NORSE-CHRISTIAN SYNCRETISM 253
a level of fundamental significance for Christian orthodoxy.'6 Unlike
true syncretism, this literary synthesis of poetry, mythology, and mys-
ticism did not qualify doctrinally the faith of the Sólarljóð poet or of
Having defined our terms, we can now turn to the text of Sólarljóð
for illustration.7 The poem, composed in the Ijóðaháttr meter and the
Eddic diction of the Hávamál, falls into three sections of 32, 20, and
30 stanzas each, which deal first with life in this world in five exempla,
then with the death of the seer and his passing to the other world, and
lastly with life after death in heaven and hell.8 The frame story sur-
rounding the whole may be surmised from stanzas 29 and 78 and the
interpolated final stanza in some mss., beginning, 'Dásamligt frði /
var þér í draumi kvedit . . .' (Sljð. II, p. 24).9 A bereaved son dreams
that his father - the seer - has revisited him from the other world to
give him moral instruction and spiritual guidance, and to picture to
him the rewards and punishments of the Christian afterlife. The dream
vision, like certain Latin visions of the earlier Middle Ages, is in-
tended to be a warning to the living and a plea for prayer on behalf of
the Iong-suffering dead, as in stanza 82 ('gefi dauðum ró, / en hinum
líkn er lifa!').10 Contrary to what Björn M. Ólsen fancied,11 purgatory
has not yet entered into the seer's picture of the other world.12 As be-
Cf. in his 'Observations,' op. cit., p. 86, with p. 99.
Editions with commentaries: Hjalmar Falk, Kristiania 1914 = Sljð. I; Björn Magn-
ússon Ólsen, Reykjavík 1915 = Sljð. II; and Bjarne Fidjest0l, as in fn. 1 = Sljð. III. Fur-
ther commentary with translation, in Fredrik Paasche, Hedenskap og kristendom, 1914;
2nd ed., Oslo 1948, pp. 170-208; cf. the sparse comments of Lange in his Studien, pas-
sim. Besides the Scandinavian translations of Paasche, Falk (in Sljð. I), and Severin
Eskeland (reprinted in Sljð. III), there is also a German translation with notes by Alex-
ander Baumgartner, S.J., 'Das altnordische Sonnenlied,' in Stimmen aus Maria-Laach
XXXIV (1888), 419-43. References to Sólarljóð above will be mainly to Fidjest0l's edi-
tion - a conservative revision of Falk's text.
On the structure oiSólarljóð, see Björn M. Ólsen, Sljð. II, pp. 25, 35-6, and 65-6,
and Fidjest0l, Sljð. III, pp. 19-29.
See on this stanza H. Falk in Sljð. I, p. 58 and ms. AM 166b 8vo.
These lines, on which see Baumgartner's note in 'Das altnordische Sonnenlied,'
pp. 440-41, are worded in the oldest liturgical language of the Church.
n In Sljð, II, pp. 47-48, 53-54.
In Jacques Le Goffs expert opinion, 'The birth of Purgatory is a phenomenon
which we can associate with the turn of the thirteenth century,' The Birth of Purgatory,
trans. Arthur Goldhammer, Chicago Í984, p. 198. This birth might be antedated to the