Heathen Gods in Old English Literature
Cambridge University Press, Dec 11, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 374 pages
Heathen gods are hard to find in Old English literature. Most Anglo-Saxon writers had no interest in them, and scholars today prefer to concentrate on the Christian civilization for which the Anglo-Saxons were so famous. Richard North offers an interesting view of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian paganism and mythology in the pre-Viking and Viking age. He discusses the pre-Christian gods of Bede's history of the Anglo-Saxon conversion with reference to an orgiastic figure known as Ingui, whom Bede called 'god of this age'. Using expert knowledge of comparative literary material from Old Norse-Icelandic and other Old Germanic languages, North reconstructs the slender Old English evidence in a highly imaginative treatment of poems such as Deor and The Dream of the Rood. Other gods such as Woden are considered with reference to Odin and his family in Old Norse-Icelandic mythology. In conclusion, it is argued that the cult of Ingui was defeated only when the ideology of the god Woden was sponsored by the Anglo-Saxon church. The book will interest students interested in Old English, Old Norse-Icelandic and Germanic literatures, Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology.
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