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The discussion and analysis presented after these translated stanzas is our opinion.  Read the translations for yourself and our analysis, but also seek out varied sources and come to your own conclusions.


Auden & Taylor:

The fastest friends may fall out
When they sit at the banquet-board:
It is, and shall be, a shameful thing
When guest quarrels with guest,


Friendly of mind | are many men,
Till feasting they mock at their friends;
To mankind a bane | must it ever be
When guests together strive.


Oft, though their hearts lean towards one another,
friends are divided at table;
ever the source of strife 'twill be,
that guest will anger guest.


Many a man is being friendly
when he teases at the table.
There is always strife
when guest clashes with guest.


Many a man means no ill,
yet teases the other at table;
strife will ever start amongsth men
when guest clashes with guest.


Even friends fond of each other
will fight at table;
nothing will ever bring to an end
the strife of men at meals.


Many men
are mutually well-disposed,
yet at table will torment each other.
That strife will ever be;
guest will guest irritate.


I think Stanza 32 further explains or expounds on the same basic message of stanza 31.

Lines 1 and 2 basically say, even two men who are friends or who like each other, may end up fighting or tormenting each other at the feasting table.  Chisholm and Hollander even suggest that men may tease or mock each other in a friendly way, but it can still end badly regardless of their friendly intentions.

Lines 3 and 4 suggest that strife always results when a guest clashes with another guest.  Bray's translation suggests that the source of strife will always be when one guest angers another.

Again, in an honor based culture, one must be careful about teasing or mocking one another publicly.  If you dishonor another guest, even with friendly intentions, they will be forced to defend or regain their honor.  And this can result in conflict or even bloodshed. 

In modern terms, this is good advice.  We all like to give our friends a friendly ribbing now and again.  But, there is a time and place.  It is one thing to tease your friend or give him crap about something when you are among your kin or kindred.  In the right circumstance, everyone will laugh including the person being teased...and it can serve as a way that good friends bond with one another.

But the exact same teasing or giving someone crap in front of outsiders or those you don't know as well can cause a completely different reaction.  For instance, in Jotun's Bane Kindred we give each other crap fairly often when the kindred is gathered together.  We laugh, trade a bit of mockery, and no one has any problem with it.  But, when we hold a public event or travel to a heathen gathering, we don't mock or tease each other in the same way in front of people we don't know as well.  To do so, would shift things from friendly joking to insulting your friend in front of people he or she does not know.  And you just don't do that.

You also have to be aware of the mood of your friends or family when dishing out a bit of teasing.  Even more so if you are joking around with someone you don't know as well.  Being empathetic to the mood and mindset of someone you are interacting with, is a key part of successful social interaction with them. 

The same goes for spouses.  Spouses tease each other frequently, and chuckle about it.  But if the same things were said at a dinner party in front of near-strangers, it would be inappropriate and likely lead to a fight.  There is a strong difference between teasing among friends and loved ones in private, and tearing down a friend or loved-one in front of other people. 

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