IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 701: Kings, Heroes, and the City of Rome: Perspectives on Anglo-Saxon Literature

Tuesday 10 July 2012, 14.15-15.45

Moderator/Chair:Elaine Treharne, Department of English, Florida State University
Paper 701-aPeter Brown and the Importance of Rome in Anglo-Saxon Literature
(Language: English)
Hollie Thomas, School of History, Philosophy, Religion & Classics, University of Queensland
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Mentalities
Paper 701-bQuid Beowulfus cum Christo?: Virtuous Heathens, the Old Testament, and Counter-Orthodox Depictions of Salvation
(Language: English)
Abraham Cleaver, School of Language, Literature & Culture, Trinity College Dublin
Index terms: Language and Literature - Comparative, Language and Literature - Old English
Paper 701-cTo Rule or Not to Rule: On Kingship Succession and Political Wisdom in Beowulf
(Language: English)
Yung-Chih Cheng, Department of English, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan
Index terms: Historiography - Medieval, Language and Literature - Old English, Political Thought

Paper -a:
In The Rise of Western Christendom, Peter Brown views Western Europe in the early middle ages as a world without a centre. Subsequently, he argues that the Anglo-Saxons were interested in an idea of universal Christendom, rather than in the city of Rome herself. This paper proposes a re-evaluation of the written sources of the period from the baptism of King Æthelberht of Kent in c.597 to the Norman Conquest, taking Frankish literature of the same period as a useful point of comparison. It will argue that in fact the Anglo-Saxons held a fascination for the city unparalleled in the period and that it was a Roman, rather than a universal Christendom which they sought to emulate.

Paper -b:
Within Beowulf the language used to describe the deaths of Beowulf and Scyld is spiritually ambiguous. As Scyld and Beowulf are heathens, according to Christian orthodoxy, they would suffer damnation, but the language the poet uses to describe their deaths implies they may have actually attained salvation. This paper examines the specifand language and explores the relationship between Germanic Heroic myth, the Old Testament, and Christian perceptions of Salvation.

Paper -c:
Political wisdom about kingship succession is conveyed in Beowulf. A king’s son usually takes the kingship when his king father dies though this is not the definite rule in Anglo-Saxon society. Beowulf willingly becomes the Geats’ king when there is no other suitable person long after he rejects the offer made by Queen Hygd when Hygelac dies. That Beowulf leaves Hrothgar’s court timely, Beowulf has no son, and the dragon-killing hero Wiglaf has the honor to become Beowulf’s successor – all of these events show that the Beowulf poet believes a tested hero, not the untested king’s son, is the most suitable person for kingship.