This is the companion strip for The Annotated Anti-Girl. Click to enlarge.
November 14, 2008
November 11, 2008
Okay, back to the funny. I made a 2 page strip this week.
Click to enlarge.
August 17, 2008
February 28, 2008
The hart in Germanic society was a symbol of regality and purity.
Grendel, associated with Cain the “primordial kinslayer,” represents social disunity
Despite boasting in their cups the hollowness of heroic Scylding society based on a free beot [pledge] is soon apparent, and the comitatus dwindles…
And as Hrothgar’s men are either unwilling or unable to protect Heorot, so the Geats are unable to stand up to the dragon with Beowulf later on.
Beowulf’s death has epic implications: it marks the end of a way of life, the destruction of a civilization. The death of Hector resulted in the fall of Troy. Arthur’s death meant the end of the Round Table. Beowulf’s death will bring with it the demise of the kingdom of the Geats…
In classical tragedy the hero struggles against the fate which some personal tragic flaw has brought about. In this kind of epic literature, however, evil is usually confined to agents external to the hero: Arthur’s Mordred or Beowulf’s monsters. The epic hero goes willingly to his fate, even though the awful consequences of his choice must be as clear to himself as to anyone else. Beowulf dismisses his comitatus, but continues to act in light of the ethical requirements of that group. He believes for an instant–the instant of beot–that he may overcome the dragon, that he may preserve the way of life they all know. The hero defies his fate, but in a spirit of resignation: fate will go always as it must…His decision may seem to be brought about by pride but, unlike the classical hubris, it is external and clear, not what he but society expects.
Michael Swanton, 1978
February 28, 2008
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Magennis emphasizes that treachery exists within groups as well as between them.
Unferth killed his own brother, and the Danes not only tolerate this, but even give him a place of honor in the hall, sitting at Hrothgar’s feet.
Heremond, a bloodthirsty former king who turned on his companions, is alluded to.
Hrothulf eventually betrays Hrothgar.
The Geats fail Beowulf in the end.
Beowulf accepts the shortcomings of others and tries to do his best; it is a grim fact that people disappoint. He doesn’t expect too much of them.
notes from Hugh Magennis, Images of Community in Old English Poetry, 1996
February 15, 2008
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The picture so presented accords with that of the Old English elegy. Happiness and prosperity — all human goods except, perhaps, fame — are transitory. Victories may sometimes be gained, but wars are never really won, and fate stands ever ready to sweep away the lives and works of men. The Christian answer was, of course, to seek the permanent bliss of heaven. The heroic answer, as embodied in Beowulf, is a valiant stoicism: ‘Do your utmost. A good name is all you can win in this world.’ Very much the same philosophy is summed up in the epitaph (perhaps legendary) of a cowboy: ‘Here lies Bronco Bill. He always done his damnedest.’ Angels, it was once observed in a different context, can do no more.
In the light of this philosophy, the ‘tragedy of the Geats’ implicit in Beowulf’s death, of which some commentators make a great deal, becomes less significant. All that any man can leave his heirs is a good name and a valiant example. If they cannot be wise and valiant in their own right, then he cannot save them. Those who appear to think that if Beowulf could somehow have survived his contest with the dragon both he and the Geats would have survived forever should reread both the poem and history.
-JDA Ogilvy and Donald C Baker, Reading Beowulf, 1983
February 6, 2008
Niles sees Beowulf as the only character in the poem who truly lives up to the ideals of bravery, loyalty, and duty — elements of the heroic code which appears to be “eminently practical in that societies are shown to stand or fall in accord with their ability to sustain it.”
[Beowulf] does not cause the troubles that the Geats are soon to suffer. They bring these troubles on themselves. The poet makes this point clear in Wiglaf’s speech to the ten cowardly Geats, when they emerge from the woods ‘shame-faced’ to face his tongue-lashing…
He singles out the Geats’ cowardice, not their hero’s death, as the source of their approaching misfortunes. Those who condemn the king for dying seem to assume that he was going to live forever. The important question is: Will the king leave behind him leaders capable of defending the realm with courage and strength like his? The Geats have provided a visible answer to this question by running away.
John D Niles, Beowulf: The Poem and its Tradition, 1983
February 2, 2008
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According to Fred C Robinson in “History, Religion, Culture,” 1984:
Ring giving, the redistribution of wealth, is associated with joy, security, social ties; stinginess suggests an “almost pathological unhappiness.”
Modern English “misery” shares the same root as “miser,” from the Latin miseria, which means “wretched.”
January 14, 2008
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Regarding ring-giving, treasure hoards, and loot as symbols of the courage of the men who won the gold:
According to scholar Barry Tharaud, the spoils of war are meaningless if they are not acquired through acts of bravery. “When an outlaw steals a gold cup from a dragon’s treasure hoard…it is a blow against the entire heroic system because it reduces the symbolic value of things to mere material value. It is a fall from the heroic world to a less ideal world in which symbols are deceptive and equivocal.”
When the chieftain bestowed treasure upon his thegns he was expressing admiration and recognition for their deeds, but also confidence that the men would continue to fight bravely in the future. A warriors acceptance of the gifts amounted to an oath of continued loyalty. The gifting cycle (ideally) created bonds of brotherhood and trust.
Tharaud on epics:
“Whether an epic is composed to be sung or read, its most important characteristic is that it tells the story of a society or culture — usually during a time of crisis — in such a way as to expose contradictions inherent in the values of that society.”
January 13, 2008
In 449 (according to Bede), Vortigern invited the Angles to Britain to help fight off Picts and Scots.
King Hygelac died around 521 in a raid on what is now the Netherlands.
Anglo-Saxons converted to Christianity around 590′s (Christianity had been introduced by the Romans earlier on but the new religion was fused with the old heroic ideals)
Scholars think there was a time gap of a couple hundred years between conversion and the composition of the Beowulf poem. It was probably written sometime between 700 and 900.