Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 2573
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Hill , Thomas D.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: Haliurunnas, Helrunan, and the History of Grendel's Mother
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 34, 3 (Spring 2001): Appendix A: Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies. Conference paper presented at the Thirty-Sixth International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, May 3-6, 2001, Nineteenth Symposium on the Sources of A
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Beowulf, Old English Epic Grendel's Mother Literature- Verse Monsters Women in Literature
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 8-9
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  • Abstract: The term helrunan, which occurs in Beowulf 163, is an obscure word in Old English; the only other Old English examples are in glosses. There is, however, a Gothic cognate, haljurunnas which occurs in Jordannes Getica in the context of a story about magas nudiercs who are exiled into the wilderness, where they are impregnated by unclean spirits and give birth to mon-sters (Huns). This etiological myth about the origin of a people is patterned after a preexistent Gothic narrative about the generation of monsters, which seems strik-ingly similar to the "Enochian" prehistory of Grendel and his mother as reconstructed by such scholars as R. E. Kaske and Ruth Mellinkoff. The evidence would thus point to the conclusion that lrelrunarr are specifically female monsters/witches an J that Grendel is half snitch and half evil spirit, a conclusion supported by the language of the poem. [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: Cornell University
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 2001.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
  • Material/Technique :
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