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Krasskova (2019 Congress)

Galina Krasskova
(Fordham University)

“Ravens in the Meadhall:
Pre-Christian Influences in the Heliand

Abstract of Paper
To be presented at the 54th International Congress on Medieval Studies
(Kalamazoo, 2019)

Session on
“Classical Deities in Medieval Northern European Contexts”

Co-sponsored by the Research Group on Manuscript Evidence
and Polytheism-Oriented Medievalists of North America (P.–O.M.o.N.A.)

Organized by Phillip A. Bernhardt–House
2019 Congress Program

[Published on 15 March 2019]

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Abstract

The 9th century text Heliand, a paraphrase of the Gospel written in Old Saxon commissioned by Louis the Pious, continued the work of Louis’s father Charlemagne, in cementing the conversion of the Saxons from their indigenous religion to Christianity.  This work was a complex refashioning of the life of Christ that utilized elements of pre-Christian Germanic religious and cultural motifs better to communicate its Christian message to Saxon Heathens.  As such, it included symbolism, on the surface, better suited to iconography of the Germanic Gods than the Christian one. T his paper examines those pre-Christian motifs, particularly those common to Oðinn (Wotan/Woden) in the presentation of Jesus Christ within this work and the enduring power of pre-Christian values in the wake of conversion.