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 The Eddas

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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: The Eddas   Sat Sep 29, 2007 5:33 pm

What are the Eddas?

The Eddas are a collection of ancient Icelandic literature relating Norse mythology in poetic form. There are volumes of the Eddas which were written in the 13th-century commonly distinguished as the Prose (ir Younger Edda) and the Poetic (or Elder Edda). These two collections of literature are the fullest and most detailed source for modern knowledge of Germanic mythology.

What does "Edda" mean?

There are many theories concerning the meaning of the word edda. One theory holds that it means "great-grandmother". Another theory holds that edda means "poetics". A third belief is that it means "the book of Oddi". Oddi is the name of a place Snorri Sturluson was educated. Whatever the meaning of the word, students of Norse mythology would be lost without the Eddas

The Prose Edda

The Prose Edda was written by the Icelandic chieftain, poet, and historian Snorri Sturluson, probably in 1222–23. It is a textbook on poetics intended to instruct young poets in the difficult metres of the early Icelandic skalds (court poets). It was also intended to provide the Christian age with an understanding of the mythological subjects honored in early Nordic poetry.

The Prose Edda consists of a prologue and three subsequent parts.
Skáldskaparmál (“The Language of Poetry”), dealing with the elaborate, riddle-like kennings and circumlocutions of the skalds,
Háttatal (“A Catalog of Metres”), giving examples of 102 metres known to Snorri; are of interest chiefly to specialists in ancient Norse and Germanic literature.

The remaining section, Gylfaginning (“The Beguiling of Gylfi”), is of interest to the general reader. Cast in the form of a dialogue, it describes the visit of Gylfi, a king of the Swedes, to Asgard, the citadel of the gods. In answer to his questions, the gods tell Gylfi the Norse myths about the beginning of the world, the adventures of the gods, and the fate in store for all in the Ragnarok (Doom [or Twilight] of the Gods). The tales are told with dramatic artistry, humour, and charm.

The Poetic Edda

The Poetic Edda is a later manuscript dating from the second half of the 13th century, but containing older verses (hence its alternative title, the Elder Edda). It is a collection of mythological and heroic poems of unknown authorship, composed over a long period (AD 800–1100). They are usually dramatic dialogues in a simple, archaic style that is in decided contrast to the artful poetry of the skalds and the Prose Edda.

The mythological cycle is introduced by Voluspá (“Sibyl's Prophecy”), a sweeping myth that reviews in flashing scenes the history of the gods, men, and dwarfs, from the birth of the world to the death of the gods and the world's destruction.

It is followed by Hávamál (“Sayings of the High One”), a group of disconnected, fragmentary poems that sum up the wisdom of the wizard-warrior god, Odin. The precepts are cynical and generally amoral, evidently dating from an age of lawlessness and treachery. The latter part contains the strange myth of how Odin acquired the magical power of the runes (alphabetical characters) by hanging himself from a tree and suffering hunger and thirst for nine nights. The poem ends with a list of magic charms.

One of the finest mythological poems is the humorous Thrymskvida (“Lay of Thrym”), which tells how the giant Thrym steals the hammer of the thunder god Thor and demands the goddess Freyja in marriage for its return. Thor himself journeys to Thrym, disguised as a bride, and the humour derives from the “bride's” astonishing manners at the wedding feast, where she eats an ox and eight salmon, and drinks three vessels of mead.

The second half of the Poetic Edda contains lays about the Germanic heroes. Except for the Völundarkvida (“Lay of Völundr”; i.e., Wayland the Smith) these are connected with the hero Sigurd (Siegfried), recounting his youth, his marriage to Gudrun, his death, and the tragic fate of the Burgundians (Nibelungs). These lays are the oldest surviving poetic forms of the Germanic legend of deceit, slaughter, and revenge that forms the core of the great medieval German epic Nibelungenlied. Unlike the Nibelungenlied, which stands on the threshold of romance, the austere Eddic poems dwell on cruel and violent deeds with a grim stoicism that is unrelieved by any civilizing influences.

The Poetic Edda can be divided into two sections, a mythical one and a heroic one.

The Mythological Poems

The mythical poems, which are generally considered younger, are:

Völuspá, Prophecy of the Vala
A volva chants about the cosmos, from creation to destruction.

Hávamál, Sayings of Hár
Wisdom sayings. Also, the story of how Odin learned the runes.

Vafţrúđnismál, Sayings of Vafţrúđnir"
Odin matches wits with a wise giant.

Grimnismál, Sayings of Grimnir
Agnar and Geirrod are brother princes and foster sons of Frigg and Odin. Geirrod the younger does away with his brother so he can be King. Frigg gets Odin to visit his favorite Geirrod, but first she implants evil notions in the King's head so he will treat Odin poorly. Odin arrives at Geirrod's saying his name is Grimnir, gets tossed into a fire, and avenges himself by killing Geirrod.

Skirnismál, Sayings of Skirnir
Frey falls in love with Gerd so he has his servant Skirnir go woo her for him.

Hárbarzljóđ, Lay of Hárbarth
Thor and Hárbarth (Odin) have a contest regarding who has more accomplishments.

Hýmiskviđa, Lay of Hymir
Thor and Tyr go to the giant Hymir's in search of a kettle large enough for Aegir to brew ale in for the gods' feast. While with the giant, they go fishing and Thor hooks the Midgard Serpent.

Lokasenna, Loki's Mocking
Loki crashes a party of the gods at Aegir's hall and slanders all.

Ţrymskviđa, Lay of Thrym
Thrym steals Thor's hammer. Thrym states he will give it back if he can marry Freya. Freya will have no part in the bargain so Thor dresses in drag, pretending to be Freya going to her wedding feast.

Alvíssmál, Sayings of Alvís
The dwarf Alvis wants to marry Thor's daughter Thrud. He ends up in a contest of knowledge and is outwitted by Thor, who keeps the dwarf up until the sun comes up, thereby turning Alvis into Stone.

Baldrs draumar, Balder's Dream
Balder has nightmares so Odin rides to the underworld to talk to a volva to find out what Balder's dreams portend.

Rigsţula, Rig's Song
Rig, another name for Heimdall, journeys about middle-earth siring the three social classes of man: slave, freeman, and noble.

Hyndluljóđ, Lay of Hyndla
Freya rides her lover Ottar (in boar form) to Hyndla's and gets the wise woman to state Ottar's ancestory.

Vöuspá hin skamma, The Short Prophecy of the Vala
A shorter version of the history and future of the universe.

Svipdagsmál: Grógaldr, Fjölsvinnsmál, Sayings of Svipdag: Spell of Gróa, Sayings of Fjölsvith
Svipdag is pushed by his stepmother into finding the love of his life and winning her.

The Heroic:

The heroic lays, which are considered to have earlier dates of origin than the mythical lays:

Völundarkviđa, The Lay of Volund
The Helgi Lays: Helgakvđa Hjörvarţssonar, The Lay of Helgi Hjorvarthsson, Helgakviđa Hundingsbana I, The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer, Helgakviđa Hundingsbana II, The Second Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer

Frá dauđa Sinfjötla, Sinfjotli's Death

Grípisspá, The Prophecy of Gripir

Reginsmál, The Lay of Regin

Fáfnism&aacutel, The Lay of Fafnir

Sigrdrífumál, The Lay of Sigrdrifa

The Great Lacuna

Brot af Sigurţarkvđu, Fragment of a Sigurd Lay

Guđrúnarkviđa I, The First Lay of Gudrun

Sigurţarkvi&etha hin skamma, The Short Lay of Sigurd

Helreiđ Brynhildar, Brynhid's Ride to Hel

Dráp Niflunga, The Fall of the Niflungs

Guđrúnarkviđa II (hin forna), The Second (or Old) Lay of Gudrun

Guđrúnarkviđa III, The Third Lay of Gudrun

Oddrúnargrátr, The Plaint of Oddcrúnargrátr

Atlakviđa, The Lay of Atli

Atlamál hin groenlenzku, The Greenlandish Lay of Atli

Guđrúnarhvöt, Gudrun's Lament

Hamđismál, The Lay of Hamdir

http://www.paganspath.com/magik/norse/eddas.htm

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