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Death and Treasure in Exodus and Beowulf

Faulkner, A; (2020) Death and Treasure in Exodus and Beowulf. English Studies , 101 (7) pp. 785-801. 10.1080/0013838X.2020.1847916. Green open access

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Abstract

The poet of the Old English Exodus is often assumed to have been influenced by the well-known allegorical interpretations of the biblical Exodus. As such, scholars have read the Egyptians’ plundered treasures, which play a much larger role in the Old English poem than in the biblical account, in these allegorical terms. However, while acknowledging that allegorical interpretations of Exodus must have been known to the Old English poet, this paper will argue that the despoiling of the Egyptians is informed as much (if not more so) by the heroic, vernacular tradition, in which death and the loss of treasure are closely associated. By comparing the scene of plunder at the start of Exodus with three scenes of deprivation in Beowulf, this paper will argue that the poet of Exodus had this tradition in mind when composing the account of death and despoiling on the night of the Israelites’ departure.

Type: Article
Title: Death and Treasure in Exodus and Beowulf
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/0013838X.2020.1847916
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/0013838X.2020.1847916
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Exodus, Beowulf, biblical poetry, heroic poetry
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/10117195
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