1861.08 - Eddic Poetry - Vøluspá

Course number
Eddic Poetry - Vøluspá
The course aims to introduce students to Norse Eddic poetry – age and origins, preservation, style and metre.
Eddic poetry can be classified by content into two categories: heroic poems and mythological poems. Most of our knowledge about the belief in the Norse gods, the Aesir, stems from the Eddic mythological poems. They are Snorri’s main source of information about this belief for his Edda. Völuspa (The Sibyl’s Prophecy) opens the Poetic Edda, and it is the most magnificent of all the mythological poems. Most researchers agree that it was composed in Iceland shortly before 1000 AD, the year Iceland was christened. The subject is presented as a vision revealed to a volva (a sibyl). She sees the whole world of giants, gods and men from the birth of the world and to its end, which they called Ragnarok, when both gods and men would perish and the world would be annihilated. Fate, to which the gods had to yield, is not blind, but fair, because the gods had committed misdeeds and the world was corrupted. Earth is purged by fire and water and one god, who is almighty, takes power over Earth reborn. The poet was undoubtedly influenced by Christian concepts in writing this, however, the overall poem is heathen and, although the poet describes the gods with almost human faults and defects, he still respects them. The gods heroically fight the evil and dark forces to their final breath. We will study Völuspa closely and read theses and articles about it. Literature: A wealth of material has been written about Eddic poetry. Students are advised to start the course having read the articles “eddukvæði” in the book Hugtøk í bókmentafrøði by Turið Sigurðardóttur and “Eddadiktning” in Kulturhistorisk leksikon for nordisk middelalder, Vol. III. At the end of these articles you will find references to a host of other literature.
Learning and teaching approaches
3 hours a week in the first semester.
Assessment method
6-hour written exam with external marking.
Anfinnur Johansen