Norse Mythology: The History of the Norse Pantheon and the Most Famous Myths

Norse Mythology: The History of the Norse Pantheon and the Most Famous Myths

Narrated by:
Mary Rossman
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Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
June 2023
4 hours 29 minutes
Much of what is known of the Norse myths comes from the 10th century onwards. Until this time and, indeed, for centuries afterwards, Norse culture (particularly that of Iceland, where the myths were eventually transcribed) was an oral culture. In fact, in all Scandinavian countries well into the 13th century laws were memorized by officials known as “Lawspeakers” who recited them at the “Thing.” The Thing was the legislative assembly in Scandinavia “held for judicial purposes.”

One of the most famous of these Lawspeakers was the Icelander Snorri Sturluson, a masterful writer who wrote the Prose Edda in the thirteenth century. There are other sources for the Norse myths, namely the later “Poetic Edda,” a collection of poems and prose work, and other sagas but the Snorri’s Prose Edda is the most complete work whose attribution is known to modern scholars.

The Prose Edda is a collection of Norse Myths split into three sections, the Gylfaginning (the Deluding of Gylfi), the Skáldskaparmál (the Language of Poetry) and the Háttatal (the Enumeration of Meters). The first has a frame story that entails a Swedish King, Gylfi, disguising himself as an old man, Gangleri, when he journeys to Asgard to meet the gods. When he arrives, he meets three men - “High One, Just-As-High, and Third” - who reveal to him stories of the world and the gods. The second section contains a warning for Christians not to believe in the Norse gods, specifically the two families, the Aesir and the Vanir, but also refutes the notion that they were demons, which was a common supposition among some Christians at the time. The Prose Edda begins in this line of thought with a euhemeristic prologue, which traces the history of the Norse Gods as human heroes of Troy, making Thor one of King Priam’s sons.
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