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Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Þul Himins I 1III

[1] níu himnar eru ‘nine heavens are’: So ms. ; mss A, B (744ˣ) and C have níu heimar eru ‘nine worlds are’. This introduction as well as the heading Heima heiti ‘Names for worlds’ in A and B might be due to analogues in eddic poems, cf. Vsp 2/5 (NK 1): Nío man ec heima ‘Nine worlds I remember’; Vafþr 43/5 (NK 53): nío kom ec heima ‘I have come through nine worlds’ (cf. also níu heimum ‘nine worlds’ mentioned in Gylf, SnE 2005, 27). Nine is a traditional number in Old Norse mythology. The mythical concept of a multi-levelled sky is widespread all over the world, but neither the notion of nine heavens nor the majority of names listed in this þula are mentioned in other Old Norse sources. The only parallel is found in Gylf (SnE 2005, 20), although only three heavens are mentioned there, which may reflect influence from the Christian notion of three heavens. The names of two of the heavens given in Gylf (loc. cit.), namely the second and the third, coincide with those listed in the present þula: annarr himinn ‘the second heaven’, Andlangr (‘Outstretched one’), is situated ‘to the south and above this heaven’, i.e. the sky (suðr ok upp þessum himni), and the third, called Víðbláinn (‘Wide-blue one’), is believed to be above the first and the second heaven. Aside from Vindbláinn and Gimir, all heiti recorded in the þula are also listed among nǫfn himins ‘names for heaven’ in Skm (SnE 1998, I, 85), where it is said that not all of these names are found in verse and it is recommended not to use those heiti which are not found in the poetry of the great skalds (hǫfuðskáld), a comment suggesting that the author of Skm was using some written lists of heiti, perhaps these þulur.


  1. Bibliography
  2. NK = Neckel, Gustav and Hans Kuhn (1899), eds. 1983. Edda: Die Lieder des Codex Regius nebst verwandten Denkmälern. 2 vols. I: Text. 5th edn. Heidelberg: Winter.
  3. SnE 1998 = Snorri Sturluson. 1998. Edda: Skáldskaparmál. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2 vols. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  4. SnE 2005 = Snorri Sturluson. 2005. Edda: Prologue and Gylfaginning. Ed. Anthony Faulkes. 2nd edn. University College London: Viking Society for Northern Research.
  5. Internal references
  6. Not published: do not cite (SkmIII)
  7. Not published: do not cite (GylfIII)
  8. Not published: do not cite ()
  9. Not published: do not cite ()


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