Monday, 24 September 2012

How They Connect

In Poul Anderson's Hrolf Kraki's Saga (New York, 1973), of two brothers jointly ruling Denmark, Hroar is the king who is helped by the hero Beowulf whereas Helgi is both father and grandfather of the hero Hrolf Kraki. Thus, Halfdan, father of Hroar and Helgi, unites the stories of Beowulf and Hrolf in a way similar to that in which Abraham, as the father of both Ishmael and Isaac, unites the stories of Islam and Judaism.

The picture, taken from Wikipedia, shows Helgi and Yrsa who marry not knowing that they are father and daughter. Thus, the title character of the Saga is born perhaps sooner than expected in Chapter II which, according to the family tree in the beginning of the book, still deals with Skjoldungs two generations prior to Hrolf.

For me at least, the close connection with Beowulf came as a surprise as did something else. Of Helgi, we are told:

"Himself he poured water upon the boy and named him Hrolf." (p. 74)

I had not known that Pagan naming ceremonies involved pouring water on the baby. I do not think that modern Pagans do this but will ask.

1 comment:

Paul Shackley said...

An expert in ancient and modern Pagansim will look into it for me.