Friday, 24 June 2016

The High King Bjovulf

Poul Anderson, Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973), p. 161.

"'On the shores of Lake Vener dwell the West Gotar, who pay scot to the High King Bjovulf.'"

"'...they do say Bjovulf is a good overlord.'"

"When Bjovulf later fell in strife against a dragon, trouble broke forth among the Gotar."

Do we realize what is happening here? We have read of Bjovulf earlier in the Saga. He:

killed the monster Grendel that had terrorized the hall of Hrolf's uncle, Hroar;

killed Grendel's mother who "...came in vengeance..." (p. 65);

swam in his byrnie to the Gota ships after their king had fallen in battle (p. 75);

refused the kingship but guided the kingdom;

however, later did become king;

with Hroar's help, established Adhils as king in Svithjodh -

- and now has died fighting a dragon.

Anderson's text:

summarizes Bjovulf's/Beowulf's exploits as recounted in Beowulf;
tells us of additional events that happened between Grendel's mother and the dragon.

Thus, an effective crossover and parallel text.

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

And we see dragon slayings in the works of JRR Tolkien as well. Most obviously in the cases of Turin Turambar and Glaurung and Bard the Archer's slaying of Smaug.

And Poul Anderson shows us how an engineer like Holger Carlsen fended off a dragon using WATER in THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS. Which I thought an amusing variation on the theme!