Snorra Edda

(ca. 1220)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

This excerpt from Snorra Edda comprises the whole of the prologue and the first chapters of “Gylfaginning.” These sections are key to understanding the Edda as a whole, and particularly to determining the author’s attitude toward pagan religion. The prologue sets out the text’s scholarly interpretative framework and acts as an introduction to, and apology for, the culture of Snorri’s pagan Norse ancestors. The beginning of “Gylfaginning,” meanwhile, uses a distinctive narrative device—the frame narrative—that places further distance between the audience and the phenomena of paganism that Snorri wishes to describe.

Prologue

The prologue to Snorra Edda begins with the strikingly Christian statement that “Almighty God created heaven and earth,” echoing the opening of Genesis. It is clear at once that Snorri’s approach to paganism is that of an outsider looking in, and his main concern in beginning is to account for pagan religion as an...

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A scene from the Trojan War (Yale University Art Gallery)

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