Viking Proverbs

Before going into a hall, look at all the doorways. You never know where you might find an enemy.

A man can carry no better load than too much good sense—and no worse than too much drink.

Praise not the day until evening has come;
Praise not the woman until she is burnt;
Praise not the sword until it is tried;
Praise not a maiden until she is married;
Praise not the ice until it is crossed;
Praise not the beer until it is drunk.

A man of note should be quiet, thoughtful, and brave in battle; everyone should keep happy and cheerful until the end.

Be a friend to your friends. Meet a gift with a gift, a smile with a smile, and a lie with the pretense of not knowing.

A man without a friend is like a naked fir tree, without bark or foliage, lonely on a barren hill.

The good of life is in life itself. Make sure you enjoy it and leave a good name behind you. The best thing is to be alive and happy.

A coward thinks he will live forever if he avoids his enemies, but no man escapes old age, even if he survives the spears.

A visitor must leave in time, and not outstay his welcome; even a friend becomes annoying if he stays too long.

Never move an inch from your weapons when out in the fields; you never know when you will need your spear.

Be a friend to your friend, and to his friend as well; but no man should be a friend to his enemy’s friend.

A man should be wise in moderation, but never too wise. A man’s mind is freer of care if he doesn’t know his fate in advance.

A lame man can ride a horse, a man without hands can still herd sheep, and a deaf man can still kill; it is better to be blind than burned on a funeral-pyre. The dead can do nothing at all.

Cattle die, kinsfolk die, we all die. But one thing, I know, lives forever—a dead man’s reputation.

Better to be a free bird than a captive king.

Misfortune visits the rich, but it visits the poor twice.

When the sausage is too long, the cure is easy.

Everything has an end, except sausages, which have two.

Crumbs are still bread.

Ambition and revenge are always hungry.

When the sea is calm, each ship has a good captain.

A Dane’s promise is a Dane’s debt.

Poverty does not force one to steal, nor wealth keep one from it.

The house of the mocker frequently burns down.

In an agreement, be sure one doesn’t end up with the sword and the other the sheath.

When eating cherries with the great, one risks getting hit in the nose by the pits.

Closer to the king, closer to the gallows.

Two can lie until a third hangs.

The land is ruled by the mouth, but the sea is ruled by the hand.

Where the law fails, honor must make good.

Viking Proverbs

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