Hávamál
The High One's Words
A STUDY GUIDE
 
   
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  Hávamál is found only in the Codex Regius manuscript, first discovered in 1643, where it occurs as the second poem, immediately after Völuspá and before Vafþrúðnismál.   The first strophe of the poem also appears in Snorri's Edda, Gylfaginning 2, and the second half of strophe 84 is quoted  in Fóstbræðra saga, ch. 21 as a kviðlingr ('ditty').

Hávamál is the longest Eddic poem, containing 164 verses, mostly in ljóðaháttr meter. Málaháttr meter occurs in stt. 73, 85-87, and 144; fornyrðislag is used at the end of strophe 145; and the meter in stanzas 80, 142 and 143 is unrecognizable. Due in part to variations in poetic meter, as well its disjointed topical content, Hávamál is commonly considered to be a composite composition, formed from at least three and as many as six, independent poetic works compiled together by an editor, perhaps as late as the 13th century. Manuscript evidence supports this conclusion.

Codex Regius employs large initial letters, which are otherwise used only to begin poems, at the beginning of verses 1, 111, and 138. The two later divisions are commonly called Loddfáfnismál (111 ff) and Rúnatalsþáttr Óðins or Rúnaþáttr Óðins (138 ff). Later Icelandic scribes also recognized divisions at these points. In 1891,  Karl Müllenhoff suggested that Hávamál consisted of six poems, whose only common feature was that Odin was the speaker in all of them.1 These six poems, identified by stanza numbers, are:
I. 1-79 (or later): The Gnomic Poem
II. 95 (or earlier)-102: Odin's adventures with Billing's girl
III. 103 (or 104)-110: Odin's adventure with Gunnlöd
IV. 111 (or 112)-137: Loddfáfnismál
V. 138-145: Rúnatal, The 'list of secrets'
VI. 146-163: Ljóðatal, The 'list of magic songs'
Several scholars have followed Müllenhoff's lead since, although opinions differ on how many divisions exist and where exactly they begin and end. Some stanzas appear to fall outside of these divisions altogether. The final stanza (st. 164), from which the poem derives its name, is widely believed to have been composed by the compiler of the current text.

Hávamál was the second Eddic poem, after Völuspá, to be published in the modern era by Peder Resen. In his edition of 1665, the poem appeared in the original language with a Latin translation, making it widely available to international scholars for the first time.

1John McKinnell, "The Evolution of Hávamál" in Essays on Eddic Poetry (2014), p. 59-95.
 
  The Manuscript:

Codex Regius MS No. 2365 4to [or Konungsbók, "The King's Book"] Derived from:

1891 Finnur Jónsson,
Handskriftet nr. 2365 4 to gl. kgl. samling pa det store Kgl. bibliothek i København

 
     
  Icelandic Editions

1818 Rasmus Rask and Arvid Augustus Afzelius as Odins Höga Sång den Gamla in Edda Sæmundar hinns fróða [2]
1828  Hávamál in Edda Rhythmica (Arnæmagnæani edition) [2]
1847 P. A. Munch in Den Ældre Edda
1859 Hermann Lüning in Die Edda [2]
1860 Theodor Mobius in Edda Sæmundar hins fróða
1867 Sophus Bugge in Norrænn Fornkvæði p. 43 ff [2]
1868 Svend Grundtvig in Edda Sæmundar hins fróða/Den Ældre Edda (1874, 2nd ed.)
1876 Karl Hildebrand in Die Lieder der ältern Edda
1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale
1888 B Sijmons and H. Gering in Die Lieder der Edda
1888 Finnur Jónsson as Hövamöl in Eddalieder, Vol. I [2]
1903 F. Detter and R. Heinzel in Sæmundar Edda, Vol I. (Text) II. (Remarks)
1905 Finnur Jónsson as Hávamál in Sæmundar-Edda. Eddukvæði
1914 Gustav Neckel in Edda/ Die Lieder des Codex Regius
1922 Richard Boer in Die Edda
1954 Guðni Jónsson as
Hávamál
 
  The First Modern Reference:

1651 Ole Worm in Danica Literatura quotes Hávamál 111 in runic letters.

The First Modern Edition:

1665 Peder Resen, Ethica Odini pars Eddæ Sæmundi vocata
Haavamaal, uná cum ejusdem appendice appellato Runa Capitule [with Latin translation]
 
  English Translations:

1676 Aylett Sammes in Britannia Antiqua Illustrata 
(excerpts from the Latin of Peder Resen)

1770 Paul Henri Mallet (Thomas Percy tr.) as The Havamaal or Sublime Discourse in Northern Antiquities under "An Idea of the More Ancient Edda" (excerpts from Hávamál)

1830 William Taylor as
Havamal, the High Song [46 stanzas] in Historic Survey of German Poetry, Vol. I,  pp. 13-20.
 
1847 Anonymous in 
The Knickerbocker Vol. 30, p. 295-296 as Hávamál (excerpts from the French of  Xavier Marmier)

1852 William and Mary Howitt as
Hávamál or Odin's High Song in The Litterature and Romance of Northern Europe, Vol. I. (Complete through verse 110 with a prose summary of Loddfáfnismál and the Rúnatal sections)

1854 Rudolf Keyser (Barclay Pennock tr.) in The Religion of the Northmen
(Excerpts from Hávamál appear on pp. 311-316)
 
1862 Andrew James Symington, 
Hávamál or Odin's High Song in Pen and Pencil Sketches of Faröe and Iceland, "Specimens of Icelandic Poetry", pp. 260-277 (a reprint of the same piece in William and Mary Howitt above)

1865 Benjamin Thorpe in Edda Sæmundar hinns fróða Vol. I: 
Mythological Poems (1865) as: Hávamál:  The High One's Lay and Runatalsþáttr Oðins:  Odin's Rune Song (The First Complete English Translation of the Poetic Edda with the assistance of Elise C. Otté)

1883 Gudbrand Vigfusson in Corpus Poeticum Boreale (The poem has been heavily edited and rearranged in this version)

1908 Olive Bray as Hávamál: The Words of Odin the High One in
The Elder or Poetic Edda, Part I. The Mythological Poems, pp. 60-111

1923 Henry Adams Bellows as Hovamol in The Poetic Edda
1923 Daisy E. Martin Clarke in The Hávamál (reprinted 2011)
1962 Lee M. Hollander as The Sayings of Hár in The Poetic Edda
1967 W. H. Auden & P. B Taylor as The Hávamál in The Elder Edda
1969 Patricia Terry as Sayings of the High One in Poems of the Elder Edda (revised 1989)
1992 Björn  Jónasson in The Sayings of the Vikings

1996 Carolyne Larrington as Sayings of the High One in The Poetic Edda (revised 2014)
2011 Ursula Dronke as Hávamál in The Poetic Edda: Vol. III  
2011
Andy Orchard as Hávamál: The Lay of the High One in The Elder Edda   
2014 
Carolyne Larrington as Sayings of the High One in The Poetic Edda (revised) 
[Comparative Study of the 1996 and 2014 versions]
2014 Jeramy Dodds as The High One's Sayings (Hávamál) in The Poetic Edda
2014 Jackson Crawford as Hávamál in The Poetic Edda (his popular 'Cowboy Havamal' is also included as an appendix)

 
 
 

Danish Translations

1779 Bertel Christian Sandvig as Odins høie Sang and Runatalo þattur Oþins in Runesangen
1783 Bertel Christian Sandvig  as
Rune-Capitlet in Runesangen
1822 Finnur Magnússon as
Havamaal or Den Höjes Sang in Den ældre Edda, Vol. III [Havamaal]
1861 Den Höjes Kvad. Folkevennen X, pp. 47-64.
1863 V.B. Hjort as Höjsangen in Edda Sangene
1866 R.J. Holm as Havamaal (excerpts) in Mundsmag af den ældre Edda
1869 Frederik Winkel Horn as Den Højes Sang in Den ældre Edda
1870 H. G. Møller as Den Højes Tale in Den ældre Edda, Vol I.
1887 Frederik Winkel Horn as Hávamál - Odins Højsang 
1895 Karl Gjellerup as 
Havamál in Den ældre Eddas Gudesange
1911 Olaf Hansen as 
Den Højes Taler in Den ældre Edda.
1926 Thøger Larsen as Havi-Maal
1943 Martin Larsen as Havamål in "Den ældre Edda og Eddica Minora"

Dutch Translations

1911 Frans Berding in De Edda (The poem is separated and translated in sections)

French Translations

1756 Paul Henri Mallet's Monuments  de la mythologie et de la poésie des Celtes, and its translations into other languages, contain a partial prose rendering of Hávamál, pp. 278-285.

—In Islandica 13 (1920), Halldór Hermannsson  notes: "Another French version  (of Hávamál) is said to have appeared in the
Bibliothéque universelle des romans, (Feb. 1777)." This is not the case. The text names Havamaal or Discours Sublime d'Odin in a chapter heading on page 35 in a larger essay on Odin.

1838 Mlle. Rosalie du Puget as Les Poémes D'Odin in Les Eddas
1842 Xavier Marmier as Le Chant Supréme in Chants Populaires du Nord


German Translations:

1777 Jacob Schimmelmann as Des Odins Sitte-Lehre, Hava oder Hars Mäl in Die isländische Edda, p. 43 ff.
1778-79 Joh. Gottfr. von Herder, as Die Zauberkraft der Lieder (Rúnakapítuli of the Hávamál) in
Volkslieder Vol. I, pp. 201-206
1829 J. L. Studach as Hawamal in Sämund's Edda des Weisen
1851 Karl Simrock as Des Hohen Lied in Die Edda (reprinted 1855, 1864, 1871, 1874, 1876, 1878, 1882, 1888, 1896, etc.)
1871 Karl Esmarch as Des Hohen Gesang in Aus Sæmundar Edda hins froda
1875 Alfred Holder as Sprüche des Hohen in Die Aeltere Edda.
1876 Hans von Wolzogen in Die Edda (The poem is separated and translated in sections)
1877 Bodo Wenzel as Das Lied des Havi in Die aeltere Edda (Sämundar Edda)
1877 Friedrich Wilhelm Bergmann in Des Hehren Sprüche (H
âva mâl)
1889 Wilhelm Jordan as Sprüche des Hohen in Die Edda (reprinted 1890, 1910)
1892 Hugo Gering as Die Sprüche Hars in Die Edda
1917 Feliz Genzmer as Die Reden des Hohen [Stanzas 1-66] in Mitteil. der Islandsfreunde IV, pp. 45-52.


Italian Translations:

1874 Niccola Schiavoni as Carissimo as La Carazone dell'Alto in La Rivista Europea IV, pp. 454-464. (Prose version)
1893 Tommaso Cannizzaro as Fragments of
Havamal in Fiori D'Oltralpe Saggio di Traduzioni Poetiche, pp. 294-299
2005 Giansanti/Mazza/Taglianetti as Discorso di Hár


Latin Translations

1828  Odini Sentenctiæ in Edda Rhythmica (Arnæmagnæani edition) [2]

Norwegian Translations:


1866 G. A. Gjessing as 
Den Høies ord (Hǫ́ávamáǫ́l) in Den Ældre Edda, Norrøne Oldkvad [1899].
1905 Ivar Mortensson as Håvamål in Edda-kvæde
Ludvig Holm-Olsen: Håvamål.

Spanish Translations:

1856 D.A. de la Rios as Los Poemes de Odin in Los Eddas

Swedish Translations:

1818 Arvid August Afzelius in Sæmund den vises Edda as I. Odins höga sånger, II. Lodfafners sång, III. Run-talen

1877 Peter August Gödecke as Den Höges Sång in Edda
1893 Nils Fredrik Sander as 
Den Höges Ord in Edda Sämund den vises [2]
1898 Karl Ljungstedt in Eddan (Summary of the poem only)
1912 Edvin Thall in Nordiska Fornsånger (Edda Sæmundar)
1913 Erik Brate as 
Den Höges sång in Sämunds Edda
1920 Axel Åkerblom as 
Håvamål (Den Höges sånger)
1948-56
Åke Ohlmarks in Eddans Gudasånger
1957 Björn Collinder in Den Poetiska Eddan
2013 Alexander Bågenholm
 
 
  Scholarship

1877 M.B. Richert Försök till belysning afmörkare  och oförstådda ställeni den poetiska eddan  ['Attempt to illuminate the dark  and obscure passages in the Poetic Edda'] Excerpts in English: An Analysis of  Hávamál 104-110 

1888 Eiríkr Magnússon  On Hávamál verses 2-3

1898 Victor Nilsson,
Loddfáfnismál: An Eddic Study


1923 Daisy E. Martin Clarke, The Hávamál (reprinted 2011)

1986 David A. H. Evans, Hávamál 

1986 Anthony Faulkes, Glossary and Index to Hávamál

2011 Ursula Dronke, The Poetic Edda, Vol. III, Hávamál

2014 John McKinnell, "The Evolution of Hávamál" and "Hávamál B: A Reconstructed Poem of Sexual Intrigue" in Essays on Eddic Poetry

See Also: The Symbolism of Sacrifice
 
 
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