The Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson c.1200. It was intended as a handbook for poets wishing to write Skaldic verse.
The work is divided into three parts:
The Prologue outlines the Old Norse creation myths. It is of interest not only for the valuable information of these myths that it contains, but also because Snorri gives what is one of the earliest attempts to suggest a rational explanation for the origin of these myths.
The Gylfaginning, or the deluding of Gylfi, tells how King Gylfi was concerned with the power of the Æsir, and how that came about. He disguised himself and set out to discover the truth. He came to an immense hall. Within the hall were three high seats, one above the other, with three lord sitting there. Gylfi asks their names and is told, “his name is Hárr; [High] but the next is named Janhárr; [Equally High] and he who is uppermost is called Thridi.” [Third] There then follows a series of questions asked by Gylfi in which he learns the old myths.
The Skáldskaparmal, or Poetical Diction, is a description of the nature of Old Norse Skaldic verse, and information on how to compose it.
The Prose Edda is an extremely important work, not only for its insight into the nature of Skaldic verse, but also for the wealth of mythological information that it contains.
Many of the kennings can only be understood by a detailed knowledge of the stories of the gods, so Snorri included them in his work. One can also see that although Snorri was a Christian, these myths held a great fascination for him.
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