Edward Pettit

Published On


Page Range

pp. 47-92

Print Length

45 pages

3. The Giant Sword and the Candle

  • Edward Pettit (author)
Chapter 3 highlights the implicit likening of the melting giant sword of Beowulf to a burning wax candle and argues that it potentially has hitherto been overlooked. Pettit consults medieval Irish and Norse texts for mentions of ‘candle-swords’ but finds none that melt like Beowulf’s, though he does find a text, the ‘Saga of Hjálmþér and Ölvir’ that contains notable similarities to Beowulf, including the presence of potential equivalents to candle-swords. Pettit also suggests a Christian aspect to the giant sword, as symbol of the sun, a candle or even the Paschal Candle. Pettit however stresses that such a link is very subtle and that the technique looks more ‘allusively symbolic’ than ‘mechanically allegorical’.


Edward Pettit