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Gold and the heathen polity in Beowulf

North, R; (2019) Gold and the heathen polity in Beowulf. In: Sahm, H and Heizmann, W and Millet, V, (eds.) Gold in der Heldensage. (pp. 72-114). Walter de Gruyter: Berlin, Germany. Green open access

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Abstract

In Beowulf, in which there is public gold, personal gold and the hidden gold which can send its owner to hell, King Hrothgar gives Beowulf more of the first kind in order to withhold from him the second, so helping him to the third. Not only the hero of Beowulf but virtually everyone else in this poem is heading for damnation, and yet the poet points to King Beowulf’s. Because the dead king is his theme, and because ignorance of Christ defines the difference between Beowulf’s polity and his own, the poet makes Beowulf the best of his bygone world and then shows how the drive for gold destroys him.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Gold and the heathen polity in Beowulf
ISBN-13: 978-3-11-061451-0
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1515/9783110614510
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110614510
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Gold, Beowulf, Hrothgar, Paganism, Dragon, Treasure, Kingship
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of English Lang and Literature
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058485
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