Final Translation of Riddle 86

            Using all of the information you have uncovered, try translating the riddle into a coherent Modern English piece. Take your time and double-check your work where necessary. You want to make sure that you have all of the grammar correct so that the passage is translated properly and makes sense.

  Riddle 86  
 

With cwom gongan, þær weras sæton

monige on mædle mode snottre ;

hæfde an eage ond earan twa

ond twegen fet, twelf hund heafda,

hrycg ond wombe ond honda twa,

earmas ond eaxle, anne sweoran

ond sidan twa. Saga hwæt ic hatte.

 
 
 
 
 
(5)
 
 
 
 

Translation Example:

  Riddle 86  
  With cwom gongan, þær weras sæton A creature came walking, where many men
  monige on mædle mode snottre ; Wise in spirits sat on [the] assembly ;
  hæfde an eage ond earan twa [the creature] had one eye upon two ears
  ond twegen fet, twelf hund heafda, and two feet, twelve hundred heads,
(5) hrycg ond wombe ond honda twa, [its] back on [its] belly and two hands,
  earmas ond eaxle, anne sweoran arms on [its] shoulder, one neck
  ond sidan twa. Saga hwæt ic hatte.
and two sides. Say what I am called.

            The answer to this riddle is quite charming; can you guess what it is? At first it seems as though the solution is some kind of hideous monster capable of imminent destruction. According to most scholars, however, the answer is a ‘One-Eyed Garlic Seller.’ What seems like a dark creature is in actuality a man selling many heads of garlic.

            This riddle is notably the only puzzle in the Exeter book in which the entire passage is written in the third person, except for the final sentence where it changes to first. Most of the riddles are written in the first person, Ic, which represents either the speaking subject or the solution. [41] Now that we have translated five riddles together it is time for you to complete some on your own! In part five of the index there are four practice texts where you can work on developing your skills.

Back to Index

[41] A.J Wyatt, Old English Riddles (Cambridge: D.C Heath & CO. Publishers, 1912) 199-120.