Poetic Edda

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Poetic Edda


(also Saemund’s Edda, Elder Edda, or simply Edda), a collection of ancient Icelandic lays. The Poetic Edda survives in a 13th-century manuscript; its compiler is unknown. The lays long existed only in oral form, and the date of their composition remains in dispute. Several have been preserved in other ancient manuscripts.

Some of the lays are cast in the form of prophecies, apothegms, or theatrical presentations based on mythology; others are simple narratives. The mythological lays, of which Völuspa (The Seeress’ Prophecy) is the most important, are the only source of their kind on pagan mythology. Many of the heroic lays derive from south Germanic folk legends. Although the lays show the influence of different periods, their ideology and style indicate that the Poetic Edda antedates the ancient Germanic epics.


Edda, die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. Edited by G. Neckel. Fourth edition edited by H. Kuhn. Heidelberg, 1962.
Eddadigte ungivet af Jón Helgason, vols. 1–3. Copenhagen, 1952–64.
In Russian translation:
Starshaia Edda: Drevneislandskie pesni o bogakh i geroiakh. Afterword by M. I. Steblin-Kamenskii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1963. (Contains bibliography.)


Khoisler, A. Germanskii geroicheskii epos i skazanie o Nibelungakh. Moscow, 1960.
Meletinskii, E. M. “Edda” i rannie formy eposa. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Poetic Edda. New York: The American Scandinavian Foundation, 1916.
(The Poetic Edda 56-7) There is not only the Nidhogg serpent devouring corpses and the roots of the tree beneath, there are also countless snakes in the tree itself, in the branches.
She draws attention to the fact that the oldest manuscript of the Prose Edda of Snorri Sturluson (which comments on Voluspa) is about fifty years older than the first manuscript of the Poetic Edda, and describes the Codex Regius (c.
Consider the role of the Norse gods, as described in the Old Norse Poetic Edda:
The brief references to the heroic deeds of Siegfried allude to several ancient stories, many of which are preserved in the Scandinavian Poetic Edda, Volsunga saga, and Thithriks saga, in which Siegfried is called Sigurd.
Each of these structural sections consists of one long poem but with prose interludes that inevitably recall the Poetic Edda, the very origins of Icelandic poetry.
Next Else Mundal looks at the influence of oral performance on written texts and Judy Quinn takes the motif of 'drinking in' fluid as a metaphor for the transfer of knowledge in the poetic Edda. Another discussion of the Edda by Vesteinn Olasan concludes that it is impossible to say that these poems were composed exclusively in the oral context but were a result of a long-lasting interplay between the two traditions.
In the Helgakvitha Hjorvarthssonar in the Poetic Edda, a Valkyrie speaks to Helgi and describes forty-six swords lying in Sigarsholm; one of them, shining with gold, is best of all: In the hilt is fame / in the haft is courage, In the point is fear / for its owner's foes; On the blade there lies / a blood-flecked snake, And a serpent's tail / round the flat is twisted.
He also appears in the Norse Poetic Edda and Das Lied vom hurnen Seyfrid ("Song of the Invincible Siegfried").
The present volume, edited by Kari Ellen Gade from Indiana University in Bloomington, aims at providing a critical edition along with English translation and notes of the corpus of Scandinavian poetry from the Middle Ages (excluding only the Poetic Edda and closely related poetry).
His story is told in the Volundarkvitha , one of the poems in the 13th-century Icelandic Elder Edda (Poetic Edda), and, with variations, in the mid-13th-century Icelandic prose Thithriks saga.
Only the poems of the Poetic Edda and some closely associated texts fall outside the scope of the project 'Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages', a major international initiative with its administrative headquarters in the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Sydney.