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- Beowulf - 2/101 -
Some errors and misplaced accents in Heyne's text have been corrected in the present edition, in which, as in the general revision of the text, the editor has been most kindly aided by Prof. J.M. Garnett, late Principal of St. John's College, Maryland.
In the preparation of the present school edition it has been thought best to omit Heyne's notes, as they concern themselves principally with conjectural emendations, substitutions of one reading for another, and discussions of the condition of the Ms. Until Wülker's text and the photographic fac-simile of the original Ms. are in the hands of all scholars, it will be better not to introduce such matters in the school room, where they would puzzle without instructing.
For convenience of reference, the editor has added a head-line to each "fit" of the poem, with a view to facilitate a knowledge of its episodes.
WASHINGTON AND LEE UNIVERSITY, LEXINGTON, VA., June, 1882.
The editors now have the pleasure of presenting to the public a complete text and a tolerably complete glossary of "Beówulf." The edition is the first published in America, and the first of its special kind presented to the English public, and it is the initial volume of a "Library of Anglo-Saxon Poetry," to be edited under the same auspices and with the coöperation of distinguished scholars in this country. Among these scholars may be mentioned Professors F.A. March of Lafayette College, T.K. Price of Columbia College, and W.M. Baskervill of Vanderbilt University.
In the preparation of the Glossary the editors found it necessary to abandon a literal and exact translation of Heyne for several reasons, and among others from the fact that Heyne seems to be wrong in the translation of some of his illustrative quotations, and even translates the same passage in two or three different ways under different headings. The orthography of his glossary differs considerably from the orthography of his text. He fails to discriminate with due nicety the meanings of many of the words in his vocabulary, while criticism more recent than his latest edition (1879) has illustrated or overthrown several of his renderings. The references were found to be incorrect in innumerable instances, and had to be verified in every individual case so far as this was possible, a few only, which resisted all efforts at verification, having to be indicated by an interrogation point (?). The references are exceedingly numerous, and the labor of verifying them was naturally great. To many passages in the Glossary, where Heyne's translation could not be trusted with entire certainty, the editors have added other translations of phrases and sentences or of special words; and in this they have been aided by a careful study of the text and a comparison and utilization of the views of Kemble and Professor J.M. Garnett (who takes Grein for his foundation). Many new references have been added; and the various passages in which Heyne fails to indicate whether a given verb is weak or strong, or fails to point out the number, etc., of the illustrative form, have been corrected and made to harmonize with the general plan of the work. Numerous misprints in the glossary have also been corrected, and a brief glossary to the Finnsburh-fragment, prepared by Dr. Wm. Hand Browne, and supplemented and adapted by the editor-in-chief, has been added.
The editors think that they may without immodesty put forth for themselves something more than the claim of being re-translators of a translation: the present edition is, so far as they were able to make it so, an adaptation, correction, and extension of the work of the great German scholar to whose loving appreciation of the Anglo-Saxon epic all students of Old English owe a debt of gratitude. While following his usually sure and cautious guidance, and in the main appropriating his results, they have thought it best to deviate from him in the manner above indicated, whenever it seemed that he was wrong. The careful reader will notice at once the marks of interrogation which point out these deviations, or which introduce a point of view illustrative of, or supplementary to, the one given by the German editor. No doubt the editors are wrong themselves in many places,--"Beówulf" is a most difficult poem,--but their view may at least be defended by a reference to the original text, which they have faithfully and constantly consulted.
A good many cognate Modern English words have been introduced here and there in the Glossary with a view to illustration, and other addenda will be found between brackets and parenthetical marks.
It is hoped that the present edition of the most famous of Old English poems will do something to promote a valuable and interesting study.
JAMES A. HARRISON, _Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va._
ROBERT SHARP, _University of Louisiana, New Orleans_.
The responsibility of the editors is as follows: H. is responsible for the Text, and for the Glossary from hrînan on; S. for the List of Names, and for the Glossary as far as hrînan.
The only national [Anglo-Saxon] epic which has been preserved entire is Beówulf. Its argument is briefly as follows:--The poem opens with a few verses in praise of the Danish Kings, especially Scild, the son of Sceaf. His death is related, and his descendants briefly traced down to Hroðgar. Hroðgar, elated with his prosperity and success in war, builds a magnificent hall, which he calls Heorot. In this hall Hroðgar and his retainers live in joy and festivity, until a malignant fiend, called Grendel, jealous of their happiness, carries off by night thirty of Hroðgar's men, and devours them in his moorland retreat. These ravages go on for twelve years. Beówulf, a thane of Hygelac, King of the Goths, hearing of Hroðgar's calamities, sails from Sweden with fourteen warriors--to help him. They reach the Danish coast in safety; and, after an animated parley with Hroðgar's coastguard, who at first takes them for pirates, they are allowed to proceed to the royal hall, where they are well received by Hroðgar. A banquet ensues, during which Beówulf is taunted by the envious Hunferhð about his swimming-match with Breca, King of the Brondings. Beówulf gives the true account of the contest, and silences Hunferhð. At night-fall the King departs, leaving Beówulf in charge of the hall. Grendel soon breaks in, seizes and devours one of Beówulf's companions; is attacked by Beówulf, and, after losing an arm, which is torn off by Beówulf, escapes to the fens. The joy of Hroðgar and the Danes, and their festivities, are described, various episodes are introduced, and Beówulf and his companions receive splendid gifts. The next night Grendel's mother revenges her son by carrying off Æschere, the friend and councillor of Hroðgar, during the absence of Beówulf. Hroðgar appeals to Beówulf for vengeance, and describes the haunts of Grendel and his mother. They all proceed thither; the scenery of the lake, and the monsters that dwell in it, are described. Beówulf plunges into the water, and attacks Grendel's mother in her dwelling at the bottom of the lake. He at length overcomes her, and cuts off her head, together with that of Grendel, and brings the heads to Hroðgar. He then takes leave of Hroðgar, sails back to Sweden, and relates his adventures to Hygelac. Here the first half of the poem ends. The second begins with the accession of Beówulf to the throne, after the fall of Hygelac and his son Heardred. He rules prosperously for fifty years, till a dragon, brooding over a hidden treasure, begins to ravage the country, and destroys Beówulf's palace with fire. Beówulf sets out in quest of its hiding-place, with twelve men. Having a presentiment of his approaching end, he pauses and recalls to mind his past life and exploits. He then takes leave of his followers, one by one, and advances alone to attack the dragon. Unable, from the heat, to enter the cavern, he shouts aloud, and the dragon comes forth. The dragon's scaly hide is proof against Beówulf's sword, and he is reduced to great straits. Then Wiglaf, one of his followers, advances to help him. Wiglaf's shield is consumed by the dragon's fiery breath, and he is compelled to seek shelter under Beówulf's shield of iron. Beówulf's sword snaps asunder, and he is seized by the dragon. Wiglaf stabs the dragon from underneath, and Beówulf cuts it in two with his dagger. Feeling that his end is near, he bids Wiglaf bring out the treasures from the cavern, that he may see them before he dies. Wiglaf enters the dragon's den, which is described, returns to Beówulf, and receives his last commands. Beówulf dies, and Wiglaf bitterly reproaches his companions for their cowardice. The disastrous consequences of Beówulf's death are then foretold, and the poem ends with his funeral.--H. Sweet, in Warton's _History of English Poetry_, Vol. II. (ed. 1871). Cf. also Ten Brink's _History of English Literature_.
I. THE PASSING OF SCYLD.
Hwät! we Gâr-Dena in geâr-dagum þeód-cyninga þrym gefrunon, hû þâ äðelingas ellen fremedon. Oft Scyld Scêfing sceaðena þreátum, 5 monegum mægðum meodo-setla ofteáh. Egsode eorl, syððan ærest wearð feá-sceaft funden: he þäs frôfre gebâd, weôx under wolcnum, weorð-myndum ðâh, ôð þät him æghwylc þâra ymb-sittendra 10 ofer hron-râde hýran scolde, gomban gyldan: þät wäs gôd cyning! þäm eafera wäs äfter cenned geong in geardum, þone god sende folce tô frôfre; fyren-þearfe ongeat, 15 þät hie ær drugon aldor-leáse lange hwîle. Him þäs lîf-freá, wuldres wealdend, worold-âre forgeaf; Beówulf wäs breme (blæd wîde sprang), Scyldes eafera Scede-landum in. 20 Swâ sceal geong guma, gôde gewyrcean, fromum feoh-giftum on fäder wine, þät hine on ylde eft gewunigen wil-gesîðas, þonne wîg cume, leóde gelæsten: lof-dædum sceal 25 in mægða gehwære man geþeón. Him þâ Scyld gewât tô gescäp-hwîle fela-hrôr fêran on freán wære; hi hyne þâ ätbæron tô brimes faroðe. swæse gesîðas, swâ he selfa bäd, 30 þenden wordum weóld wine Scyldinga, leóf land-fruma lange âhte. Þær ät hýðe stôd hringed-stefna, îsig and ûtfûs, äðelinges fär; â-lêdon þâ leófne þeóden, 35 beága bryttan on bearm scipes, mærne be mäste. Þær wäs mâdma fela, of feor-wegum frätwa gelæded: ne hýrde ic cymlîcor ceól gegyrwan hilde-wæpnum and heaðo-wædum,
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