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The Wisdom Context Of The Sigemund-Heremod And Hunferð Digressions

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines two episodes of the Beowulf. The Sigemund-Heremod digression, predicts Beowulf s destiny by describing two paths for the potential wrecca that Beowulf represents. Sigemunds behavior is distinguished by successes like Beowulf s: encounters with men and monsters, including a dragon. In the Sigemund-Heremod digression Hunfers nobleman narrates the stories of the legendary Germanic hero Sigemund and the equally legendary but reckless Danish king Heremod on the morning after Beowulf overcomes Grendel. The absence of Fitela in Sigemunds dragon fight documents the thematic relevance of Heremods tale as one of two possible futures for Beowulf: scrupulous heroism or infamy. The ambivalent Beowulf that the anonymous singer anticipates emerges most visibly in the poems digressions. Critical approbation for Beowulf s victorious response in the Hunfer dispute has done away with an equivocation implicit in the flytings or verbal debates attested in Old Icelandic sagas and Eddic verse.

Keywords: Beowulf; Hunferð digression; Sigemund-Heremod digression

10.1163/ej.9789004171701.i-420.21
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