Heroic Identity in the World of Beowulf
Readers of Beowulf have noted inconsistencies in Beowulf's depiction, as either heroic or reckless. "Heroic Identity in the World of Beowulf" resolves this tension by emphasizing Beowulf's identity as a foreign fighter seeking glory abroad. Such men resemble "wreccan," "exiles" compelled to leave their homelands due to excessive violence. Beowulf may be potentially arrogant, therefore, but he learns prudence. This native wisdom highlights a king's duty to his warband, in expectation of Beowulf's future rule. The dragon fight later raises the same question of incompatible identities, hero versus king. In frequent reference to Greek epic and Icelandic saga, this revisionist approach to Beowulf offers new interpretations of flyting rhetoric, the custom of "men dying for their lord," and the poem's digressions.
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Introduction A Contested Beowulf
Chapter One The Wisdom Context of the SigemundHeremod and Hunfero Digressions
Chapter Two The Foreign Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsburh
Chapter Three The Rhetoric of Oferhygd in Hroogars Sermon
Chapter Four Beowulf s Dragon Fight and the Appraisal of Oferhygd
afﬂicted alleged ambition Anglo-Saxon arrogance battle behavior Beowulf Beowulf poet Beowulf’s death Beowulf’s dragon Beowulf’s motivation Beowulf’s potential Breca Byrhtnoð’s Christian conﬁrms conﬂict context critics curse Cyneheard Cynewulf Danes Danish deeds deﬁnes describes digression dragon ﬁght Eadgils Ecgþeow enemy evil exile expression fact feud ﬁghters ﬁghting ﬁgure ﬁnd Finn Finn’s Finnsburh ﬁrst ﬂyting Fremu Frisians Geats gemet Germanic gescead giants gidd glory God’s Grendel Grendel’s mother Grettir Guðlaf Heaðobard Hengest Heorot Heremod hero hero’s heroic heroism Hildeburh Hnæf hoard Hondscioh’s honor Hroðgar Hunferð Hygelac Ibid identiﬁed Ingeld killing king king’s kingship Klaeber’s Beowulf lord loyalty Maldon means moral narrator oferhygd ofermod Old English one’s pagan parallels passage poem poem’s poet’s pride proposed reading reckless reﬂects retainers sacriﬁce Scylding seems sense Sigemund speciﬁcally suggests sword tion translated treasure Vainglory vengeance verse Vikings wæs warband warrior Wealhþeow Wiglaf wisdom wlenco words wrecca þæt þonne Þórr þyle