17 Viking Sayings That Really Show Norse Wisdom

Voting Rules

Vote up the wisest Viking sayings for the ages.

The Scandinavian text the Hávamál is part of a 13th-century collection of Old Norse poems. The name of the work translates to “Sayings of the High One,” and the contents are presented as the wise words of Odin himself. 

The Hávamál includes 164 stanzas, all of which provide Viking sayings about how to live, love, play, and fight in the Viking world. Full of practical and philosophical wisdom, it's a fascinating look at Viking Age culture. It's also a handy guide to living a life pleasing to Odin, if you're into that sort of thing. 

We've gathered some Viking mottos and Norse wisdom from the Hávamál (several translations exist; we combined the most accessible). Take a look and vote up the wisest words Odin had to offer. 

Photo: Hermann Hendrich / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

  • 1
    330 VOTES

    Nobody Likes A Know-It-All

    The Hávamál:

    "About his intelligence, no man should be boastful,
    rather cautious of mind;
    when a wise and silent man comes to a homestead
    blame seldom befalls the wary;
    for no more dependable friend can a man ever get 
    then a store of common sense."

    The takeaway: When you arrive at a new place, the wisest thing to do is to keep your mouth shut. 

    330 votes
  • 2
    407 VOTES

    Don't Overstay Your Welcome

    The Hávamál:

    "A guest must depart again on his way,
    nor stay in the same place ever;
    if he bide too long on another's bench
    the loved one soon becomes loathed."

    The takeaway: Staying too long at a loved one's home is going to cause tension.

    407 votes
  • 3
    370 VOTES

    Owning A Goat And Some Twigs Is Better Than Owning Nothing

    The Hávamál:

    "One's own house is best, though small it may be;
    each man is master at home;
    though he have but two goats and a bark-thatched hut
    'tis better than craving a boon."

    The takeaway: There is pride in being able to take care of yourself and call things your own.

    370 votes
  • 4
    307 VOTES

    Don't Take Anything For Granted

    The Hávamál:

    "Let none put faith in the first sown fruit
    nor yet in his son too soon;
    whim rules the child, and weather the field,
    each is open to chance."

    The takeaway: Whether it's your firstborn son or the crops in your field, they can fall victim to fate. 

    307 votes
  • 5
    297 VOTES

    Everything Dies Except Your Reputation

    The Hávamál:

    "Cattle die and kinsmen die,
    thyself too soon must die,
    but one thing never, I ween, will die, -
    the doom on each one dead."

    The takeaway: Live a good life, because your legacy is what carries on. 

    297 votes
  • 6
    345 VOTES

    Drinking Too Much Is Dangerous

    The Hávamál:

    "Less good than they say for the sons of men
    is the drinking oft of ale:
    for the more they drink, the less can they think
    and keep a watch o'er their wits."

    The takeaway: If you drink too much, you might do stupid things.

    345 votes