Uppsala Edda

A parchment manuscript with 56 leaves 20 x 14.5 cm. Iceland, the beginning of the 14th century. Donated by Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie in 1669. [DG 11]

Browse the Uppsala Edda

Snorri Sturluson's Edda is also known as the younger, or prose, Edda. Snorri Sturluson wrote this work on Iceland at the beginning of the 13th century. It is designed to be a manual in the art of poetry and in several parts it alludes to the Old Nordic mythology (Gylfaginning - How Gylfe was tricked), the literary language (Skáldskaparmál – the language of skalds or poets) and finally the various poetic metres (Háttatal – list of verses). In the first two parts Snorri quotes many verses from the old or poetic Edda and also from named skalds. The last part consists primarily of a poem praising King Håkon Håkonsson and Earl Skul Bårsson in Norway; here there are examples of 100 different kinds of stanzas.

From the Uppsala Edda, p. 47


As far as Snorri's Edda is concerned we are aware of three more or less complete medieval manuscripts. Of these, the Uppsala Edda is believed to be the oldest and is thought to have been made in western Iceland at the beginning of the 14th century. The text in our manuscript shows rather big differences compared to the other manuscripts, amongst other things, for example, there are many stanzas that are missing. The manuscript was given by the Icelandic bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson in 1639 to the Danish collector Stephanus Johannis Stephanius, whose widow sold it and several other manuscripts to Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie; and in this way it became part of his donation to the Library in 1669.

 King Gylfe in Svitjod arrives disguised as Asgård and receives three lords, p. 50

The text is neatly and distinctly written. Most of the simply drawn human figures that are here and there, are thought to have been added after the text had been copied. The most famous drawing spans over the whole of page 50 and is thought to be from the 14th century. It illustrates the plot in Gylfaginning: King Gylfe in Svitjod arrives disguised as Asgård and receives there a "trinity" of lords, magically assembled by the wizardly art of the Nordic gods: Hár, Jafnhár and Þriði – i.e. Tall, Medium Height and Third. In the picture the three are seen sitting in three thrones one above the other. As an answer to his questions about the world and the gods, Gylfe learns from them the greater part of Old Nordic mythology.

Rider, p.72


Further reading

  • Snorre Sturlasons Edda :Uppsala-handskriften DG 11, 1962–77
  • Snorres Edda, translation from Icelandic into Swedish with an introduction by Karl G. Johansson and Mats Malm,  1997
  • Snorri Sturluson, Edda:Háttatal, edited by Anthony Faulkes, 1991
  • Snorri Sturluson, Edda : Skáldskaparmál, edited by Anthony Faulkes, 1998