Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

The Edda, Volume 1 The Divine Mythology of the North, Popular Studies in Mythology, Romance, and Folklore, No. 12   By: (1872-)

Book cover

First Page:

Popular Studies in Mythology, Romance, and Folklore, No. 12

The Edda

I

The Divine Mythology of the North

By

Winifred Faraday, M.A.

Published by David Nutt, at the Sign of the Phoenix, Long Acre, London 1902

Author's Note

Some explanation is needed of the form of spelling I have adopted in transcribing Norse proper names. The spirants thorn and eth are represented by th and d , as being more familiar to readers unacquainted with the original. Marks of vowel length are in all cases omitted. The inflexional r of the nominative singular masculine is also omitted, whether it appears as r or is assimilated to a preceding consonant (as in Odinn, Eysteinn, Heindall, Egill) in the Norse form, with the single exception of the name Tyr, where I use the form which has become conventional in English.

Manchester, December 1901.

The Edda: I. The Divine Mythology of the North

The Icelandic Eddas are the only vernacular record of Germanic heathendom as it developed during the four centuries which in England saw the destruction of nearly all traces of the heathen system. The so called Elder Edda is a collection of some thirty poems, mythic and heroic in substance, interspersed with short pieces of prose, which survives in a thirteenth century MS., known as the Codex Regius, discovered in Iceland in 1642; to these are added other poems of similar character from other sources. The Younger Edda is a prose paraphrase of, and commentary on, these poems and others which are lost, together with a treatise on metre, written by the historian Snorri Sturluson about 1220.

This use of the word Edda is incorrect and unhistorical, though convenient and sanctioned by the use of several centuries. It was early used as a general term for the rules and materials for versemaking, and applied in this sense to Snorri's work. When the poems on which his paraphrase is founded were discovered, Icelandic scholars by a misunderstanding applied the name to them also; and as they attributed the collection quite arbitrarily to the historian Saemund (1056 1133), it was long known as Saemundar Edda, a name now generally discarded in favour of the less misleading titles of Elder or Poetic Edda. From its application to this collection, the word derives a more extended use, (1) as a general term for Norse mythology; (2) as a convenient name to distinguish the simpler style of these anonymous narrative poems from the elaborate formality of the Skalds.

The poems of the Edda are certainly older than the MS., although the old opinion as to their high antiquity is untenable. The majority probably date from the tenth century in their present form; this dating does not necessitate the ascription of the shape in which the legends are presented, still less of their substance, to that period. With regard to the place of their composition opinions vary widely, Norway, the British Isles and Greenland having all found champions; but the evidence is rather questionable, and I incline to leave them to the country which has preserved them. They are possibly of popular origin; this, together with their epic or narrative character, would account for the striking absence from them of some of the chief characteristics of Skaldic poetry: the obscuring of the sense by the elaborate interlacing of sentences and the extensive use of kennings or mythological synonyms, and the complication of the metre by such expedients as the conjunction of end rhyme with alliteration. Eddie verse is governed solely by the latter, and the strophic arrangement is simple, only two forms occurring: (1) couplets of alliterative short lines; (2) six line strophes, consisting of a couplet followed by a single short line, the whole repeated.

Roughly speaking, the first two fifths of the MS. is mythological, the rest heroic. I propose to observe this distinction, and to deal in this study with the stories of the Gods. In this connexion, Snorri's Edda and the mythical Ynglinga Saga may also be considered, but as both were compiled a couple of centuries or more after the introduction of Christianity into Iceland, it is uncertain how much in them is literary explanation of tradition whose meaning was forgotten; some also, especially in Snorri, is probably pure invention, fairy tale rather than myth... Continue reading book >>


Book sections



eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book



Popular Genres
More Genres
Languages
Paid Books