Heathen Gods in Old English Literature

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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 civilisation for which the Anglo-Saxons were so famous. Richard North offers a complete revision of our 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, Richard North reconstructs the slender Old English evidence in a highly imaginative and wholly original 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, with the aid of the latest historical and archaeological research. 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 a range of scholars in departments of Old English, Old Norse-Icelandic and Germanic literatures, Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology.

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