From Iceland — The Edda Or Whatever: Better Safe Than Snorri

The Edda Or Whatever: Better Safe Than Snorri

Published July 2, 2024

The Edda Or Whatever: Better Safe Than Snorri
Photo by
Christian Krogh via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the rich old dude who re-wrote the Edda, doomed Iceland to 682 years of oppression

Okay, okay, okay. I’ve already explained — in my half-assed-but-hopefully-hilarious way — the Poetic Edda. If you don’t remember or are just too lazy to Google it (both are fair, tbh), it’s a collection of poems from Medieval Northern Europe that tells us most of what we know today about the unhinged antics of the Norse gods and heroes.

This is obviously only important to scholars, nerds and Nordic people, but let me explain it in terms you can appreciate: if it weren’t for the Edda, we wouldn’t have Thor movies. Considering that the ones directed by Taika Waititi are two of maybe four vaguely watchable excretions from the seemingly endless intestinal tract of the Marvel Shit-ematic Universe, we have the Edda to thank.

This is like my version of The Edda for Dummies of Snorri’s version of The Edda for Dummies, which will obviously be extra dumb and with extra focus on the dicks.

But wait, there’s more! There exists another Edda — a new and improved Edda, some might say — known as the Prose Edda. While the Poetic Edda was written by a bunch of anonymous poets over several centuries, the Prose Edda was written by one rich dude in the 1200s. I wouldn’t usually consider any part of that a good thing, but it does offer some clarity. As a poetry stan myself, I am loath to give this one to the haters. Still, I have to be honest, prose is usually simpler to understand.

So let’s just say Snorri did us a solid. He read all those poems (and also some poems that are no longer with us, RIP poems) and squeezed them all into a prose version that is a bit easier to read. Like those For Dummies books that nobody ever bought but somehow continue to be published. This is like my version of The Edda for Dummies of Snorri’s version of The Edda for Dummies, which will obviously be extra dumb and with extra focus on the dicks.

So let’s start off with the dick of the day, Snorri Sturluson himself. I’m sorry if you’ve heard this one before, but it bears repeating: in Sweden, snorre is slang for a penis.

Snorri Sturluson was born in 1179 into the bougiest family in Iceland and received the kind of education only rich fucks can still get today. I mean, he was taught by a famous priest, so, like, not great, but at least he learned to read and write.

It turns out literacy is a good thing, because his poetry was totally lit. Aside from the masterpiece of the Edda, it was mostly simping the Norwegian monarchy, but that was totally trending in the 13th century. He was also elected twice as Lawspeaker of the Parliament, which was like the Prime Minister.

Poetry for President 1222!

So while poetry and politics have Snorri best known for his brain, I promised some dick. Of course Snorri was putting his snorre to good use, too. Over his lifetime, he fathered six to eight children, depending on the source, and had two step-children, all with five different women. This lifestyle remains in practice in Iceland to this day, although it has been halved for efficiency’s sake. I would estimate that the average Icelander today only has three to four children and one step-child with 2.5 different partners. You know, to keep it simple.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of dramaaaa that is known in Iceland as the Age of the Sturlungs.

The problem with being a monarchic bootlicker is that while you might make some powerful friends, you also make some salty enemies. It is my job to spare you the boring legal details, but somewhere between Snorri’s spicy family feud and his being besties with the Scandinavian aristocracy, he got his ass cooked. He ended up being murdered in his own cellar by a bunch of goons in an inheritance dispute. Wow, it must suck to have intergenerational wealth, right?

This is just the tip of the iceberg of dramaaaa that is known in Iceland as the Age of the Sturlungs. It’s kinda maybe the reason that Iceland came crawling back to the crown of Norway with its tail between its legs in 1262. Iceland would remain Scandinavia’s bitch from then until they eked out independence in 1944. By then, Iceland’s custody had shifted from Norway to Denmark and seeing that Denmark was literally occupied by Nazis, Iceland was like, “We see you’re busy. We declare ourselves a republic, okay byeeeeee.” So, some people like to thank our favorite dick for 682 years of oppression.

So, that makes Snorri Sturluson one of Iceland’s most famous authors, most famous politicians, most famous philanderers and most famous sell-outs. He was Iceland’s Shakespeare, Iceland’s John F. Kennedy, Iceland’s Don Juan and Iceland’s Helen of Troy all wrapped into one. You’ve gotta give the guy credit for his legacy, because he basically topped the charts in every category.

Now that you’ve had a taste of Snorri and his snorre, make sure you save room for the Edda. We’ll whip it out in the next issue.

Morals of the story:

  1. Marvel, please, for the love of the art of cinema, just fucking stop.
  2. Keep it simple. Kill the rich.

 


Follow along with The Edda Or Whatever series for all the latest takes on the oldest tea.

Check out Grayson’s series on the sagas and Poetic Edda and then buy his book, The Sagas and Shit. You’ll love it, we promise.

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