Get Your Premium Membership

Edda in Icelandic literature

by New Gresham Encyclopedia

Edda (meaning 'great-grandmother'), the name given to two ancient collections of Icelandic literature, the one consisting of mythological poems, the other being mainly in prose. The first of these collections, called the Elder or Poetic Edda, was compiled in the thirteenth century, and discovered in 1643 by Brynjulf Sveinsson, an Icelandic bishop. For a long time an earlier date was given, the compiler being erroneously believed to have been Sæmund Sigfusson, a learned Icelandic clergyman, who lived from about 1056 to 1133. It consists of thirty-three pieces, written in alliterative verse, and comprising epic tales of the Scandinavian gods and goddesses, and narratives dealing with the Scandinavian heroes. These poems are now assigned to a period extending from the ninth to the eleventh century. The Prose Edda, or Younger Edda, presents a kind of prose synopsis of the Northern mythology; a treatise on the Scaldic poetry and versification, with rules and examples; and lastly a poem (with a commentary) in honour of Haco of Norway (died 1263). In its earliest forms this collection is ascribed to Snorri Sturlason, who was born in Iceland in 1178, and was assassinated there in 1241 on his return from Norway, where he had been scald or court poet. Cf. S. Bugge, Home of the Eddic Poems.

Book: Shattered Sighs