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Ideal structures in Hrothgar's 'Raed'

Cynthia Ann Balcom, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This analysis is limited to those Ideal Structures found in the 84 lines of text commonly called "Hrothgar's Homily." Essentially, each line is analyzed in the following manner: (1) The two or three words carrying the sound patterning for the line are noted. (2) Each occurrence of the stem-syllables and derived forms (derived forms are considered to be variants of the words) are checked in Klaeber's glossary. Occurrences are double-checked using Bessinger & Smith's Concordance. (3) All lines containing the stem-syllables and derived forms are checked to see whether that particular word participates in the dominant sound-patterning of that verse line. If it does, it is so designated on the master list. (4) The lists of each of the two words in the original line are then compared to find the percentage of simultaneous designated. (5) The lines in which these structures occur are then compared and analyzed to determine a patter of meaning and to see if the Ideal Structure affects that line even when it is negated or contrasted. The Structures commonly appear every three lines except in two portions of the text, lines 1730-1751 and 1769-1783. Twelve Structures were found. The Structures have been classified in three groups based on their information content. Type A, Primal Structures, is the least represented, but perhaps the oldest. It is represented by one Structure: fyr/flod in line 1764. Type B Structures are the Structures that deal with the interrelationships within the society, namely the reciprocal duties of king and people. The five Structures within this classification are: sod secgan (1700), fremman/folc (1701), halep/help (1709), leod/laer (1722), and wuldor/waldend (1752). Type C Structures describe the personal attributes of the Anglo-Saxon warrior. The Structures within this class are: maegen/mod (1706), dead/dom (ll. 1712, 1768), maere/mon (1715), mon/mod (1729), faege/faellan (1755), and wig/weord (1783). The placement of the Structures contributes to the content and significance of the speech. The Structures enable the audience to understand the ritual significance of Hrothgar's speech and they reflect the themes which concern the poet in the speech. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Literature|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Balcom, Cynthia Ann, "Ideal structures in Hrothgar's 'Raed'" (1989). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8917328.