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66

(1869) [MARC] Author: Rasmus Rask
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of divine lore, namely: the Skirnisför, Vegtamskviða,
Harbarðslioð, Hymiskviða
and the Þrymskviða.

The most important of the Songs of the Heroes are
the Völundarkviða, the two Songs of Helgakviða, the
songs of Sigurð, Tafnismál and Sigrðrifumal. [[** burde vært á her?: iflg leks. -drífumál **]]

The Epic contents of some of these Songs are maintained
by Jac. Grimm, to have been gathered from the german
forefathers, and that the Scandinavians have saved these tutonic [[** sic, ikke -eu- **]]
remains; these poems are of an epic grandeur, and a truly
homeric power, which give them the foremost position in the
Edda.

*



Schools were formed in Iceland in the eleventh Century,
and being far distant from Rome, enjoyed much liberty and
national formation. The Bishops were elected by the Althing,
the schools were not only established in the Monasteries but
also in private houses.

The Bishop of Skalholt introduced writing in 1057 and
Sagas were then much collected. Without writing there were
songs and sagas in abundance, even traditional science, but
no literature. The Icelanders like other Norsemen certainly
wrote earlier in Runic Characters, but these were only used
for inscriptions in wood and stone, to express names, pedigrees
and forms of witchcraft, rarely poems.

The Runic alphabet[1] „consists properly of sixteen letters,
which are Phenician in their origin. The Northern traditions,
sagas and songs, attribute their introduction to Odin. They
were probably brought by him into Scandinavia, but they have
no resemblance to any of the alphabets of central Asia. All
the ancient inscriptions to be found on the rocks and stone
monuments in the countries of the North, and which exist
in the greatest number near old Sigtuna and Upsala, in
Sweden, the former the residence of Odin, and the latter of his
successors, and the principal seat of the superstition
introduced by him, are written in the Icelandic or ancient
Scandinavian language, but in Runic characters.“

The Icelanders first received the latin alphabet from the
missionaries, in a double form, namely from the Germans and
Anglo-Saxons. The german writing (Mönchsschrift) became
however predominant, but they retained some of the


[1] Wheaton’s Norsemen 61.

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