Friday, April 2, 2021

Beowulf and other Nordic

How much of the epic novel “Beowulf” is real? Did ‘Beowulf’ interact with people who existed?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters Latin & Greek, Lund University
Answered just now
First, it is an “epic” and not an “epic novel”. Novels are supposed to be made up, epics as such aren’t.

His host in Denmark, Hrothgar, seems to have existed, Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus mentions him as Roar, and deals with how his son Rolf was going to oppose Adils. His uncle Hygelac seems to have existed, a Frankish source mentions Chlochilaicus. The potential enemy further inland, the Sweden of Onela and Ohtere and Eadgils seems to have existed, Snorre mentions Ale and Ottar and Adils as Yngling kings.

Chances are Beowulf himself as well as his monsters are real, unless you have a diehard prejudice against monsters and monster killers.

Can you summarise the plot of Beowulf in five sentences?

Answer requested by
George Ireland

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters Latin & Greek, Lund University
Answered 7m ago
Geatish prince Beowulf gets to Denmark to help Hrothgar rid Heorot of a giantlike degraded human cannibal.

He does rid Denmark both of Grendel and of his mother, which involves getting below water for one hour, and his men did not give up hope.

He gets lauded by Hrothgar and by his uncle Hygelac when he’s home.

He becomes a king of Geats and hears of a dragon and he takes along Wigalf to fight it - alone, apart from that, no troops.

He dies and Wiglaf helps to finish the dragon, and Beowulf is cremated, as last king of Geats, without an heir.

Who was the first king of Sweden?

Hans-Georg Lundahl
none/ apprx Masters Latin & Greek, Lund University
Answered 20h ago
Gylfi may be fictional, but his successor is agreed on between Snorri and Saxo: Odin. Neither being Pagan, both considered him a real man while a false god. His stepson Frey is also called Yngwe and is the eponym for the Yngling dynasty.

That is is about 1000 years before Erik Segersäll and Olof Skötkonung mentioned by Mats Andersson.

It was in the time between that Adils started conquering a part of Finland, and a few generations later Ingjald was the last Yngling to rule in the Swealand region. His son Olof Tretelgja set up in Wermland (now part of Sweden), and the next generation entered Norway, where Ynglings ruled as late as St. Olaf and his younger brother. These are about contemporary to Erik Segersäll and Olof Skötkonung.

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