Völuspá

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Völuspá (Prophecy of the Völva; Modern Icelandic [ˈvœːlʏˌspauː], reconstructed Old Norse [ˈwɔluˌspɑː]) is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva addressing Odin. It is one of the most important primary sources for the study of Norse mythology.

The poem is preserved whole in the Codex Regius and Hauksbók manuscripts while parts of it are quoted in the Prose Edda. It consists of approximately 60 fornyrðislag stanzas.

Contents

Preservation

Völuspá is found in the Codex Regius manuscript (ca. 1270) and in Haukr Erlendsson's Hauksbók Codex (ca. 1334), and many of its stanzas are quoted or paraphrased in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda (composed ca. 1220, oldest extant manuscript dates from ca. 1300). The order and number of the stanzas varies in these sources. Some editors and translators have further rearranged the material. The Codex Regius version is usually taken as a base for editions.

Structure

The poem consists of some 60 fornyrðislag stanzas. In Sophus Bugge's edition the Hauksbók version has 59 stanzas while the Codex Regius version has 62 stanzas. Each manuscript contains some stanzas not in the other. Bugge's normalized version has 66 stanzas. The poem makes sporadic use of refrains.

Synopsis

The poem starts with the völva requesting silence from "the sons of Heimdallr" (human beings) and asking Odin whether he wants her to recite ancient lore. She says she remembers giants born in antiquity who reared her.

She then goes on to relate a creation myth; the world was empty until the sons of Burr lifted the earth out of the sea. The Æsir then established order in the cosmos by finding places for the sun, the moon and the stars, thereby starting the cycle of day and night. A golden age ensued where the Æsir had plenty of gold and happily constructed temples and made tools. But then three mighty giant maidens came from Jötunheimar and the golden age came to an end. The Æsir then created the dwarves, of whom Mótsognir and Durinn are the mightiest.

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