This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Full text of " The Prose Edda " See other formats Google This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project to make the world's books discoverable online. It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain.
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Google Book Search helps readers discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. Not less than the rest of Europe, Scandinavia shared in the bitter conflict between the law of the spirit and the law of the members.
The North, like England and the Conti- nent, felt the religious fervor of the Crusades, passed from potential anarchy into union and national consciousness, experienced a literary and spiritual revival, and suffered the fury of persecution and of fratricidal war.
No greater error could be committed than to think of the Northern lands as cut oflFby barriers of distance, tongue, and custom from the heart of the Continent, and in consequence as countries where men's thoughts and deeds were more un- restrained and uncivilized.
Even as England, France, and Germany acted and reacted upon one another in politics, in social growth, in art, and in literature, so all three acted upon Scandinavia, and felt the reaction of her influence.
Nearly thirty years before Snorri's birth, the Danish kingdom had been the plaything of a German prince, Henry the Lion, who set up or pulled down her rulers as he saw fit; and during Snorri's boyhood,' one of these rulers, Valdamarr I, contributed to Henry's political destruction. In Norway, Sverrir Sigurdarson had swept away the old social order, and replaced it with one more highly central- ized; had challenged the power of Rome without, and that of his own nobles within, like Henry II of England and Frederick Barbarossa.
Under the patronage of this ruler, Hakon Hakonarson, the great romances, notably those of Chretien de Troyes,were trans- lated into Norse, some of them passing over into Swedish, Danish, and Icelandic. Somewhat later, Matthew Paris, the great scholar and author, who represented the culture both of England and of France, spent eighteen months in Nor- way, though not until after Snorri's death. Snorri Sturluson was in the fullest sense a product of his time. The son of a turbulent and ambitious chieftain, Sturla Thordsson, of Hvamm in western Iceland, he was born to a heritage of strife and avarice.
The history of the Sturlung house, like that of Douglas in Scotland, is a long and perplexed chronicle of intrigue, treachery, and assassi- nation, in all of which Snorri played an active part. A careful and scholarly account of it by Eirikr Magnusson' will be found in the introduction to the sixth volume of The Saga Library.
From Snorri's marriage in 1 1 99 to his assassination at the hands of his son-in-law, Gizurr Thorvaldsson, in , there was little in his life which his biographer could relate with satisfaction. His friends, his relatives, his very children, Snorri sacrificed to his in- satiate ambition.
As chief and as lawman, he gave venal decisions and perverted justice; he purposed at any cost to become the most powerful man in Iceland.
There is even ground for belief that he deliberately undertook to betray the republic to Hakon of Norway, and that only his lack of courage prevented him from subverting his country's lib- erty. Failure brought about his death, for Snorri, who had been a favorite at the Norwegian court, incurred the King's suspicion after fifteen years had passed with no accom- plishment; and daring to leave Norway against Hakon's command, he fell under the royal displeasure.
Gizurr, his murderer, proved to have been acting at the express order of the King. Eirikr Magnusson, in the admirable biography to which I have referred, attempts to apologize for Snorri's faults on the ground that he " really compares very favorably with the leading contemporary godar [chieftains] of the land. Vigfusson, Oxford, Indeed, familiar as he was with the hopelessly anarchical conditions of his native land, its devastating feuds, its plethora of lawless, unscru- pulous chiefs, all striving for wealth and influence, none inspired with a genuine affection for the commonwealth, nor understanding the fundamental principles of demo- cracy, Snorri may well have felt that it were far better to endure a foreign ruler who could compel union and peace.
If this was the motive underlying his self-alfasement at the Norwegian court and his promises to Hakon, then weak- ness alone is sufficient to account for his failure; if he had no such purpose, he must be regarded as both weak and treacherous.
It is with relief that we turn to Snorri's works, to find in them, at least, traces of genuine nobility of spirit.
His interest in these wondrous things, like Scott's love for the heroes, beliefs, and customs of the Scottish folk, was, I think, primarily antiquarian. Indefatigable in re- search, with an artist's eye for the picturesque, a poet's feeling for the dramatic and the human, he created the most vivid, vital histories that have yet been penned. Poet he was too, though the codified rules, the cryp- tic phrase, and conventional expression, which indeed "bound" together the words of the singers of ancient Scandinavia, must spoil his verse for us.
Yet it is well to remember that in his own lifetime, not his natural prose, but his artificial poetry was famous throughout the North.
For Snorri's sources con- sult pp. Ixxvi fF. Snorri's was a more ambitious task. Discerning that the course of life is determined by cause and effect, and that in the lives of kings widely ramified interests, national and dynastic, come into play, he conceived a new idea of saga- writing: the seed of cause sown in the preceding must yield its crop of effect in the succeeding reign.
This the writer of lives of kings must bear in mind. And so Snorri addresses him- self to writing the first pragmatic history ever penned in any Teutonic vernacular — the Heimskringla.
A comparison of the names of skalds and skaldic poems mentioned in both works will show that the author of each had a wide acquaintance with the con- ventional poetic literature of Scandinavia, particularly of Iceland, and that, if we suppose two distinct authors, both men had almost precisely the same poetic equipment. Each ' See Sturlunga Saga, vol.
Ixxv fF. The limitations of an introduc- tion do not permit an abstract of the discussion in this place. Finally, Vigfusson has shown that they exhibit occasionally a remarkable identity of phrase. It is pre- served in three primary manuscripts : Codex Regius, early fourteenth century ; Codex Wormianus, fourteenth cen- tury, named from Ole Worm, from whose hands it passed, in , into the hands of Arni Magnusson; and Codex Upsaliensis, about , perhaps a direct copy of Snorri's own text.
This last manuscript, and also the Arnamagnaean vellum No. These three divisions, but for the evidence of the manu- scripts, might seem to afford ground for assuming plural authorship. The first part, the Gylfaginningyor Beguiling of Gylfi, is an epitome of Odinic mythology, cast in the form of a dialogue between Gylfi, a legendary Swedish king, and the triune Odin. Snorri, though a Christian, tells the old pagan tales with obvious relish, and often, in the enthu- siasm of the true antiquary, rises to magnificent heights.
Ixxvii, and note. The ques- tioner this time is one iEgir; and replies are made by the god Bragi, famed for eloquence and the gift of poetic ex- pression. From this point on, barely maintaining the fiction of the dialogue, Snorri makes his work a treatise on the con- ventional vocabulary and phraseology of skaldship, for the guidance of young skalds.
Each of the hundred and two stan- zas of the work belongs to a distinct metric type or sub- type, and between stanzas Snorri has inserted definitions, occasionally longer notes, or comments.
Belief is sin ; tampering with tradition is a crime against scholarship. Even the Prologue, which many scholars consider spu- rious, is an integral part of the work — a fact established by Snorri's single address, in the character of the author, to beginners.
The word "Edda," as applied to the whole work, has long furnished scholars with material for disputation. It is the translator's personal opinion that Magnusson's etymology, if not established, is at least the most satisfac- tory one likely to be offered. Now the Poetic Edda was ascribed by its earliest recorded pos- sessor, Bishop Brynjolf Sveinsson,to Saemundr; and while it is improbable that Saemundr composed the poem, it is highly probable that it once formed part of his library at Oddi.
There Snorri may have learned to know it; and we may assume that he gave the prose edition the name of its poetical original. That original, "the mother MS.
The disappearance of the manuscript which Snorri used is a great loss. The first translation of the Prose Edda was published at Copenhagen in , when the complete text appeared, with Latin and Danish interpretation.
The stand- ard Danish translation is that of R. Nyerup, Copenhagen, In , J. Goransson printed at Upsala the first Swedish version, with a Latin translation.
Poetic edda thorpe pdf writer
Goransson's original was the Codex Upsaliensis. Anders Uppstrom made an independent translation in Northern Antiquities was pub- lished at London in 17 70, and was reprinted at Edinburgh in , with additions by Sir Walter Scott.
In , G. Samuel Laing's translation is likewise in- complete.
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A second edition appeared in 1. So far as I can ascertain, the first translation into Ger- man was the work of Friedrich Ruhs, Berlin, 2. This contains a long historical introduction, and ends with the story of the Volsungs in SkaldskaparmaL Karl Simrock's DieJiingereEdday published in 1 and reprinted in , although incomplete, is more accurate than any earlier translation, and is remarkable for its literary excellence. The most scholarly rendering into German is by Hugo Gering, Leipzig, , but unfortunately it includes only the narrative portions of the book.
This was super- seded by. Finnur Jonsson's splendid Danish edition. In , Professor Jonsson produced an Icelandic edition. It was fortunate for me that these last two editions ap- peared before I began my work.
Professor Jonsson pro- vided me with an excellent text; and, second in value only to this, with an index and an invaluable Icelandic prose re-phrasing of the skaldic verses. I regret exceedingly that the highly technical nature of Hattatal forbids translation into English. There are, to be sure, more or less — usually less — accurate translations into Scandinavian and into Latin.
Poetic Edda and Prose Edda Essay
Even in the excellent Arnamagnaean edition, many of the glosses are purely con- jectural; and any attempt to convey into English a vocabu- lary which has no equivalent in our language must fail. Skaldskaparmaly however, is here presented, complete, for the first time in English.
To those who have helped me I wish to express my deepest appreciation.
First of all, to Professor William Henry Schofield I owe a debt of gratitude which is more than four years old, and has increased beyond computa- tion. Henry Goddard Leach, my first instructor in Scandinavian literature, gave me my greatest single in- tellectual stimulus, and thereby determined the current of my work.