RIDDLE POSTS BY TAG: 'RIDDLES'

Aldhelm Preface

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Fri 07 Jan 2022
Original text:

Arbiter, aethereo iugiter qui regmine sceptrA
Lucifluumque simul caeli regale tribunaL
Disponis moderans aeternis legibus illuD,
(Horrida nam multans torsisti membra VehemotH,
Ex alta quondam rueret dum luridus arcE),
Limpida dictanti metrorum carmina praesuL
Munera nunc largire, rudis quo pandere reruM
Versibus enigmata queam clandistina fatV:
Sic, Deus, indignis tua gratis dona rependiS.
Castalidas nimphas non clamo cantibus istuC
Examen neque spargebat mihi nectar in orE;
Cynthi sic numquam perlustro cacumina, sed neC
In Parnasso procubui nec somnia vidI.
Nam mihi versificum poterit Deus addere carmeN
Inspirans stolidae pia gratis munera mentI;
Tangit si mentem, mox laudem corda rependunT.
Metrica nam Moysen declarant carmina vateM
Iamdudum cecinisse prisci vexilla tropeI
Late per populos illustria, qua nitidus SoL
Lustrat ab oceani iam tollens gurgite cephaL
Et psalmista canens metrorum cantica vocE
Natum divino promit generamine numeN
In caelis prius exortum, quam Lucifer orbI
Splendida formatis fudisset lumina saecliS.
Verum si fuerint bene haec enigmata versV
Explosis penitus naevis et rusticitatE
Ritu dactilico recte decursa nec erroR
Seduxit vana specie molimina mentiS,
Incipiam potiora, sui Deus arida servI,
Belligero quondam qui vires tradidit IoB,
Viscera perpetui si roris repleat haustV.
Siccis nam laticum duxisti cautibus amneS
Olim, cum cuneus transgresso marmore rubrO
Desertum penetrat, cecinit quod carmine DaviD.
Arce poli, genitor, servas qui saecula cunctA,
Solvere iam scelerum noxas dignare nefandaS.

Incipiunt enigmata ex diversis rerum creaturis composita.

Translation:

Judge, who with celestial control perpetually arranges the sceptres
And the resplendent royal court of heaven,
Directing it with eternal laws,
(For you tormented the horrible limbs of Behemoth
When the foul beast had fallen from the lofty heights),
Now, to me, who composes vivid songs in verse, protector,
Bestow gifts, so that I, unrefined, may be able to explain
Through your word the hidden mysteries of things in my verses:
Thus, God, do you freely offer your gifts to the unworthy.
I do not summon the Castalian nymphs here,
Nor did a swarm of bees spread nectar in my mouth;
Thus never do I traverse Apollo’s summits, and I did not
Prostrate myself on Parnassus, and I did not see visions:
For God will be able to enhance my poetic song,
Freely breathing his blessed gifts into my unlearned mind;
If he should touch my mind, immediately my heart returns praise.
For metrical verses declare that the prophet Moses
Sang, a long time ago, of the standards of ancient
Victories, distinguished among peoples far and wide,
Where the bright sun shines, raising its head from the ocean’s waters;
And the psalmist, singing the verses of his songs aloud,
Declares born through divine generation a deity
Who appeared in the heavens before the morning star
Poured its splendid light on the earth at the world’s conception.
But if these mysteries in verse should indeed be well and truly
Freed from defects and inelegance as well as correctly
Sequenced in the dactylic style, and error did not
Lead astray my mind’s efforts with specious show,
I will begin upon better things, if God, who once
Imparted strength to his soldier Job, should replenish
The arid insides of his servant with a drink of eternal dew.
For you once brought streams of water out from dry rocks
When the throng, after crossing the Red Sea,
Entered the desert, which David sang of in song.
Father, who protects all ages in the castle of heaven,
Deign now to free me from the unspeakable faults of my sins.

Here begin the riddles composed about various created things.

Click to show riddle solution?
The preface to Aldhelm's riddle collection


Notes:

This edition is based on Rudolf Ehwald (ed.). Aldhelmi Opera Omnia. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Auctores Antiquissimi, 15. Berlin, Weidmann, 1919. Pages 59-150. Available online here.



Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  latin  Aldhelm 

Exeter Riddle 1

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Wed 20 Feb 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddles 1-3
Original text:

Hwylc is hæleþa þæs horsc      ond þæs hygecræftig
þæt þæt mæge asecgan,      hwa mec on sið wræce,
þonne ic astige strong,      stundum reþe,
þrymful þunie,      þragum wræce
5     fere geond foldan,      folcsalo bærne,
ræced reafige?      Recas stigað,
haswe ofer hrofum.      Hlin bið on eorþan,
wælcwealm wera,      þonne ic wudu hrere,
bearwas bledhwate,      beamas fylle,
10     holme gehrefed,      heahum meahtum
wrecen on waþe,      wide sended;
hæbbe me on hrycge      þæt ær hadas wreah
foldbuendra,      flæsc ond gæstas,
somod on sunde.      Saga hwa mec þecce,
15     oþþe hu ic hatte,      þe þa hlæst bere.

Translation:

Who among heroes is so sharp and so skilled in mind
that he may declare who presses me on my journey,
when I rise up, mighty, sometimes savage,
full of force, I resound, at times I press on,
5     travel throughout the land, I burn the people’s hall,
plunder the palace? The reek rises,
grey to the roofs. There is a clamour on the earth,
the slaughter-death of men, when I shake the forest,
the quick-growing groves, topple trees,
10     sheltered by the sea, pressed into wandering
by the powers on high, sent afar;
I have on my back that which earlier covered each rank
of the earth-dwellers, flesh and spirit,
swimming together. Say what covers me,
15     or how I am called, who bear that burden.

Click to show riddle solution?
Storm, Wind, etc.


Notes:

This riddle appears on folio 101r of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), page 180.

Note that this edition takes this riddle together with the following two, dubbing them all Riddle 1: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), pages 67-70.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 1 

Related Posts:
Commentary for Exeter Riddles 1-3
Exeter Riddle 3
Exeter Riddle 23

Eusebius Riddle 1: De Deo

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Fri 17 Dec 2021
Original text:

Incipiunt enigmata Eusebii:
 
Cum sim infra cunctos, sublimior omnibus adsto,
Nullus adestque locus in quo circumdatus essem.
Alta domus mea, cum sit sedes semper in imis.
Agmina devastans, avertor laesus ab uno.

Translation:

Here begin the riddles of Eusebius:

Although I am beneath everything, I stand higher than all,
And there exists no place in which I may be enclosed.
My house is high, though my seat is always in the depths.
I devastate multitudes and am turned away, hurt by one.

Click to show riddle solution?
On God


Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  solutions  latin  Eusebius 

Tatwine Riddle 1: De philosophia

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Incipiunt enigmata Tautunii

Stamine metrorum exstructor conserta retexit
Sub deno quater haec diverse enigmata torquens.
Septena alarum me circumstantia cingit,
Vecta per alma poli quis nunc volitare solesco,
Abdita, nunc terrae penetrans atque ima profundi. 
Sum Salomone sagacior et velocior Euro,
Clarior et Phoebi radiis, pretiosior auro,
Suavior omnigena certe modulaminis arte,
Dulcior et favo gustantum in faucibus aeso.
Nulla manus poterit nec me contingere visus
Cum, presens dubio sine, me quaerentibus adsto.
Mordentem amplector, parcentem me viduabo.
Est felix mea qui poterit cognoscere iura:
Quemque meo natum esse meum sub nomine rebor.

Translation:

Here begin the riddles of Tatwine

The author recounts these riddles, connected by a thread of 
Verses, weaving forty in different directions. 
A sevenfold circle of wings surrounds me,
On which it is my custom to fly, concealed, carried now through the sweet heavens,
Now penetrating the profound depths of the earth.
I am wiser than Solomon and faster than Eurus, 
And brighter than the rays of Phoebus, more precious than gold, 
Certainly more pleasing than every art of music-making,
And sweeter than honeycomb in the mouth of the tasters.
No hand nor sight is able to touch me
When I, definitely present, stand near those who seek me.
I embrace that which bites me, deprive that which avoids me. 
Happy is he who can know my laws:
I will judge him born under my name.

Click to show riddle solution?
On philosophy


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Commentary for Exeter Riddles 1-3

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Thu 21 Mar 2013
Matching Riddle: Exeter Riddle 1

Riddles 1 to 3 are quite clearly thematically linked, and it is because of this that they have also been read as one very long riddle (especially because Riddle 2 and the sections of Riddle 3 begin with the same word: Hwilum (sometimes)). This, of course, throws off the riddle numbering system (which you should note is an editorial practice and does not appear in the Exeter Book manuscript). For this website’s purposes, we’re sticking to the old school riddle numbering (i.e. the one in Krapp and Dobbie’s edition – see the About the Exeter Book page for more on this) because this is the system most online riddle resources use.

As for solutions (1), you may have noticed that the same ones crop up for each of the three related riddles. They are all commonly solved as Storm or Wind, but this doesn’t come close to covering all the potential solutions (scholars like to disagree). Other suggestions include Atmosphere, Power of Nature, Sun (esp. for riddles 2 and 3) and all manner of different types of storms (including Apocalyptic Storm, Hurricane, Earthquake, Storm at Sea and Thunderstorm). Riddle 1 has also been solved as Fire and Raiding Party or Army, while Riddle 2 has been solved as Anchor and Riddle 3 as Revenant. In addition to the stormy weather solutions, another trend can be seen throughout the riddles and that relates to religion. This is unsurprising considering the Exeter Book was donated to a cathedral library by a bishop – in fact, most early English literature has a strong religious connection because of the structure of this society and its scribal culture (think monasteries!). So, this religious trend has resulted in the following solutions: Riddle 1 as God, Riddle 2 as Christ and Riddle 3 as Cross, Spirit and Supernatural Force.

Having read a good chunk of Old English poetry, it seems pretty clear that each of the three riddles does possess religious connotations. All this talk of leaders controlling the destructive action of whatever þrymful þeow (powerful servant) is narrating definitely signals a divine entity. In fact, these poems echo in some ways the verse lines of the Old English translation of Boethius’ Consolatione philosophiae (Consolation of Philosophy). A section from Metre 20 (lines 63-74), which deals with the elements, reads:

Habbað þeah þa feower      frumstol hiora,
æghwilc hiora      agenne stede,
þeah anra hwilc      wið oðer sie
miclum gemenged      and mid mægne eac
fæder ælmihtiges      fæste gebunden,
gesiblice,      softe togædre
mid bebode þine,      bilewit fæder,
þætte heora ænig      oðres ne dorste
mearce ofergangan      for metodes ege,
ac [geþweorod] sint      ðegnas togædre,
cyninges cempan,      cele wið hæto,
wæt wið drygum,      winnað hwæðre. (2)
(Nevertheless each of the four have their proper station, their own place, although each of them may be greatly mixed with the other and also, by the might of the almighty father, bound fast, peaceably, gently together by your decree, merciful father, so that none of them dared to go over the other’s boundary because of fear of the lord, but the retainers are made to agree, the champions of the king, cold with heat, wet with dry, yet they compete.)

Stormy water

Rambunctious elements! Photo (by Terry Lucas) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY 3.0).

The rest of the poem goes on to discuss God’s control over the elements, which is again mentioned in relation to binding a hundred lines later:

Hafað fæder engla      fyr gebunden
efne to þon fæste      þæt hit fiolan ne mæg
eft æt his eðle      þær þæt oðer fyr
up ofer eall þis      eardfæst wunað. (153-56)
(The father of angels has bound fire precisely so fast that it may not return to its homeland where that other fire, up over all this, remains firmly fixed.)

Riddle 3’s focus on confinement in particular maps nicely onto this Boethian vision of the cosmos. It’s also noteworthy that Riddles 2 and 3 end with a similar challenge to the listener: the riddler not only asks what is narrating the poem, but also what is controlling the speaker:

                 Saga, þoncol mon,
hwa mec bregde      of brimes fæþmum,
þonne streamas eft      stille weorþað,
yþa geþwære,      þe mec ær wrugon. (12b-15)
(Say, thoughtful one, who draws me from the depths of the ocean, when the streams become still again, obedient the waves, which earlier concealed me.)

and

                  Saga hwæt ic hatte,
oþþe hwa mec rære,      þonne ic restan ne mot,
oþþe hwa mec stæðþe,      þonne ic stille beom. (72b-4)
(Say what I am called, or who raises me, when I may not rest, or who stays me, when I am still.)

Although Riddle 1 doesn’t end this way, it does include a reference to the powers that control it:

                  heahum meahtum
wrecen on waþe,      wide sended (10b-11).
(pressed into wandering / by the powers on high, sent afar).

This all seems to suggest that the solution calls for a master-servant duo. And so, perhaps God and the Elements (or in Old English: God ond þa Feower Gesceafta) would make a nice solution for all three of these poems. Of course, the poet seems to prefer the destructive aspect of each element…but without central heating, this isn’t particularly surprising!

Notes:

(1) For a convenient list of solutions and solvers, see Donald K. Fry’s article, “Exeter Book Riddle Solutions,” Old English Newsletter 15.1 (1981), pp. 22-33, although unfortunately and for obvious reasons it does not take into account suggested solutions after 1981.

(2) These lines are quoted from the brilliant, new-ish edition by Malcolm Godden and Susan Irvine, The Old English Boethius: An Edition of the Old English Versions of Boethius’s De Consolatione Philosophiae, 2 volumes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). The translations, along with this post, are by Megan.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 1  riddle 2  riddle 3 

Related Posts:
Exeter Riddle 2
Exeter Riddle 3

Exeter Riddle 2

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Thu 28 Feb 2013
Original text:

Hwilum ic gewite,      swa ne wenaþ men,
under yþa geþræc      eorþan secan,
garsecges grund.      Gifen biþ gewreged,
fam gewealcen;
5     hwælmere hlimmeð,      hlude grimmeð,
streamas staþu beatað,      stundum weorpaþ
on stealc hleoþa      stane ond sonde,
ware ond wæge,      þonne ic winnende,
holmmægne biþeaht,      hrusan styrge,
10     side sægrundas.      Sundhelme ne mæg
losian ær mec læte      se þe min latteow bið
on siþa gehwam.      Saga, þoncol mon,
hwa mec bregde      of brimes fæþmum,
þonne streamas eft      stille weorþað,
15     yþa geþwære,      þe mec ær wrugon.

Translation:

Sometimes I depart, as people do not expect,
to seek the earth under the tumult of the waves,
the ocean’s base. The sea is roused,
the foam tossed;
5     the whale-mere resounds, loudly pounds,
the streams beat the banks, sometimes they fling
stone and sand on the steep slopes,
weed and wave, when I, struggling,
surround the sea’s might, stir up the earth
10     the broad ocean-base. I may not escape
the watery cover before he allows me, he who is my leader
on every journey. Say, thoughtful one,
who draws me from the depths of the ocean,
when the streams become still again,
15     obedient the waves, which earlier concealed me.

Click to show riddle solution?
Storm, Wind, etc


Notes:

This riddle appears on folio 101r of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pages 180-1.

Note that this edition takes this riddle together with the preceding and following ones, dubbing them all Riddle 1: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), pages 67-70.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 2 

Related Posts:
Commentary for Exeter Riddles 1-3
Exeter Riddle 3
Exeter Riddle 73

Eusebius Riddle 2: De angelo

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 20 Dec 2021
Original text:

Nuntius emissus, discurro more ministri.
Non labor, ac tedium, nulla molestia cursum
Tardat, et intrantis vestigia nulla videntur.
Cautior effectus casu quo corruit anguis.

Translation:

Sent out as a messenger, I run around like a servant.
Neither work, nor weariness, nor annoyance slows
My course, and no traces of my entering are seen.
I was made more cautious by the fall that the serpent fell.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the angel


Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  solutions  latin 

Tatwine Riddle 2: De spe, fide, et caritate

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Una tres natae sumus olim ex matre sagaci.
Est felix eius liceat cui cernere formam
Reginae, fausto semper quae numine regnat,
Solifero cuius thalamus splendore nitescit.
Cernere quae nullus nec pandere septa valebit,
Maternis quis nec poterit fore visibus aptus,
Nostris ni fuerit complexibus ante subactus.

Translation:

We three were once born from one wise mother.
Happy is he who may perceive the beauty
Of the queen, who reigns always in fortunate power,
Whose household shines in sun-bringing splendour.
There is none who has the strength either to discern or open her gates,
Nor can someone be ready for visions of the mother,
Unless he was first acted upon by our embraces.

Click to show riddle solution?
On hope, faith, and charity


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Exeter Riddle 3

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Sun 10 Mar 2013
Original text:

Hwilum mec min frea      fæste genearwað,
sendeð þonne      under salwonges
bearm þone bradan,      ond on bid wriceð,
þrafað on þystrum      þrymma sumne,
5     hæste on enge,      þær me heord siteð
hruse on hrycge.      Nah ic hwyrftweges
of þam aglace,      ac ic eþelstol
hæleþa hrere;      hornsalu wagiað,
wera wicstede,      weallas beofiað,
10     steape ofer stiwitum.      Stille þynceð
lyft ofer londe      ond lagu swige,
oþþæt ic of enge      up aþringe,
efne swa mec wisaþ      se mec wræde on
æt frumsceafte      furþum legde,
15     bende ond clomme,      þæt ic onbugan ne mot
of þæs gewealde      þe me wegas tæcneð.
Hwilum ic sceal ufan      yþa wregan,
streamas styrgan      ond to staþe þywan
flintgrægne flod.      Famig winneð
20     wæg wið wealle,      wonn ariseð
dun ofer dype;      hyre deorc on last,
eare geblonden,      oþer fereð,
þæt hy gemittað      mearclonde neah
hea hlincas.      Þær bið hlud wudu,
25     brimgiesta breahtm,      bidað stille
stealc stanhleoþu      streamgewinnes,
hopgehnastes,      þonne heah geþring
on cleofu crydeþ.      Þær bið ceole wen
sliþre sæcce,      gif hine sæ byreð
30     on þa grimman tid,      gæsta fulne,
þæt he scyle rice      birofen weorþan,
feore bifohten      fæmig ridan
yþa hrycgum.      Þær bið egsa sum
ældum geywed,      þara þe ic hyran sceal
35     strong on stiðweg.      Hwa gestilleð þæt?
Hwilum ic þurhræse,      þæt me on bæce rideð
won wægfatu,      wide toþringe
lagustreama full,      hwilum læte eft
slupan tosomne.      Se bið swega mæst,
40     breahtma ofer burgum,      ond gebreca hludast,
þonne scearp cymeð      sceo wiþ oþrum,
ecg wið ecge;      earpan gesceafte
fus ofer folcum      fyre swætað,
blacan lige,      ond gebrecu ferað
45     deorc ofer dryhtum      gedyne micle,
farað feohtende,      feallan lætað
sweart sumsendu      seaw of bosme,
wætan of wombe.      Winnende fareð
atol eoredþreat,      egsa astigeð,
50     micel modþrea      monna cynne,
brogan on burgum,      þonne blace scotiað
scriþende scin      scearpum wæpnum.
Dol him ne ondrædeð      ða deaðsperu,
swylteð hwæþre,      gif him soð meotud
55     on geryhtu      þurh regn ufan
of gestune læteð      stræle fleogan,
farende flan.      Fea þæt gedygað,
þara þe geræceð      rynegiestes wæpen.
Ic þæs orleges      or anstelle,
60     þonne gewite      wolcengehnaste
þurh geþræc þringan      þrimme micle
ofer byrnan bosm.      Biersteð hlude
heah hloðgecrod;      þonne hnige eft
under lyfte helm      londe near,
65     ond me on hrycg hlade      þæt ic habban sceal,
meahtum gemagnad      mines frean.
Swa ic þrymful þeow      þragum winne,
hwilum under eorþan,      hwilum yþa sceal
hean underhnigan,      hwilum holm yfan
70     streamas styrge,      hwilum stige up,
wolcnfare wrege,      wide fere
swift ond swiþfeorm.      Saga hwæt ic hatte,
oþþe hwa mec rære,      þonne ic restan ne mot,
oþþe hwa mec stæðþe,      þonne ic stille beom.

Translation:

Sometimes my lord confines me firmly,
then sends me under the broad embrace
of the prosperous plain, and pushes me to a halt,
he restrains some of my power in darkness,
5     violently in confinement, where my keeper, earth,
presses on my back. I have no escape
from that oppression, but I shake
the dwelling place of heroes; the gabled halls tremble,
the homes of men, the walls wobble,
10     steep over the householders. The air over the land
seems still and the ocean is silent,
until I burst forth from my confinement,
even as he instructs me, he who first laid
fetters upon me at creation,
15     bonds and chains, so that I might not bend
from the power that shows me my path.
Sometimes I must excite the waves from above,
stir up the streams and drive to the shore
the flint-grey flood. The foamy water
20     struggles against the wall, a dark mountain
rises up over the deep; dark in its track,
another goes, mixed with the sea,
so that they meet near the borderland,
the high banks. There the wood is loud,
25     the cry of the sea-guests, the steep stone-cliffs
quietly await the watery war,
the wet conflict, when the lofty tumult
crowds onto the cliffs. There the ship is in expectation
of a fierce fight, if the sea bears it
30     on that terrible tide, full of souls,
so that it must be deprived of control
robbed of life, the foamy one [must] ride
the backs of the waves. There a certain terror is
made visible to men, that which I must obey,
35     strong on the harsh path. Who stills that?
Sometimes I rush through, so that a dark water-vessel
rides on my back, I drive apart
the cups of water widely, sometimes I let
them slide together again. That is the greatest of clamours,
40     sounds over the cities, and the loudest of clashes,
when a sharp cloud comes against another,
edge against edge; the dark creatures
eager over the people bleed fire,
bright flame, and the clamour travels
45     dark over the people with a great din,
they go fighting, allow to fall
dark drops, humming, from the compass [of the clouds],
moisture from the belly. A terrible troop travels,
toiling; fear rises up,
50     a great mind-torment for mankind,
terror in the cities, when dark phantoms,
spreading out, shoot with sharp weapons.
The foolish one does not dread the death-spear,
and yet he dies, if the true measurer,
55     according to his right, allows an arrow
to fly through the rain from the tempest above,
a traveling dart. Few escape that,
of those whom the weapon of the racing guest reaches.
I establish the start of that strife,
60     when I go through the crush to force
the cloud-conflict with great strength
over the compass of the stream. Loudly the lofty
crowd crashes; then afterwards I sink
under the helmet of the air near the land,
65     and load up something I must have onto my back,
recovered with the strength of my lord.
Thus I, powerful servant, contend at times,
sometimes under the earth, sometimes I must
descend beneath the humble waves, sometimes above the hill
70     I stir up streams, sometimes I rise up,
excite the cloud-journey, I travel widely,
swift and strong of substance. Say what I am called,
or who raises me, when I may not rest,
or who stays me, when I am still.

Click to show riddle solution?
Storm, Wind, etc


Notes:

This riddle appears on folios 101v-102v of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pages 181-3.

Note that this edition takes this riddle together with the preceding two, dubbing them all Riddle 1: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), pages 67-70.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 3 

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Exeter Riddle 12
Exeter Riddle 14
Exeter Riddle 7

Eusebius Riddle 3: De demone

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 27 Dec 2021
Original text:

Incola sum patriae, cum sim miserabilis exul.
Vinco viros fortes, (1) sed rursum vincor ab imis,
Abiectoque. Potentes sunt mihi regna potestas.
Est locus in terris sed ludo in sedibus altis.

Translation:

I am a resident of a country, although I am a miserable exile.
I conquer strong men, but in return I am conquered by the lowest,
And though I am cast out, rulers, kingdoms, power are mine.
My place is on the earth but I play among the lofty seats.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the demon


Notes:

(1) Glossed in the manuscripts with the explanation: “that is, the kings and emperors of the world."



Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  latin  Eusebius 

Tatwine Riddle 3: De historia et sensu et moralis et allegoria

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Bis binas statuit sua nos vigiles dominatrix
Thesauri cellaria conservare sorores,
Diversisque, intus fulgent, ornata metallis,
Omnigena et florum dulcedine serta virescunt.
Gaudentes, nostris haec mox reseramus amicis,
Ingratisque aditum sed iure negamus apertum.

Translation:

The mistress established us, twice-two guards
And sisters, to keep the stores in the vault,
And decorated with several metals, they shine within,
And they grow, garlanded with all manner of sweet flower.
Rejoicing, we unbar these soon to our friends,
But we rightly deny open entrance to the ungrateful.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the literal and moral and allegorical sense


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Exeter Riddle 4

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Fri 29 Mar 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 4
Original text:

Ic sceal þragbysig      þegne minum,
hringum hæfted,      hyran georne,
min bed brecan,      breahtme cyþan
þæt me halswriþan      hlaford sealde.
5     Oft mec slæpwerigne      secg oðþe meowle
gretan eode;      ic him gromheortum
winterceald oncweþe.      Wearm lim
gebundenne bæg      hwilum bersteð;
se þeah biþ on þonce      þegne minum,
10     medwisum men,      me þæt sylfe,
þær wiht wite,      ond wordum min
on sped mæge      spel gesecgan.

Translation:

At times busy, bound by rings,
I must eagerly obey my thane,
break my bed, proclaim with a cry
that my lord gave me a neck-torque.
5     Often a man or woman came to greet me,
sleep-weary; I answer them, winter-cold,
the hostile-hearted ones. A warm limb
sometimes bursts the bound ring;
however, that is agreeable to my thane,
10     the half-witted man, and to myself,
if I could know anything, and tell my story
successfully with words.

Click to show riddle solution?
Bell, Bucket, Plough-team, etc.


Notes:

This riddle appears on folio 102v of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), page 183.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 2: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), page 70.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  solutions  riddle 4 

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Exeter Riddle 23
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Exeter Riddle 72

Eusebius Riddle 4: De homine

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 27 Dec 2021
Original text:

Haec, mea materiae substantia, bina creata est:
Sed gravis una videtur, quae tamen ipsa peribit,
Cuius et ipse fugax defectum gessit helidrum.
Tenuior est alia, et quae semper sine fine carebit.

Translation:

This, my material essence, was created twofold:
Though one part seems heavy, it will yet perish,
And its failing the swift serpent brought about himself.
The other part is more delicate, and it will always be without end.

Click to show riddle solution?
On humankind


Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  latin  Eusebius 

Tatwine Riddle 4: De litteris

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Dulcifero pia nos genitrix ditavit honore
Dulcia quod bibulis praestamus pocula buccis,
Tosta ministrantes nitidis et fercula mensis,
Sed tamen apta damus cunctis responsaque certa.
Littera tollatur, non fulget nominis ortus.

Translation:

Our pious mother enriched us with the sweet honour
That we provide sweet drinks to thirsty mouths,
Serving roasted food on polished tables,
And yet we give fitting and certain responses to all.
A letter is removed, and the beginning of our name does not shine.

Click to show riddle solution?
On letters


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Commentary for Exeter Riddle 4

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Wed 03 Apr 2013
Matching Riddle: Exeter Riddle 4

Riddle-solvers have had fun with this one, so brace yourselves. First off, Fry’s riddle-solution article lists the following suggestions: Bell, Millstone, Necromancy, Flail, Lock, Handmill, Pen and Phallus. How could someone possibly associate a bell and a phallus? I’ll leave that up to you.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. In the same year that Fry’s article was published, Ann Harleman Stewart writes an article (full ref details below) suggesting Bucket of Water, which A. N. Doane goes on to refine in another article. According to the Bucket-reading, the various rings that the riddle describes are either links on a chain, the straps surrounding the bucket (i.e. the ones that hold the pieces of wood in place) and/or a sheet of ice on the surface of the water. Certainly, the description of grumbling, chilly, early-rising servants would fit this interpretation, as does the reference to “bursting” the bound ring, if we’re talking about ice.

Red bucket with frozen water

Photo of a not-very-medieval bucket with frozen water from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 2.0).

But the fun doesn’t stop there. In the very same year (1991), we have another two scholars who suggest a pretty fun solution: Dog or Watchdog. These are Wim Tigges and Ray Brown (the scholars…not the dogs). Now the "cry" is a bark, the rings are a collar and leash and someone is really unhappy to be dragged out of bed by a frolicsome pup. I promise to feed and walk it every morning, mom, really!

But the fun doesn’t stop there. If you’re a cat person, you might agree with the next person to take a crack at solving Riddle 4. In 2007, Melanie Heyworth suggests that what we’re actually dealing with here is the Devil. She compares the use of words keywords in the poem to the language of penitentials (outlines of penance for sins) and homilies and finds a lot of overlap. Noting that most of the words in the poem have double meanings, she sees a lot of condemning with fetters and violation of religious worship (not to mention sex, reading the wearm lim as a "hot penis"). All of this is to say, if you’re a sleepy medieval person, you had better get yourself out of bed and into the church…being tired means you’re not alert and that makes you vulnerable to temptation (see "Hrothgar’s Sermon" in Beowulf, lines 1700-74), if you don’t believe me).

Statue of devil and woman

Photo of a not-so-medieval devil statue from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 3.0).

But, you guessed it, the fun still doesn’t stop there. I’m a big fan of the next solution, Shannon Ferri Cochran’s 2009 suggestion that we’re actually dealing with a Plough Team. This reading takes the various rings as the neck-yoke on the oxen pulling the plough, as well as the wheels of the object itself. The nice, bursty sound now becomes wheels slopping through a muddy field, and the characters in the poem become the driver and his servant. Part of what I like about this interpretation is the way it maps onto a poem we haven’t yet gotten to: Riddle 21, a similarly fettered plough. But you’ll have to wait for that one.

And finally, oh finally, the fun stops (well…for now). Patrick J. Murphy’s 2011 book, Unriddling the Exeter Riddles, brings us full circle to Bell again. That’s right, the solution that had the most supporters in Fry’s 1981 article is back in the spotlight. Here, Murphy concentrates on the rings as puns on "to ring" (you know, like you ring…well…a bell) and the binding as an allusion to the bell’s duty as a servant (it’s "bound" to carry out it’s job…ba-dum ching). Murphy also looks to other texts where bells are governed by the verb hyran, which he points out can mean both ‘"o obey" and "to hear."

Hand bells lying on their side

Photo (by Suguri F) of a not-so-medieval hand bell from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 3.0).

So, what do I think? I simply do not know. To be honest with you, all these readings are pretty convincing. That’s why people keep publishing them. I suppose if push came to shove, I’d be inclined to support the Bucket (or OE wæter-stoppa, according to Niles) reading since it seems to cover all the bases. But if I’ve learned one thing from reading up on Riddle 4, it’s that there’s always room for more!

 

[Editorial Note: Another solution has now been proposed!: Sword. Check out Corinne Dale’s, “A New Solution to Exeter Book Riddle 4” in Notes and Queries, vol. 64, issue 1 (2017), pages 1-3.]

 

Notes:

References and Suggested Reading:

Brown, Ray. “The Exeter Book’s Riddle 2: A Better Solution.” English Language Notes, vol. 29 (1991), pages 1-4.

Cochran, Shannon Ferri. “The Plough’s the Thing: A New Solution to Old English Riddle 4 of the Exeter Book.” Journal of English and Germanic Philology, vol. 108 (2009), pages 301-9.

Doane, A. N. “Three Old English Implement Riddles: Reconsiderations of Numbers 4, 49, and 73.” Modern Philology, vol. 84 (1987), pages 243-57.

Heyworth, Melanie. “The Devil’s in the Detail: A New Solution to Exeter Book Riddle 4.” Neophilologus, vol. 91 (2007), pages 175-96.

Murphy, Patrick J. Unriddling the Exeter Riddles. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2011, esp. pages 71-7.

Niles, John D. Old English Enigmatic Poems and the Play of the Texts. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006, esp. page 147.

Stewart, Ann Harleman. “The Solution to Old English Riddle 4.” Studia Philologica, vol. 78 (1981), pages 52-61.

Tigges, Wim. “Signs and Solutions: A Semiotic Approach to the Exeter Book Riddles.” In This Noble Craft: Proceedings of the Xth Research Symposium of the Dutch and Belgian University Teachers of Old and Middle English and Historical Linguistics, Utrecht, 19-20 January, 1989. Edited by Erik Kooper. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1991, pages 59-82.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 4 

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Commentary for Exeter Riddle 21

Exeter Riddle 5

MATTHIASAMMON

Date: Tue 09 Apr 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 5
Original text:

Ic eom anhaga         iserne wund,
bille gebennad,         beadoweorca sæd,
ecgum werig.         Oft ic wig seo,
frecne feohtan.         Frofre ne wene,
5     þæt me geoc cyme         guðgewinnes,
ær ic mid ældum         eal forwurðe,
ac mec hnossiað         homera lafe,
heardecg heoroscearp,         hondweorc smiþa,
bitað in burgum;         ic abidan sceal
10     laþran gemotes.         Næfre læcecynn
on folcstede         findan meahte,
þara þe mid wyrtum         wunde gehælde,
ac me ecga dolg         eacen weorðað
þurh deaðslege         dagum ond nihtum.

Translation:

I am a lone-dweller, wounded by iron,
savaged by a sword, worn out by war-deeds,
battered by blades. Often I see battle,
fraught fighting. I do not expect succour,
5     that relief from war might come to me,
before I perish utterly among men,
but the leavings of hammers lash me,
hard-edged and sword-sharp, handiwork of smiths,
they bite me in strongholds; I must wait for
10     the more hateful encounter. Never am I able
to find medic-kin in the dwelling-place,
those who might heal my wound with herbs,
but the scars of swords become wider on me
through a death-blow by day and by night.

Click to show riddle solution?
Shield (most widely supported), Chopping Block, Guilt


Notes:

This riddle appears on folio 102v of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pages 183-4.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 3: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), page 71.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 5 

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Eusebius Riddle 5: De caelo

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 27 Dec 2021
Original text:

Quaerite vos ipsi causam quo vendor avaris. (1)
Si me quique tenet nunc, postea semper habebit;
Meque tenere tenax terrae sublime nequibit,
Cum me nullus habet nisi qui fuit imus in illa. (2)

Translation:

Ask yourselves the reason why I am sold by the greedy.
If anyone holds me now, he will have me forever after;
And whoever clings to the earth will not be able to keep me on high,
Though no one has me unless he was lowest in that place.

Click to show riddle solution?
On heaven


Notes:

(1) The manuscript, CUL Gg.5.35, reads in arvis (on earth).
(2) The manuscript, CUL Gg.5.35, titles this riddle De camelo (On the camel)!



Tags: anglo saxon  riddles  latin  Eusebius 

Tatwine Riddle 5: De membrano

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Efferus exuviis populator me spoliavit.
Vitalis pariter flatus spiramina dempsit,
In planum me iterum campum sed verterat auctor.
Frugiferos cultor sulcos mox irrigat undis.
Omnigenam nardi messem mea prata rependunt,
Qua sanis victum et lesis praestabo medelem.

Translation:

A savage destroyer despoiled me of my garments.
At the same time, he removed the holes for life-giving breath,
But an author turned me into a level field again.
Soon the cultivator irrigates my fruitful furrows with waves.
My meadows return an abundant harvest of nard, 
With which I shall supply food to the healthy and cure to the hurt.

Click to show riddle solution?
On parchment


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Commentary for Exeter Riddle 5

MATTHIASAMMON

Date: Tue 09 Apr 2013
Matching Riddle: Exeter Riddle 5

This riddle is most commonly solved as "shield" and this is the solution I’m adopting here. The shield is one of the most common accessories of the protagonists of heroic poetry (see for example the importance of this piece of battle-equipment in poems like Beowulf or The Battle of Maldon) and as such is one of the most important symbols of this social world. In this riddle, the usual connotations are subverted. While the poem uses the common associations of the shield with swords (ecg, bill) and battle (wig, beadoweorc), the shield is cast in the role of an exile, as suggested by the poetic term anhaga, familiar to readers of Old English poetry from the first line of The Wanderer (Oft him anhaga are gebideð…, "Often the solitary man himself experiences favour…"), a poem which explores the mental landscape of somebody who is no longer a part of the heroic social world (full translation here). It may for example also be considered significant that the shield cannot find any security in the burg, the "stronghold," a word that is etymologically and semantically connected to other words relating to "safety" in Old English.

Red replica shield

Here’s a reconstructed Viking shield from the Barrow-in-Furness Dock Museum.

Like the main character of The Wanderer, the shield is unable to do anything about what’s happening to it – note that it talks about the things being done to it, with me as the object of the sentences in the middle of the poem and the final two lines. Where the shield is the subject, the verbs are not ones of action (seo: "I see"; forwurðe: "I perish"; findan meahte: "I might find"). As we have already seen in some of the other riddles, the shield – an inanimate object – speaks in the first person (a literary technique known as "prosopopeia"). Through this, the shield to a certain extent takes on the persona of a human warrior, scarred by many battles and left without companions.

The riddle therefore plays with several aspects of the shield’s identity: it is a heroic object, used in potentially glorious battles, but its essentially defensive nature means it’s less glamorous than an active, attacking weapon like a sword – it has things done to it and can do nothing to change its fate. Like the exiles whose plight is evoked in the Old English elegies, the description of the shield shows what one might call the flipside of the heroic world: the scars, the injuries, the grittiness of battle, the potential for the individual to be left without help or companionship.

Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 5 

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Exeter Riddle 5

Exeter Riddle 6

MATTHIASAMMON

Date: Thu 25 Apr 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 6
Original text:

Mec gesette soð         sigora waldend
Crist to compe.        Oft ic cwice bærne,
unrimu cyn         eorþan getenge,
næte mid niþe,         swa ic him no hrine,
5     þonne mec min frea         feohtan hateþ.
Hwilum ic monigra         mod arete,
hwilum ic frefre         þa ic ær winne on
feorran swiþe;         hi þæs felað þeah,
swylce þæs oþres,         þonne ic eft hyra
10     ofer deop gedreag         drohtað bete.

Translation:

Christ, the true ruler of victories, placed me
in battle. Often I burn the living,
uncounted peoples I oppress upon the earth,
crush them cruelly, when my lord
5     commands me to fight, but I do not touch them.
Sometimes I comfort the mind of many,
sometimes I console those whom I earlier struggled against
from very far away; although they feel it,
just like that other time, when I again
10     improve their way of life above deep tumult.

Click to show riddle solution?
Sun


Notes:

This riddle appears on folios 102v-103r of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), page 184.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 4: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), page 71.



Tags: riddles  riddle 6 

Eusebius Riddle 6: De terra

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 27 Dec 2021
Original text:

Quos alo—nascentes, crescentes—scindor ab illis,
Pascunturque bonis, etsi me calce subigunt;
Unde seducam nunc multos et supprimo natos,
Nam perdent quod amant, et nulli morte carebunt.

Translation:

I am torn apart by those whom—as they are born and grow—I feed,
And they are nourished on good things, even though they subjugate me under foot;
And so I now restrain many of my children and press them down,
For they will lose what they love, and none will escape death.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the earth


Tags: riddles  latin  Eusebius 

Tatwine Riddle 6: De penna

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Wed 05 Jan 2022
Original text:

Nativa penitus ratione, heu, fraudor ab hoste,
Nam superas quondam, pernix, auras penetrabam.
Vincta tribus, nunc, in terris persolvo tributum.
Planos compellor sulcare per aequora campos.
Causa laboris amoris tum fontes lacrimarum
Semper compellit me aridis infundere sulcis.

Translation:

I am, alas, completely defrauded of my native essence by an enemy,
For formerly, swift, I used to pierce the upper winds.
Now, I pay tribute, bound by three things on earth.
I am compelled to plow level fields through the plains.
Then the cause of my labour of love always compels me
To pour onto the arid ditches fountains of tears.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the pen


Tags: riddles  latin  Tatwine 

Commentary for Exeter Riddle 6

MATTHIASAMMON

Date: Mon 06 May 2013
Matching Riddle: Exeter Riddle 6

As we have already seen with the other riddles, the poet here employs language familiar from other contexts to show the sun in a new light (if you’ll excuse the pun). In Riddle 5, elegiac exile imagery was transferred to an object intimately associated with the social world of heroic poetry; here, a part of the natural world is described as a warlike thing. Again, the language of the relationship between a lord and his follower is evoked. The emphasis on Christ as commanding the sun also serves to set this riddle very much in a Christian context. This coming together of heroic imagery and Christian themes is something that is quite common in Old English poetry. In this case, for example, some scholars have argued that the dual nature of the sun, which is sometimes pleasant and sometimes painful, reflects the nature of Christ himself – his "warmth" is pleasant to faithful believers and painful to sinners. There is thus a metaphorical focus within the poem that raises it beyond the playful description of a natural object, which is something worth bearing in mind when reading the riddles in general. At any rate, I’m sure we can agree that the riddle shows a certain early medieval ambiguity about the sun (which some might say has persisted up to the present day).

In the manuscript, the text of the riddle is followed by a single rune, usually taken as representing the letter "s" and standing for Old English sigel or possibly Latin sol. Both of these words mean "sun," so the rune might be a further hint towards the solution of the riddle. We will come back to runes with some of the other riddles.

Actual_Sunset

Photo (by Jessie Eastland) from Wikimedia Commons (licence: CC BY-SA 3.0).

Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 6 

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Commentary for Exeter Riddle 6

Exeter Riddle 7

MEGANCAVELL

Date: Fri 17 May 2013
Matching Commentaries: Commentary for Exeter Riddle 7

This week’s translation is a guest post from the wonderful Jessica Lockhart. Jessica is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, and she clearly knows a thing or two about stylish translating. Stay tuned next week for her commentary.



Original text:

Hrægl min swigað,      þonne ic hrusan trede,
oþþe þa wic buge,      oþþe wado drefe.
Hwilum mec ahebbað      ofer hæleþa byht
hyrste mine,      ond þeos hea lyft,
5     ond mec þonne wide      wolcna strengu
ofer folc byreð.      Frætwe mine
swogað hlude      ond swinsiað,
torhte singað,      þonne ic getenge ne beom
flode ond foldan,      ferende gæst.

Translation:

My clothing keeps quiet, when I step on earth
or settle down on dwellings or disturb the waters.
Sometimes my dress and this lofty air
lift me over the home of heroes;
5     and widely, then, does the clouds’ strength
bear me over mankind. My adornments
sound out loud and entune sweetly,
sing clearly, when I am not touching
flood and fold, a soul faring.

Click to show riddle solution?
Swan


Notes:

This riddle appears on folio 103r of The Exeter Book.

The above Old English text is based on this edition: Elliott van Kirk Dobbie and George Philip Krapp, eds, The Exeter Book, Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1936), pages 184-5.

Note that this edition numbers the text Riddle 5: Craig Williamson, ed., The Old English Riddles of the Exeter Book (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977), page 72.



Tags: anglo saxon  exeter book  riddles  old english  solutions  riddle 7 

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Eusebius Riddle 7: De littera

ALEXANDRAREIDER

Date: Mon 27 Dec 2021
Original text:

Innumerae sumus, et simul omnes quaeque sonamus.
Una loqui nequit; nos tetrae ludimus albis,
Et licet alta loquemur, non sonus auribus instat.
Praeteritum loquimus, praesens, et multa futura.

Translation:

We are innumerable, and we all resound at the same time.
One cannot speak; black, we play on white,
And although we speak loudly, the sound does not reach the ears.
We speak of the past, the present, and many future things.

Click to show riddle solution?
On the letter


Tags: riddles  latin  Eusebius