Etymology and origins of the character[ edit ] A number of origins have been proposed for the name Beowulf.
I can recall them all. The good king Hrethel kept me and cherished me, he gave me treasure goods and solemn office, mindful of our kinship. He had aimed for a misted mark and shot his own kin, bloodied his fatal dart with the life of his own brother.
That was a strife beyond recompense, transgression against sin itself, a steeping of the heart in sadness. What else should be done but to leave the offense the eldest carried out unavenged?
I mean, I think that the poet is doing a few things here. He would still be celebrated and no doubt end up with land and a hall all his own.
Or look at the version of the Grendel fights that Beowulf reports to Hygelac. Norse mythology includes a story about Baldur and Hodr. These two gods were brothers fathered by Odin. According to their story, Baldur dreamed that his death was imminent so his mother Freya went around to all of existence getting oaths from everything that they would never harm her son.
After doing this, the gods made a game of throwing whatever they could think of at Baldur. The trickster disguised himself and asked Freya if she managed to get an oath from everything.
So, Loki being Loki, he found a branch of mistletoe and gave it to Hodr. Confusion and mourning followed. All right, back to Beowulf.
In a society where retribution was the most widely recognized way to gain closure for murder, fratricide caused quite a dilemma. However, beyond a reference to widely known contemporary mythology, I think including this reference says something more broadly about Beowulf.
Its inclusion shows how mortals handle matters that afflict even gods.
And, unsurprisingly, this incident destroys Hrethel, leaving him a shell of a man until his death. I would argue that Beowulf has a similar experience. Throughout his life he enjoys mythological strength and abilities.
In a way, Beowulf could well be aware of how monstrous he is himself. The end for the character, for the poem, and for the way of life that both represent. But what do you think? Is the parallel to the story of Baldur and Hodr and what it means just coincidence?
Or is there something else going on here entirely? Feel free to share your theories in the comments! If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like. And, if you want to keep up with my translations, please do follow this blog!
You can find the next part of Beowulf here.May not be solely Norse mythology-related but Joseph Campbell wrote absolutely fascinating books comparing the myths prevalent throughout various cultures/religions, comparing shared themes and discussing the symbolism in each culture's/religion's stories.
Understanding Beowulf as a Part of Norse Mythology One frequently annoying point about the story Beowulf is that the text is very unclear about what the monsters .
Time after time he charged into Heorot Hall, slaughtered the earls like sheep, and feasted on them. Hrothgar alone was exempt, for Grendel was forbidden to touch the king. This lasted twelve years, since nothing could stop the ogre. Second Edit: Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum also includes fair chunks of Norse mythology, but in an anthropomorphised and Latinised form that makes it a bit less digestable.
It also includes a third version of the Kraki/Bjarki/Beowulf story.
He resolved to descend into the bog in order to kill her. (Although, in Snorri's text the names are in their corresponding Old Norse forms). Beowulf ruled the Geats for 50 years, until his realm was terrorized by a dragon after a thief stole a golden cup from its hoard of treasure.
Transcript of Beowulf Norse/Mythological Elements. Beowulf Pagan and Norse Elements in Beowulf. Beowulf is filled with references to Norse gods, mythical monsters, weapons with magical powers, and races of giants. Makes references to pagan elements that indicate myths and legends in early medieval.