Emotional connections to the young hero in Beowulf
/ Wægmundinga’ (the last of our Wægmunding kin) (2813–14a), placing them in the same extended family. Scholars have tried to reconcile these seemingly contradictory identifications: how can Wiglaf be both a Swedish prince and a kinsman to the Geatish King Beowulf? Potential answers include relationships as disparate as uncle/nephew (specifically mother's brother/sister's son), extended cousinship, or even honorary rather than biological kinship.
These suggestions extrapolate a
infanticide, and the abundance of female burials at Viking Age Birka in Sweden’, Journal of the history of sexuality , 21.2 (2012), 245–62.
Lorraine Sherr, Joanne Mueller, and Zoe Fox, ‘Abandoned babies in the UK – a review utilizing media reports’, Child: care, health and development , 35.3 (2009), 419–30, at 420.
Beowulf translations by Seamus Heaney and Thomas Meyer
themselves, hinting at avenues for further experiments in long-form verse following Pound and others.
More recently, James W. Earl argues for simply accepting the confusing and inconsistent elements of the poem, rather than trying to ‘fill in the gaps’ of passages that seem to jump around in time and space, as editors and critics have tended to do since Tolkien. Of the ‘Swedish war’ digressions in the second half of Beowulf , he writes, ‘the poet seems to have gone out of his way
Troubling race, ethnicity, and masculinity in Beowulf
, which is why I am anxious / that the Swedish folk will seek us) (2999–3001). Here Wiglaf, the lone faithful retainer who returns to Beowulf's side during his fight with the dragon, provides an example of one of the great causes of anxiety in the poem, and more specifically, to the Geats who were the audience for the unfolding drama of Beowulf's demise: tribal and personal enmity and their accompanying causes and effects – choosing loyalty to one's kin over one's lord, the compulsion towards vengeance, rash words, the hot-headedness of young warriors’ unmanly (or too