Definitions

Edda

Edda

[ed-uh]
Edda, title applied to two distinct works in Old Icelandic. The Poetic Edda, or Elder Edda, is a collection (late 13th cent.) of 34 mythological and heroic lays, most of which were composed c.800-c.1200, probably in Iceland or W Norway. Despite uncritical arrangement and textual corruption, the Poetic Edda is the most valuable collection of texts in Old Norse literature. See English translations by L. M. Hollander (2d ed. 1962), P. B. Taylor and W. H. Auden (1969), and U. Dronke (Vol. I, 1969). The Prose Edda, or Younger Edda, was probably written c.1222 by Snorri Sturluson as a guide to the scaldic poetry of Iceland. The first two parts constitute an account of Scandinavian mythology and are the prime source on the subject; the third part is a compendium of the complex diction of scaldic poetry; the fourth, a treatise on the meters employed. Abridged translations of the Prose Edda, treating primarily the first mythical part, have been made by J. I. Young (new ed. 1966).

For studies of both Eddas, see Einarsson, A History of Icelandic Literature (1957), P. Hallberg, The Icelandic Saga (1962); C. J. Clover and J. Lindow, ed., Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Critical Guide (1978).

Body of ancient Icelandic literature. Contained in two 13th-century books, it is the fullest and most detailed source for modern knowledge of Germanic mythology. The Prose Edda (Younger Edda, or Snorra-Edda; circa 1222), a handbook on poetics by Snorri Sturluson, explains diction and metre in skaldic and Eddic poetry and recounts tales from Norse mythology. The Poetic Edda (Elder Edda, or Sæmundar Edda; circa 1250–1300) is a collection of mythological and heroic poems of unknown authorship composed circa 800–1100. These austere lays are the oldest surviving antecedents of the Nibelungenlied legends.

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This page refers to the Eddur, poems and tales of Norse Mythology. For Edda, the ancestress of serfs in the Rígsthula, see Ríg. For the Hungarian rock group, see Edda művek.

The term Edda (Plural: Eddas or Norse plural: Eddur) applies to the Old Norse Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, both of which were written down in Iceland during the 13th century, although some of the poems included in them may be centuries older.

Etymology

There are several theories concerning the origins of the word edda. One theory holds that it is identical to the word that seems to mean "great-grandmother". (See Ríg.) Another theory holds that edda derives from Old Norse óðr, "poetry." A third is that it means "the book of Oddi", Oddi being the place where students (including Snorri Sturluson) were educated. The most plausible idea is that the word was coined as a diminutive of Latin "edo" (I compose [poetry]) in imitation of Old Icelandic "kredda" (superstition), which is derived from Latin "credo" (creed, literally 'I believe'). See www.VSNRweb-publications.org.uk/Edda.pdf

The Poetic Edda

The Poetic Edda, also known as Sæmundar Edda or the Elder Edda, is a collection of Old Norse poems from the Icelandic medieval manuscript Codex Regius ('The King's Manuscript'). Along with Snorri's Edda the Poetic Edda is the most important source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends. The first part of the Codex Regius preserves poems that narrate the creation and destruction of the Old Norse mythological world as well as individual myths about gods such as Odin, Thor and Heimdall. The poems in the second part narrate legends about heroes and heroines such as Sigurd the Dragonslayer, Brynhildr and Gunnar.

The Codex Regius was written down in the 13th century but nothing is known of its whereabouts until 1643 when it came into the possession of Brynjólfur Sveinsson, then Bishop of Skálholt. At that time versions of Snorri's Edda were well known in Iceland but scholars speculated that there once was another Edda - an Elder Edda - which contained the pagan poems Snorri quotes in his book. When the Codex Regius was discovered it seemed that this speculation had proven correct. Brynjólfur attributed the manuscript to Sæmundr the Learned, a larger-than-life 12th century Icelandic priest. While this attribution is rejected by modern scholars the name Sæmundar Edda is still sometimes encountered.

Bishop Brynjólfur sent the Codex Regius as a present to the Danish king, hence the name. For centuries it was stored in the Royal Library in Copenhagen but in 1971 it was returned to Iceland.

The Prose Edda

The Younger Edda, known also as the Prose Edda or Snorri's Edda is an Icelandic manual of poetics which also contains many mythological stories. Its purpose was to enable Icelandic poets and readers to understand the subtleties of alliterative verse, and to grasp the mythological allusions behind the many kennings that were used in skaldic poetry.

It was written by the Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson around 1220. It survives in seven main manuscripts, written down from about 1300 to about 1600.

The Prose Edda consists of a Prologue and three separate books: the Gylfaginning, concerning the gods' creation and destruction, the Skáldskaparmál, a dialogue between Ægir, the god of the sea and Bragi, the god of poetry, and the Háttatal, a demonstration of verse forms used in Norse mythology.

External links

Also of interest may be several of the external links of these articles:

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