Celtic knot
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Celtic Knot. What do you notice about this pattern?. Illustration from The Book of Kells (approx. 800 AD). How can you compare/contrast with the previous image?. Church doors: Sognefjord , Norway. What do you notice? Similarities/differences from previous pictures?.

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Celtic Knot

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Celtic knot

Celtic Knot

What do you notice about this pattern?

Illustration from the book of kells approx 800 ad

Illustration from The Book of Kells (approx. 800 AD)

How can you compare/contrast with the previous image?

Church doors sognefjord norway

Church doors: Sognefjord, Norway

What do you notice? Similarities/differences from previous pictures?

Viking brooch replica based on ancient design

Viking brooch (replica based on ancient design)

What parallels can be drawn between this graphic art (Celtic and Norse) and Beowulf?

The interlace structure of beowulf

The interlace structure of Beowulf

  • Based on the work of John Leyerle, University of Toronto

  • Beowulf shifts rapidly in terms of place, time with little concern for chronological order

  • Composed at a time when great value placed on interlacing design, complexity of which has not been reached since

Interlace basics

Interlace basics

  • Seen in variety of places: jewelry, metal and stone work, calligraphy, other forms of decoration (ships, etc.)

  • Ribbons of interlace appear both in knots, etc. and zoomorphs (animal forms like the brooch)

  • The tighter the ribbons, the harder it is to follow an individual strand

  • High level of skill and intricacy dispels, in part, the idea of Anglo-Saxons being ignorant and crude

Interlacing in beowulf

Interlacing in Beowulf

  • Variation of two or more subjects = stylistic interlace

  • Examples of interlace:

    • Hygelac’s Frisian expedition comes in four parts

    • Lines 1202-14, 2354-68, 2501-9, and 2913-21

    • Interlacing allows for a juxtaposition not possible with linear narrative

      • Beowulf’s gift of golden torque connected to its later loss when Hygelac killed

      • Beowulf’s preparation to face dragon connected to Hygelac’s Frisian adventure

      • Hygelac’s death seeking treasure parallel’s Beowulf’s death with dragon

Interlacing and the heroic story

Interlacing and the heroic story

  • Only two episodes told in chronological order: killing of Grendel and his mother, and the fighting of dragon

  • Narrative intersected by other stories which provide a different perspective

    • As Beowulf prepares to fight dragon, continues allusions to Swedish wars, illustrating the full consequences of Beowulf’s actions

    • Human threat far more menacing than the dragon

  • Interlacing allows for connection to circular nature of time, reoccurrence of human actions all told through a circular medium

Finding the parallels

Finding the parallels

  • Fighting monsters

    • Beowulf fights the water monsters when swimming against Braca/battles Grendel’s mother in the water

    • Unferð (mar-peace) issues insult against Beowulf, he responds by saying Unferð killed his own brother connecting him to Cain, Grendel

  • Hospitality

    • Grendel breaks hospitality of Heorot/ Freawaru’s marriage to Ingeld results in the erupting of a feud and Heorot is burned

Additional parallels

Additional parallels

  • Gold

    • Leaders give gold to their retainers for their continued allegiance/ monsters like Grendel, the dragon hoard treasure

    • Beowulf does not take treasure from Grendel’s cave –there for revenge/ Hygelac and Beowulf are later destroyed by treasure (Frisians/dragon)

  • Funerals

    • Poem begins and ends with death of leaders, bringing it full circle

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