The dangers Beowulf could be facing & how to earn devoted vassals (ll.1473-1481)

Synopsis
Translation
Recordings
The Possible Dangers of Grendel’s Mother
How Liberal Lords Earn Devoted Vassals
Closing

Grendel's mother menaces the pinned Beowulf with a knife.

By J. R. Skelton – Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf, T.C. & E.C. Jack, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11001837

Back To Top
Synopsis

Beowulf reminds Hrothgar of what he promised he would do for the Geat if he dies fighting Grendel’s mother.

Back To Top
Translation

“Beowulf spoke, son of Ecgtheow:
‘Now think upon it, son of Half-Danes,
wise ruler, now I am ready for this journey,
gold-giving friend of men, that which we two had spoken on:
that if I while in your service shall
lose my life, that you would go forth afterwards
always in a father’s place for me.
That you would be a preserver of my retainers,
my companions, if battle shall take me.'”
(Beowulf ll.1473-1481)

Back To Top
Recordings

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
The Possible Dangers of Grendel’s Mother

The battle that Beowulf is heading off for is not the same as the one he had in Heorot. That’s what this passage is really all about.

In the lead up to the fight with Grendel we heard Beowulf boasting about past victories and the greatness of his strength. We heard confidence bordering on pride that’s tempered with the simple sentiment that fate or god will decide the outcome of the fight. In other words, going into the fight with Grendel, Beowulf felt that his strength and Grendel’s were probably equal. At least, I think that’s fair to say.

I mean, as you can see in this passage, Beowulf is making a much bigger deal out of diving into this lake and fighting Grendel’s mother.

There are a lot of assumptions that could be going into the sense of danger that Beowulf seems to be feeling here.

Grendel’s mother has lost a child, and all animals — including humans — fight tenaciously when the life of their young is in peril or has recently been lost.

Perhaps there’s an underlying assumption here that since this particular parent is a mother, Grendel’s mother’s rage will be tempered with the fury that only women can seem to muster. In particular I’m thinking of the difference that Patton Oswalt points out in Talking for Clapping when he says that when little boys are mad at each other they just punch each other until the dispute’s over, whereas when little girls are made at each other they try to destroy each other emotionally. No doubt all of these men are hesitant to approach a thing with woman’s form that’s doubly provoked in this sense (lost her child, and is its mother).

Also, since this poem would have been written down by Christian monks, perhaps there’re also some assumption about women as temptresses and being spiritually dangerous. I mean, the strictly Judeo-Christian religious tend to see danger for the soul in the form of women (possibly because those organized religions are primarily run by men). So I can’t even imagine the kind of spiritual danger such a religious person would see in the primal sexuality that something as wild as Grendel’s mother could command. In fact, the image at the top of this entry is a depiction of a scene that could easily be read in a very sexually charged way.

Of all of the assumptions and givens that could be roiling through Beowulf’s mind at this point though, the sharpest is probably that he does not have home field advantage in this fight.

Whether or not Beowulf believed his strength to truly equal Grendel’s, Hrothgar legally gave him Heorot for that night. Since it was temporally his, Beowulf probably fought all the fiercer to protect it. And, just as with animals and their young, animals are protective of their territory. So, since he’s about to dive into the Grendels’ realm, Beowulf is clearly at a disadvantage.

And that is where I think the biggest sense of danger comes from for the hero of this poem.

Of course, there’s also the simple escalation of the threat as is necessary in any multi-part story. So if Beowulf and Grendel were equals, he is now at a lower level, so to speak, than Grendel’s mother. And yet he has to face her all the same. So he’s reminding Hrothgar of his promises.

In short, Beowulf’s already strapped on his physical armour, and now in this passage he’s donning his emotional/psychological armour.

What danger do you think is Beowulf’s greatest concern at this point in the poem? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Back To Top
How Liberal Lords Earn Devoted Vassals

For a protector1 who is a liberal lord2, vassals3 would go forth4 as if they and their liberal lord2 were companions5.

1mund-bora: protector, preserver, guardian, advocate. mund (hand, palm, (of the hand, as a measure), trust, security, protection, guardianship, protector, guardian, the king’s peace, fine for bread of the laws of protection or guardianship of the king’s peace; II.money paid by bridegroom to bride’s father, bridegroom’s gift to bride) + bora (ruler)

2gold-wine: liberal prince, lord, king. gold (gold) + winn (toil, labour, trouble, hardship, profit, gain, conflict, strife, war)

3mago-þegnum: vassal, retainer, warrior, man, servant, minister. mago (male kinsman, son, descendant, young man, servant, man, warrior) + ðegn (servant, minister, retainer, vassal, follower, disciple, freeman, master (as opposed to slave), courtier, noble (official rather than hereditary), military attendant, warrior, hero)

4forð-gewitan: to go forth, pass, proceed, go by, depart, die. forð (forth, forwards, onwards, further, hence, thence, away, continually, still, continuously, henceforth, thenceforward, simultaneously) + witan (I.guard, keep, look after; II. impute or ascribe to, accuse, reproach, blame; III.depart, go, go out, leave off, pass away, die)

5hond-gesella: companion. hand (hand, side (in defining position), power, control, possession, charge, agency, person regarded as holder or receiver of something) + sellan (to give, furnish, supply, lend, surrender, give up, betray, entrust, deliver to, appoint, allot, lay by, hide, sell, promise)

Back To Top
Closing

Next week, Beowulf continues to remind Hrothgar of his promises. And, he makes a new promise that shakes up what happened when everyone was drunk in Heorot.

Back To Top

Advertisements

Beowulf finds new life as chamber opera

The news: Hannah Lash's Beowulf Opera.

Brian Church (Beowulf) and Aliana de la Guardia (Beowulf’s mother), in Hannah Lash’s new opera, Beowulf.

Beowulf has found expression as a chamber opera.

I guess there’s life in this old story yet.

Setting aside whatever your impression of opera may be, it sounds like this opera (also named Beowulf) is most entertaining. This is a glowing review, but I’d like to think that just as some people might approach opera with rolling eyes and negative preconceptions, a reviewer might approach something based on Beowulf (even if its in a form that they’re generally fans of) with the same rolling eyes and negative preconceptions. So I think that this adaptation must legitimately be good.

Though this opera sounds like it’s not just a straight adaptation of Beowulf to the same kind of stage that might see Madama Butterfly or Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen.

The story in this opera is that the character named Beowulf has come back from a war with PTSD and so can’t quite reconcile the home of here and now with what happened in his past. This Beowulf’s nursing home-bound mother has similar troubles reconciling aspects of her past home with her current home and is also harassed by a wicked nurse (who seems to be this take’s version of Grendel). After a confrontation between Beowulf and the nurse, he and his mother reach an understanding and the story ends.

All in all, how the creator of this piece, Hannah Lash, took all of the war and PTSD-related themes from the original and splashed them over a modern canvas makes for an interesting sounding piece.

Unfortunately, the performance’s somewhat limited showing means that only a few people will ever see it. Nonetheless, I wanted to share this article because it shows how old stories can still be useful as jumping off points for new tales and new ways to try to make sense of our present.

You can read Christian Gentry’s full review of the chamber opera Beowulf here:

Hannah Lash’s Beowulf Premiered by Guerilla Opera

Unferth’s trade with Beowulf, and the makings of a warrior’s fame (ll.1465-1472)

Synopsis
Translation
Recordings
Beowulf and Unferth Trade in Reputations
What’s Needed for Fame
Closing

Beowulf, Grendel, Old English, Anglo-Saxon

An illustration of Grendel by J.R. Skelton from Stories of Beowulf. Grendel is described as “Very terrible to look upon.”Stories of beowulf grendel” by J. R. Skelton – Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf, T.C. & E.C. Jack. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Back To Top
Synopsis

Beowulf reflects on Unferth’s loan, and the poet reflects on it, too.

Back To Top
Translation

“Indeed that son of Ecglaf, strong in might,
no longer thought of what that one had said before,
while drunk on wine, when he leant that weapon
to the better swordsman; he himself dared not
to venture beneath the turmoil of those waves
and risk his life to do a heroic deed; there he lost
his fame, his reputation for courage. But the other
showed no fear, the one already well-girded for battle.”
(Beowulf ll.1465-1472)

Back To Top
Recordings

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
Beowulf and Unferth Trade in Reputations

After all of Beowulf’s gearing up, the poet now gives us a sense of what each man won and lost when Unferth loaned his sword to Beowulf.

Obviously, Beowulf’s the one who comes out of this little transaction for the better. Not only is he said to be the better swordsman (line 1468), but he’s also the one who is already “well-girded for battle” (“to guðe gegyred hæfde” (l. 1472)). Though this passage’s last line seems like it could be taken a few ways.

Does it mean that Beowulf is simply prepared for what they all knew that they would have to face? Or is the suggestion on line 1472 that Beowulf is some sort of bloodthirsty warrior who, at the slightest chance of a fight, is all decked out and fully prepared? Maybe it’s just that Beowulf is young and eager, after all, he “showed no fear” (“Ne wæs þæm oðrum swa” (l.1472)) despite being in a place that seems to have put everyone else on edge.

What’s really strange to me about this passage, though, is that the poet gives Unferth a heroic reputation seemingly out of nowhere. He seems to do so only to transfer it to Beowulf, though. It’s as if this poem is suddenly Highlander, and Unferth’s giving Beowulf his sword is the same as Beowulf beheading the man and experiencing a quickening. Now Unferth’s reputation for bravery is no longer his, but has been added to Beowulf’s considerable store of such rep.

The sad thing about this transaction, though is that it underscores the sense that the Danes are in decline.

Hrothgar is an old king with only young sons who seem to have neither battle experience nor diplomatic know-how (though, to be fair, we know nothing of his sons, really).

Wealhtheow’s marriage to the king is one of political convenience, which, isn’t terribly uncommon during the period, but that it happened at all suggests that Hrothgar is trying to broker a peace for his successors to rule in — and at the time peace was a very fragile thing.

Then Hrothgar’s chief advisor is killed.

And now, the apparent champion of the Danes essentially hands off his reputation to this newcomer from a completely different social group. It’s almost as if the Danes are doing just what the Beowulf poet did: passing on their greatness and their glory so that others can hear of them and tell stories even after they’re long gone.

What do you think of Unferth suddenly having this “reputation for courage”?

Back To Top
What’s Needed for Fame

Any “sweord-frecan”1 who enjoys “ellen-mærð”2 must have done “drihtscype”3. Just as any “drihtscype”3 done would guarantee “ellen-mærð”2 for the “sweord-frecan”1 responsible.

1sweord-frecan: swordsman, warrior. sweord (sword) + freca (warrior, hero) (A compound word that’s exclusive to Beowulf)

2ellen-mærð: fame of courage. ellen (zeal, strength, courage, strife, contention) + mærð (glory, fame, famous exploit) (A compound word that’s exclusive to Beowulf)

3drihtscype: lordship, rulership, dignity, virtue, valour, heroic deeds. driht (multitude, army, company, body of retainers, nation, people) + scype (ship)

Back To Top
Closing

Next week, Beowulf’s words for Unferth.

Back To Top

Author writes novel series called: The Women of Beowulf

Though there are women in the poem Beowulf, they’re entirely on the sidelines. Wealhtheow, the queen of the Danes, has a few lines, but she’s quite tightly sewn into her diplomatic role of peaceweaver. Otherwise, women are mothers or sisters or daughters, and they generally have few to no lines of dialogue. And yet they’re present in the poem’s asides about morality and honour, but none of them take centre stage.

Donnita L. Rogers has changed the state of women in the world of Beowulf by writing a series of novels called The Women of Beowulf. This series tells a story that shares its setting with Beowulf but that follows a priestess named Freawearu.

A character with the same name appears in the poem, but she, like her mother Wealhtheow, is a peaceweaver, a daughter married to the son of a rival group’s leader in an effort to foster peace between the two groups. So the connection to Beowulf via Freawearu seems tenuous.

But Rogers isn’t writing an adaptation of the epic poem. Instead, she’s taking another look at the scenario of the poem and its setting through the lens of the powerful women active in it.

Though Rogers released the first book in this series, Faces in the Fire back in 2013 and wrapped it up in 2015, it could still prove an interesting read. You can find a full review of Donnita L. Rogers’ series here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/annie-martirosyan/beowulf-women_b_10638604.html

What do you think of the idea of using an old story’s setting and some of its characters to tell a new tale? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Unferth gifts a sword to Beowulf, words tell of blades and battlefields(ll.1455-1464)

Synopsis
Translation
Recordings
A Named and Dangerous Sword
The Usefulness of an Ancient Sword on the Brutal Battlefield
Closing

Beowulf, Grendel, Old English, Anglo-Saxon

An illustration of Grendel by J.R. Skelton from Stories of Beowulf. Grendel is described as “Very terrible to look upon.”Stories of beowulf grendel” by J. R. Skelton – Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf, T.C. & E.C. Jack. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Back To Top
Synopsis

Unferth lends Beowulf a sure-fire sword.

Back To Top
Translation

“Next was an item of no little service,
such was the thing that Hrothgar’s man leant him,
it was the hilted sword named Hrunting;
an ancient treasure beyond compare;
its edge was iron, decorated like an arm full of poison,
hardened in the blood of battle; never in combat had it failed
any of its weilders, whomever fought with it in their grip,
those who dared do perilous deeds,
who entered the battlefield full of foes. Indeed this was not
the first time the sword had been called upon for heroic deeds”
(Beowulf ll.1455-1464)

Back To Top
Recordings

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
A Named and Dangerous Sword

Here we go!

In this passage we have the first of the named swords of the poem. And it sounds like it’s pretty badass. Not just because it’s never failed anyone who has used it (something I’ll get into a little below), but because of how it’s decorated.

My Old English dictionary, Clark Hall and Meritt’s A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (4th edition), suggests “with poisoned twigs or poison-stripes?[sic]” for “ater-tanum” (l.1459). It’s an entry that’s very unsure of itself.

When I think of poison and any sort of branching pattern I think of the horrific visual of poison either dilating or colouring a person’s veins as it rushes ever closer to their heart. And so “decorated like an arm full of poison” sounded like an apt translation of “ater-tanum”. My guess as to what that actually looks like is a branching pattern that was smithed into the steel. Perhaps as a sign of how many times the steel involved was folded.

Come to think of it, I wonder if “arm full of poison,” or even “twig of poison” was just a way of describing someone’s patterned tattoos. I mean, if your veins are picked out because of some sort of poison that’s entered your body you’re not going to be able to gawk at that for very long. But if someone were tattooed, which, if it was just a simple pattern could look like discoloured veins, it would be a lot easier to really contemplate the pattern and compare it to a poison-infested arm.

Anyway, stepping away from that detail about the sword’s decoration, I find it strange that the poet tells us that Hrunting has never failed its wielders. It sounds like it’s the Muramasa from Japanese lore, a sword that had to taste blood of any kind once it was unsheathed.

Though, given Unferth’s past conflict with his kin which lead to him slaying them (at least according to Beowulf) , I can’t help but wonder if he had entered into combat against them. Since Hrunting seems to be Unferth’s sword, in this battle he likely used Hrunting, and the dumb thing just did what swords do (and good swords do even better) and killed them.

That’s not to say that a well made sword removes the agency from its wielder, more that it takes an even better fighter to wield such a weapon well.

Along with the reference to Hrunting never failing could be the poet’s way of making Unferth a sympathetic character, I think it also suggests that he is not as great a warrior as Beowulf. He was unable to reign himself in while under the influence of wielding Hrunting. Kind of like how landing a series of blows in a sparring match can give you an incredible sense of power that kind of numbs your reason the first few times you experience it.

Of course, Beowulf won’t be swayed by such a thing as this sword, surely. Or will he succumb to the call of Hrunting as easily as Unferth seems to have? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Back To Top
The Usefulness of an Ancient Sword on the Brutal Battlefield

I think it goes without saying that a “hæft-mece”1 would be a “mægen-fultuma”2 on just about any “folc-stede”3. Forget those swords without hilts — they’re really just oversized knives!

Now, take that sword, though, and make it an “eald-gestreona”.4 And then have a good look at that well worn (yet still sharp!) sword and make sure that it’s decorated in an “ater-tan”5 style. That’s sure to mean that it’s been through the “heaþo-swate”6 more than once, at least.

This is the kind of sword songs are sung about, and that can only be found in RPGs after finishing a really difficult/lengthy sidequest. The kind of sword you’d want with you on a “gryre-sið”7. It’s the sort of thing you use (maybe just in those songs) to do “ellen-weorc”8!

1hæft-mece: hilted sword. hæft (haft, handle) + mece (sword, blade) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

2mægen-fultuma: mighty help. mægen (bodily strength, might, main, force, power, vigor, valour, virtue, efficiency, efficacy, good deed, picked men of a nation, host, troop, army, miracle) + fultum (help, support, protection, forces, army) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

3folc-stede: dwelling-place, battlefield. folc (folk, people, nation, tribe; collection or class of persons, laity; troop, army) + stede (place, site, position, station; firmness, standing, stability, steadfastness, fixity, strangury)

4eald-gestreona: ancient treasure. eald (old, aged, ancient, antique, primeval, elder, experienced, tried, honoured, eminent, great) + streon (gain, acquisition, property, treasure, traffic, usury, procreation)

5ater-tan: with poison twigs or poison stripes?[sic] (“Looking like an arm full of poison”). ater (poison, venom, gall) + tan (twig, rod, switch, branch, rod of divination) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

6heaþo-swate: blood of battle. heaðu (war) + swat (sweat, perspiration, exudation, blood, foam, toil, labour)

7gryre-sið: dangerous expedition. gryre (horror, terror, fierceness, violence, horrible thing) + sið (going, motion, journey, errand, departure, death, expedition, undertaking, enterprise, road, way, time, turn, occasion) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

8ellen-weorc: heroic deed, good work. ellen (zeal, strength, courage) + weorc (work, labour, action, deed, exercise; affliction, suffering, pain, trouble, distress; fortification)

Back To Top
Closing

Next week, the poet reflects on Unferth’s character further.

Back To Top

Game of Thrones and history: This Slate.com interview lays it out

A section of the Bayeux Tapestry showing Anglo-Saxon warfare

Image found here: “Bayeux Tapestry 4” by photo by Gabriel Seah – gssq.blogspot.com. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

Game of Thrones spoilers below, and through the link. You’ve been warned.

This interview between Slate.com‘s Ian Prasad Philbrick and Kevin Uhalde, professor of history at Ohio University is more Game of Thrones-related than Beowulf related, but the show is still a gateway to the medieval period. It’s all about historical analogues to the conquests in Game of Thrones and offers a quick summary of some medieval tactics and figures:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/07/07/a_medieval_historian_on_the_real_world_analogues_to_game_of_thrones_daenerys.html

Armour inspires thoughts on time, ad-libbing on sunken arms (ll. 1441b – 1454)

Synopsis
Translation
Recordings
Antique Armour More Effective
Armour on Sea Bottoms
Closing

Beowulf, Grendel, Old English, Anglo-Saxon

An illustration of Grendel by J.R. Skelton from Stories of Beowulf. Grendel is described as “Very terrible to look upon.”Stories of beowulf grendel” by J. R. Skelton – Marshall, Henrietta Elizabeth (1908) Stories of Beowulf, T.C. & E.C. Jack. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Back To Top
Synopsis

Beowulf gets geared up, starting with his armour and helmet.

Back To Top
Translation

                    “Beowulf geared himself
in warrior’s garb, he felt no anxiety for his life then;
his hand woven war-corslet, broad and skillfully decorated,
would soon know those depths,
confident in its ability to protect his bone-chamber,
so that no hand-grasp could crush his chest,
that no furious foe’s malicious hand could harm him;
and on his head a shining helmet he wore,
which would soon muddy the mere’s bottom,
would soon enter the surging waters, that treasure-embellished helm,
encircled by a lordly band, made as those in elder days,
wrought by a weapon smith, wondrously formed,
set all around with boar-images, so that he
may not be bitten by blade or battle sword.”
(Beowulf ll.1441b – 1454)

Back To Top
Recordings

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
Antique Armour More Effective

Beowulf gets kitted out here. Whether one of the Geats with him (or maybe a Dane, as a sign of their good relations?) helps him into this gear as squires would knights in a few hundred years is unclear. All we know from what’s written is that Beowulf puts on his armour and then his helmet. So, much like old school JRPGs, it looks like there are just three pieces of equipment for your average warrior: armour, headgear, weapon.

Most interesting to me is just how important it seems to be that the armour is decorated. I mean, I’m not too familiar with the practicalities of medieval armour, but I’d imagine that it would be a great deal lighter and actually more effective if it was less decorated — not more. As far as I can guess, though, Beowulf’s not going to be guarded from harm because his outfit is so chic, rather its protective power comes from its being so old.

The armour he dons is described as “broad and skilfully decorated” (“sid ond searo-fah” (l.1443)).

Note that the phrase there isn’t “skillfully crafted” (potentially “searo-cræftig” in Old English), but “skilfully decorated” (“searo-fah”).

So, this armour must be old because it was made when people had the time to just sit back, crack into some mead and decorate their armaments. And when could you decorate armour and swords and such? When you’re living in a relative time of peace.

Or a time when fighting is so fierce that you become very skilled in making armour very quickly so that there’s time left over to embellish it.

Either way, the implication about Beowulf’s armour is that this armour is old.

And this implication is outright stated when it comes to Beowulf’s helmet.

On line 1451 the poet tells us it was “made as those in elder days” (“fyrn-dagum”). Which, if you think about it doesn’t put it into the past as much as it suggests that days don’t die, they just grow old and their influence is lessened as time moves onward. All the while, the works done in these days, the things that people made during their’ prime, carry into the future.

It’s a curious way to think about time.

Though, getting back on track,the idea that things “aren’t made like they used to be” in that their not made to last like they used to be continues to be a common sentiment.

After all, it seems like things are moving so quickly that everything made new is made fast rather than to last. For example, my uncle recently took apart an old piano (maybe from the early 20th century) to turn it into a liquor cabinet and the mechanism for the hammer looks and works as if it was made yesterday — although the only metal pieces in it are the spring and the pin that holds the thing together.

Now, there’s no denying that modern tech is growing exponentially and so on and so forth, but that the sense that “they don’t make things like they used to” existed in the time of the Beowulf poet seems to me ridiculous. It suggests that human progress has always been happening, and that however fast our times are, the present always has an element of speed to it. It’s only when we look at all of the days behind us, all gathered around the nursing home table that we just happen to see those things that happened in them much more slowly.

Do you think that spending so much time on Beowulf’s getting his armour on helps build a sense of security? Or is it just the poet stalling for time?

Back To Top
Armour on Sea Bottoms

A European “mere-grund”1 is probably the best place to find old “eorl-gewæde”2.

I mean, no doubt several warriors perished in the “inwit-feng”3 of “sund-gebland”4 over the centuries, whether they were swimming or sailing across such waters. And those “ban-cofa”5 these warriors would leave behind, in a weird inside-out kind of way, probably made perfect caskets for such lost “here-byrne”6. We’re talking top of the line pieces of arms and armour that were “searo-fah”7 with “swin-lic”8.

Plus, if some of these warriors were always losing their purses or just wanted to have the skate punk look way before its time, maybe there’d be a few “frea-wrasn”9 with the armour, as well. Nothing like a nice chain to keep the cash close, right?

What I have to wonder though, is if ladies of lakes are willing to chuck up the odd “beado-mece”10 since “fyrn-dagum”11, why don’t they ever seem to give away armour too? They must really have it in for warriors everywhere. Or maybe Arthur hastily left after getting Excalibur and ruined getting full sets of arms for the rest of us.

1mere-grund: lake-bottom, bottom of the sea. mere (sea, ocean, lake, pond, pool, cistern) + grund (ground, bottom, foundation, abyss, hell, plain, country, land, eart, sea, water)

2eorl-gewæde: armour. eorl (brave man, warrior, leader, chief, man, earl, nobleman) + gewæde (robe, dress, apparel, clothing, garment, covering) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

3inwit-feng: spiteful clutch. inwit (evil, deceit, wicked, deceitful) + feng (grip, grasp, embrace, capture, prey, booty) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

4sund-gebland: commingled sea, surge. sund (swimming, capacity for swimming, sea, ocean, water) + gebland (blending, mixture, confusion) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

5ban-cofa: bodily frame. ban (bone, tusk, the bone of a limb) + cofa (clost, chamber, ark, cave, den)

6here-byrne: corslet. here (predatory band, troop, army, host, multitude) + byrne (corslet) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

7searo-fah: variegated, cunningly inlaid. searo (art, skill, cleverness, cunning, device, trick, snare, ambuscade, plot, treachery, work of art, cunning device, engine of war, armour, war-gear, trappings) + fag (variegated, spotted, dappled, stained, dyed, shining, gleaming) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

8swin-lic: boar image. swin (wild boar, pig, hog, swine, boar image) + lic (like, alike, similar, equal, suitable, likely) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

9frea-wrasn: splendid chain. frea (lord, king, master, the Lord, Christ, God, husband) + wrasen (band, tie, chain) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

10beado-mece: battle sword. beado (war, battle, fighting, strife) + mece (sword, blade) (A word exclusive to Beowulf)

11fyrn-dagum: days of yore. fyrn (former, ancient, formerly, of old, long ago, once) + dæg (day, lifetime, Last Day, name of the rune for “d”)

Back To Top
Closing

Next week, Hrothgar’s sleazy counsellor Unferth gives Beowulf a gift.

Back To Top