Poetic Edda

Poetic Edda is the modern attribution for an unnamed collection of Old Norse anonymous poems, which is different from the Edda written by Snorri Sturluson. Several versions exist, all primarily of text from the Icelandic medieval manuscript known as the Codex Regius. The Codex Regius is arguably the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century onwards, it has had a powerful influence on later Scandinavian literatures, not only by its stories but also by the visionary force and the dramatic quality of many of the poems. It has also become an inspiring model for many later innovations in poetic meter, particularly in Nordic languages, offering many varied examples of terse, stress-based metrical schemes that lack any final rhyme by instead using alliterative devices and strongly-concentrated imagery. Poets who have acknowledged their debt to the Codex Regius include Vilhelm Ekelund, August Strindberg, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ezra Pound, Jorge Luis Borges, and Karin Boye.

Codex Regius was written in the 13th century, but nothing is known of its whereabouts until 1643, when it came into the possession of Brynjólfur Sveinsson, then Bishop of Skálholt. At the time, versions of the Edda were known in Iceland, but scholars speculated that there once was another Edda, an Elder Edda, which contained the pagan poems that Snorri quotes in his Edda. When Codex Regius was discovered, it seemed that the speculation had proved, but modern scholarly research has shown that Edda was likely written first and the two were, at most, connected by a common source.[1]

Brynjólfur attributed the manuscript to Sæmundr the Learned, a larger-than-life 12th century Icelandic priest. That attribution is rejected by modern scholars, but the name Sæmundar Edda is still sometimes associated with both the "Codex Regius" and versions of "Poetic Edda" using it as a source.

Bishop Brynjólfur sent Codex Regius as a present to the Danish king, which gave the name. For centuries, it was stored in the Royal Library in Copenhagen but in 1971, it was returned to Iceland.


The Tree of Yggdrasil
The title page of Olive Bray's English translation of Codex Regius entitled Poetic Edda depicting the tree Yggdrasil and a number of its inhabitants (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.

The Eddic poems are composed in alliterative verse. Most are in fornyrðislag, while málaháttr is a common variation. The rest, about a quarter, are composed in ljóðaháttr. The language of the poems is usually clear and relatively unadorned. Kennings are often employed, though they do not arise as frequently, nor are they as complex, as those found in skaldic poetry.


Like most early poetry, the Eddic poems were minstrel poems, passing orally from singer to singer and from poet to poet for centuries. None of the poems are attributed to a particular author, though many of them show strong individual characteristics and are likely to have been the work of individual poets. Scholars sometimes speculate on hypothetical authors, but firm and accepted conclusions have never been reached.


The dating of the poems has been a source of lively scholarly argument for a long time, and firm conclusions are hard to reach. Lines from the Eddic poems sometimes appear in poems by known poets, but such evidence is difficult to evaluate. For example, Eyvindr skáldaspillir composed in the latter half of the 10th century, and he uses a couple of lines in his Hákonarmál which are also found in Hávamál. It is possible that he was quoting a known poem, but it is also possible that Hávamál, or at least the strophe in question, is the younger derivative work.

The few demonstrably historical characters mentioned in the poems, such as Attila, provide a terminus post quem of sorts. The dating of the manuscripts themselves provides a more useful terminus ante quem.

Individual poems have individual clues to their age. For example, Atlamál hin groenlenzku is claimed by its title to have been composed in Greenland, and seems so by some internal evidence. If so, it can be no earlier than about 985, since there were no Scandinavians in Greenland until that time.

In some cases, old poems may have been interpolated with younger verses or merged with other poems. For example, stanzas 9-16 of Völuspá, the "Dvergatal" or "Roster of Dwarfs", is considered by some scholars to be an interpolation.


The problem of dating the poems is linked with the problem of finding out where they were composed. Iceland was not settled until about 870, so anything composed before that time would necessarily have been elsewhere, most likely in Scandinavia. Any young poems, on the other hand, are likely Icelandic in origin.

Scholars have attempted to localize individual poems by studying the geography, flora, and fauna to which they refer. This approach usually does not yield firm results. For example, there are no wolves in Iceland, but we can be sure that Icelandic poets were familiar with the species. Similarly, the apocalyptic descriptions of Völuspá have been taken as evidence that the poet who composed it had seen a volcanic eruption in Iceland - but this is hardly certain.

Editions and inclusions

Poetic Edda Cover
The cover of Lee M. Hollander's Poetic Edda.

Some poems similar to those found in Codex Regius are also included in some editions of the Poetic Edda. Important manuscripts include AM 748 I 4to, Hauksbók and Flateyjarbók. Many of the poems are quoted in Snorri's Edda but usually only in bits and pieces. What poems are included in an edition of the Poetic Edda depends on the editor. Those not in Codex Regius are sometimes called Eddica minora from their appearance in an edition with that title edited by Andreas Heusler and Wilhelm Ranisch in 1903.

English translators are not consistent on the translations of the names of the Eddic poems or on how the Old Norse forms should be rendered in English. Up to three translated titles are given below, taken from the translations of Bellows, Hollander, and Larrington with proper names in the normalized English forms found in John Lindow's Norse Mythology and in Andy Orchard's Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend.

Mythological poems

In Codex Regius

  • Völuspá (Wise-woman's prophecy, The Prophecy of the Seeress, The Seeress's Prophecy)
  • Hávamál (The Ballad of the High One, The Sayings of Hár, Sayings of the High One)
  • Vafþrúðnismál (The Ballad of Vafthrúdnir, The Lay of Vafthrúdnir, Vafthrúdnir's Sayings)
  • Grímnismál (The Ballad of Grímnir, The Lay of Grímnir, Grímnir's Sayings)
  • Skírnismál (The Ballad of Skírnir, The Lay of Skírnir, Skírnir's Journey)
  • Hárbarðsljóð (The Poem of Hárbard, The Lay of Hárbard, Hárbard's Song)
  • Hymiskviða (The Lay of Hymir, Hymir's Poem)
  • Lokasenna (Loki's Wrangling, The Flyting of Loki, Loki's Quarrel)
  • Þrymskviða (The Lay of Thrym, Thrym's Poem)
  • Völundarkviða (The Lay of Völund)
  • Alvíssmál (The Ballad of Alvís, The Lay of Alvís, All-Wise's Sayings)

Not in Codex Regius

  • Baldrs draumar (Baldr's Dreams)
  • Gróttasöngr (The Mill's Song, The Song of Grotti)
  • Rígsþula (The Song of Ríg, The Lay of Ríg, The List of Ríg)
  • Hyndluljóð (The Poem of Hyndla, The Lay of Hyndla, The Song of Hyndla)
    • Völuspá in skamma (The short Völuspá, The Short Seeress' Prophecy, Short Prophecy of the Seeress) - This poem, sometimes presented separately, is often included as an interpolation within Hyndluljóð.
  • Svipdagsmál (The Ballad of Svipdag, The Lay of Svipdag) - This title, originally suggested by Bugge, actually covers two separate poems. These poems are late works and not included in most editions after 1950:
  • Hrafnagaldr Óðins (Odins's Raven Song, Odin's Raven Chant). (A late work not included in most editions after 1900).
  • Gullkársljóð (The Poem of Gullkár). (A late work not included in most editions after 1900).

Heroic lays

After the mythological poems, Codex Regius continues with heroic lays about mortal heroes. The heroic lays are to be seen as a whole in the Edda, but they consist of three layers: the story of Helgi Hundingsbani, the story of the Nibelungs, and the story of Jörmunrekkr, king of the Goths. These are, respectively, Scandinavian, German, and Gothic in origin. As far as historicity can be ascertained, Attila, Jörmunrekkr, and Brynhildr actually existed, taking Brynhildr to be partly based on Brunhilda of Austrasia, but the chronology has been reversed in the poems.

In Codex Regius

The Helgi Lays
  • Helgakviða Hundingsbana I or Völsungakviða (The First Lay of Helgi Hundingsbane, The First Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer, The First Poem of Helgi Hundingsbani)
  • Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar (The Lay of Helgi the Son of Hjörvard, The Lay of Helgi Hjörvardsson, The Poem of Helgi Hjörvardsson)
  • Helgakviða Hundingsbana II or Völsungakviða in forna (The Second Lay of Helgi Hundingsbane, The Second Lay of Helgi the Hunding-Slayer, A Second Poem of Helgi Hundingsbani)
The Niflung Cycle
  • Frá dauða Sinfjötla (Of Sinfjötli's Death, Sinfjötli's Death, The Death of Sinfjötli) (A short prose text.)
  • Grípisspá (Grípir's Prophecy, The Prophecy of Grípir)
  • Reginsmál (The Ballad of Regin, The Lay of Regin)
  • Fáfnismál (The Ballad of Fáfnir, The Lay of Fáfnir)
  • Sigrdrífumál (The Ballad of The Victory-Bringer, The Lay of Sigrdrífa)
  • Brot af Sigurðarkviðu (Fragment of a Sigurd Lay, Fragment of a Poem about Sigurd)
  • Guðrúnarkviða I (The First Lay of Gudrún)
  • Sigurðarkviða hin skamma (The Short Lay of Sigurd, A Short Poem about Sigurd)
  • Helreið Brynhildar (Brynhild's Hell-Ride, Brynhild's Ride to Hel, Brynhild's Ride to Hell)
  • Dráp Niflunga (The Slaying of The Niflungs, The Fall of the Niflungs, The Death of the Niflungs)
  • Guðrúnarkviða II (The Second Lay of Gudrún or Guðrúnarkviða hin forna The Old Lay of Gudrún)
  • Guðrúnarkviða III (The Third Lay of Gudrún)
  • Oddrúnargrátr (The Lament of Oddrún, The Plaint of Oddrún, Oddrún's Lament)
  • Atlakviða (The Lay of Atli). The full manuscript title is Atlakviða hin grœnlenzka, that is, The Greenland Lay of Atli, but editors and translators generally omit the Greenland reference as a probable error from confusion with the following poem.
  • Atlamál hin groenlenzku (The Greenland Ballad of Atli, The Greenlandish Lay of Atli, The Greenlandic Poem of Atli)
The Jörmunrekkr Lays
  • Guðrúnarhvöt (Gudrún's Inciting, Gudrún's Lament, The Whetting of Gudrún.)
  • Hamðismál (The Ballad of Hamdir, The Lay of Hamdir)

Not in Codex Regius

Several of the legendary sagas contain poetry in the Eddic style. Its age and importance is often difficult to evaluate but the Hervarar saga, in particular, contains interesting poetic interpolations.

English translations

The Eldar or Poetic Edda has been translated numerous times, the earliest printed edition being that by Cottle 1797, though some short sections had been translated as early as the 1670s. Some early translators relied on a Latin translation of the Edda, including Cottle.[2]

Opinions differ on the best way to translated the text, on the use or rejection of archaic language, and the rendering of terms lacking a clear English analogue. However Cottle's 1797 translation is considered very inaccurate.[2]

A comparison of the second and third verses (lines 5-12) of the Voluspa is given below :

Ek man jǫtna
ár of borna,
þás forðum mik
fœdda hǫfðu ;
níu mank hęima,
níu ívíði,
mjǫtvið mæran
fyr mold neðan.

Ár vas alda
þars Ymir byggði,
vasa sandr né sær,
né svalar unnir ;
jǫrð fansk æva
né upphiminn ;
gap vas ginnunga,
ęn gras hvęrgi.

(Jónsson 1932) (unchanged orthography)

The Jötuns I remember
early born,
those who me of old
have reared.
I nine worlds remember,
nine trees,
the great central tree,
beneath the earth.

The was in times of old,
where Ymir dwelt,
nor sand nor sea,
nor gelid waves ;
earth existed not,
nor heaven above,
'twas a chaotic chasm,
and grass nowhere,

(Thorpe 1866)

I remember the Giants born of yore,
who bred me up long ago.
I remember nine Worlds, nine Sibyls,
a glorious Judge beneath the earth.

In the beginning, when naught was,
there was neither sand nor sea nor the cold waves,
nor was earth to be seen nor heaven above.
There was a Yawning Chasm [chaos], but grass nowhere,

(Vigfússon & Powell 1883) †

I remember of yore   were born the Jötuns,
they who aforetime   fostered me :
nine worlds I remember,   nine in the Tree,
the glorious Fate Tree   that springs 'neath the Earth.

'Twas the earliest of times   when Ymir lived ;
then was sand nor sea   nor cooling wave,
nor was Earth found ever,   nor Heaven on high,
there was Yawning of Deeps   and nowhere grass :

(Bray 1908)

I remember yet   the giants of yore,
Who gave me bread   in the days gone by ;
Nine worlds I knew,   the nine in the tree
With mighty roots   beaneath the mold.

Of old was the age   when Ymir lived ;
Sea nor cool waves   nor sand there were ;
Earth had not been,   nor heaven above,
But a yawning gap,   and grass nowhere.

(Bellows 1923)

I call to mind the kin of etins
which long ago did give me life.
Nine worlds I know, the nine abodes
of the glorious world-tree the ground beneath.

In earliest times did Ymir live:
was nor sea nor land nor salty waves,
neither earth was there nor upper heaven,
but a gaping nothing, and green things nowhere.

(Hollander 1962)

I tell of Giants from times forgotten.
Those who fed me in former days:
Nine worlds I can reckon, nine roots of the Tree.
The wonderful Ash, way under the ground

When Ymir lived long ago
Was no sand or sea, no surging waves.
Nowhere was there earth nor heaven above.
But a grinning gap and grass nowhere.

(Auden & Taylor 1969)

I remember giants   of ages past,
those who called me   one of their kin;
I know how nine roots   form nine worlds
under the earth   where the Ash Tree rises.

Nothing was there   when time began,
neither sands nor seas   nor cooling waves,
Earth was not yet,   nor the high heavens,
but a gaping emptiness   nowhere green.

(Terry 1990)

I, born of giants, remember very early
those who nurtured me then;
I remember nine worlds, I remember nine giant women,
the mighty Measuring-Tree below the earth.

Young were the years when Ymir made his settlement,
there was no sand nor sea nor cool waves;
earth was nowhere nor the sky above,
chaos yawned, grass was there nowhere.

(Larrington 1996)

I remember giants
born early in time,
who long ago
had reared me
Nine worlds I remember,
nine wood-ogresses,
glorious tree of good measure,
under the ground.

It was early in the ages
when Ymir made his dwelling:
There was not sand nor sea
nor chill waves.
Earth was not to be found
nor above it heaven:
a gulf was there of gaping voids
and grass nowhere,

(Dronke 1997)

I recall those giants, born early on,
who long ago brought me up;
nine worlds I recall, nine wood-dwelling witches,
the famed tree of fate down under the earth.

It was early in ages when Ymir made his home,
there was neither sand nor sea, nor cooling waves;
no earth to be found, nor heaven above:
a gulf beguiling, nor grass anywhere.

(Orchard 2011)

I remember being reared by Jotuns,
in days long gone. If I look back, I recall
nine worlds, nine wood-witches,
that renowned tree of fate below the Earth

Ymir struck camp when time began.
No land, sand or sea folding on itself,
no sky, earth or grass swaying atop its girth,
only the cavern of chaos's gaping gulf.

(Dodds 2014)

I remember giants born early in time
those nurtured me long ago;
I remember nine worlds, I remember nine giant women,
the mighty Measuring-Tree below the earth.

Early in time Ymir made his settlement,
there was no sand nor sea nor cool waves;
earth was nowhere nor the sky above,
a void of yawning chaos, grass was there nowhere

(Larrington 2014)

I remember the giants
born so long ago;
in those ancient days
they raised me.
I remember nine worlds,
nine giantesses,
and the seed
from which Yggdrasil sprang.

It was at the very beginning,
it was Ymir's time,
there was no sand, no sea,
no cooling waves,
no earth,
no sky,
no grass,
just Gunnungagap.

(Crawford 2015)

† The prose translation lacks line breaks, inserted here to match those in the Norse verse given in the same work.

Allusions and quotations

  • As noted above, the Edda of Snorri Sturluson makes much use of the works included in the Poetic Edda, though he may well have had access to other compilations that contained the poems and there is no evidence that he used the Poetic Edda or even knew of it.
  • The Volsungasaga is a prose version of much of the Niflung cycle of poems. Due to several missing pages (see Great Lacuna) in the Codex Regius, the Volsungasaga is the oldest source for the Norse version of much of the story of Sigurð. Only 22 stanzas of the Sigurðarkviðu survive in the Codex Regius, plus four stanzas from the missing section which are quoted in the Volsungasaga.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien, a philologist and de facto Professor of Old Norse familiar with the Eddas, utilized concepts in his 1937 fantasy novel The Hobbit, and in other works:


  1. ^ Acker, Paul; Larrington, Carolyne (2002), The Poetic Edda: Essays on Old Norse Mythology
  2. ^ a b Larrington, Carolyne (2007), Clark, David; Phelpstead, Carl, eds., "Translating the Poetic Edda into English" (PDF), Old Norse Made New, Viking Society for Northern Research, pp. 21–42
  3. ^ Shippey, Tom (2003), The Road to Middle-earth, Houghton Mifflin, Ch. 3 p. 70-71, ISBN 0-618-25760-8
  4. ^ Ratecliff, John D. (2007), "Return to Bag-End", The History of The Hobbit, HarperCollins, 2, Appendix III, ISBN 0-00-725066-5


  • Anderson, Rasmus B. (1876), Norse Mythology: Myths of the Eddas, Chicago: S.C. Griggs and company; London: Trubner & Co., Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, ISBN 1-4102-0528-2 , Reprinted 2003
  • Björnsson, Árni, ed. (1975), Snorra-Edda, Reykjavík. Iðunn
  • Magnússson, Ásgeir Blöndal (1989), Íslensk orðsifjabók, Reykjavík
  • Lindow, John (2001), Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-515382-0
  • Orchard, Andy (1997), Cassell's Dictionary of Norse Myth and Legend, London: Cassell, ISBN 0-304-36385-5
  • Briem, Ólafur, ed. (1985), Eddukvæði, Reykjavík: Skálholt
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (1988), Tolkien, Christopher, ed., The Return of the Shadow, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 240


In reverse chronological order

Original text

  • Helgason, Jón, ed. (1951–1952), "Eddadigte", Nordisk filologi, Copenhagen: Munksgaard, A: 4 and 7-8CS1 maint: Date format (link)
    • Reissued as Helgason, Jón, ed. (1955), Eddadigte, Copenhagen: Munksgaard , Codex Regius poems up to Sigrdrífumál , (3 vols.).

Original text with English translation

  • Dronke, Ursula, ed. (1969-), The Poetic Edda, Oxford: Clarendon Check date values in: |year= (help)
    • Heroic Poems, I, 1969, ISBN 0-19-811497-4 , (Atlakviða, Atlamál in Grœnlenzko, Guðrúnarhvöt, Hamðismál.)
    • Mythological Poems, II, 1997, ISBN 0-19-811181-9 , (Völuspá, Rígsthula, Völundarkvida, Lokasenna, Skírnismál, Baldrs draumar.)
    • Mythological Poems, III, 2011, ISBN 978-0-19-811182-5 , (Hávamál, Hymiskviða, Grímnismál, Grottasöngr)
  • Bray, Olive, ed. (1908), "Part 1 - The Mythological Poems", The Elder or Poetic Edda: Commonly known as Saemund's Edda, Viking Club Translation Series, Viking Society for Northern Research, 2

English translation only

  • Crawford, Jackson, ed. (2015), The Poetic Edda: Stories of the Norse Gods and Heroes, Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., ISBN 1-62-466356-7
  • Dodds, Jeramy, ed. (2014), The Poetic Edda, Toronto: Coach House Books, ISBN 1-55-245296-4
  • Orchard, Andy, ed. (2011), The Elder Edda: A Book of Viking Lore, London: Penguin Group, ISBN 0-14-043585-9
  • Larrington, Carolyne, ed. (1996), The Poetic Edda, Oxford World's Classics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-282383-3
    • Larrington, Carolyne, ed. (2014), The Poetic Edda (2nd ed.), Oxford World's Classics, ISBN 0199675341 , altered translation
  • Terry, Patricia, ed. (1969), Poems of the Vikings: The Elder Edda, Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, ISBN 0-672-60332-2
    • Revised as : Terry, Patricia, ed. (1990), Poems of the Elder Edda, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 0-8122-8235-3
  • Auden, W.H.; Taylor, Paul B., eds. (1969), The Elder Edda: A Selection, London: Faber., ISBN 0-571-09066-4
    • Revised and expanded as Auden, W.H.; Taylor, Paul B., eds. (1981), Norse Poems, London: Athlone, ISBN 0-485-11226-4
  • Hollander, Lee M., ed. (1962), The Poetic Edda: Translated with an Introduction and Explanatory Notes (2nd ed., rev. ed.), Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, ISBN 0-292-76499-5


  • La Farge, Beatrice; Tucker, John, eds. (1992), Glossary to the Poetic Edda Based on Hans Kuhn's Kurzes Wörterbuch, Heidelberg , Update and expansions of the glossary of the Neckel-Kuhn edition
  • Glendinning, Robert J.; Bessason, Haraldur (1983), Edda: A Collection of Essays, Winnipeg, MB: University of Manitoba

External links


In Norse mythology, Angrboða or Angrboda (Old Norse "the one who brings grief" or "she-who-offers-sorrow") is a female jötunn. In the Poetic Edda, Angrboða is mentioned only in Völuspá hin skamma (found in Hyndluljóð) as the mother of Fenrir by Loki. However, in the Prose Edda book Gylfaginning, she is referred to as a "Jotunn in Jötunheimr" and said also to be the mother of Fenrir's siblings Jörmungandr (the Midgard Serpent) and Hel. She may be the same as Iárnvidia, 'She of Iron-wood', mentioned in the list of troll-wives in the Prose Edda list nafnaþulur.


In Norse mythology, Bestla is the mother of the gods Odin, Vili and Vé by way of Borr, the sister of an unnamed being who assisted Odin, and the daughter or, depending on source, granddaughter of the jötunn Bölþorn. Bestla is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds. Scholars have commented on the obscurity of the figure's name and have proposed that she may be the wise being Mímir's sister.


In Norse mythology, Bifröst ( (listen) or sometimes Bilröst or Bivrost) is a burning rainbow bridge that reaches between Midgard (Earth) and Asgard, the realm of the gods. The bridge is attested as Bilröst in the Poetic Edda; compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and as Bifröst in the Prose Edda; written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, and in the poetry of skalds. Both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda alternately refer to the bridge as Ásbrú (Old Norse "Æsir's bridge").According to the Prose Edda, the bridge ends in heaven at Himinbjörg, the residence of the god Heimdallr, who guards it from the jötnar. The bridge's destruction during Ragnarök by the forces of Muspell is foretold. Scholars have proposed that the bridge may have originally represented the Milky Way and have noted parallels between the bridge and another bridge in Norse mythology, Gjallarbrú.


In Norse mythology, Bölþorn or Bölþor is a jötunn, the father of Bestla, and therefore grandfather of the gods Odin, Vili and Vé. The figure receives mention in the Poetic Edda, composed in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, compiled by Icelander Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. Scholars have noted that the Poetic Edda mention may mean that he is the father of the wise being Mímir.


In Norse mythology, Dagr (Old Norse "day") is day personified. This personification appears in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Dagr is stated to be the son of the god Dellingr and is associated with the bright-maned horse Skinfaxi, who "draw[s] day to mankind". Depending on manuscript variation, the Prose Edda adds that Dagr is either Dellingr's son by Nótt, the personified night, or Jörð, the personified Earth. Otherwise, Dagr appears as a common noun simply meaning "day" throughout Old Norse works. Connections have been proposed between Dagr and other similarly named figures in Germanic mythology.


In Norse mythology, Gerðr (Old Norse "fenced-in") is a jötunn, goddess, and the wife of the god Freyr. Gerðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources; the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson; and in the poetry of skalds. Gerðr is sometimes modernly anglicized as Gerd or Gerth.

In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Freyr sees Gerðr from a distance, becomes deeply lovesick at the sight of her shimmering beauty, and has his servant Skírnir go to Jötunheimr (where Gerðr and her father Gymir reside) to gain her love. In the Poetic Edda Gerðr initially refuses, yet after a series of threats by Skírnir she finally agrees. In the Prose Edda, no mention of threats are made. In both sources, Gerðr agrees to meet Freyr at a fixed time at the location of Barri and, after Skírnir returns with Gerðr's response, Freyr laments that the meeting could not occur sooner. In both the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Gerðr is described as the daughter of Gymir and the jötunn Aurboða.

In Heimskringla, Gerðr is recorded as the wife of Freyr, euhemerized as having been a beloved king of Sweden. In the same source, the couple are the founders of the Yngling dynasty and produced a son, Fjölnir, who rose to kinghood after Freyr's passing and continued their line. Gerðr is commonly theorized to be a goddess associated with the earth. Gerðr inspired works of art and literature.


In Norse mythology, Himinbjörg (Old Norse "heaven's castle" or "heaven mountain") is the home of the god Heimdallr. Himinbjörg is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and Heimskringla, both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Himinbjörg is associated with Heimdallr in all sources. According to the Poetic Edda, Heimdallr dwells there as watchman for the gods and there drinks fine mead, whereas in the Prose Edda Himinbjörg is detailed as located where the burning rainbow bridge Bifröst meets heaven. Scholars have commented on the differences between the two attestations and linked the name of the mythical location to various place names.


In Norse mythology, Hvergelmir (Old Norse "bubbling boiling spring") is a major spring. Hvergelmir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda, Hvergelmir is mentioned in a single stanza, which details that it is the location where liquid from the antlers of the stag Eikþyrnir flow, and that the spring, "whence all waters rise", is the source of numerous rivers. The Prose Edda repeats this information and adds that the spring is located in Niflheim, that it is one of the three major springs at the primary roots of the cosmic tree Yggdrasil (the other two are Urðarbrunnr and Mímisbrunnr), and that within the spring are a vast amount of snakes and the dragon Níðhöggr.


In Norse mythology, Járnviðr (Old Norse "Iron-wood") is a forest located east of Midgard, inhabited by troll women who bore giantesses and giant wolves. Járnviðr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson.

List of Germanic deities

In Germanic paganism, the indigenous religion of the ancient Germanic peoples who inhabited Germanic Europe, there were a number of different gods and goddesses. Germanic deities are attested from numerous sources, including works of literature, various chronicles, runic inscriptions, personal names, place names, and other sources. This article contains a comprehensive list of Germanic deities outside the numerous Germanic Matres and Matronae inscriptions from the 1st to 5th century CE.


Máni (Old Norse "moon") is the personification of the moon in Norse mythology. Máni, personified, is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. Both sources state that he is the brother of the personified sun, Sól, and the son of Mundilfari, while the Prose Edda adds that he is followed by the children Hjúki and Bil through the heavens. As a proper noun, Máni appears throughout Old Norse literature. Scholars have proposed theories about Máni's potential connection to the Northern European notion of the Man in the Moon, and a potentially otherwise unattested story regarding Máni through skaldic kennings.


Mímir (Old Norse "The rememberer, the wise one") or Mimir is a figure in Norse mythology, renowned for his knowledge and wisdom, who is beheaded during the Æsir-Vanir War. Afterward, the god Odin carries around Mímir's head and it recites secret knowledge and counsel to him.

Mímir is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson of Iceland, and in euhemerized form as one of the Æsir in Heimskringla, also written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. Mímir's name appears in the names of the well Mímisbrunnr, the tree Mímameiðr, and the wood Hoddmímis holt. Scholars have proposed that Bestla may be Mímir's sister, and therefore Odin's uncle.


In Norse mythology, Mímisbrunnr (Old Norse "Mímir's well") is a well associated with the being Mímir, located beneath the world tree Yggdrasil. Mímisbrunnr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. The well is located beneath one of three roots of the world tree Yggdrasil, a root that passes into the land of the frost jötnar where the primordial plane of Ginnungagap once existed. In addition, the Prose Edda relates that the water of the well contains much wisdom, and that Odin sacrificed one of his eyes to the well in exchange for a drink.


In Norse mythology, Okolnir ("Never Cold") is a plain on which is located the hall of Brimir and mentioned only in stanza 37 of the poem Völuspá from the Poetic Edda. The location of this plain is not stated in the poem.


In Norse mythology, Sigyn (Old Norse "victorious girl-friend") is a goddess and is the wife of Loki. Sigyn is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda, little information is provided about Sigyn other than her role in assisting Loki during his captivity. In the Prose Edda, her role in helping her husband through his time spent in bondage is stated again, she appears in various kennings, and her status as a goddess is mentioned twice. Sigyn may appear on the Gosforth Cross and has been the subject of an amount of theory and cultural references.

Sumarr and Vetr

In Norse mythology, Sumarr (Old Norse "Summer") and Vetr (Old Norse "Winter") are personified seasons. Sumarr and Vetr, personified, are attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both, the two are given genealogies, while in the Prose Edda the two figure into a number of kennings used by various skalds.


In Norse mythology, Surtr (; Old Norse "black" or "the swarthy one") is a jötunn. Surtr is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In both sources, Surtr is foretold as being a major figure during the events of Ragnarök; carrying his bright sword, he will go to battle against the Æsir, he will do battle with the major god Freyr, and afterward the flames that he brings forth will engulf the Earth.

In a book from the Prose Edda additional information is given about Surtr, including that he is stationed guarding the frontier of the fiery realm Múspell, that he will lead "Múspell's sons" to Ragnarök, and that he will defeat Freyr. Surtr has been the subject of place names and artistic depictions, and scholars have proposed theories regarding elements of Surtr's descriptions and his potential origins.


In Norse mythology, Vanaheimr (Old Norse for "home of the Vanir") is one of the Nine Worlds and home of the Vanir, a group of gods associated with fertility, wisdom, and the ability to see the future.

Vanaheimr is attested in the Poetic Edda; compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the Prose Edda and (in euhemerized form) Heimskringla; both written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson. In the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, Vanaheimr is described as the location where the Van god Njörðr was raised. In Norse cosmology, Vanaheimr is considered one of the Nine Worlds.


In Norse mythology, Vígríðr or Óskópnir is a large field foretold to host a battle between the forces of the gods and the forces of Surtr as part of the events of Ragnarök. The field is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional material, and in the Prose Edda, written by Snorri Sturluson in the 13th century. The Poetic Edda briefly mentions the field as where the two forces will battle, whereas the Prose Edda features a fuller account, foretelling that it is the location of the future death of several deities (and their enemies) before the world is engulfed in flames and reborn.

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