Light elves


Light elves

In Norse mythology, the light elves (Old Norse: "Ljósálfar") live in the Old Norse version of the heavens, in the place called Álfheim underneath the place of the Gods. The idea of the light elf is one of the most ancient records of elves (Old Norse: "álfr" singular, "álfar" plural) preserved in writing, as close to the prototypical idea of the elf as we might get (Nordic mythology preserved an ancient German paganism). The "light elf" designation is in contrast to the "dark elf" who is an earth dweller and may be a dwarf.

According to the early Nordic source that mentions light versus dark elves, the Nordic Eddas of the 13th century, the light elves are bright and radiant. The Edda "Gylfaginning" by Snorri Sturluson, says that they are "fairer to look upon than the sun" (Arthur Gilchrist Brodeur's translation). Snorri also stresses the great difference in both appearance and nature between them and the dark elves, known as the Dökkálfar in the following passage:

:"There are many magnificent dwellings. One is there called Alfheim. There dwell the folk that are called light-elves; but the dark-elves dwell down in the earth, and they are unlike the light-elves in appearance, but much more so in deeds. The light-elves are fairer than the sun to look upon, but the dark-elves are blacker than pitch."ndash , 13th century.

The light elf may have received its name and place from the Eddic references that the Álfheim belonged or was led by Freyr, god of the sun and sunlight. The placement of the elves, per Snorri, was in the heaven not quite as high as the gods, from which they could interact with the gods. Hence they were positioned between heaven and man, similar to the Semitic notion of the angels.

The "Mythology of All Races" Series points out that Snorri was the only author to differentiate light from dark elves. Because he called the dark elves "dwarves", scholars think light elves might have been "álfar" in other texts.

References

*" (The Fooling Of Gylfe)" by Sturluson, Snorri, 13th century Edda, in English. Accessed Apr. 16, 2007
*"Gylfaginning" in Old Norse [http://www.cybersamurai.net/Mythology/nordic_gods/LegendsSagas/Edda/ProseEdda/Icelandic/GylfaginningXI-XX.htm] Accessed Apr. 16, 2007.
*Bulfinch, Thomas (1834). "Bulfinch's Mythology." New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 348. ISBN 0-690-57260-3.
*Marshall Jones Company (1930). "Mythology of All Races" Series, Volume 2 "Eddic", Great Britain: Marshall Jones Company, 1930, pp. 220-221.


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