Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][merged small]

A PAGE FROM THE OLDEST MANUSCRIPT OF

THE ELDER EDDA.

The manuscript, from which this plate has been copied, belongs to a nation whose history and literature is but little known, except as it is included in the general term, Scandinavian. Iceland is, nevertheless. neither without annals nor civilization of its own; colonists from Norway settled there in A. D. 61; soon afterwards Christianity furnished a fresh source of civilization, and it became a republic celebrated for its laws, its heroes and poets, during a large portion of the middle ages. With Christianity Iceland also received the Roman alphabet, and adopted it with slight modification of some of its letters, to suit the peculiarities of its own language. The literature of Iceland is one of the oldest of modern Europe; its poets, called "Scalds," sang both of love and war, and the ninth century is referred to as the most flourishing period of their composition. The highest honors were reserved for them, and their songs had two-fold merit of inspiring the veneration of the Deity and the love of country, the "Scalds" being both poets and warriors.

That portion of the literature of the country which is but little known is included in the term Edda," literally "Great-grandmother," and is applied to two different collections of the old literature. The Younger" or prose Edda was written by an Icelander, Snorri Sturleson, about 1230 A. D. It has three parts, the first of which is composed of mythical tales from which we derive our knowledge of ancient Scandinavian theogony, and the other two are respectively a treatise on the art of poetry and a system of prosody. There are at least seventy earlier poets quoted, and prologues and epilogues were added by later writers, before it was discovered and given to the outside world in 1628. The elder "Edda," from which our plate is taken, is a collection of lays which give legends of the Scandinavian gods, and are the productions of Icelandic poets from the ninth to the eleventh centuries. There are thirty-three poems with interpolated prose passages here and there, They are nearly all on subjects of Scandinavian mythology, with a few on subjects of legendary and heroic history. This work was not known to the compiler of the younger “Edda," but he quotes or paraphrases nearly every tale, having gathered them from tradition. There are several manuscripts of this Edda now in existence, but our plate is a page from the oldest of them, written in the fourteenth century, which is in the royal library at Copenhagen.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[graphic]

PN 6013

V 28

509344

Tmperial Edition

LIMITED TO ONE THOUSAND COPIES

No..

Copyright, 1896, by

R. S. PEALE AND J. A. HILL

All rights reserved

« EelmineJätka »