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I D E A
SECOND PART OF THE EDDA.
LL the most important points of the northern*,
Mythology have been laid open in the preceding Dialogue, which forms the First Part of the EDDA. In the Second Part, the Author, changing his stile, confines himself to the 'relation of several adventures which had happened to these Deities whom he hath been describing to us.
The ancient SCALDS, or Poets, are the guides he follows; and his chief aim is to explain the epithets and synonymous expressions which have been in a manner consecrated in their language. The same taste and mode of composition prevails every where through this Second Part, as in the former: We have constantly Allegories and Combats; Giants contending with the Gods; LOKE perpetually deceiving them; THOR interposing in their defence, &c. This is nearly the whole of the Second Part. It would
tire our Reader's patience to insert it here 'intire, al, though it is three-fourths less than the former. I shall perhaps stand in need of his indulgence, while I barely aim at giving him a succinet idea of it.
" ÆCER, a Danish nobleman, was desirous, in imitation of GYLFE, of going to ASGARD, to visit the Gods. The Deities expecting his coming, immediately mounted on their lofty seats, that they might receive him with the greater dignity: and the Goddesses, who yielded to them in nothing, took their places along with them. ÆGER was splendidly entertained. ODIN had ranged all along the hall where they feasted, swords of such an amazing brilliancy and polish, that no other illuminations were wanted. All the walls were covered with glittering shields. They continued drinking for a long time large draughts of the most excellent mead. BRAGE, the God of Eloquence, sat next to Æger, and the Gods had committed their guest to his care. The conversation that passed between Æger and this Deity, is the subject of this Second Part of the EDDA. Brage begins with relating an evil turn whịch LokE hạd played the Gods. The Reader will remember, that they prevented the effects of old age and decay by eating certain apples, entrusted to the care of IDUNA. Loke had, by a wile, conveyed away this Iduną, and concealed her in a wood, under the custody of a Giant. The Gods beginning to wax old and grey, detected the author of this theft, and with terrible threats obliged him to make use of his utmost cunning to regain Iduna and her salutary apples back again for the Gods.?!
“ This is one of the Fables." I shall present the Reader with another, concerning a Duel between the Giant RUGNER and the God THOR. 66 The Giant < carried a lance made all of whetstone. Thor broke
it in pieces by a blow with his club, and made the 2 splinters fly, so far, that all the subsequent whet“ stones found in the world are parts of it; as indeed " they appear evidently broken off from something by violence.”
1 must detain the Reader somewhat, longer with the account of the origin om Poetry. It is an allegory not altogether void of invention by
« The Gods of the north had formed a man much in; the same manner as the Grecian Deities are said to have formed Orion. This man was called Kuaser. (Ears, accustomed to the musical Greek names, must pardon our Gothiq appellations.) He was so clever, that no, question could be proposed which he was not able to resolve: he traversed the whole world teaching mankind wisdom. ,, But his merits exciting envy, two Dwarfs treacherously slew him; and receiving his blood into a vessel, mixed it up with honey, and thence composed a liquor which renders all those that drink of it Poets * The Gods missing their son, enquired of the Dwarfs what was become of him. The Dwarfs, to extricate themselves out of the difficulty, replied, That Kuaser had died, suffocated with his knowledge, because he could not meet with persons to ease and disembogue his mind to, by proposing to him so many learned questions as was necessary to his relief. But their perfidy was afterward discovered by an unexpected accident. These Dwarfs having drawn upon themselves the resentment of a certain Giant, he seized and exposed them upon a rock surrounded on all sides by
It is probable, that by the sweeter embellishments of sentie blood of the wise man blended ment and language, so essential to with honey, was meant that union the perfection of true Poetry, of reason or good sense" with the
the sea. In this frightful situation, their only recourse was to purchase their deliverance at the price of that divine beverage. The Giant being satisfied with this ransom, carried it home, and delivered it to the custody of his daughter Gunlóda: hence, adds my author, Poetry is indifferently, in allusion to the same Fable, called “ The blood of Kuaser :" “ The Beverage,"
« The rànsom of the Dwarfs,» 78
“ This valuable acquisition was eagerly sought after by the Gods, but very difficult to obtain, because it was concealed under rocks. ODIN was nevertheless determined to try for it, and he made the attempt in the following manner. * Transforming himself into a Worm, he glided through a crevice into the cavern where the Beverage was kept. Then resuming his natural shape, and gaining the heart of Gunloda, he prevailed on her to let him 'drink three draughts of the liquor entrusted to her care. But the crafty Deity, resolving to make the most of his advantage, pulled so deep, that at the last draught he left none behind him in the vessel; and transforming himself into an eagle, flew away to Asgard, to deposit in safety the precious treasure he had obtained. The Giant, who was a Magician, instantly discovered the artifice that had been practised ; and changing himself also into an Eagle, flew with all speed after Odin, who had almost reached the gates of Asgard. Then the Gods all ran out of their palaces to assist and support their master; and foreseeing that he would have much difficulty to secure the liquor, without exposing himself to the danger of being taken, they immediately set out all the vessels they could lay their hands on. In effect, Odin
* In his first Edit. our Author had given here some farther circumstances of this Icelandic Tale; which, in his second impression (hero followed) he dropt, as unimportant and puerile.
finding he could not escape but by easing himself, of that burden which retarded his flight, instantly filled all the pitchers with this miraculous liquor: and from hence it hath been distributed among both Goďs and men. But in the hurry and confusion in which the liquor was discharged, the bulk of mankind were not aware that Odin only threw up part of it through his beak; the rest was emitted from a more impure vent: And as it is only the former liquor that this God gives as a Beverage to the good Poets, to such as he would animate with a divine inspiration; so it is only the late ter sort that falls to the share of bad Rhymers; for as this flowed 'from its inferior source in greatest abundance, the Gods bestow it in liberal draughts on all that will apply; this makes the crowd very great about the vessels, and this is the reason why the world is overwhelmed with such a redundance of wretched verses.”
AFTER this remarkable fiction, there are many Fables in the EDDA which have little or no relation to Mythology. These are historical strokes, blended with fictions, which are neither important for their instruction, nor agreeable for their invention. I shall therefore proceed, without farther delay, to say something of the SCALDA, or “ Poetical Dictionary,” which I have before mentioned in the Introduction to this Vo. lume,
We have already seen that it was compiled by SNORRO, for the use of such Icelanders as applied themselves to the profession of SCALD, or Poet. As this Author wrote in the thirteenth century, he hath not only given the Epithets belonging to the ancient Poetry, but also such as were become necessary in consequence of the new religion, and new sources of knowledge that had been introduced into the north,