Symbel Beowulfe

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Symbel Beowulfe – An Embedded Play

Frands Herschend
Series OPIA, 84

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  • Published 2024
  • Isbn 9789150630442
  • Type Paperback
  • 96 pages
  • OPIA, 84
  • English
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Table of Contents

Probably quite late in the 7th century someone wrote down an Anglo-Saxon play about a feast. It was a historical play that seated its audience at a banquet that was held in the hall Heorot after Beowulf had vanquished Grendel: Symbel Beowulfe, A Feast for Beowulf. We can draw this conclusion because the poet who wrote the Beowulf epic annotated the play. He added verses between lines or in the middle of them. Had he wished to write a new epic he could have used the information in the play. Yet he insisted on quoting the original text except for one B verse—two perhaps offensive words. He embedded the original text as a source material and respected it as such. But he also took the liberty to misunderstand the play and inform his listeners of its dubious extravagance and character as well as its moral shortcomings and Judgement Day. The play is pagan; the poet Christian.

If we scratch off his text, we read a completely coherent artistic work about a lavish and entertaining banquet with dumb show, dialogue and sure enough, a twist in the end.