Edda (ĕd´ə), title applied to two distinct works in Old Icelandic. The Poetic Edda, or Elder Edda, is a collection (late 13th cent.) of 34 mythological and heroic lays, most of which were composed c.800–c.1200, probably in Iceland or W Norway. Despite uncritical arrangement and textual corruption, the Poetic Edda is the most valuable collection of texts in Old Norse literature. See English translations by L. M. Hollander (2d ed. 1962), P. B. Taylor and W. H. Auden (1969), and U. Dronke (Vol. I, 1969). The Prose Edda, or Younger Edda, was probably written c.1222 by Snorri Sturluson as a guide to the scaldic poetry of Iceland. The first two parts constitute an account of Scandinavian mythology and are the prime source on the subject; the third part is a compendium of the complex diction of scaldic poetry; the fourth, a treatise on the meters employed. Abridged translations of the Prose Edda, treating primarily the first mythical part, have been made by J. I. Young (new ed. 1966).
For studies of both Eddas, see Einarsson, A History of Icelandic Literature (1957), P. Hallberg, The Icelandic Saga (1962); C. J. Clover and J. Lindow, ed., Old Norse-Icelandic Literature: A Critical Guide (1978).