I’m not alone in the belief that “Beowulf” is among the greatest legends ever written in the English language. Many are the giants of English literature who have dissected it to unravel its secrets, not least among them being J.R.R. Tolkien whose works are heavily inspired by the Beowulf saga. Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and an expert on the topic of Beowulf, and he is largely credited with popularizing the legend, which had previously been regarded as unworthy of study. This article will be the first part of a series which will give an overview of the narrative, the plot and some important background information. We will also delve deeper into the intimidating mere of the myth that many consider to be England’s National Epic, by interpreting the themes and devices that make this thousand-year-old myth relevant to modern man.Continue reading
Some years ago I gathered as much information as I could find on my ancestors in order to compile a family tree. It was a difficult task, considering the rarity of my surname and the confusing history of Irish tribal/familial names, which have been so prone to change throughout the centuries. However it is worth mentioning that it has never before been so easy to construct a visual record of one’s history using online services such as Ancestry.com and local records. Nonetheless the task was still toilsome and required a great deal of research and detective work. Despite the challenge (or perhaps because of it), the building of my family tree was a fascinating process which has clarified my position within a long legacy of men and women to whom I am indebted for my genetic inheritance.Continue reading
Baldr (also Balder) is one of the major characters in the Norse mythos. A son of Odin (like most of the male Aesir) Baldr was said to be so charismatic and good-natured that he was beloved by all whom he met, and he is associated with light and warmth and the sun.
“The second son of Odin is Baldr, and good things are to be said of him. He is best, and all praise him; he is so fair of feature, and so bright, that light shines from him. A certain herb is so white that it is likened to Baldr’s brow; of all grasses it is whitest, and by it thou mayest judge his fairness, both in hair and in body. He is the wisest of the Æsir, and the fairest-spoken and most gracious; and that quality attends him, that none may gainsay his judgments. He dwells in the place called Breidablik, which is in heaven; in that place may nothing unclean be.”
-“Gylfaginning”, Brodeur’s translation.Continue reading