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Prologue (Prose Edda)

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Title: Prologue (Prose Edda)  
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Subject: Edda, Skáldskaparmál, Old Norse literature, Icelandic literature, Frigg
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Prologue (Prose Edda)

The Prologue is the first section of four books of the Prose Edda, and consists of a euhemerized account of the origins of Norse mythology: the Norse gods are described descended from the Trojans.

The genealogy presented by Snorri begins with Priam. Priam's daughter Tróán married king Múnón or Mennón. Their son was Trór, or Thor, who was fostered in Thrace. Thor slew his foster father and married Sibil, identified with Sif. The line of descendants of Thor and Sif is given as follows:

Lóriði, Einridi, Vingethor, Vingener, Móda, Magi, Seskef, Bedvig, Athra, Ítermann, Heremód, Skjaldun, Bjáf , Ját, Gudólfr, Finn, Fríallaf

Finally, the son of Fríallaf was "Vóden, whom we call Odin", who came to Germany (Saxland) and established the royal lines there.

"Odin had second sight, and his wife also; and from their foreknowledge he found that his name should be exalted in the northern part of the world and glorified above the fame of all other kings. Therefore, he made ready to journey out of Turkland [...] They made no end to their journeying till they were come north into the land that is now called Saxland"

In Saxland, Odin's sons Vegdeg, Beldeg (Baldr) and Sigi founded the ruling houses of the Franks, from whom descended the Völsungs. Odin himself moved on to Jutland (Reidgothland), where he established his son Skjöldr, from whom derive the Skjöldungs, the kings of the Danes. After this, Odin went on to Sweden, where there was a king named Gylfi. Gylfi welcomed Odin and his train as "men of Asia, who were called Æsir". In Sweden, Odin founded a city called Sigtún as a Trojan colony. Later, Odin's son Yngvi became king of Sweden, founding the Yngling dynasty. Finally, Odin went on to Norway, where he established his son Sæmingr as king.

The Prologue concludes in a linguistic remark, observing that the Æsir when they came to the north intermarried with local women and gradually lost their "Asian" language, adopting the local tongue, but that the names of the earliest members of their lineages remain in their original "Asian" language.

Snorri's genealogy is obviously informed by Anglo-Saxon tradition, as preserved by Æthelweard and in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. His genealogy from Seskef to Odin directly parallels that from Sceaf to Woden in Anglo-Saxon tradition, and Snorri explicitly gives Odin's original name as Vóden, explaining that the original names of the Æsir were better preserved in England. Snorri's Skjaldun, intermediate between Seskef and Odin, corresponds to the Anglo-Saxon Scyld, but Snorri sees himself forced to duplicate this character as Skjöldr, son of Odin, as the eponymous ancestor of the Skjöldungs.

Regarding the euhemerization in the Prologue, Faulkes (1985) commented that "undoubtedly one of the motives for including the prologue, and maybe the chief reason for the use of the frame device itself, was to avoid the criticism that his stories were dangerous to [Christian] orthodoxy".[1]

See also


  1. ^ Faulkes (1985:284-285).
  • Faulkes, Anthony (1985). "Pagan Sympathy: Attitudes to Heathendom in the Prologue to Snorra Edda" as collected in Glendinning, R. J. Bessason, Heraldur (Editors). Edda: a Collection of Essays. University of Manitoba Press. ISBN 0-88755-616-7

See also

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