Hygelac’s Raid in Historiography and Poetry: The King’s Necklace and Beowulf as ‘Epic’

  • Edward CurrieEmail author


This article studies historical narratives about Hygelac’s failed raid in Frisia as analogues for the representation of the king’s treasure in Beowulf. Though the poet alters the raid’s sequence of events, he preserves the chief circumstances and major themes present in accounts of the attack, which strongly suggests that he knew a narrative about it not unlike what we find in historiography, and focuses on the treasure to illustrate a past rife with quarreling, as conflict revolves around Hygelac’s necklace. Furthermore, the author of Beowulf elaborated on the mobility of this treasure to compose a poem, which, if it cannot be called epic, has epic pretensions.


Old English literature Beowulf Medieval Latin historiography Epic poetry 



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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Queens CollegeNew YorkUSA

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