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This colourful front page of the Prose Edda in an 18th century Icelandic manuscript shows Odin, Heimdallr, Sleipnir and other figures from Norse mythology.
|Publication date||Around 1220e Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda (Icelandic: Snorra Edda) or simply Edda, is an Icelandic collection of four sections interspersed with excerpts from earlier skaldic and Eddic poetry containing tales from Nordic mythology. The work is often assumed to have been written by the Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson around the year 1220.|
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The Prose Edda begins with a euhemerized Prologue followed by three distinct books: Gylfaginning (consisting of around 20,000 words), Skáldskaparmál (around 50,000 words) and Háttatal (around 20,000 words). Seven manuscripts, dating from around 1300 to around 1600, have independent textual value. The purpose of the collection was to enable Icelandic poets and readers to understand the subtleties of alliterative verse, and to grasp the meaning behind the many kenningar (compounds) that were used in skaldic poetry.
The Prose Edda was originally referred to as simply the Edda, but was later called the Prose Edda to distinguish it from the Poetic Edda, a collection of anonymous poetry from earlier traditional sources compiled around the same time as the Prose Edda in 13th century Iceland. The Prose Edda is related to the Poetic Edda in that the Prose Edda cites various poems collected in the Poetic Edda as sources.
The assumption that Snorri Sturluson is responsible for writing the Prose Edda is largely based on the following paragraph from a portion of Codex Upsaliensis, an early 14th century manuscript containing the Prose Edda:
This book is called Edda. Snorri Sturluson compiled it in the way that it is arranged here. First it tells about the Æsir and Ymir, then comes the poetic diction section with the poetic names of many things and lastly a poem called the List of Meters which Snorri composed about King Hakon and Duke Skuli.
It has been noted that this attribution, along with other primary manuscripts, are not clear whether or not Snorri is more than the compiler of the work and the author of Háttatal or if he is the author of the entire Prose Edda. Whatever the case, the mention of Snorri in the manuscripts has been influential in the acceptance of Snorri as the author of the Prose Edda.
The etymology of "Edda" remains uncertain, none of the many hypotheses have so far met consensus.
Some argue that the word derives from the name of Oddi, a town south of Iceland where Snorri was raised. Edda could therefore mean "book of Oddi." However, this assumption is generally rejected. Anthony Faulkes, author of an edition and an English translation of the Edda, considered this was "unlikely, both in terms of linguisitics and history" since Snorri was no longer living at Oddi when he composed his work.
Another connection was made with the word ODR, which means "poetry or inspiration" in Old Norse. As Oddi, this hypothesis encounters language difficulties.
Edda also means "great-parent", a word used by Snorri himself in the Skáldskaparmál. That is, with the same meaning, the name of a character in the Rigsthula and other medieval texts. This hypothesis has attracted François-Xavier Dillmann, author of a French translation of the Edda, who said "it seems likely that this person's name was chosen as the title of the work due to the fact that it was a collection of ancient knowledge" or, in the words of Régis Boyer, the "grandparent of all sacred knowledge".
A final hypothesis is derived from the Latin "edo", meaning "I write". It relies on the fact that the word "kredda" (meaning "belief") is certified and comes from the Latin "credo", "I believe." It seems likely Snorri would have been able to invent the word. Edda in this case could be translated as "Poetic Art". This is the meaning that the word was then given in the Middle Ages.
The name Younger Edda was given by the Bishop Sveinsson Brynjólfur to the collection of poems contained in the Codex Regius, many of which are quoted by Snorri. Brynjólfur having believed - wrongly - that they were collected by the Sæmund Savant (therefore before the drafting of the Edda of Snorri), the Poetic Edda is also known under the names of Elder Edda or Edda Sæmund.
The Prologue is the first section of four books of the Prose Edda, and consists of an euhemerized Christian account of the origins of Nordic mythology: the Nordic gods are described as human Trojan warriors who left Troy after the fall of that city (an origin similar to the one chosen by Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century to account for the ancestry of the British nation, and which parallels Virgil's Aeneid). According to the Prose Edda, these warriors settled in northern Europe, where they were accepted as divine kings because of their superior culture and technology. Remembrance ceremonies later conducted at their burial sites degenerate into heathen cults, turning them into gods. Alexander M. Bruce suggested that Sturlson was in possession of the Langfeðgatal or a closely related text when he composed the detailed list of gods and heroes given. He noted parallel sequences in the Langfeðgatal and the Edda, noting the second appearance of a "Scyld figure" as both an ancestor and a descendant of Odin in both. This figure is expanded upon in the Edda detailing Skjöldr as Odin's son after his migration northwards to Reidgothland and his ordination as a King of Denmark. 
Gylfaginning (Old Icelandic "the tricking of Gylfi") follows the Prologue in the Prose Edda. Gylfaginning deals with the creation and destruction of the world of the Nordic gods, and many other aspects of Norse mythology. The section is written in prose interspersed with quotes from skaldic poetry, including material collected in the Poetic Edda.
Skáldskaparmál (Old Icelandic "the language of poetry") is the third section of the Prose Edda, and consists of a dialogue between Ægir, a god associated with the sea, and Bragi, a skaldic god, in which both Nordic mythology and discourse on the nature of poetry are intertwined. The origin of a number of kenningar are given and Bragi then delivers a systematic list of kenningar for various people, places, and things. Bragi then goes on to discuss poetic language in some detail, in particular heiti, the concept of poetical words which are non-periphrastic, for example "steed" for "horse", and again systematises these.
Háttatal (Old Icelandic "list of verse-forms") is the last section of the Prose Edda. The section is composed by the Icelandic poet, politician, and historian Snorri Sturluson. Using, for the most part, his own compositions it exemplifies the types of verse forms used in Old Norse poetry. Snorri took a prescriptive as well as descriptive approach; he has systematized the material, and often notes that "the older poets didn't always" follow his rules.
- Faulkes (1995:XI).
- Byock (2006:IX).
- Grape, Kallstenius, Thorell (1977:I).
- Byock (2006:XII).
- Anthony Faulkes, introduction de : Snorri Sturluson, Edda, 1995 Template:Détail édition
- François-Xavier Dillmann, introduction de : Snorri Sturluson, L'Edda : Récits de mythologie nordique, 2003 Template:Détail édition
- Boyer, Régis., L'Edda poétique, présentation et trad. 2002, (Fayard).
- Alexander M. Bruce (2002). Scyld and Scef: Expanding the Analogues. Psychology Press. pp. 56–60. ISBN 978-0-8153-3904-5. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
- Faulkes (1995:7).
- Faulkes (1995:59).
- Faulkes (1995:165).
- Byock, Jesse (Trans.) (2006). The Prose Edda. Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-044755-5
- Faulkes, Anthony (Trans.) (1995). Edda. Everyman. ISBN 0-460-87616-3
- Grape, Anders. Kallstenius, Gotfried. Thorell, Olof (Trans.) (1977). Snorre Sturlusons Edda: Uppsala-Handskriften DH II, vol. II. Uppsala.
- Snorri Sturluson. 1988. Edda : Prologue and Gylfaginning. Edited by Anthony Faulkes. London : Viking Society for Northern Research. ISBN 0-903521-21-0.
- François-Xavier Dillmann, L'Edda, Gallimard, coll. « L'Aube des peuples », 1991 (ISBN 2-07-072114-0) ;
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda, trans. by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur (New York: American-Scandinavian Foundation, 1916), http://www.wisdomlib.org/norse/book/the-prose-edda/index.html; http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/pre/index.htm; http://www.germanicmythology.com/ProseEdda/BRODEURPrologeandGylfaginning.html; http://archive.org/details/proseedda01brodgoog
- The Younger Edda, Also Called Snorre's Edda, or the Prose Edda: An English Version of the Foreword; the Fooling of Gylfe, the Afterword; Brage's Talk, the Afterword to Brage's Talk, and the Important Passages in the Poetical Diction (Skáldskaparmál), with an Introduction, Notes, Vocabulary, and Index, trans. by Rasmus B. Anderson (Chicago: Griggs, 1880): http://www.archive.org/details/youngereddaalsoc00snoruoft; http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18947 (1897); http://www.archive.org/details/TheYoungerEdda (1901)
- The Elder Eddas of Saemund Sigfusson; and the Younger Eddas of Snorre Sturleson at Project Gutenberg, translated by Benjamin Thorpe (Elder Eddas) and I. A. Blackwell (Younger Eddas). (1906)
- Uppsala Edda
- Edda Snorra Sturlusonar: með skáldatali, ed. by Guðni Jónsson (Reykjavík: S. Kristjánsson, 1935), http://www.heimskringla.no/wiki/Edda_Snorra_Sturlusonar.
- Critical editions of all major redactions of the Prose Edda in pdf format at septentrionalia.net