Old English 'Hring' in Riddles 48 and 59

By Okasha, Elisabeth | Medium Aevum, Spring 1993 | Go to article overview

Old English 'Hring' in Riddles 48 and 59


Okasha, Elisabeth, Medium Aevum


Two of the Old English riddles in the Exeter Book (numbers 48 and 59), describe the object to be idendfied as a hring.(1) Various solutions have been put forward for these riddles, most of them suggesting that the hring is some soft of sacramental vessel. This note proposes an alternative solution. Riddle 48 reads:(2)

Ic gefraegn for haelepum hring endean,

torhtne butan tungan, tila Peah he hlude

stefne ne cirmde, strongum wordum.

Sinc for secgum swigende cwaeo:

"Gehaele mec, helpend gaesta." 5

Ryne ongietan readan goldes

guman galdorcwide, gleawe be pencan

hyra haelo to gode, swa se hring gecwaeo.

I heard of a hring speaking before men, bright without a tongue, (speaking) well

although it did not call out with a loud voice in brave words. The treasure, being

silent, spoke before men: |Save me, helper of souls'. Let men understand the

mystery, the magic utterance, of the red gold, wisely entrust their salvation to

God, as the hring said. Riddle 59 reads:

Ic seah in heaue hring gyldenne

men sceawian, modum gleawe,

ferppum frode. Fripospede baed

god nergende gaeste sinum

se pe wende wripan; word aefter cwaeo 5

hring on hyrede, haelend nemde

tillfremmendra. Him torhte in gemynd

his dryhtnes naman dumba brohte

ond in eagna gesiho, gif paes aepelan

goldes tacen ongietan cupe 10

ond dryhtnes dolg, don swa paes beages

benne cwaedon. Ne maeg paere bene

aeniges monnes ungefullodre

godes ealdorburg gaest gesecan,

rodera ceastre. Raede, se pe wille, 15

hu oaes wraetlican wunda cwaeden

hringes to haelepum, pa he in healle waes

wylted ond wended wloncra folmum.

I saw in the hall men gazing on a golden hring, prudent in their minds, wise in

their hearts. He who turned the band prayed to God the Saviour for abundant

peace for his soul; afterwards, in company, the hring spoke words, named the

saviour of those doing good deeds. It showed to him in his mind the name of

its lord; the dumb one brought it forth into the sight of his eyes if he knew how

to understand the sign (made) of noble gold and (understand) die wounds of the

Lord, (knew how) to do as the wounds of the ring said. The prayer of any man

being unfulfilled, his soul cannot attain the metropolis of God, the city of the

heavens. Let him who desires explain how the wounds of the wondrous hring may

have spoken to men, when it was twisted and turned by the hands of proud ones

in the hall.

In both riddles the object being described is called a hring. In Riddle 48, the word hring is used in the first and last line and the same object is described as sinc |treasure' (4). We are told that the hring is bright (z) and is of red gold (6). The hring has no tongue (2) and is silent (4), yet it speaks. What it |says' has therefore been taken to be a text inscribed on it. This text is given as |gehaele mec helpend gaesta' (|save me, helper of souls', 5).

In Riddle 5 9, the word hring is used three times, at the beginning, the middle and the end (1, 6, 17). The same object is described as wripa |band' (5) and as beag |ring' (11), a word which is often used in the context of treasure. The hring is dumb (8) and yet it speaks (5). What it |says' is to be understood through its wounds (benne 12, wunda i 6) which have been taken to be the incised letters of its text. The wounds of the hring are paralleled by |dryhtnes dolg' (|the wounds of God', 11), underlining the religious significance of the inscribed text. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Old English 'Hring' in Riddles 48 and 59
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.