Introduction: The Eddas are a collection of ancient Norse poems that have been preserved for centuries. They probably don’t deserve the title of “epic”, but they are a remarkable collection of poetry. And now, you can download them and read them for free!
The Eddas are a collection of ancient poems preserved for centuries in an old Icelandic manuscript called the Codex Regius. They record the legends and myths of the Germanic and Scandinavian world, from as early as 800 AD or earlier, into modern times. They were not written by any single individual, though they derive from a tradition of oral folk poetry. In some ways, they are more like a traditional epic, like Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. In other ways, they are like a medieval English bestiary, a collection of animal stories and nature fables that has no central plot but is instead a mosaic of different stories.
The Eddas have been translated many times into many languages. Many of these translations are good and can be recommended to you. But some of them, for one reason or another, seem to leave something to be desired. One translation that we found particularly lacking was Henry Adams Bellows’ translation, which was published in 1917 and remains in print. We decided to see whether we could find an English translation of the Codex Regius by someone with a better reputation as a translator.
It turns out that we had written to this man, who goes under the name of “Eddas”, in the hope that he would send us a copy of his translation. He was kind enough to do so and promptly sent us a copy of his translation for free download. This article will describe and analyze it for you!
Free Guide to Epic Reading, Updated & Expanded Edition
I started writing this guide to epic reading back in 2006. I was inspired by the story of a friend named Tomas. When he was in high school, he had the opportunity to read the Eddas for the first time. He’s now a professor, but at that time, he was just a regular member of any college freshman class. That year, one of his students gave him some old translations of the Eddas as an assignment for his freshman course on world literature and thought he’d give them a try.
At first he was puzzled by the material, but as soon as he began to read, he got hooked. When I was his student, I was an English major who already knew a lot about the classics of Western literature. I’d already read all the Greek and Latin literary masterpieces and now I was ready to move on to all of world literature. And I was proud of that body of work. But when I heard about what Tomas did next, I had to sit down and pay attention.
What Makes an Edda Epic
I’ve read the Eddas many times. I have a complete translation of all the poems, and in fact, I’m writing my own new complete translation of the Eddas that will be released in December 2015. If you read my book, you won’t find any mention of Thor’s hammer or other well known symbols of Norse mythology. That’s because the Eddas are not about mythological heroes. In an epic, you read about heroic people, but in the Eddas, we read about something more important. The epic traditions are there, but they are just a vehicle for something much much deeper. Let me give you a hint — this is something that has never been discussed in any of the books on Norse mythology:
What Makes an Edda Epic?
The answers to these questions depend on one’s definition of the word “epic.” Some common definitions are: “a long narrative poem in heroic verse,” or “a sacred poetry of a race, nation, or religion (often Greek and Roman in origin)” but the word “epic” carries a lot of baggage. That’s because the term has been used to describe works that are anything but epic. I know the word “epic” is tossed around a lot, but I think it’s time to clarify what epic really means, and maybe find a better term for works that aren’t at all epic.
Is this really called “the Edda”?
Yes! The Eddas have always been called that, and the word “Edda” is related to our word for history. In ancient times, there was no real distinction between what we would consider history, fiction and mythology. Just like the Iliad is a work of history about events of the Trojan Wars, the Eddas are a collection of poems that tell of events important in the lives of the ancient Norse. They are a history of the Nordic world, but they are not just historical documents. Both the Iliad and the Eddas are works of art in themselves, and both have something to teach us about ourselves. I for one enjoyed reading them for that aspect as much as for their historical edification.
— Terrence Dicks, Doctor Who, Planet of the Spiders (1974) scriptwriter, The Viking Years (1998), p. 85
“the eddas” : “the edda’s collected works of eddaic origin” or “any book or treatise having to do with the myths and legends of the ancient Norse.”
In most English-language references, the word “Edda” is used to refer to a single work:
A New Look at the Edda Project’s Sponsored Book : A Puzzle Solved?
I took a break from the epic project for a couple of years. In 2010, I started working on my new translation of the Eddas, and in June 2013 I was finally able to announce the project online. The website also debuted a new feature where each week I reveal part of the puzzle of how this epic came into being. In September 2013, I published the first batch of chapters and links to download them. As of 2015, I have released 843 individual chapters, along with a complete translation of the Eddas. The remaining chapters will be published over the next several years. I also have started a Youtube channel which chronicles the creation of this project.
The Eddas (mythological and legendary stories) are among the most ancient texts in our world and are the “longest narrative poems in the world. They are a collection (or compilation) of stanzas, or verse-paragraphs.” The Eddas are an inherent part of what we call Norse Mythology, so it’s not like they stand alone as a separate text. Norse Mythology is the collective term for all the Eddic stories and poems, along with their ancient counterparts.