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

See all articles by Peter Gainsford

Peter Gainsford

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

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

Gainsford, Peter, The Deaths of Beowulf and Odysseus: Narrative Time and Mythological Tale-Types (2012). Classica et Mediaevalia 63: 247-278, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2665957

Peter Gainsford (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
122
Abstract Views
675
rank
309,289
PlumX Metrics