The first half of Beowulf’s speech before the dragon fight (2425-2471) has often been referred to as the most pagan part of the poem, possibly containing an allusion to the god Odin and his sons Hothr and Baldr. This article, however, proposes a new Christian context for this passage, identifying, in Beowulf’s description of a hanged son on the gallows, a hitherto unnoticed allusion to Christ’s passion, evinced by a verbal association between the gallows and Christ in Old English poetry, and a broader syncretism between Odin, Baldr, and Christ in Viking-Age Anglo-Scandinavian culture. This allusion is consistent with other Christological references throughout Beowulf, subtly preserving the conceit of the characters’ pagan world while ironically accenting, in the minds of a Christian audience, the characters’ pathetic ignorance of Christ.
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