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Pre-Christian Religions of the North: Sources

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References made to Rán in Skaldskáparmál.


Skm ch. 33b

33b. Rán

Hvernig skal sæ kenna? Svá, a...

How shall sea be referred to?...

[status: unverified copy]



Skáldskaparmál, which is part of 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. Snorra Edda consists of three separate parts, Gylfaginning, Skaldskápamáland Háttatal, all functioning together as a greater work and guide for the aspiring medieval poet and storyteller.


Rán is the wife of the jötunn Ægir and dwells in the sea. She is the mother of waves, her nine daughters, and it is often described in skaldic poetry and sagas that in death by drowning, people is taken by Rán. She represents the dangers and deadliness of the sea but often rather pictured with erotic undertones instead of the darker and more unpleasant ideas of death and dying.

For more, see:

Ellis Davidson, H. R, (1990), Gods and Myths of Northern Europe. London: Penguin Books. pp. 128-132.

Simek, Rudolf (2007), Transl: Angela Hall. Dictionary of Northern Mythology. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer. pp. 260.

Steinsland, Gro (2005), Norrøn Religion. Myter, Riter, Samfunn. Oslo: Pax Forlag. pp. 254, 347-349.

(Contributed by Liv Marit Aurdal.)


Main text: Skáldskaparmál


Named things:

Text sections: SnSt, Skm ch. 33b


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