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Edward Pettit

Published On


Page Range

pp. 411-424

Print Length

13 pages

15. The Sun in the Pike

  • Edward Pettit (author)
Chapter 15 examines the Beowulf-poet’s description of Grendel’s mother as a ‘sword-greedy she-wolf’ of the sea. Pettit proposes that this characterization may identify her, if only fleetingly, as a wolfish fish, perhaps specifically a pike, with an appetite for swords of heavenly light. This idea finds parallel more or less closely in Finnish accounts of a pike’s swallowing of a spark of heavenly fire or of golden eggs from which the sun was formed; in Old Norse accounts of pike that swallowed, or trembled on, swords analogous to Beowulf’s giant sword; in a sun-devouring (and possibly solar-staff-swallowing) wolf-serpent on the Gosforth Cross; in ancient dragons such as the Babylonian Tiamat and Indian Vŗtra; and in the Christian identification of Hell as the mouth of a monstrous sea-creature.


Edward Pettit