History of the Danes : Bks.1-9, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


In the early years of the thirteenth century the Danish writer Saxo Grammaticus provided his people with a "History of the Danes", an account of their glorious past from the legendary kings and heroes of Denmark to the historical present.

It is one of the major sources for the heroic and mythological traditions of northern Europe, though the complex Latin style and the wide range of material brought together from different sources have limited its use.

Here Hilda Ellis Davidson, a specialist in Scandinavian mythology, together with the translator Peter Fisher, provides a full English edition; each of the first nine books is preceded by an introductory summary, and a detailed commentary follows on the folklore and life and customs of twelfth-century Denmark - including the sources of Hamlet, of which Saxo gives the earliest known account.

Hilda Ellis Davidson's other books include "The Sword in Anglo-Saxon England".

Peter Fisher is also the translator of "Olaus Magnus: A Description of the Northern Peoples". 'In the early years of the 13th century the Danish writer Saxo Grammaticus provided his people with a dignified and ambitious Latin account of their glorious past from the mythical past to the historical present. (He) collected the legends of Scandinavian gods and heroes, and arranged their exploits in a series of 'biographies' which ostensibly formed an unbroken sequence.

He took his tales from a variety of sources, and readers will find his collection of myths, folklore and fabulous history fascinating - An accurate and readable translation of the nine mythological books based on the best scholarly edition' - Ruth Morse, "British Book News".


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 526 pages, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: Boydell & Brewer Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Literary essays
  • ISBN: 9780859915021



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This is not an exciting read, but has a couple of things to recommend it. The first is that there isn't a lot of material on the Norse people from close to the time itself, so we'll take whatever we can get, warts and all. Second, it contains the original material upon which Shakespeare based his play [Hamlet].