Prologue (Prose Edda)

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The Prologue is the first section of four books of the Prose Edda, and consists of a euhemerized account of the origins of Norse mythology: the Norse gods are described descended from the Thracians.

The genealogy presented by Snorri begins with Priam. Priam's daughter Tróán married king Múnón or Mennón. Their son was Trór, or Thor, who was fostered in Thrace. Thor slew his foster father and married Sibil, identified with Sif. The line of descendants of Thor and Sif is given as follows:

Lóriði, Einridi, Vingethor, Vingener, Móda, Magi, Seskef, Bedvig, Athra, Ítermann, Heremód, Skjaldun, Bjáf , Ját, Gudólfr, Finn, Fríallaf

Finally, the son of Fríallaf was "Vóden, whom we call Odin", who came to Germany (Saxland) and established the royal lines there.

"Odin had second sight, and his wife also; and from their foreknowledge he found that his name should be exalted in the northern part of the world and glorified above the fame of all other kings. Therefore, he made ready to journey out of Turkland [...] They made no end to their journeying till they were come north into the land that is now called Saxland"

In Saxland, Odin's sons Vegdeg, Beldeg (Baldr) and Sigi founded the ruling houses of the Franks, from whom descended the Völsungs. Odin himself moved on to Jutland (Reidgothland), where he established his son Skjöldr, from whom derive the Skjöldungs, the kings of the Danes. After this, Odin went on to Sweden, where there was a king named Gylfi. Gylfi welcomed Odin and his train as "men of Asia, who were called Æsir". In Sweden, Odin founded a city called Sigtún as a Trojan colony. Later, Odin's son Yngvi became king of Sweden, founding the Yngling dynasty. Finally, Odin went on to Norway, where he established his son Sæmingr as king.

The Prologue concludes in a linguistic remark, observing that the Æsir when they came to the north, spread out until their language was the native language over all these lands.

Snorri's genealogy is obviously informed by Anglo-Saxon tradition, as preserved by Æthelweard, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and the Anglian collection. His genealogical descent from Seskef to Odin directly parallels that from Sceaf to Woden in Anglo-Saxon tradition, and Snorri explicitly gives Odin's original name as Vóden, explaining that the original names of the Æsir were better preserved in England. The specific form that the names take as well as retained errors in the ancestry of Odin indicate a source closely related to Anglian collection manuscript T. Snorri's Sescef matches this manuscript's Se Scef - 'this Scef', and he appears to have had used a set of genealogical notes made from the Anglian collection manuscript and brought to Iceland, where they would serve as the basis for his expanded account in the Prologue as well as specific passages within Heimskringla. These notes omitted the descent from Adam given Scef in the Anglian collection, freeing Snorri to derive his Sescef from Thor and hence Priam. The names interposed are all associated with Thor: Lóriði, Einridi, Vingethor and Vingener derive from alternative names for Thor, while Móda and Magi are his sons Móði and Magni.[1][2] Snorri emulated the Anglo-Saxon pedigrees that converging on Woden, making the Scandinavian pedigrees converge on Odin by turning their eponymous founders, Yngvi of the Ynglings and Skjöldr of the Skjöldungs, into Odin's sons.[1] In so doing, he creates a duplicate of Skjaldun, intermediate between Seskef and Odin in the portion of the pedigree derived from the Anglo-Saxon source, and representing the same Scyld.

Regarding the euhemerization in the Prologue, Faulkes (1985) commented that "undoubtedly one of the motives for including the prologue, and maybe the chief reason for the use of the frame device itself, was to avoid the criticism that his stories were dangerous to [Christian] orthodoxy".[3]

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Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Faulkes, Anthony. "The Genealogies and Regnal Lists in a Manuscript in Resen's Library", Sjötíu ritgerðir helgaðar Jakobi Benediktssyni 20. júlí 1977, Reykjavik, 1977, pp. 170—190[1]
  2. ^ Faulkes, Anthony. "The Earliest Icelandic Genealogies and Regnal Lists, The Saga Book of the Viking Society, vol. 29 (2005), pp. 115-119 [2].
  3. ^ Faulkes (1985:284-285).
  • Faulkes, Anthony (1985). "Pagan Sympathy: Attitudes to Heathendom in the Prologue to Snorra Edda" as collected in Glendinning, R. J. Bessason, Heraldur (Editors). Edda: a Collection of Essays. University of Manitoba Press. ISBN 0-88755-616-7