Lokasenna – Loki's Wrangling

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aka Loki’s Wrangling, The Flyting of Loki, Loki’s Quarrel or Ægisdrekka

Bellows’s notes on the poem

Introductory Note:

The Lokasenna is found only in Regius, where it follows the Hymiskvitha; Snorri quotes four lines of it, grouped together as a single stanza.

The poem is one of the most vigorous of the entire collection, and seems to have been preserved in exceptionally good condition. The exchange or contest of insults was dear to the Norse heart, and the Lokasenna consists chiefly of Loki’s taunt; to the assembled gods and goddesses, and their largely ineffectual attempts to talk back to him. The author was evidently well versed in mythological fore, and the poem is full of references to incidents not elsewhere recorded. As to its date and origin there is the usual dispute, but the latter part of the tenth century and Iceland seem the best guesses.

The prose notes are long and of unusual interest. The introductory one links the poem closely to the Hymiskvitha, much as the Reginsmol, Fafnismol and Sigrdrifumol are linked together; the others fill in the narrative gaps in the dialogue–very like stage directions,–and provide a conclusion by relating Loki’s punishment, which, presumably, is here connected with the wrong incident. It is likely that often when the poem was recited during the two centuries or so before it was committed to writing, the speaker inserted some such explanatory comments, and the compiler of the collection followed this example by adding such explanations as he thought necessary. The Lokasenna is certainly much older than the Hymiskvitha, the connection between them being purely one of subject-matter; and the twelfth-century compiler evidently knew a good deal less about mythology than the author whose work he was annotating.

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