Understanding Beowulf As an Indo-European Epic: A Study in Comparative Mythology
by Earl R. Anderson and Mary P. Richards
English | 2010 | ISBN: 077343755X | ISBN-13: 9780773437555 | 592 pages | PDF | 18,7 MB
This monograph is the first book-length comprehensive textual analysis of the Beowulf saga as an Indo-European epic. It provides a detailed reading of the epic in conjunction with ancient legal and cultural practices that allow for a new understanding of this classic work.
This theoretical resource offers insights valuable to the fields of comparative mythology, medieval literature and Anglo-Saxon studies. This book is accessible to students, but will interest scholars in Anglo-Saxon, Germany, Indo-European, and comparative epic studies. When Beowulf is read in the context of Indo-European and Middle Eastern epic traditions, its characters appear in bono, rather than as ironic figures who undermine the heroic ethos. Hro-gar, a wise king, chooses Beowulf as the champion most likely to defeat Grendel and his mother. He adopts Beowulf as his son, possibly in a vain effort to protect Heorot from a feud with Ingeld.
Beowulf defeats Grendel by means of a combative handshake; Hondsciohs death is an unintended consequence of this strategy. Hygelacs expedition in Frisia, a Cadmean victory, is a preemptive strike against Merovingian aggression. Beowulf rightly acquires the dragons treasure for his people, but after his death, Wiglaf wrongfully keeps it from them. These and other episodes are interpreted in light of cross-cultural, migratory typescenes and themes in epic tradition. Andersons approach contrasts sharply with nativist, ironic, and nominalist readings of Beowulf that are current in the critical literature.
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