History Community ~ All Empires Homepage


This is the Archive on WORLD Historia, the old original forum.

 You cannot post here - you can only read.

 

Here is the link to the new forum:

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Forum LockedCannibalism in Beowulf and other Old English Texts

 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <123>
Author
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04-May-2009 at 21:19
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Are the Grendels strictly speaking 'villains', rather than representatives of an alien enemy?
Are the Grendel's villains, yes.  They are villains because they are described as such in the poem.  They are called, "wicked one," "infamous one," and other names that place them as villains.  From the point of view of Hroðgar, Beowulf and the poet the Grendels are definitely enemies.  Furthermore, they are clearly placed as cognitive beings by the poet, scholars, and St. Augustine.  I personally think that the Grendels are villains and representatives of an alien enemy; one can be both.
Quote A man-eating lion is surely not a 'villain'?
It can be a villain if the story is a metaphor; ie: a lion eating a lamb - Christ is often described/shown as a lamb if the lion is eating this lamb in this specific setting one can easily see the lion as a villain.  But enough being cute.  A man-eating lion can certainly be a villain, since its actions fall under the definition of villain.  Villain is defined by dictionary.com as follows:
Quote vil·lain  n.  
  1. A wicked or evil person; a scoundrel.
  2. A dramatic or fictional character who is typically at odds with the hero.
  3. also (vĭl'ān', vĭ-lān') Variant of villein.
  4. Something said to be the cause of particular trouble or an evil: poverty, the villain in the increase of crime.
  5. Obsolete A peasant regarded as vile and brutish.

[Middle English vileinfeudal serf, person of coarse feelings, from Old French, from Vulgar Latin *vīllānusfeudal serf, from Latinvīllacountry house; see weik-1 in Indo-European roots.]
As you can see a man-eating line can be a villain under definition four.  If the man-eating lion is a character in a novel or other fictitious work, then it can be a villain under definition 2.  Under these definitions the Grendels are villains as well.  The Grendels are also clearly representative of an alien enemy because of the foreign behaviors.

Beyond the cannibalism in your story, Cyrus, I'm not seeing the similarities.


Edited by King John - 04-May-2009 at 21:21
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 10:36
I guess I can live with that, King John. It still rings a little unconvicingly in my ears, basically I think because I'm conditioned to think of a 'villain' as someone who knowingly does wrong - that is, someone who knows that what he is doing is wrong.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
Cyrus Shahmiri View Drop Down
Tsar
Tsar
Avatar
King of Kings

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Iran
Status: Offline
Points: 3963
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cyrus Shahmiri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 13:16
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

How is that similar to the Beowulf legend? Beowulf kills Grendel, his mother and a dragon. All you're saying is that there's a Persian legend in which a hero doesn't even kill, merely imprisons, an evil king. There's a similar Avestan story about Azhidahak in which he actually kills a three-headed serpent, and the linkage of the myths there is obvious.
 
But no mother, no mysterious beast and no dragon. Are you really going to claim that any story in which someone kills someone is therefore 'similar' enough to a Persian myth to indicate one affected the other?
 
PS I know there are several other versions of the Persian story. None of them is in the least like Beowulf, for one thing because the heroes are always Persian whereas Beowulf is an incoming outsider who takes over the kingdom he frees.  
Where did you read that Beowulf kills Grendel?! As I read both cannibals in Anglo-Saxon and Persian texts, are just wounded by the heroes, you can read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grendel "Grendel dies in his cave under the swamp", so we see these two stories are so much similar to each other.
When I said "Fereydun is the Persian hero", I didn't mean that Fereydun was Persian but the hero in the Persian texts is Fereydun, in fact there were no Persian, or even Iranian people in that time, you can read here about Fereydun: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fereydun At the end of his life he allocated his kingdom to his three sons; Salm, Tur, and Iraj. Iraj was Fereydun’s youngest and favored son and inherited the best part of the kingdom namely Iran. Salm inherited Asia Minor ("Rūm", more generally meaning the Roman Empire, the Greco-Roman world, or just "the West") and Tur inherited Central Asia ("Tūrān", all the lands north and east of the Oxus, as far as China), respectively.
Vadak, mother of Azhidahak, was also a Cannibal and according to Zoroastrian texts she was even worse than her son Azhidahak.
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 15:02
Beowulf inflicts the wound that kills Grendel.  Another way of saying this is that Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel; therefore Beowulf is the one that kills Grendel.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 15:14
Whatever nationality Fereydun may have been, he nevertheless became king of his own people, not a foreign one. And he didn't kill Vadak: obviously every slain creature had a mother so it's pointless to argue that it's a significant similarity of Azhidahak to Grendel.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 15:27
Isn't Humbaba in Gilgamesh a cannibal? Irritatingly enough I can't find my copy (of the Mitchell translation).
 
(Yesterday I couldn't find Beowulf when I looked, but noticed Gilgamesh and didn't think it relevant - today I can't find Gilgamesh but keep stumbling on Beowulf. Now there's grounds for a conspiracy theory. Confused )


Edited by gcle2003 - 05-May-2009 at 15:36
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
Cyrus Shahmiri View Drop Down
Tsar
Tsar
Avatar
King of Kings

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Iran
Status: Offline
Points: 3963
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cyrus Shahmiri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 18:34
Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

Beowulf inflicts the wound that kills Grendel.  Another way of saying this is that Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel; therefore Beowulf is the one that kills Grendel.
I think the Old English text doesn't even say that Grendel really died but "hell received him", in this case he has the similar fate with Azhidahak, in fact they shouldn't be killed and just imprisoned in a hell, you can read the reason here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahhak (Frēdōn & Dahak are the Middle Persian forms of Fereydun and Azhidahak)
 
Frēdōn is said to have been endowed with the divine radiance of kings (xvarənah, New Persian farr) from birth, and was able to defeat Dahāg at the age of nine, striking him on shoulder, heart and skull with a mace and giving him three wounds with a sword. However, when he did so, vermin (snakes, insects and the like) emerged from the wounds, and the god Ormazd told him not to kill Dahāg, lest the world become infested with these creatures. Instead, Frēdōn chained Dahāg up and imprisoned him on the mythical Mt. Damāvand.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 19:43
Originally posted by Cyrus Shahmiri Cyrus Shahmiri wrote:

Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

Beowulf inflicts the wound that kills Grendel.  Another way of saying this is that Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel; therefore Beowulf is the one that kills Grendel.
I think the Old English text doesn't even say that Grendel really died but "hell received him",
Here's the OE text:
 
Here's Heaney's translation:
Quote
With his death upon him, he had dived deep
Into his marsh-den, drowned out his life
and his heathen soul: hell claimed him.
Monty Python couldn't have found a more emphatic way of saying he ws long gone, departed, and pushing up daisies.
Beowulf is a Christian poem. In Christianity hell only claims you when you are dead.


Edited by gcle2003 - 05-May-2009 at 19:45
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 21:06
Originally posted by Cyrus Shahmiri Cyrus Shahmiri wrote:

Originally posted by King John King John wrote:

Beowulf inflicts the wound that kills Grendel.  Another way of saying this is that Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel; therefore Beowulf is the one that kills Grendel.
I think the Old English text doesn't even say that Grendel really died but "hell received him", in this case he has the similar fate with Azhidahak, in fact they shouldn't be killed and just imprisoned in a hell, you can read the reason here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zahhak (Frēdōn & Dahak are the Middle Persian forms of Fereydun and Azhidahak).
The Old English text says on numerous occasions that Grendel died, I think you need to reread the poem.  This conversation, however, is not on topic; let's try and get back on topic.
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 21:11
Originally posted by Cyrus Shahmiri Cyrus Shahmiri wrote:

Frēdōn is said to have been endowed with the divine radiance of kings (xvarənah, New Persian farr) from birth, and was able to defeat Dahāg at the age of nine, striking him on shoulder, heart and skull with a mace and giving him three wounds with a sword. However, when he did so, vermin (snakes, insects and the like) emerged from the wounds, and the god Ormazd told him not to kill Dahāg, lest the world become infested with these creatures. Instead, Frēdōn chained Dahāg up and imprisoned him on the mythical Mt. Damāvand.
 Maybe it's just me but, while this is interesting, I'm failing to see how it relates to the topic at hand.  What does this have to do with cannibalism?  Let's stay on topic.
Back to Top
bod View Drop Down
Janissary
Janissary
Avatar

Joined: 25-Apr-2009
Location: England
Status: Offline
Points: 24
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 21:47
Is Grendel and his mother human?

I Know they come from a human family, "kindred of Cain" but they are obviously much changed. I put them in the same category as the sea creatures and the dragon more monster than human.

They would have to be human to be described as cannibals.
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-May-2009 at 22:46
Originally posted by bod bod wrote:

Is Grendel and his mother human?

I Know they come from a human family, "kindred of Cain" but they are obviously much changed. I put them in the same category as the sea creatures and the dragon more monster than human.

They would have to be human to be described as cannibals.
I think you can make the case for them being human.  St. Augustine and Isidore of Seville place these monstrous creatures as humans.  Also if you look at how the Old English describes Grendel and Beowulf; you will see that they are described in similar terms.  There are also similarities between the living spaces of the Grendels and the Geats and Danes; the cave in the fen where the Grendels live is described as having a hall adorned similar to Heorot.  Let's also not forget that the poet tells us that the Grendels come from the race of Cain, granted this was a later addition to the poem.  For these reasons and more you can make the argument that the Grendels are in fact human.

Do monsters have to be non-human?
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-May-2009 at 11:49
bod's point that you have to be human to be a cannibal if you eat human flesh is valid. I withdraw Humbaba as a candidate Smile
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
Cyrus Shahmiri View Drop Down
Tsar
Tsar
Avatar
King of Kings

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Iran
Status: Offline
Points: 3963
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cyrus Shahmiri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 19:30
King John, I think you need to read more about Azhidahak to know what a cannibal is in the Indo-Eroupean culture, of course cannibals were originally humans but they were differed from humans when they became cannibal.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 19:35
Dogs are cannibals when they eat dogs, not when they eat people.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07-May-2009 at 23:09
Originally posted by Cyrus Shahmiri Cyrus Shahmiri wrote:

King John, I think you need to read more about Azhidahak to know what a cannibal is in the Indo-Eroupean culture, of course cannibals were originally humans but they were differed from humans when they became cannibal.
They didn't differ from humans when they became cannibals, they differed from a given culture remaining human (unless otherwise noted).  The Mermedonians of the peom Andreas were cannibals and repeatedly described as human; why were they not described as something other than human, since they were cannibals?  Saying their behavior made them into "monsters" doesn't mean they ceased to be humans.  THe fact of the matter is that Augustine and Isidore both argue the anthropophagi had souls; this firmly places them (the anthropophagi) within the human race.  

I'm not saying that there isn't a greater meaning behind the act of cannibalism, what I am saying is that becoming a cannibal doesn't mean ceasing to be human.
Back to Top
Cyrus Shahmiri View Drop Down
Tsar
Tsar
Avatar
King of Kings

Joined: 07-Aug-2004
Location: Iran
Status: Offline
Points: 3963
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Cyrus Shahmiri Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2009 at 14:18
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Dogs are cannibals when they eat dogs, not when they eat people.
I know what you mean, but a cow that eats flesh, however is still similar to a cow, but can not be called a cow, of course in some tragic events like the famine, there were people who had to eat other people but we don't call them cannibals, about Azhidahak we see he had really a body of a human but if he didn't eat the humans, in spite of the fact that there were many things that he, like the humans, could eat, then he would have to eat his own body, it shows he was not a human in essence or better to say he was originally a human who was changed to a cannibal.
Back to Top
gcle2003 View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 06-Dec-2004
Location: Luxembourg
Status: Offline
Points: 7011
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2009 at 14:41
Originally posted by Cyrus Shahmiri Cyrus Shahmiri wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

Dogs are cannibals when they eat dogs, not when they eat people.
I know what you mean, but a cow that eats flesh, however is still similar to a cow, but can not be called a cow,
You just called it one.
Quote
of course in some tragic events like the famine, there were people who had to eat other people but we don't call them cannibals, about Azhidahak we see he had really a body of a human but if he didn't eat the humans, in spite of the fact that there were many things that he, like the humans, could eat, then he would have to eat his own body, it shows he was not a human in essence or better to say he was originally a human who was changed to a cannibal.
The definition of a cannibal is a member of a species who/which eats other members of the same species, or parts of them.
 
Follow the logic of 'a cow that eats flesh (of a cow) cannot be a cow' and cannibalism would then never exist.
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork
Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.
Back to Top
bod View Drop Down
Janissary
Janissary
Avatar

Joined: 25-Apr-2009
Location: England
Status: Offline
Points: 24
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2009 at 16:18
"Thus were the noble warriors living happily in bliss until a certain one began to devise evil - a fiend of Hell. Grendel was the grim demon named - a mighty stalker of the marchers, who held fen and fastness. The joyless being dwelt awhile in the abode of the race of seamonsters after the creator had proscribed him. Upon the kindred of Cain did the Eternal Lord avenge that murder because he slew Abel. No pleasure had he in that feud, but for that crime the creator banished him far from mankind. Thence were born all the evil progeny  - Giants and elves and seamonsters;"  
(from Beowulf, translated by Wentworth Huyshe.)

Are these Giants and elves and seamonsters human too in the same way as Grendel ?

It is hard to put beings that are not real into a catagorySmile
Back to Top
King John View Drop Down
Immortal Guard
Immortal Guard
Avatar

Joined: 01-Dec-2006
Location: United States
Status: Offline
Points: 1368
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote King John Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09-May-2009 at 17:27
Beowulf places them as the progeny of Cain–a man, so yes I think you can say they are human.  Grendel's mother is called a sea-wolf (brimwylf in multiple places (lns. 1506 and 1599), she is also able to walk and live on land, what seamonsters do we know that can do this?  I think one can make the argument that these other groups of Cain's kindred are human, however, whether they are human or not is irrelevant for this discussion since the giants, elves, and nicors are not described in Beowulf as eating humans.  We must limit ourselves to discussing the beings that are explicitly said to eat human flesh.

Cyrus, your logic is flawed.  If a cow eats flesh, it is still as cow; nothing has changed to make the cow no longer a cow.  If I am not mistaken Hoof and Mouth/Mad Cow disease occurs when cows eat other cows.  Anatomically a cow is a cow no matter what it eats, just like a human is a human no matter what he/she eats.  Just because a being engages in cannibalism doesn't mean that that being ceases to be a member of that species.  To put it more clearly, a person who eats other people is a cannibal (because they eat another member of the species) and still a human nothing has changed making them a non-human.  If you want to say their behavior is less human, then yes that is true but they do not cease to be a human just because they devour human flesh.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply Page  <123>
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.10
Copyright ©2001-2017 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.047 seconds.