The Dynastic Drama of "Beowulf"
The original audience of Beowulf was steeped in ancient Scandinavian royal legend. But for modern readers of the poem, these traditions are frustratingly obscure and confusing. By placing the Scyldings, Scylfings and Hrethlings at the centre of the discussion, this book presents a new reading of Beowulf in which the hero's three great monster-fights are viewed as part of a wider dynastic drama concerning the fates of royal houses and nations. It offers a new theory of the work's structure, fresh readings of contentious passages and a re-consideration of the poet's originality. It also brings into sharper focus the poet's debt to biblical paradigms of kingship and the work's cultural relevance to the Anglo-Saxons as their own Book of Kings.
Beowulf, Kingship, Old English Literature, Anglo-Saxon England