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The Waning Sword: Conversion Imagery and Celestial Myth in 'Beowulf'

The Waning Sword: Conversion Imagery and Celestial Myth in 'Beowulf'

The image of a giant sword melting stands at the structural and thematic heart of the Old English heroic poem Beowulf. This meticulously researched book investigates the nature and significance of this golden-hilted weapon and its likely relatives within Beowulf and beyond, drawing on the fields of Old English and Old Norse language and literature, liturgy, archaeology, astronomy, folklore and comparative mythology. In Part I, Pettit explores the complex of connotations surrounding this image (from icicles to candles and crosses) by examining a range of medieval sources, and argues that the giant sword may function as a visual motif in which pre-Christian Germanic concepts and prominent Christian symbols coalesce. In Part II, Pettit investigates the broader Germanic background to this... Show More

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