Analyzing Ten Poems From the Poetic Edda. Oral Formula and Mythic Patterns

Author: Mellor, Scott A.
This work investigates the syntax of ten poems from the Poetic Edda, a medieval Icelandic text, offering data that reveals some of the composition processes and the remnants of the oral tradition from which poetry came. This work demonstrates that the Icelandic poet not only employed verbatim and variable formulae when composing, but also that the structure of the half-lines are formulaic and that their semantic function aids a poet in composition.


“[The author’s] analysis of ten poems from the Codex Regius clearly advances our appreciation of formulaic composition and the interplay between orality and literary text not only in the Poetic Edda but also in related Icelandic traditions. His findings are theoretically sound and linguistically impressive.” - Prof. Margaret H. Beissinger, Princeton University

“Mellor’s expert command of contemporary linguistics ensures that his findings and proposals are firmly grounded in lexical, morphological and semantic verities. The linguistic detail and reliability of his work distinguishes it from many previous forays into oral formulaic theory offered by medievalists and provides a model for how such analyses may be undertaken in the future.” - Prof. Thomas A. DuBois, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Table of Contents

Foreword by Prof. Stephen A. Mitchell
1. A Theoretical and Historical Introduction
2. The Manuscript and Text of the Poetic Edda
3. The Structure of the Poetic Edda
4. Oral-Formulaic Theory and Old Norse Poetry
5. Eddic Verse and Other Germanic Poetry
Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C