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Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Sources

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The story of Baldrs death gives insight to the relationships between the gods and forces of the mythological pre-Christian universe of the Old Norse world. It tells the story of the death of the beloved god Baldr and the aftermath of the event, including many of the main characters of Old Norse Mythology.


[excerpt from] Gylf ch. 49b

49b. The Death of Baldr

En þat er upphaf þessa sǫgu a...

And the beginning of this sto...

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Snorra Edda was composed in Iceland in the 13th century, and holds the stories of many of the Pre-Christian myths of northern Europe. It is believe to have been composed by the Icelander Snorri Sturlusson. It consists of three separate parts, Gylfaginning, Skaldskápamál and Háttatal, all functioning together as a greater work and guide for the aspiring medieval poet and storyteller.


Baldr is one of the Æsir. He is described the most beloved, beautiful, wise and friendly son of Óðinn and Frigg. His home is in Breiðablik located high in the heavens where he lives with his wife Nanna and his son Forseti. The story of Baldr‘s death and funeral in one of the most central myths found in Snorri‘s work. The death of Baldr is the sign for the gods that Ragnarök is coming. Snorri‘s image of Baldr is a bright, good and hopeful, while in the work of Saxo and as well as seen in eddic poetry and in such as Lokasenna, Baldr is a forceful god and a warrior. Therefore, the interpretations of the role and image of Baldr in the mythology has both been suggested to be linked to fertility and rebirth as well as to warrior ideology.

For more, see:

Ellis Davidson, H. R, (1990), Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books. pp. 182-189

Simek, Rudolf (2007), Transl: Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. pp. 26-32

Steinsland, Gro (2005), Norrøn Religion. Myter, Riter, Samfunn. Oslo: Pax Forlag. pp. 208-219

(Contributed by Liv Marit Aurdal.)


Main text: Gylfaginning

Attributes: Ritual Horse Prophecy Burial Ship Funeral customs Giantess Loki causing trouble Death Fire Dream Ring Suttee

Named things: Baldr Freyja Freyr Hel Nanna Óðinn Draupnir Heimdallr Draupnir Sleipnir Þórr Frigg Loki Hermóðr Narfi

Text sections: SnSt Gylf 49bIII


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