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Thread: Is Beowulf based on a real person?

  1. #1
    Farnan's Avatar Useful Idiot
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    Default Is Beowulf based on a real person?

    Was the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf based on a real person (though full of symbolism and myth)?
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    roy34543's Avatar Ninja
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    Default Re: Is Beowulf based on a real person?

    Im not sure. but most myths tend to be.
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    Scorch's Avatar One of Giga's Ladies
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    Default Re: Is Beowulf based on a real person?

    It's not unheard of for epic poetry to be loosely based on real events. Loosely is the key word there, however.
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    ThiudareiksGunthigg's Avatar Tasmanian Devil
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    Default Re: Is Beowulf based on a real person?

    One of the events in Beowulf which can be given an accurate date is the death of Hygelac, which the poem says happened while he was on a raid on Frisia. Gregory of Tours recounts how a "King Chlochilaicus" (who he says was Danish) raided Frisia and was killed in battle with Theudebert, son of King Theuderic of the Franks. This happened in AD 516. "Chlochilaicus" is a Latinised form of Hygelac.

    The poem depicts Beowulf as the nephew of Hygelac (his father Ecgetheow married Hygelac's sister) and says he succeeded his cousin, Hygelac's son Headred, when the latter is killed in battle with the Swedes.

    So Hygelac seems to have been historical, but whether Beowulf was actually his nephew or whether he was attached to the story of the Geatish royal family is not clear.

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