In the Prologue to the Prose Edda, he seems to develop a genealogy of the Norse Gods being descendants of the Trojans. Starting with the Trojan king Priam, he develops connections, like for example Thor being son of the Ethiopian king Memnon and Tróán (the daughter of Priam). Why did he do this in the prologue, what was its purpose?


4 Answers 4


It was fashionable.

Being connected with Troy was considered prestigious. Hence Virgil claimed that Aeneas had escaped the fall of Troy to go to Rome and become an ancestor of Romulus. An unknown author claimed that a descendant of Aeneas, Brutus, had become the first king of Britain and given it its name. Snorri was working within that tradition.

  • Could you elaborate on why it was fashionable? Also adding sources would greatly improve this answer.
    – Tom Sol
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 16:46
  • We have no notion why it was fashionable, we can only see the results. Even Virgil left no records, and the Dark Age authors certainly did not -- and giving they were claiming it was true history, we could only hope to learn what evidence they claimed for it, which might have simply be falsified in itself.
    – Mary
    Commented May 25, 2020 at 20:35

Short answer: he wants to explain everything.

It was made to explain where did his non-christian ancestors' belief came from. He wants to make sense of the reason why they didn't follow christian beliefs. Snorri also links old classic names to norse names through a forced folk etymology and says that they were men from Asia (hence the name æsir (singular ás)) that were so powerful that were mistaken as gods as time passed.


Snorre is kind of answering this question himself, and say that it the tradition of sages and skalds to know that the Norse Gods are humans, yet they appears through avatars, or say the Greek equivalent concept naos. Snorre makes several references to classic Greek and Roman litterature, quite concretely to the Aeneid by Virgil, where the Pythagorean notion of metempsychosis is quite clear. I think it is a bit undermining to talk of this desire to connect everything to the epic Trojan war as a fashion. The Trojan War, also known as the Vanir-Æsir war, is a point of reference for all great historians. It must be understood that Snorre Sturlasson is not any chieftain on a remote island in the North Atlantic, but also at various times the Lawspeaker of Þjoðveldið, a realm extending into Scandinavia, Ireland and even Britain. Þjoðveldið becomes annexed to the Kingdom of Norway after the Civil War period. The civil war period is quite a misnomer, as we will find that the Civil War period of Norway is the same civil war in all the Scandinavian realms. Tjoðveldið centered on Iceland as a refuge of the all-Scandinavian Commonwealth of Uppsala were split up, quite some time before the new type of regime appears with the assumed first king of Norway, Harald I Fairhair Halfdansson. The dissidents to this regime with Merovingan, Carolingian affiliations, with the novel and violent feudalist-approving form of Christianity wiped out the resurgent Gothic form of Christianity, we will recognize with Emperor Frederic Barbarossa, who is contemporary. The Gothic form of Christianity is a bit of a catch-all phrase, as it encompasses Gaelic-Celtic-Norse christianity, in lieu with what is known as Pelagianism, in these northern direction, as well as the Priscillianism of the Kathars, also known as the Albigensians in France, Italy and norther Spain. It is worthy to recognize that the very word for heretic in Scandinavian 'kjetter' derives from this presumed heresy of the kathars, etymologically through German 'kätzer' (or something, I should look it up to confirm). Þjoðveldið, the Icelandic Commowealth was very much in tune with the religious policy of Emperor Frederick Barbarossa! Following the defeat of this policy, the end of the investiture conflict, the lay-people's involvement and political control of the hierarchization of the Church were lost. This all-European conflict continued a hundred years more in Norway, until King Haakon IV Haakonsen won over the king claimant Duke Skule Baardsson in Norway, and got Snorre Sturlasson killed in 1241. It should be remembered that the Tjoðveldið had its period also in Norway during the reign of King Sverre Sigurdsson, who were from the Færey Islands, a close ally with Snorre Sturlasson and the regime of the Goðs. Tjoðveldið were also called Goðveldið. The chieftain-laypeople chaplains were in fact called Goðs - a reference to the Scandinavian Goths.. What I held as plausible and possibly true, is fringe, as it is not the story of the winners. The great Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen says that all his works centers on this theme, the contrafactual history, if you like. Constantly, throughout his plays, questioning the convention of the winners' story. Snorre Sturlasson and the elder master Sæmund Froði is to me very obvious christians in the wisdom-tradition of Pelagius, and apologetic of the ancient customs and wisdom, situating the Norse mythology and legends not as nationalistic romanticising the savage barbarian of pre-christian times. It is in fact astonishingly detailed, custodian of world history and litterature. Several works that were translated, yet refurbished for a Norse audience, are from classic sources that has otherwise got lost. It is a sad reality though, that very much of this is still strangely unknown, and undermined. We need to understand the context of the Saga-litterature and that this tradtions were not favoured by neither the catholic-feudal regime that won, nor the Lutheran-absolutist regime. The then emerging capitalist nation-state ideologies culminating in the nazi idyllisation of the Arian Norse, have made it very difficult to bring a decent presentation of it all. My experience, being a Norwegian, increasingly able to read the old norse language, with a family tree stretching back into the Saga era, is that interest in the Norse has become quite awkward and filled with some kind of taboo. Of course, common peoples notions are heavily influenced by the nauseating Hollywood stereotype, a continuation of the ethno-state fabrication of history.

It is astonishing to experience the disbelief I meet when I tell that Snorre in the Prologus to his Edda tells that Thor with the Hammer was at the time of the Trojan War the Prince of Ethiopia. The seafaring Icelanders were not remote, they were internationalists, trading with Manhattan and London and Kyiv, Sicily and the Takrouris of the Niger river. Pre-feudal peoples were not serf-bound by blut und boden.

To conclude.. yes the Norse people of the Saga era perceived it as heathen (being the same as ethno-oriente) to believe in Thor and Odin etcetera as Gods and to worship them as such, but Snorri Sturlasson and his associates did insist that these heathen practices weren't the norm, only some un-enlightened fraction did so. Heathen didn't signify the belief in pre-christian deities, but to be cut off from the rest of the world.

Luckily digitalisation has come to quite advanced level. It is a true treasure:



  • 1
    This answer could use some tightening. There's a lot that is right here, but I think the whole section on Nazi co-option is irrelevant to the question at hand. Also, Manhattan?
    – cmw
    Commented Mar 3 at 18:44
  • It's a stretch to say that "there's a lot that is right here". Most of it is made up at worst and extremely speculative at best. In any case, very little is relevant to the question.
    – Gullintanni
    Commented Mar 6 at 8:13

I think the tree Ygg-drasil (terrible-horse) is the (wooden) Trojan horse. Perhaps this is what Snorri saw that caused him to make the connection to Troy.


terrible (adj.) late 14c., "causing terror, awe, or dread; frightful," from Old French terrible (12c.), from Latin terribilis "frightful," from terrere "fill with fear," from PIE root *tros- "to make afraid"

In Greek mythology, Tros was the founder of Troy

  • As far as I can see this is your only post. I am not "nagging" I'm asking you to elaborate on an answer you have given on this Q&A site. What is shown in your picture? Is it possible to use it here if copyright allows? Why is this significant in your conclusion that you think Yggdrasil is the Trojan horse. How do you think Snorri came to this conclusion? Are there any references for this event? Please don't leave an unsourced one sentence one link answer with a link that might go dead in the near future leaving no reference for future readers what you where talking about.
    – Tom Sol
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 22:57
  • 1
    Yggdrasill is Old Norse, so it seems unlikely that anyone would try trace its etymology through French. Also, the PIE root of terrible is actually /*tres-, not /*tros. Further, yggr is thought to mean "the wet element", clearly sharing a root with Greek hygra. Finally, even if your posited etymology is correct, it seems wildly implausible that Snorri would based anything on modern linguistics that post-dates him by a millennium.
    – Semaphore
    Commented May 26, 2020 at 6:08

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