Snorri Sturluson (1178 – September 23, 1241) was an Icelandic historian, poet and politician. He was twice lawspeaker at the Icelandic parliament, the Althing. He was the author of the Prose Edda or Younger Edda, which consists of Gylfaginning ("the fooling of Gylfi"), a narrative of Norse mythology, the Skáldskaparmál, a book of poetic language, and the Háttatal, a list of verse forms. He was also the author of the Heimskringla, a history of the Norse kings that begins with legendary material in Ynglinga saga and moves through to early medieval Scandinavian history. For stylistic and methodological reasons, Snorri is often taken to be the author of Egils saga.
As an historian and mythographer, Snorri is remarkable for proposing the theory (in the Prose Edda) that mythological gods begin as human war leaders and kings whose funereal sites develop cults (see euhemerism). As people call upon the dead war leader as they go to battle, or the dead king as they face tribal hardship, they begin to venerate the figure. Eventually, the king or warrior is remembered only as a god. He also proposed that as tribes defeat others, they explain their victory by proposing that their own gods were in battle with the gods of the others.
Snorri was raised by Jón Loftsson in Oddi. He had two older brothers, Ţórđr Sturluson (the oldest) and Sighvatr Sturluson. His parents were Sturla Ţórđarson and Guđný Böđvarsdóttir. His marriage made him a wealthy man, and in 1206 he settled in Reykholt. The remains of his farm, including his hot outdoor bath (Snorralaug), have been preserved to some extent. He was said to have had many love affairs, and thus many children, but only five are said to have survived to adulthood. He quickly became known as a poet, but was also a successful lawyer, and from 1215 became the lawspeaker, or president of Iceland's legislative assembly and supreme court.
In the summer of 1218, Snorri sailed from Iceland to Norway, by royal invitation. There he became well-acquainted with King Hákon Hákonarson, visited Jarl Skúli during the winter, and in the summer of 1219 met his Swedish colleague, the lawspeaker Eskil Magnusson and his wife Kristina Nilsdotter Blake in Skara. They were both related to royalty and probably gave Snorri an insight into the history of Sweden.
Snorri became involved in an unsuccessful rebellion against Hákon Hákonarson, the King of Norway, which resulted in his assassination in his house at Reykholt in 1241 by Gizurr Ţorvaldsson, an agent of the king. Snorri's last words were Eigi skal höggva! — "Don't strike!"
- Bagge, Sverre (1991). Society and politics in Snorri Sturluson's Heimskringla. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06887-4
- ^ The Old Norse/Icelandic spelling of the name is Snorri Sturluson. Snorre Sturlason is the modern Norwegian and Snorre Sturlasson the modern Swedish spelling. See Icelandic naming conventions.
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