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Early Indo-European Texts

Old Norse

Todd B. Krause and Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old Norse with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old Norse Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old Norse language and its speakers' culture.

from the Prologue of Snorra Edda

Almáttigr guð skapaði himin ok jǫrð ok alla þá hluti er þeim fylgja, ok síðarst menn tvá er ættir eru frá komnar, Adam ok Evu, ok fjǫlgaðisk þeira kynslóð ok dreifðisk um heim allan. En er fram liðu stundir, þá ójafnaðisk mannfólkit: váru sumir góðir ok rétt trúaðir, en myklu fleiri snerusk eptir girndum heimsins ok órœktu guðs boðorð, ok fyrir því drekti guð heiminum í sjávargangi ok ǫllum kvikvendum heimsins nema þeim er í ǫrkinni váru með Nóa. Eptir Nóa flóð lifðu átta menn þeir er heiminn bygðu ok kómu frá þeim ættir, ok varð enn sem fyrr at þá er fjǫlmentisk ok bygðisk verǫldin þá var þat allr fjǫlði mannfólksins er elskaði ágirni fja/r ok metnaðar en afrœktusk guðs hlýðni, ok svá mikit gerðisk af því at þeir vildu eigi nefna guð. En hverr mundi þá segja sonum þeira frá guðs stórmerkjum? Svá kom at þeir týndu guðs nafni ok víðast um verǫldina fansk eigi sá maðr er deili kunni á skapara sínum. En eigi at síðr veitti guð þeim jarðligar giptir, fé ok sælu, er þeir skyldu við vera í heiminum. Miðlaði hann ok spekina svá at þeir skilðu alla jarðliga hluti ok allar greinir þær er sjá mátti loptsins ok jarðarinnar. Þat hugsuðu þeir ok undruðusk hverju þat mundi gegna at jǫrðin ok dýrin ok fuglarnir hǫfðu saman eðli í sumum hlutum ok var þó ólíkt at hætti. Þat var eitt eðli at jǫrðin var grafin í hám fjalltindum ok spratt þar vatn upp ok þurfti þar eigi lengra at grafa til vaz en í djúpum dǫlum. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at jafnlangt er til blóðs í hǫfði ok fótum. Ǫnnur náttúra er sú jarðar at á hverju ári vex á jǫrðunni gras ok blóm ok á sama ári fellr þat allt ok fǫlnar. Svá eru ok dýr ok fuglar, at þeim vex hár ok fjaðrar ok fellr af á hverju ári. Þat er hin þriðja náttúra jarðar þá er hon er opnuð ok grafin þá grœr gras á þeiri moldu er efst er á jǫrðunni. Bjǫrg ok steina þýddu þeir á móti tǫnnum ok beinum kvikvenda. Af þessu skilðu þeir svá at jǫrðin væri kyk ok hefði líf með nokkurum hætti, ok þat vissu þeir at hon var furðuliga gǫmul at aldartali ok máttug í eðli. Hon fœddi ǫll kvikvendi ok hon eignaðisk allt þat er dó. Fyrir þá sǫk gáfu þeir henni nafn ok tǫlðu ættir sínar til hennar.

Translation

Almighty God created heaven and earth and all the things which belong to them, and finally two people from whom races descended, Adam and Eve, and their progeny multiplied and dispersed across all the land. But as time went by, the people diversified: some were good and very faithful, but far more took to the pleasures of the land and spurned God's command, and therefore God submerged the land in a flood, as well as all the creatures of the land, save those which were with Noah in the ark. After Noah's flood, eight men lived who settled the land and races descended from them, and just as before it happened that when the world was populated and settled, it occurred that the majority of the population preferred hunger for wealth and glory and set aside obedience to God, and this went so far that they no longer desired to speak the name of God. But who then could tell their children about God's great works? So it came about that they forgot God's name and in most places around the world a man could not be found who knew the details of his creator. But nonetheless God gave them earthly gifts, property and prosperity, which they should possess on the land. He also distributed wisdom so that they distinguished all the earthly things and all the details of the air and the earth which one could discern. They contemplated this and wondered what it might mean that the earth and the animals and the birds had the same nature in certain respects and nevertheless there was dissimilarity in type. One characteristic was that the earth was piled up in high mountaintops and there water sprang forth and there was no need to dig further for water than in deep valleys. And such are the animals and birds, so that it is equally far for the blood to the head or feet. Another feature of the earth is that each year greenery grows on the earth, and flowers, and in the same year it all falls and fades. And such are the animals and birds, so that hair and feathers grow upon them and fall off each year. The third characteristic of the earth is when it is opened and dug up, then the grass grows in the soil which is topmost on the earth. They likened the rocks and stones to the teeth and bones of living creatures. From this they reasoned that the earth could be living and have life of a certain sort, and they understood this, that she was exceedingly old in years and rich in character. She fed all the living creatures and took to herself all that died. For that reason they gave her a name and traced their ancestry to her.