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Eddic, Skaldic, and BeyondPoetic Variety in Medieval Iceland and Norway$
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Martin Chase

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257812

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257812.001.0001

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Einarr Skúlason, Snorri Sturluson, And The Post-Pagan Mythological Kenning

Einarr Skúlason, Snorri Sturluson, And The Post-Pagan Mythological Kenning

(p.44) Einarr Skúlason, Snorri Sturluson, And The Post-Pagan Mythological Kenning
Eddic, Skaldic, and Beyond

Christopher Abram

Fordham University Press

Christopher Abram examines the relationship of Snorri Sturluson’s Edda to the earlier skalds he cites. Viking-Age skaldic poetry contains many references to pagan gods, but the poetry of the eleventh century, following Iceland’s conversion to Christianity, avoids them. Then, in the twelfth century, the pagan allusions reappear, notably in the poetry of Einarr Skúlason, raising the need for Snorri to explain them in the thirteenth. It is easy to understand why references to traditional religion would be taboo in the period following the official shift to Christianity, but why did they return? Were they now the object of antiquarian interest, or had they been there beneath the surface all along, waiting to re-emerge once they no longer were regarded as a threat to the new religion? Abram analyzes in detail the use of pagan references in three successive texts: Einarr’s Øxarflokkr, the anonymous Ásynjur-heiti þulur, and Snorri’s Skáldskaparmál. He finds evidence of an inter-textual relationship that shows the development of a common interest in collecting and preserving verbal artifacts from an earlier tradition. This helps to explain the reappearance of the gods in skaldic poetry and has wider implications for our understanding of the myths Snorri relates.

Keywords:   Einarr Skúlason, Øxarflokkr, Snorri Sturluson, Snorra Edda, Skáldskaparmál, Ásynjur-heiti þulur, conversion, mythological kennings, skaldic poetry, Christopher Abram

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