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An ethnic dating of Beowulf

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 June 2007

Abstract

An interest in Danish legend first appears at the West Saxon court in the 890s when King Alfred traced his father's lineage to Scyld. Alfred traced his mother's ancestry through the Jutish kings of Wight to Goths and Geats, suggesting a motive for the particular view of the ethnic past we find in Beowulf, especially the friendship the poet constructs between a Geatish ætheling and a Danish monarch. A modification of Michael Lapidge's paleographical dating of the archetype of Beowulf (2000) indicates a West Saxon exemplar before c. 900, confirming the mature king's court as a plausible context for Beowulf's composition.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2006

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