"Den Vidfarne"

Angelsaksisk dikt fra 500 - 600-tallet - Anglo Saxon poem from the 6th or 7th Century

Ordet vikinger opptrer i linje 60. Dette er første kjente bruk av ordet i skrift. The term "vikings" (wicingas) appears in line 60. Gå til kommentarer.

Widsith spoke, unlocked his word-hoard,
he who had travelled most of all men
through tribes and nations across the earth.
Often he had gained great treasure in hall.
He belonged by birth to the Myrging tribe.
Along with Ealhild, the kind peace-weaver,
for the first time, from the Baltic coast,
he sought the home of Eormanric,
king of the Ostrogoths, hostile to traitors.
He began then to speak at length:
‘I have heard of many men who ruled over nations.
Every leader should live uprightly,
rule his estates according to custom,
if he wants to succeed to a kingly throne.
Hwala for a time was the best of all,
and Alexander too, the noblest of men,
who prospered most of all of those
that I have heard of across the earth.
Attila ruled the Huns, Eormanric the Goths,
Becca the Baningas, Gifica the Burgundians.
Caesar ruled the Greeks and Caelic the Finns,
Hagena the Holmrycgas and Henden the Glomman.
Witta ruled the Swaefe, Wada the Haelsingas,
Meaca the Myrgingas, Mearc the Hundingas.
Theodric ruled the Franks, Thyle the Rondingas,
Breoca the Brondingas, Billa the Waerne.
Oswine ruled the Eowan and Gefwulf the Jutes,
Finn, son of Folcwalda, the Frisian race.
Sigehere for many years ruled the Sea-Danes,
Hnaef the Hocingas, Helm the Wulfingas,
Wald the Woingas, Wod the Thuringians,
Saeferth the Sycgan, Ongentheow the Swedes,
Sceafthere the Ymbran, Sceaf the Langobards,
Hun the Haetware, and Holen the Wrosnan.
Hringwald was called the king of the Herefaran.
Offa ruled the Angles, Alewih the Danes.
He was the bravest of all those men,
but could not defeat Offa in deeds of arms,
and the noble Offa while still a boy
won in battle the greatest of kingdoms.
No-one of that age ever achieved
more glory than he did. With his sword alone
he marked the border against the Myrgings
at the mouth of the Eider. Angles and Swedes
observed it after that as Offa had won it.
Hrothwulf and Hrothgar, nephew and uncle,
held peace together for many years
after they had driven off the Heathobard tribe
and beaten down Ingeld's line of battle,
cut down at Heorot the Heathobard force.
So I travelled widely through foreign lands,
through distant countries, and there I met
both good and bad fortune, far from my kin,
and served as a follower far and wide.
And so I can sing and tell a tale,
declare to the company in the mead-hall
how noble rulers rewarded me with gifts.
I was with the Huns and  the glorious Goths,
with the Swedes and with the Geats and with the South-Danes.
I was with the Wenlas, the Waerne and the Wicingas.
I was with the Gefthan, the Winedas and the Gefflegan.
I was with the Angles, the Swaefe and the Aenenas.
I was with the Saxons, the Sycgan and the Sweordweras.
I was with the Hronan, the Dean and the Heathoreamas.
I was with the Thuringians and with the Throwendas
and with the Burgundians: there I gained a torc.
There Guthhere granted me splendid treasure
as reward for my song; that king was not tight-fisted.
I was with the Franks, with the Frisians and the Frumtingas.
I was with the Rugians, the Glomman and the Romans.
I was in Italy with Aelfwine too:
of all men he had, as I have heard,
the readiest hand to do brave deeds,
the most generous heart in giving out rings
and shining torcs, Eadwine's son.
I was with the Sercings and with the Serings.
I was with the Greeks and Finns, and also with Caesar,
who had the power over prosperous cities,
riches and treasure and the Roman Empire.
I was with the Irish, with the Picts and the Lapps.
I was with the Lidwicingas, the Leonas and the Langobards,
with the Haethenas and the Haelethas and with the Hundingas.
I was with the Israelites and with the Assyrians,
with the Hebrews and the Indians and with the Egyptians.
I was with the Medes and the Persians and with the Myrgingas,
with the Moabites and Ongendmyrgingas and with the Amothingas.
I was with the East-Thuringians and with the Ofdingas,
with the Eolas and the Philistines and with the Idumeans.
And I was with Eormanric throughout his reign.
There the king of the Goths granted me treasure:
the king of the city gave me a torc
made from pure gold coins, worth six hundred pence.
I gave that to Eadgils when I came home,
as thanks to my lord, ruler of the Myrgingas,
because he gave me land which once was my father's.
And then Ealhhild, Eadwine's daughter,
noble queen of the household, gave me another;
her fame extended through many lands
when I used my song to spread the word
of where under the heavens I knew a queen,
adorned with gold, most generous of all.
Then Scilling and I with our clear voices,
before our glorious lord, struck up our song;
sung to the harp, it rang out loudly.
Then many men with noble hearts
who understood these things openly said
that they had never heard a better song.
From there I travelled through the Gothic homeland --
I always sought out the best companions --
that was Eormanric's household guard!
I visited Hehca and Beadeca and the Herelingas,
Emerca and Fridla and Eastgota,
the wise and virtuous father of Unwen.
I visited Secca and Becca, Seafola and Theodric,
Heathoric and Sifeca, Hlith and Incgentheow.
I visited Eadwine and Elsa, Aegelmund and Hungar,
and the proud household of the Withmyrgingas.
I visited Wulfhere and Wyrmhere; there battle often raged
in the Vistula woods, when the Gothic army
with their sharp swords had to defend
their ancestral seat against Attila's host.
I visited Raedhere and Rondhere, Rumstan and Gislhere,
Withergield and Freotheric, Wudga and Hama.
They were by no means the worst of companions,
even though I happen to mention them last.
Often a whistling spear flew from the army,
screaming on its way to the enemy line;
there the exiles Wudga and Hama
gained twisted gold, men and women.
So I have always found throughout my travels
that the lord who is dearest to all his subjects
is the one God grants a kingdom of men
to have and to hold while he lives on earth.'
Wandering like this, driven by chance,
minstrels travel through many lands;
they state their needs, say words of thanks,
always, south or north, they find some man
well-versed in songs, generous in gifts,
who wishes to raise his renown with his men,
to do great things, until everything passes,
light and life together; he who wins fame
has lasting glory under the heavens.


Diktet Widsith - "Den Vidfarne" - og vikingenes opprinnelse

Dikteren av Widsith er ukjent. Heltediktet beskriver en reise gjennom Europa i folkevandringstiden på 400 og 500-tallet. I diktet nevnes også en del stammer og høvdinger som utvilsomt er skandinaviske, blant annet vikinger i linje 60 og samer i linje 80. Dette er den eldste skriftlige kilde der vikinger nevnes, og kanskje også for samene? Enkelte engelske oversettelse bruker også skrivemåten "Wicingum" i stedet for "Wicingas". Betydningen er likevel den samme.
Jeg-personen Widsith ("Den Vidfarne") er oppdiktet, da en slik reise ville være uoverkommelig for et menneske i praksis. Diktet har overlevd gjennom samleverket the Exeter Book fra år 975. Gjengivelsen her er en nyere engelsk oversettelse fra gammelengelsk.

Jeg mener at "Widsith" er en av nøklene til å forstå opprinnelsen av ordet "viking". "Widsith" viser at "viking" som begrep er eldre enn vikingtiden, og har vært brukt av andre folk utenfor Skandinavia om en av stammene her i Norden lenge før man kan snakke om land og riker her oppe i nord. Jeg har skrevet en artikkel om etymologien til "viking", der jeg foreslår en annen teori om etymologien til "viking" enn de heller sprikende teoriene som til nå har vært rådende innen akademiske miljø. Jeg setter der "Widsith" inn i en logisk sammenheng. Jeg har forgjeves (2005) søkt etter andre norske omtaler av "Widsith" satt inn i denne sammenhengen, men uten å finne referanser til diktet. Det ser ut til at min norske oversettelse av diktet er den første i moderne tid. Jeg ser likevel ikke bort fra at "Widsith" kan ha vært kjent i Norden før og under vikingtiden, men så blitt glemt. Les mer i min artikkel Etymologisk tolkning av "Viking" >>

Jeg har oversatt Widsith - "Den Vidfarne" - til norsk. Jeg har valgt tittelen "Den Vidfarne" på norsk ut fra hvordan jeg oppfatter originaltittelen og innholdet i diktet. Den "Vidfarne" er en som har fart vidt omkring. Jeg gjorde forøvrig oversettelsen til norsk bokmål på tampen av 2004 og publiserte det på nettet da. Gå til "Den Vidfarne" >>

The poem "Widsith" and the origin of the vikings

"Widsith" is an Anglo Saxon poem which probably originates from the 5th or 6th Century. The author is unknown today. The poem was included in the Exeter Book from 975 AD, which secured its survival until our times. "Widsith" describes a vast journey through most of Europe and parts of the Middle East made by a single person who acts as the story teller in the poem. This person is obviously fictious, as such a travel would be impossible to do for one person at that time. The poem is full of references to places, different tribes and "countries" and even to some chieftains and kings by their personal names. Some of these tribes are totally lost in time, while others can be recognised even today and placed geographically in todays Europe.
Anmong those references is a tribe named "wicingas" in line 60. Other translations use the spelling "wicingum". This is the first time "vikings" appear in any written source. The fact that the poem is several hundred years older than the beginning of the viking age in 790 AD, indicates that "vikings" in this context probably was a certain tribe og "folk" rather than the more general and term "vikings" as we use the word today.
I believe that the poem "Widsith" is one of the main keys to understand the etymology of the term "viking". The poem shows that "viking" was an established term long before the beginning of the viking age (790 - 1066). I have written an article about the etymology of the term "Viking", but so far I haven't had time to translate it into English. I published the article on the web in January 2005 in norwegian:
Etymologisk tolkning av "Viking" ("Etymology of "Viking").

I have also translated Widsith into norwegian - "Den Vidfarne". I have chosen the title "Den Vidfarne" based on my conception of the original title and the general theme in the poem. "Vidfarne" means "The far traveller" or the "Wide-traveller". The spelling and the sound of the norwegian title also resemble the original title. In other words Widsith is a person who has visited a lot of places and different people. I did the translation in January 2005. I have searched for other norwegian references to the poem, but was unable to find anything by the time I did the translation. My translation may be the first into modern norwegian (bokmål), which I find very strange because the poem's use of the word "viking". The poem should have gained attention within norwegian academia long before in the many attempts to fully explain the etymology of "viking". Widsith also contains a reference to "Lapps" in line 80, which may be the oldest written reference to the samis (sami=lapp) in northern Scandinavia. But once again the importance of Widsith seem to be ignored today in Norway. However I find it likely that "Widsith" can have been known in Scandinavia in ancient times. Go to "Den Vidfarne" in norwegian >>

Jørn Olav Løset

Widsith eksterne linker/ external links:

Widsith på svensk/ in Swedish translation.

Widsith på angelsaksisk/ in Saxon.

More on Widsith and Beowulf.

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