The front page of an 18th century Icelandic manuscript of the Prose Edda


The Poetic Edda is a collection of poems written in Old Norse; which are preserved mainly in the Icelandic manuscript known as the Codex Regius. It is one of the most important works regarding Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends and equals if not surpasses the Prose Edda in importance. Written in the 13th century, it was not rediscovered until 1643 when Brynjólfur Sveinsson, the Bishop of Skálholt came to be in possession of the manuscript. Brynjólfur credited the authorship of the manuscript to Sćmundr the Learned a famous 12th century Icelandic priest. This accedition in modern times has been rejected however the Poetic Edda is still sometimes referred to as the Sćmundar Edda.

The poems are composed using alliterative verse most are in fornyrđislag (a form that closely resembles Beowulf and Runestones) which others are in málaháttr (a form that resembles conversation style form). The remaining poems consisting of about 1/4 of the Poetic Edda is in the ljóđaháttr (song or ballad form). There is no one author involved in the composition of the Eddic poems; they were originally minstrel poems meaning they were passed orally from singer to singer, poet to poet and story teller to story teller.

The Prose Edda written by Snorri Sturluson around 1220; it is a collection of Icelandic stories retold from Snorri's perspective in an attempt to illustrate a skadlic writing style. Snorri's over all purpose was not the preservation of the stories, but rather demostrating the new writting style and to have the reader understand the subtleties of alliterative verse used with kennings in skaldic poetry.


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