The Great Myths: Norse

For the next year or more, my series on The Great Myths will focus on Norse mythology. Tonight I introduce the subject and read one of its foundational texts, the poem that starts the Poetic Edda, “Voluspa,” as translated by Andy Orchard.

In this second episode on Norse Mythology, I read from the creation myths found in the poem, “Voluspa,” found in the Poetic Edda, and from its corresponding sections in the Prose Edda. I also read from commentaries on these sections.

How did the Viking Norse tell a story as important as Ragnarok (the end of the world) in poetry, and then in prose? What does prose require that poetry does not, and vice-versa, and especially when the accounts we have are separated by centuries of historical change, and religious conversion? 

In this third episode on Norse Mythology, I read the story of Ragnarok from the Prose Edda (dating to c. 1220), and then its corresponding section in the poem Voluspa (c. 1000) in the Poetic Edda. Each section is preceded by the story of the death of Odin’s son, Balder, which in many ways precipitated Ragnarok. I also read from a later poem, Balder’s Dreams (c. 1300).

The translations used in these episodes include:

The nonfiction books include: