Norse Mythology


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Norse Mythology

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May 15, 2011, 12:06 am

I've wanted to read a bit of norse myth for a while, but don't really know where to start. I was wondering if anyone knew of a definitive collection of Norse myth like Bulfinch's Mythology is for Greek, Roman, and Arthurian?

May 15, 2011, 4:14 pm

I'm not sure about being a definitive collection, but Norse Myths might be a nice place to start.

May 16, 2011, 8:39 am

I'm sure I don't have this information entirely correct. Hopefully someone will be able to straighten it out. Here's what I think I know:

There are two main sources for Norse mythology: the Islandic Eddas (prose and poetical) and the German Nibelungenlied (which is the basis for Wagner's Ring Cycle).

The Crossley-Holland, mentioned in post #2, is a translation of (some of?) the poetical Edda. It is, indeed, an excellent book, but leaves out the German material. I was introduced to the German material through the Wagner operas, though Dover Press has put out an English translation of the Nibelugenlied that is on my TBR pile.

My edition of Bulfinch does have some Norse mythology in the back, which I've at least skimmed somewhere along the way. I also read a kid's book of Norse mythology back in the 1950s, but I have no memory of the author or title.

May 16, 2011, 10:19 am

#3 Could it have been D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths? It's a nice intro to the topic.

May 16, 2011, 12:43 pm

4: Doesn't look familiar, but I'm sure it's as good as whatever I read.

May 16, 2011, 3:26 pm

Depending on what you mean by "mythology", the Nibelungenlied isn't necessarily a very good place to start. If you mean stories about Gods and the world, then Snorre's Edda contains most of what's most often retold. The Poetic edda do have some such stuff as well, but not very much.

However, if you also want tall stories about great heroes, the Poetic edda and The Nibelungenlied are certainly interesting. There are some Icelandic sagas that should be interesting as well.

May 16, 2011, 4:38 pm

I thought Norse referred to Scandinavia. (Where old Norse was spoken.) I have at least never heard of the Niebelungenlied called "nordisk mytologi" in Swedish. According to Wikipedia it was written in Middle High German which is a west Germanic language (like English) and not a north Germanic language like old Norse and it's descendants.

May 16, 2011, 5:07 pm

I'm mostly interested in the group (blanking on the technical term) of Gods that includes Odin, Thor, Loki, etc.

May 16, 2011, 5:56 pm

@ 8


May 16, 2011, 6:00 pm

#8 Heh--a divinity of gods? Kind of like an exaltation of larks? :)

May 16, 2011, 6:55 pm

Pantheon, thats the word! Knew I'd get it eventually.

May 16, 2011, 9:57 pm

#11 That's why I included the Nibelunglied, because Odin and Freye (sp?) and some others in the Pantheon show up. But it sounds like the prose Eddas (or renditions from them) is the place to start from post 6.

#7 Americans refer to all the legends that involve Odin and his gang as Norse mythology wherever the stories originated. Don't have any idea how it might be more finely divided in other places.

May 17, 2011, 11:52 am

>12 aulsmith:
Frankly, the difference between what's known about "Norse mythology" and "Germanic mythology" is pretty small. There is not very much material at all.

May 17, 2011, 12:28 pm

Myths of the Norsemen by Roger Lancelyn Green can be a good "first book" on Norse mythology.