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Codex Regius Facsimile

Finnur Jónsson’s Facisimile Edition of 1891

Einar G. Petursson, Medieval Scandinavia, (1988):

“Codex Regius of the Poetic Edda is an Icelandic manuscript of ninety small quarto pages, but the fifth gathering, probably 16 pages, is now lost. The manuscript was written by one hand not known elsewhere, and is dated palaeographically to about 1270-1280. Codex Regius is the most important manuscript of eddic poetry. It now contains 29 poems in systemic order; the first 10 lays are about the ancient Norse gods, but the remaining part is about ancient heroes. Codex Regius is a copy of an older manuscript now lost. The fragmentary AM 748 I 4to contains, in no particular order, seven eddic lays, and one of them, Baldrs draumr, is not preserved elsewhere. This manuscript is dated to about 1300 or a little later. The textual relationship between the two manuscripts points to a common written original. In the 1220s, Snorri Sturlusson wrote a textbook on poetry, calledSnorra Edda or the Prose Edda. It is almost certain that he used the text of the mythical poems Vafþrúðnismál and Grímnismál from the common written source underlying the Poetic Edda.

…It is not known whether Codex Regius had a name originally. In 1623, Jón Guðmundsson lærði (‘the learned’) mentioned for the first time an Edda Sæmundr Sigfússon fróði (‘the wise’; 1056-1133), older than Snorra Edda. In 1643, when Bishop Brynjólfur Sveinsson in Skáholt obtained Codex Regius (we do not know from where), he believed it was the Edda by Sæmundar, although it is now thought that Sæmundar played no role in collecting or writing Codex Regius. A name and note in the manuscript indicate that it had been in Skagafjörður (in the north) or on the Reykjanes peninsula (southwest) during the previous years.

The last poem before the lacuna is Sigrdrifumál, with the last part of it missing. This poem is preserved complete in paper copies from the 17th century. The lay is found in Völsungasaga as well, but in 1641 Brynjólfur Sveinsson received the only parchment manuscript of this saga, and at least two commentaries on Sigurdrifumál were written for him. It seems certian that there is a direct connection between the copying of the complete text of Sigrdrifumál and the activities in connection with Völsungasaga after 1641.  The lacuna in Codex Regius accordingly occurred after 1641, but before 1643. Brynjólfur Sveinsson presented the manuscript to the King of Denmark in 1662, hence the name Codex Regius (‘King’s Book’). In the Royal Library, it was given number GkS 2365 4to. It was brought back to Iceland on April 21, 1971, and is now in the Árni Magnússon Institute in Iceland”.

Click here to see the facsimile images of Codex Regius 

(via Germanic Mythology)