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Last night's study thing

We continued with our Voluspa study last night. Spent almost two hours discussing about ten stanzas. In some detail, obviously :). Well, Voluspa is pretty detail-heavy.

As for using the Chisholm Edda as one of the translations, it seems to be a pretty good one as far as the text goes (and the bias in the notes isn't too hard to detect).

Here's our favorite quote from the notes, btw, referencing Skirnismal:

Hlithskjalf is Odin’s seat in Valhalla. From on high Odin looks out over the nine worlds. He watches the nine worlds from the nethermost regions by means of the eye he sacrificed and left in Mimir’s well as pledge in exchange for a drink from this well of mead. Frey ascended the throne and looked out over the world and saw sights he was not prepared for, including the giantess Gerth. Though this poem is the telling of a spring renewal myth, it has an initiatory meaning.

Frey is not an initiate of Odian magic and so unprepared to see so widely and deeply. As a result he became so disoriented and depressed that he was unable or unwilling to speak. We might say that he was unable to handle the powerful visions, the inspiration, and the madness that came to him on that seat, and went mad.

I'm afraid that none of us found this at all convincing :).

We were talking later, though, and I find it interesting that I'd assumed--that several of us had--that a religious translation of the Eddas (one done by a heathen) would inevitably be superior to one done by academics. I think it does add an additional element, but I'm finding that I don't wonder any less about the translator's bias--in fact, in some cases I would have more concern that the translator might be reading into the text what isn't clearly there because it supports a particular piece of theology. I suppose this should have been self-evident, but I found myself surprised. (Also found myself thinking that all religions should make a point of having their sacred texts translated by people who are non-adherents, at least for the sake of comparison. :))

I'm also (at the moment :)) all enthused about learning Old Norse--not to attain fluency, but to be able to read it. I was looking through our Old Norse grammar book and it looks similar in enough respects to German that it should be doable--same four cases used, gendered nouns and associated word endings (although the addition of strong and weak forms will make it a bit more work).


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