The Deaths of Beowulf and Odysseus: Narrative Time and Mythological Tale-Types
Classica et Mediaevalia 63: 247-278, 2012
21 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2015
Date Written: 2012
Juxtaposing the stories of Beowulf's and Odysseus' deaths highlights some distinctive features of each, with particular attention to narrative time. In Beowulf, the triad of symbols 'death-dragon-hoard' emerges as a meaningful constellation, with an underlying tale-type concerned with death, immortality, and narrative resolution, as illustrated by comparanda such as Gilgamesh. In the Odyssey, by contrast, death and resolution are deferred to an indefinite future. The standard narrative of Odysseus' death, the Telegonos legend, is a variant of the 'mortal combat of the father and son' tale-type, and is a fuller exemplar of that type than has been appreciated.
Keywords: Mythology, Folktale, Homer, Odyssey, Beowulf, Death, Old English, Ancient Greek, Thanatology
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation