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# ODIN,” the Giants, « the Sons of thie “ Frost,” &c. they would naturally wish to know the origin of such singular modes of speech. It was then to render this knowledge eafy, that the Author of the EDDA wrote; nor am I surprized, that this book hath appeared whimsical and unintelligible to those who were ignorant of its design.
Hence likewise we learn why this work came to be divided into Two principal parts. The First consists of this brief Syftem of Mythology, necessary for understanding the ancient Scalds, and for perceiving the force of the Figures, Epithets and Allusions with which their poetry abounds. This is properly called the EdDA. The Second is a kind of Art of Poetry, which contains a Catalogue of the Words most commonly used by the Poets, together with Explanations and Reinarks; it contains also a treatise on the ancient Language, and Orthography; and an explication of the Structure and Measure of their different forts of Verse. Hence it is, that this part is called SCALDA Cr Poetics. It is very extensive, and leads one to suppose that this people had among them a vast number of Bards, and that the Author pofa feffed an uncommon depth of erudition on these subjects. The Reader will doubtless be surprized to find so compleat a Treatise
of Poetry, amid the few monuments mow remaining of ancient Scandinavia: Especially among those Goths and Normans, who contributed so much to replunge Europe into ignorance, and whom many nations have had so much reason to accuse of ferocity and barbarism. Could one have expected to find among such a people, so decisive a taste for an Art which seems peculiarly to require sensibility of soul, a cultivation of mind, and a vivacity and splendor of imagination for an Art, I say, which one would rather fuppofe must be one of the last refinements of luxury and politeness.
I trusted we should find the causes of this their love of poetry, in the ruling passion of the ancient Scandinavians' for war,' in the little use they made of writing, and especially in their peculiar system of Religion. What was at first only conjecture, a later research hath enabled me to discover to have been the real case: And I flatter myself that the perusal of the EDDA will remove every doubt which may at first have been entertained from the novelty and fingularity of the facts which I advanced.
IT now remains for me to relate in a few words the history of this Book, and to give a short account of my own labours.
labours. I have already hinted that there have been two
EDDAS. The first and most ancient was compiled by SOEMUND SIGFUSSON, firnamed the LEARNED, born in Iceland about the year 1057
This Author had studied in Germany, and chiefly at Cologne, along with his countryman Are, sirnamed also FRODE, or the LEARNED; and who likewise distinguished himself by his love for the Belle-Lettres *. Sæmund was one of the first who ventured to commit to writing the ancient religious Poetry, which many people still retained by heart. He seems to have confined himself to the meer selecting into one body such of the ancient Poems as appeared most proper to furnish a fufficient number of poetical figures and phrases. It is not determined whether this collection (which, it should seem, was very confiderable) is at present extant, or not: But without engaging in this dispute, it fuffices to say, that Three of the Pieces of which it was composed, and perhaps those three of the most important, have come down to us. We shall give a more particular account of these in the body of this work.
* V. Ari Frode schede, come down to us. He feu libellus de Ifundiâ, edi wrotemany Histories which tæ ab And. Bufæo. Havn. are lost; that which re1733. in Præfat. This mains is on the establihARE FRODE is the oldest ment of the Norwegians in of all the northern histo. Iceland, rians whose works have
The first collection being apparently too voluminous, and in many respects obscure, and not sufficiently adapted to common use, the young poets would naturally wish that some body would extract from the material's there collected, a course of Poetic Mythology, more easy and intelligible. Accordingiy, about 120 years afterwards, another learned Icelander engaged in this task: This was the famous SNORROSTURLESON, born in the year 1179, of one of the most illuftrious families in his country, where he twice held the dignity of first magistrate, having been the supreme judge of Iceland in the years 1215 and 1222. He was also employed in many important negotiations with the King of Norway, who inceffantly strove to subdue that island, as being the refuge of their malcontent subjects. SNORRO, whose genius was not merely confined to letters, met at last with a very violent end. He was assassinated in the night that he entered into his 62d year, anno 1241*,
* Vid. Pering skiold in Præfat. ad Hiemskiirgla Saga, &c.
Since I first wrote this, it hath been observed to me, that the second part of the EDDA mentions the Kings of Norway who have lived
down to the year 1270,
by a faction of which he was the avowed enemy. We owe all that is rational, certain and connected in the ancient history of these vast countries, to his writings, and especially to his “ Chronology of the Nor“thern Kings.” There runs through this whole work so much clearness and order, such a simplicity of stile, such an air of truth, and so much good sense, as ought to rank its author among the best historians of that age of ignorance and bad taste. He was also a poet, and his verses were often the entertainment of the courts to which he was sent. It was doubtless a love for this art which suggested to him the design of giving a new EDDA, more useful to the young poets than that of Semund. His design therefore was to select whatever was most important in the old Mythology, and to compile a short System, wherein should, notwithstanding, be found, all the Fables
opinion attribute it to Snorro, it may be sufficient to say that some writer who lived a few years later than that celebrated fage, may have added a Supple
after the manner of Snorro, by way of continuation of that Author's work. Besides, it is a matter of little im
portance which ever opinion we adopt. We are only interested in the first part of the EDDA ; and it is fufficient that the Aus thor of that part, whosoever he was, hath there faithfully preserved the ancient religious traditions of the northern nations,