An Icelandic word, literally translated great-grandmother, as referred to in Scandinavian poetry. There are in reality two books of this name which were deemed inspired by the ancient Germans, Norwegians, and Swedes, and there grew out so many myths from these canonical writings, that great difficulty is now experienced as to what were apocryphal. The myths springing from the old German theology are full of beauty; they pervade Freemasonry extensively and so intimately that they are believed by many of the best students to be the origin of a large number of its legends and symbols.
The older of the two, called The Edda of Samund the Learned, was written in a language existing in Denmark, Sweden and Norway as early as the eighth century. Samund Sigfusson, an Icelandic priest born in 1056, collected thirty-nine of these poems during the earlier portion of the twelfth century. The most remarkable of these poems is the Oracle of the Prophetess, containing the cosmogony, under the Scandinavian belief, from the creation to the destruction of the world. A well-preserved copy was found in Iceland in 1643.
The younger Edda is a collection of the myths of the gods, and of explanations of meters of Pagan poetry, and is intended for instruction of young scalds or poets. The first copy was found complete in 1628. The prologue is a curious compendium of Jewish, Greek, Christian, Roman, and Icelandic legend. Its authorship is ascribed to Snorro Sturleson, born in 1178; hence called Edda of Snorro.
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