Meet Snorri Sturluson, a renowned 13th century Icelander.
- he was born a commoner, but raised by a relative of the Norwegian family
- Snorri received a good education and when the time was right married into a cheftainship and estate
- by this time, he had gained some renown as a gifted poet
- Snorri was elected lawspeaker for the Althing, the only public office in Iceland — and a position with considerable respect
- by royal invitation, Snorri traveled to Norway. King Haakon piled the man with gifts, and Snorri thanked him by writing poems glorifying the young king’s reign
- when he returned he was re-elected lawspeaker, mainly due to his fame as a poet
- King Haakon wanted to join with Iceland, and as a chieftain Snorri initially favored the idea. But he changed his mind, famously telling Hakon “I will go home”
- Snorri’s“Heimskringla” the best-known of the Old Norse sagas, tells the stories of Norwegian kings and in the 1900s became seen in Norway as establishing an ancient national identity
Much of what we know of the Norse gods comes from Snorri’s work, and for that I am eternally grateful. However, writing a few centuries after Iceland voted to become Christian, his work is seen by modern scholars as being influenced (some might say ‘tainted’) by Christian beliefs, so in point of fact we may have no authentic written record of real Norse beliefs. That being said, I’m still glad we have Snorri’s work, for I feel that a world unaware of Thor, Odin, Loki, Heimdall, etc. would be a dimmer and less interesting one.