Wednesday 2 April 2014

Havamal Snippets 135: Treat guests well

This stanza stresses the importance of being hospitable to guests.  It's a trait that prevails throughout much of humanity, and due to the fact that it continues to exist amongst human society shows that being hospitable to strangers is on average more beneficial to both hosts and guests than being inhospitable to strangers.  The idea put forward by mainstream historians over the past umpteen generations that Vikings were a totally savage and war-like people is challenged by stanzas like this, and the Havamal in general, which encourages hosts to treat guests decently.  (Though, of course, that's not to say that Vikings were totally peaceful people, because they did have a strong fighting ethic just like other hunter-gatherer tribes.)

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
gest þú ne geyja
né á grind hrekir
get þú váluðum vel            
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
do not revile a guest
nor drive him away from your gates;
treat the wretched well.


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