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By Weapons Made Worthy : Lords, Retainers and Their Relationship in Beowulf - Jos Bazelmans

By Weapons Made Worthy

Lords, Retainers and Their Relationship in Beowulf

Hardcover Published: 1st June 1999
ISBN: 9789053563250
Number Of Pages: 220

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In this book Jos Bazelmans offers a new perspective on the relationship between lord and retainer in early medieval society. This perspective goes beyond established politico-economic interpretations and aims for an interpretation of this relationship in ritual-cosmological terms. Drawing on recent developments within French structuralist anthropology and the anthropology of gift exchange, Bazelmans develops a new model of early medieval socio-political structure (as represented in Old English Beowulf) which explicitly deals with exchange relations between the living and the supernatural, the commensurablity of subject and object in gift exchange, and the whole set of interdependent life-cycle rituals of lords and their warrior-followers. The value of gifts is considered to be determined not only by their function within a competitive game about prestige, status and power, but also by its equivalence with a constituent. The value of the gift is fundamental to the noble person and develops through a man's life-time. It is, ultimately, of a supernatural origin. The model enables us to understand certain acts at Beowulf's funeral pyre which at first sight appear to be no more than an ethnographic curiosity (Beowulf 3111b-3114a). The warrior's contributions to his pyre form the concluding part of a grand ritual undertaking in which society as a whole is involved and in which the constitution of the noble person, and the disarticulation of that person at his death, is realized. This ritual undertaking goes beyond the politico-economic concerns of the participants which are central to established power-based models of early medieval societal structure. The volume includes an extensive overview of the anthropology of gift exchange. Amsterdam Archaeological Studies is a series devoted to the study of past human societies from the prehistory up into modern times, primarily based on the study of archaeological remains. The series will include excavation reports of modern fieldwork; studies of categories of material culture; and synthesising studies with broader images of past societies, thereby contributing to the theoretical and methodological debates in archaeology.

List of Illustrations
The Relationship Between Lord and Warrior-Follower in Germanic Societies
The Anthropology of the Gift: the Heirs of Marcel Mauss
The anthropology of exchange
Marcel Mauss' Essai sur le don: three controversial assumptions and conclusions
The Essai sur le don
Cultural diversity and speculations on origins and evolution
Giving or asking, taking and keeping
The commensurability of subject and object
Louis Dumont, Casa-Erasme and Exchange
Homo hierarchicus
Some central concepts: structure, ideology, hierarchy, level and value
Homo maior and Homo minor: hierarchy and equality
The holistic society of the Tobelo of Halmahera (Indonesia)
The study and comparison of non-modern societies and systems of exchange
Gift exchange among the Tobelo of Halmahera: human constituents as valued parts of exchange objects
Christian Thought and Beowulf
Christian thought and Beowulf: an overview
Beowulf as corrupted text
A secular text in a Christian era
Beowulf: a Christian poem
Beowulf and ancestral ethics
A critique of the secular interpretation of Beowulf
Pagan literature and pagan ancestors in Christian perspective
Adam, Job, Christ and Beowulf: typological and allegorical interpretations of Beowulf
Beowulf as a figura of Christ
Beowulf's lost battle
A critique of Goldsmith's allegorical reading of Beowulf
Pagan, noble but without hope: a Christian perspective on an ancestral past
Mapping Society in Beowulf
Beowulf: a universe of relationships
Space, time and social structure
The king and the royal family
The throne, the treasure, the hall and the stronghold
The king's retinue
The land and the people
Neighboring people and monsters
Time and the life-cycle
Gift Exchange and the Constitution of Person and Society in Beowulf
The human person, society and objects of exchange
Objects of exchange in Beowulf
The constitution of the person in Beowulf
Life and image; fertility and reputation
Ceremonial gift exchange and the constitution of person and society in Beowulf: a model
The elements of the model
The model illustrated by Beowulf's life cycle
Epilogue: Beyond Power
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9789053563250
ISBN-10: 9053563253
Series: Amsterdam Archaeological Studies, 5
Audience: Adult Education
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 220
Published: 1st June 1999
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Country of Publication: NL
Dimensions (cm): 31.12 x 21.59  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 1.18