Prose Edda

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The 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 be written by the Icelandic scholar and historian Snorri Sturluson around the year 1220.

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 kennings 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.[1] The Prose Edda is related to the Poetic Edda in that the Prose Edda cites various poems collected in the Poetic Edda as sources.[2]

Contents

Authorship

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[4]

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