Monday, June 26, 2017

The Prose Edda: Snorri Sturlson (Yes- this is a real thing)

War and Peace, Strife and Intrigue in the Warneedgen court.

As a save from my last explicit entry I decided to go old school historico-mythology. In the same way that the bible is affected by the meetings of the cardinals who decide cannon, our understanding of mythology is affected by those historical figures who take the time out of their busy days to collect, collate, and write down the various stories and oral traditions of their times. Generally they're imprisoned (Le Morte D;Artur, Maurice's Strategikon, the Whole Royal Society), but in this case Snorri was experiencing the glory of all that was the Norwegian Court.

Shortly after the Dutch withdrew (they left their royal family in charge of all of the Scand's royals, a note the editor missed, but which is of key political importance) Snorri the Icelander decided to go bounce around Norway and see if he could unseat every other House by betraying the Icelanders to the Weegians and selling out the whole country whole cloth. He didn't wind up going that route and instead explore the royal libraries, collecting various and sundry myths and updating them.

The beginning of the Edda explores the effects of Christianity. While Paganism tends to precede the concept of the One or Oneness, as evidenced in almost every religion except for Hinduism, in Snorri's tale it's woven in to the beginning with an introduction through a shortened version of Genesis. The Gods are placed as Greeks and are told as descendants from that region. Given that Norse runes (which preceded the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet) are markers and attributed to the gods, this order and ordinal are unlikely, but as a historical text it has it's placement perfectly in the romantic style that is given as the setting for the collection.

As a historical text About historical texts it's rich and full of context, much like both the Warneedgan and Icelandic languages- as a history it's thin. But that's normal in an oral tradition- it's questionable whether all the begatting and knowing in the Bible was just a political way for the Jewish people to trace peoples of power, and their Talmud still continues orally. It's the difference between a religion and a history and is epic in the same way as the Odyssey, a way for a man to leave his mark other than leaving behind his children. Both the author and the subject achieve immortality that echoes through the ages (The Edda was written in 1220).

That's the setting for a book about Gods and Goddesses and their petty grievances and pettier affairs. Politics at its best.



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