Germanic Mythology

Beowulf

Beowulf fighting the Dragon. Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf, T.C. & E.C. Jack. Via Wikimedia Commons.Beowulf is an Old English epic poem. While the only surviving manuscript is thought to date to around 1000 CE, the narrative reflects conditions in the continental homeland of the Anglo-Saxons during the Sixth Century.

The hero, Beowulf, is a prince of the Geats, a people based in Modern Sweden. He travels to Heorot, court of King Hrothgar of the Danes to fight the monster Grendel, and Grendel's mother. Later, as King of the Geats, he is killed in a final mortal struggle with a dragon.

The relationship between the pagan and Christian elements in Beowulf has been the subject of much debate, often bound up with questions about the role of oral and literary composition in its creation. The poem continues to spark much scholarly and popular interest, sustained by feature films and high-profile translations such as those by J.R.R. Tolkien and Seamus Heaney.

Beowulf at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

British Library: Beowulf - digitised Old English manuscript.

British Library/University of Kentucky: Electronic Beowulf. Browse the original Old English manuscript and multiple transcriptions online.

Gutenberg: Beowulf, modern English translation by  Francis B. Gummere (1910).  Multiple formats.

Gutenberg: Beowulf, modern English translation by J. Lesslie Hall. Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Beowulf with the Finnsburgh Fragment, Old English text, edited by A.J Wyatt, revised by R.W. Chambers (1914). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Beowulf, Old English text, edited by Walter John Sedgefield (1913). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Beowulf, translated by Chauncey Brewster Tinker (1912). Multiple formats.

Internet Archive: Beowulf, translated by Clarence Griffin Child (2000). Multiple formats.

McMaster University: Beowulf in Hypertext - Old English text and modern English translation by  Francis B. Gummere (1910).

Poetry Foundation: Beowulf - modern English translation by  Francis B. Gummere (1910). HTML format.

Sacred texts: Beowulf - Old English | Modern English translation by Francis B. Gummere (1910) | The Story of Beowulf, retelling by Strafford Riggs (1933).

University of Adelaide: Beowulf, modern English translation by  Francis B. Gummere (1910). Multiple formats.

University of Cambridge Digital Library: Beowulf, verse translation by William Morris (1898).  Digital manuscript image.

Wikisource: Beowulf - Old English editions and modern English translations. HTML format.

Continue reading "Beowulf" »


Snorri Sturluson: The Prose Edda

Gylfi and three speakers. Manuscript SAM 66 (Iceland, 1765–1766), Reykjavík, Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies. Via Wikipedia.The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda or Snorri's Edda (Icelandic: Snorra Edda) is a compilation of Old Norse legends traditionally attributed to the the 13th Century Icelandic scholar Snorri Sturluson. Originally known simply as The Edda, it's later title differentiates it from collections based on the Codex Regius, which became known as The Poetic Edda.

The work is composed of four sections:

  • The Prologue presents an account of the Norse Gods tracing their ancestry to the ancient Trojans, and providing subsequent genealogies influenced by Anglo-Saxon tradition.
  • Gylfaginning - Tells the story of King Gylfi of Sweden and his encounter with three mysterious beings, High, Just-As-High, and Third. Their dialogue provides the frame for an account of the old pagan Norse cosmology.
  • Skáldskaparmál - A dialogue between Ægir, the Norse god of the sea, and Bragi, the god of poetry touching on Norse myth and the poetic language in which it found expression. In particular it gives a detailed list of the figurative expressions known as kennings.
  • Háttatal - A technical discussion of the verse forms of Old Norse poetry.


The Edda at Amazon: United States | Canada | United Kingdom | France | Germany | Spain | Italy

Free online texts

Gutenberg: The Younger Edda, translated by Rasmus Bjorn Anderson. Multiple formats. 

Heimskringla: Edda Snorri Sturlusonar - Old Norse and modern Scandinavian texts. HTML format.

Internet Archive: The Prose Edda, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. Multiple formats.

Sacred Texts: The Prose Edda, translated by Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur. HTML format.

Septentrionalia: Prose Edda, Old Norse texts, pdf format.

Viking Society for Northern Research: Edda, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Anthony Faulkes. PDF format.

Viking Society for Northern Research: Prose Edda - Prologue and Glyfaginning. Old Norse text. PDF format.

Wikisource: Prose Edda, translated by Rasmus Bjorn Anderson.

Other Resources

Librivox: The Prose Edda, public domain audiobook.

Wikipedia: Prose Edda.

The Great Conversation: Further reading at Tom's Learning Notes

The Poetic Edda.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Virgil: The Aeneid - Like many medieval European texts, the Edda employs Virgil as a model in linking local traditions to a classical heritage.

Bloom's Western Canon: The Prose Edda is listed.