Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are the two most popular (and deemed to be the most comprehensive) representation of Norse mythology. These two works are written on the same line of interest; but on different periods. The Poetic Edda is much older than Prose Edda; because of this most Norse mythology experts pertain to Poetic Edda as the elder Edda and younger Edda for the Prose Edda. It is worthwhile to note that the term prose was only attached to the Prose Edda to distinguish it from the Poetic Edda.
Even if the underlying logics behind these works are similar, they are different in terms of the manner by which they chose to discuss the specifications of Norse mythology. Uncovering the similarities and differences of these two works will be the basic foothold of this paper in tackling Norse mythology through its general nature of deism, and even through its very specific citation of events and characters that created both the mysticism and belief in it.
Generally speaking, the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda are different from each other, because of the literary arrangement inherent to these texts.
The ways that these pieces are structured follow the conventions of both poetry and prose writing. From the free verses of a prose up to the almost rhythmic and tune bound poem, these two pioneers of Norse mythology represents different ways of passing on Norse mythology. However, this is not the nature of similarities and differences that this paper would seek to delve into.
Instead, a closer analysis on the evolutionary pattern discernable from these texts will be explained and expounded in this paper.
The reason for this is simple; these works have been written on a long differentiated timeline which can further imply that the details of these texts may pertain to similar message but by being modified to the present day forms of literature and even to the present day conventions. Adding up to its primary objective, this paper would also try to establish a more elaborate manner of relating such changes to the general aspects of Norse mythology. The Elder Edda and the Younger Edda The Younger Edda or the Prose Edda is dated approximately around 1220.
It was said to be written by one of the pioneers of Nordic mythology, Snorri Sturluson. Prose Edda as established earlier is the younger version of the Poetic Edda; following this line of logic, it can be said that the Poetic Edda, even if without a specific date of writing and compilation, started to exist earlier than the 13th century. It can even be further said that the authorship of the Poetic Edda as far as history and attribution is concerned up to today is still a very big mystery.
As said in the earlier parts of this paper, the similarities and differences of these two major Nordic mythology pieces of literature will pave the way for a better understanding not only of the Nordic mythology, but also of the evolution of literature in general. For the sake of organization, this paper will explain the justifications it will use to establish such an evolution through the basic information discernable from these literatures. Notes on the start of human and gods’ existence, the existence of mythical creatures and on the basic nature of gods which can be found in both Prose and Poetic Eddas will be used in this paper.
On the Start of Human and Gods’ Existence Following the Poetry Edda or the Elder Edda the basic aspects of the start of human and gods’ existence can be best understood through its poem titled the Seeress’ Prophecy or Sybil’s Prophecy. The visionary in this poem prophesized that process of creation, destruction and renewal can be seen in the first stanzas of the poem (Bellows n. pag. ). In a way the seeress saw the creation of the whole world in a very chaotic setting. The strong tensions with the houses of Esir and Vanir are included in her prophecy, alongside with the destiny of their conciliation.
She equally foresaw the trickery of Loki and the punishment accorded to the crime to be done. This setting is even put more value through the citation that the long brewing war between gods and giants will only result to their equal destruction. However, the seeress still shone a sign of hope by stating that good things are still destined to arise from the primary disasters essential to the formation of the whole world (Bellows n. pag. ). However, in this part of the poetic Edda the seeress also foresaw a glint of good and desirable things such as the famous golden halls of the dwarves (Bellows n.
pag. ). There is also an imminent sense of redemption which can be seen in this part of the Poetic Edda, the tragedies that she foresaw will be countered by an inevitable rise of another parch of green earth after the total destruction of everything that is considerably bad (Bellows n. pag. ). The same can be discerned from the Prose Edda as translated by Brodeur, life started from an almost dramatic unfolding of every single feature of the whole earth. From the simple grass to the deepest depths of the see, the whole world was formed in a high level of likeness (Sturluson 7-11).
Odin as the head of both lands and humans journeyed to establish the kingdom that he assigned to twelve dooms men (Sturluson 12). Everything is specifically created accordingly, as narrated in the Prose Edda the beauty of the whole world even transcend up to the descendants of the gods alongside with the other beautiful things in the world. However, bad things appear to be an inevitable part of the whole world. The existence of these negative things is cited in the Prose Edda through the coming into life of creatures of worse nature as compared to those that are created out of the creatures which are created in the likeness of the gods.
The existence of these bad natured creatures further resulted to the turning of negative events such as war, trickery and chaos as seen in the section of the book, Gylfaginning. Even if gods may experience their downfalls because of their own doings, there is still hope for redemption. Such as seen in the latter parts of this section of the book, balance was restored, even if it took a high toll on each of those that seek to return balance to the whole world (Sturluson 56-58).
Happiness such as the regaining of the domains of the gods’ sons and daughters is a turning point for the redemption of the whole world from the horrors it suffered from the bad natured characters in the prose (Sturluson 58). The Existence of Mythical Creatures The recognition that creatures of other nature exist can be discerned from both Poetic and Prose Edda. These creatures when compared to the present day conventions of being human can be considered as mythical in nature.
The common classification of these creatures is the dwarves, elves and giants; each accorded with their very own nature of interest and characterization (Bellows n. pag. ). General characterizations on these individuals can be seen in the Poetic Edda. However, more detailed characterization of these kinds of creatures can be seen in the Prose Edda. The differentiation that Struluson put on the different norns shows that such creatures exist (28). The three basic kinds of norn such being the gods, elves and dwarves can be seen also be seen in the Prose Edda similar to that of the Poetic Edda (Sturluson 28).
The Basic Nature of the Gods In the Poetic Edda, the basic nature of the gods can be seen in the poem Sayings of the High One. In this poem Odin was characterized through the exposition that it is plausible that gods have a strong will in imposing what they have to say (Bellows n. pag. ). The importance put by Odin on the need to put value on his teachings show that it is within the nature of gods to put the notion of death behind their subjects and replace it with a stance not only of belief, but even the highest sense of reverence.
It can be quoted that Odin stated that death is irrelevant and even immaterial to the whole act of believing. On the other hand, the nature of the gods can be discerned from the Prose of Edda through the long characterization of each god provided in the prose. Odin for example is treated as the All Mighty who governs all; this is followed by the characterization on other gods as his children (Sturluson 26). This characterizations found in the prose can also be considered as the representation of a divided rule among the gods; each god is accorded with his or her own power.
The practice of those power even if subjected to the guides of Odin is sole to that god alone; this characterization of gods even set up the stage for the perfect chaos and struggle in the world. Conclusion: After explaining the basic specific details which can be seen in the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda this paper comes to the need to conclude its discussions. In line with this, this paper conclusively implies that the Prose Edda is indeed as modification of the Elder or Poetic Edda.
The Prose Edda being a simple result of the modification of the anonymously written Poetic Edda. The modifications experienced by the Poetic Edda can be deemed to have evolved to become a more detailed version and an almost Christian version in the form of the Prose Edda. In terms of detailed discussions it can be said that it can be possibly attributed to the fact that the prose in terms of literary value is freer as compared to that of poems.
However, the Christian nature which can be discerned from the Prose Edda can result from the Christianization in the European countries. The Christian values may have been integrated by Struluson which makes the Prose Edda more Christianized as compared to that of the Poetic Edda. Nonetheless, the main teachings including all connotative definitions which can be found in both Prose Edda and Poetic Edda are undeniably similar with differences only up to the extent that the Prose Edda is a result of the evolution of the Poetic Edda.
In a way it can be concluded that the Prose Edda is not just a contemporary version of the Poetic Edda, but also a more modern type of the Poetic Edda in terms of being integrated with Christianity.
Bellows, Henry Adams. The Poetic Edda.
New York: Princeton University Press, 1936. Sturluson, Snorri.
The Prose Edda translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur.
London: Oxford University Press, 1916.