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Treasure and the life course in Genesis A and Beowulf

Faulkner, Amy; (2021) Treasure and the life course in Genesis A and Beowulf. In: Porck, Thijs and Soper, Harriet, (eds.) Early medieval English life courses: cultural-historical perspectives. (pp. 229-250). Brill: Leiden, Netherlands. Green open access

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Abstract

In Old English heroic poetry, significant moments of transition in the life course are accompanied by the transmission of wealth. In the genealogical sections of Genesis A, for example, the cycles of death and succession are punctuated with the inheritance and distribution of wealth, just as in Beowulf succession tends to be marked by a valuable gift. Though the body of the parent perishes, their legacy continues in the form of their heir, and the treasure which that heir controls. This paper firstly identifies a model for death and succession, used repeatedly in Genesis A, which combines the central elements of this heroic ideal: the death of the leader, their wealth, their heir and what the heir does with this wealth. Secondly, this paper argues that the failure of this model at the end of Beowulf reflects the poet’s preoccupation with uncertain dynastic succession at the end of the poem.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Treasure and the life course in Genesis A and Beowulf
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/9789004501867_011
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004501867_011
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.
UCL classification: 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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155590
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