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King Beowulf And Ealdormonn Byrhtnoð

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes an analogue in King Beowulfs dragon fight. The Christian allegorists like W. F. Bolton or, most recently, Richard Hillman propose that Ealdormonn Byrhtno represents a type of Christ, either (for Bolton) a reflection of Christ in the wilderness or (for Hillman) Christ on the cross. While dying with ones slain lord is mentioned prominently in Tacituss Germania, it has seemed unimaginable to some critics that the custom could have survived even as a literary convention from the first century to the tenth. While Beowulf is a king, Byrhtno is the regional ealdormonn, not a king per se but a surrogate responsible for administering and defending a huge territory. Maldon could be deemed a poem of celebration, especially for the thanes who died fulfilling a heroic duty.

Keywords: Ealdormonn Byrhtnoð; King Beowulf; Maldon

10.1163/ej.9789004171701.i-420.61
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