Full Text


Rory McTurk

Subject Literature » Medieval Literature

Place Northern Europe » Scandinavia

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631235026.2004.00003.x


In his introduction to the Chaucer Companion in this series, the editor, Peter Brown, gives examples of companions, human and otherwise, that appear in Chaucer's own works and works used by Chaucer as sources, and ingeniously compares and contrasts their functions in those works with that of the volume he is introducing. There are, of course, many companions, of one kind or another, in Old Norse-Icelandic literature, but the ones most relevant to the present volume are perhaps those with whom the Swedish king Gylfi finds himself involved in the part of Snorri's Edda known as Gylfaginning (‘The Tricking of Gylfi’): Hár, Jafnhár and Þriði (‘High’, ‘Just-as-high’ and ‘Third’), who tell him what are today regarded as the major stories of Old Norse mythology. As explained in chapter 17 of this volume, these three are members of a tribe called the Æsir who have arrived in Scandinavia from Troy. Gylfi visits them in their Scandinavian stronghold, Ásgarðr, built on the model of their former home, Old Ásgarðr or Troy, to find out whether their apparent ability to make everything go according to their will is due to their own nature, or to the gods they worship. They are aware in advance of his coming, and subject him to various optical illusions, the purpose of which is apparently to trick him into believing that they, the human Æsir, are identical with the divine Æsir, their gods. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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