being –closer to God and his angels in the heavenly
hierarchy and capable of interceding between the divine kingdom
and the fallen world of mankind –they were certainly not abstract
otherworldly spirits. Saints were embodied beings, both in life and
after death, when they remained physically present and accessible
through their relics, whether a bone, a lock of hair, a fingernail,
textiles, a preaching cross, a comb, a shoe. As such, their miraculous healing powers could be received by ordinary men, women
and children by sight, sound, touch, even smell or taste
, spoke of sorrow, [then] turned joyless day and night until death's welling touched him at heart.)
Grieving until the end of his days, the last survivor becomes a lordless wanderer, sharing the fate that befalls the Geats following Beowulf's death.
It is his funeral, the fourth and last of the poem, that is the most elaborate. It is not just the two-stage ceremony but the last five fitts of the poem that are inhabited by sad men. It was
are divided, my death is ordained.]
Andy Orchard has argued that, if we allow ourselves to look beyond
similar Latin enigmata by Alcuin and Symphosius, and the conventional ‘fish and river’ solution they offer us, then we might well
understand this as a ‘soul and body’ riddle.12 Patrick J. Murphy
concurs, arguing that, while the correct solution must be a fish
in the river, the ‘descriptive proposition is shaped by something
more –the unspoken metaphor of the soul and body’ so that the
emphasis ‘is on exploring the contrasting relationship of guest
, and from the poem's report he very much does so, as he distributes treasure to Hengest's men ‘efne swa swiðe’ (just as often) (1092a) as he does to his own.
These rings are meant to bind together a community. Although the poem makes clear that Hengest (the leader of the Healf-Denes after the death of Hildeburh's brother) is already thinking about revenge, we have reason to believe that this network of Frisians and Healf-Denes might still hold together; however, Oslaf and
All great storytellers have in common the freedom with which they move up and down the rungs of their experiences as on a ladder. A ladder extending downward to the interior of the earth and disappearing into the clouds is the image for a collective experience to which even the deepest shock of every individual experience, death, constitutes no impediment or barrier.
's faith turns out to be very shakable indeed. After falling asleep on the ship, Andrew awakens on the Mermedonian shore and understands his mistake. Christ appears to him again and explains that Andrew will suffer torture but not death, exhorting him to be brave in the face of suffering. Andrew releases Matthew from the prison, but once the devil incites the Mermedonians to torture him, he forgets Christ's pep talk. Instead he whines and wishes for death. At this point, even the narrator seems to need a break from the proceedings. In an authorial interruption, he
Emotional connections to the young hero in Beowulf
and the king.
This verbal exchange is a notable and direct contrast to the poet's reference to the cowards as ‘unleofe’ (unloved) (2863b) after Beowulf's death. Wiglaf continues to use this terminology after Beowulf's death as he speaks to the Geats about the ‘leofne þeoden’ (beloved lord) (3079b) and ‘leofne mannan’ (beloved man) (3108a). Similarly, Wiglaf declares to Beowulf as he enters the battle that ‘ic ðe fullæstu’ (I will support you) (2668b). In this speech, delivered directly to Beowulf and presumably out
's dead bodies) and for kennings (‘ganotes bæð’ [gannet's bath, i.e. sea] [1861b]). Birds bear a disproportionate burden in this cluster of signifying roles, since they have a particular relationship to language: they are the messengers between humans, between non-human species, and between the mundane world and the divine. And they can have a particularly strong metonymic relation to violent death, especially in Beowulf , where the most tragic form of human death is described as ‘hrefne to hroðre’ (pleasure for the raven) (2448a).
unknown origins, Scyld is set adrift in a boat and washes up on the shores of Daneland. Taken in by the people who live there, Scyld becomes the founder of a Danish dynasty: father of Beow and grandfather of Hrothgar. Upon his death, Scyld's body is placed in a boat then sent out into the sea, from whence he came.
Although Scyld's early childhood is marked by intentional abandonment and accidental discovery, Beowulf and its critics express little interest in the foundling:
the poem makes only
shaped by the relative speed or slowness of our encounters
with them. Multiple two-dimensional digital images, which can be
summoned up, switched between and compared simultaneously, or
computer programmes that speed up the processes of creation and
decay, will provide us with very different concepts of activity and
autonomy, life and death, speech and silence, than, say, prolonged
or repetitive looking at an artefact in a museum, or a transcription
made by eye and hand. Ongoing discussions of how we practise
scholarship in the digital age, and the ways in which these