Edda refers to a term with dual meanings, encompassing both a specific collection of ancient Nordic mythological and heroic poetry as well as the name of the poems themselves. The Eddas are known to be pivotal texts in Old Norse literature, shedding light on the cultural and mythological beliefs of ancient Scandinavian societies.
The primary and commonly recognized definition of Edda refers to the Prose Edda, also referred to as the Younger Edda or Snorri's Edda. This work was composed in the 13th century by the Icelandic scholar and writer Snorri Sturluson. It serves as a comprehensive guide to Norse mythology, featuring detailed descriptions of deities, cosmology, and epic narratives. The Prose Edda provides valuable insights into the mythological tales of characters such as Odin, Thor, and Loki, layered with allegorical elements and often intertwined with heroic legends.
The second meaning of Edda refers to the Poetic Edda, known as the Elder Edda or the Poetic Edda of Saemund. This collection consists of older poetic works from the 9th to 13th centuries preserved in Iceland. Considered a treasure trove of mythological and heroic poetry, the Poetic Edda explores themes of creation, fate, and Ragnarök (the end of the world).
Overall, the term Edda encapsulates both the Prose Edda and the Poetic Edda, together serving as crucial sources of knowledge regarding ancient Norse mythology and literary traditions. These texts continue to inspire and fascinate scholars, historians, and enthusiasts, shedding light on the rich cultural heritage of the Scandinavian peoples.
The word "edda" is derived from the Old Norse word "Edda". The Old Norse word "Edda" itself has uncertain origins, but it is believed to have been borrowed from an earlier Germanic language, possibly from the Proto-Germanic word "*aidþiō", which means "poetry" or "lore". The meaning of "Edda" evolved over time, and it came to be associated specifically with two medieval Norse texts: the "Prose Edda" and the "Poetic Edda", which are the main sources of Norse mythology and poetry.