13 Pieces of Wisdom from the 13th century
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Around the year 1230, a collection of proverbs and thoughts were put together by a German poet named Freidank. He called the work Bescheidenheit, and it became very popular in the Middle Ages, as it can be found in 197 manuscripts from the period.
Freidank wrote about a wide variety of topics, offering thoughts or advice. They have been recently translated by Albrecht Classen, who describes the writer this way: “here we encounter a medieval poet who, certainly a devout Christian, perceptively grasped all the shortcomings in life and dealt with them in a philosophical manner. Little wonder that posterity admired him greatly because his verses contain much obvious and subtle wisdom.”
Here are 13 pieces of wisdom from Bescheidenheit:
Some study the stars
And tell us what soon will happen.
But if they were to tell me also something from near-by,
what herbs are growing in their garden,
and if they then tell it correctly,
I will more easily believe the other things.
A dense forest suffers little,
then a man collects wood.
That a rich man loses a little,
makes a poor many happy.
Whatever great treasure is found by the fool,
it will quickly fall into the hand of the wise one.
Many people have numerous friends,
as long as his life runs smoothly,
but among them are very few
Who will stand by him in an emergency.
Many believe that they know me
Who have never learned to understand themselves.
If each person were to learn more about himself,
People would rarely lie to each other.
A lord will never achieve his goal
when his own people are hostile towards him.
Who always intends to avenge
what people might say negatively about him,
will rarely be free of experiencing envy,
and a ton of bickering.
The world strives hard
For goods, smartness, and honor.
I know well that no person of this world
Will ever get enough of those three.
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13 Pieces of Wisdom From The 13th Century
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