise man’s heart Is seldom glad. Cattle die and kindred die. We also die. But I know one thing that never dies, Judgment on each one dead. The mind knows only What lies near the heart. Wisdom • Along with their truly inspiring heroism, these men of the Norse had delightful common sense. Although the combination seems impossible, the poems prove otherwise. • We are connected to the Norse by race, our culture goes back to the Greeks. • Norse mythology gives a clear picture of what the people were like form whom comes a major part of our spiritual and intellectual inheritance.