Untydras ealle: Grendel, Cain, and Vṛtra: Indo-European 'śruti' and Christian 'smṛti' in 'Beowulf'


This paper examines some of the Christian allusions in Beowulf. While some of these may be interpolations, the reference to Cain and Abel seems well-intergrated into the poem. On the other hand, the references to a divine flood appear on closer inspection to be grounded in Indo-European rather than Christian myth. I conclude that Beowulf is essentially a ‘Germanic’ story representing a pre-Christian world-view and that the integration of the ‘Cain and Abel’ mythologem into the story does not imply a large-scale adoption of Christian ideas.

In Geardagum 27: 1–32.
Benjamin Slade
Assistant Professor of Linguistics