Beowulf and Hrólf Kraki
||It has been suggested that this article be merged with Beowulf#Sources_and_analogues. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2012.|
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||This article may contain original research. (July 2012)|
|Hrólf Kraki's saga|
The Old English Beowulf poem and the Old Norse legend of Hrólf Kraki are both set in the Germanic Heroic Age, around AD 450–550. There has been some discussion in Germanic studies regarding an interconnection of the two traditions, possibly based on a historical nucleus of the legends.
It has even been proposed that Beowulf and Hrólf Kraki's story are two versions of the same original Germanic heroic epic.[according to whom?] Critics[who?] maintain that, in spite of a host of similarities between the traditions, some of the similarities could be dismissed as common literary traditions and devices.
Hrólf and Hroðulf 
A common identification is that Hrólf Kraki is the same as the character Hroðulf (Hroðgar's nephew) in Beowulf. There seems to be some foreshadowing in Beowulf that Hroðulf will attempt to usurp the throne from Hroðgar's sons Hreðric and Hroðmund, a deed that also seems to be referred to in Saxo Grammaticus's Gesta Danorum (Book 2), where we find: "... our king, who laid low Rorik, the son of Bok the covetous, and wrapped the coward in death." Rorik is the form we would expect Hreðric to take in Danish and we find personages named Rorik or Hrok or similar in most version of the Hrólf Kraki tradition but differently accounted for, seemingly indicating that Scandinavian tradition had forgotten who exactly Hreðric/Rorik/Hrok was and various story tellers subsequently invented details to explain references to this personage in older poems. The future slaying of Hreðric may be the occasion of the future burning of the hall of Heorot in the beginning of the poem – though some take it instead to refer to the legendary death of Hrólf Kraki, who in Icelandic sources is said to have died in the burning of his hall by his brother-in-law Hjörvard.
Beowulf and Bjarki 
The standard view is that, if Beowulf himself has a 'cognate' character in Rolf Kraki's story, it is Bödvar Bjarki (Bodvar Biarke), who also has a younger companion, Hjalti (Hialte) – perhaps matching the Beowulf character Wiglaf. Beowulf comes from Geatland (= Götaland) and one of Bödvar Bjarki's elder brothers, Thorir, becomes a king of Götaland. Moreover, like Beowulf, Bödvar Bjarki arrives in Denmark from Götaland (Geatland), and upon arriving in Denmark he kills a beast that has been ravaging the Danish court for two years. The monster in Hrólf Kraki's saga, however, is quite unlike the Grendel of Beowulf; but it does have characteristics of a more typical dragon, a creature which appears later in Beowulf. Just as Beowulf and Wiglaf slay a dragon at the end of Beowulf, Bödvar Bjarki and Hjalti help each other slay the creature in Denmark.
Proponents of this theory[who?] argue that both the names Beowulf (lit. "bee-wolf", a kenning for "bear") and Bjarki are associated with bears. Bodvar Bjarki is constantly associated with bears, his father actually being one.
In some of the Hrólf Kraki material, Bödvar Bjarki aids Adils in defeating Adils' uncle Áli, in the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vänern. In Beowulf, the hero Beowulf aids Eadgils in Eadgils' war against Onela. As far as this Swedish adventure is concerned, Beowulf and Bödvar Bjarki are one and the same. This match supports the hypothesis that the adventure with the dragon is also originally derived from the same story.
Hrothgar and Hróar 
As for the king of the Danes, Hroðgar, he is identical to Hróar or Ro, the uncle of Hrólf Kraki who in other sources outside of Beowulf rules as a co-king with his brother Helgi. But in those sources it is Hróar/Hroðgar who dies before his brother or who departs to Northumberland to rule his wife's kingdom leaving Helgi/Halga the sole rule of Denmark. In Beowulf Halga/Helgi has died and Hroðgar is the primary ruler with Hroðulf son of Halga as a junior co-ruler.
Furthermore, the Swedish kings referenced in Beowulf are adequately matched with the 5th and 6th century Swedish kings in Uppsala (see also Swedish semi-legendary kings): This has obviously nothing to do with a common origin of the Beowulf and Hrólf Kraki legends in particular but simply reflects a shared genealogical tradition.
|Beowulf||Hrólf Kraki, Heimskringla etc.||Relation|
|Ongenþeow||Egil (Angantyr)||father of Ottar and Ale|
|Ohthere||Ottar||brother of Áli|
|Onela||Áli||brother of Ottar|
|Eadgils||Adils||son of Ottar|
- Malone, Kemp. Studies in Heroic Legend and in Current Speech. S. Einarsson & N.E. Eliason, eds. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde & Bagger, 1959.
- Lukman, Niels Clausen. Skjoldunge und Skilfinge. Hunnen- und Heruler-könige in Ostnordischer Überlieferung. Classica et mediaevalia, dissertationes III. Copenhagen: Gyldendalske Boghandel Nordisk Forlag, 1943.
- Hemmingsen, Lars. By Word of Mouth: the origins of Danish legendary history - studies in European learned and popular traditions of Dacians and Danes before A.D. 1200. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Copenhagen (Dept. of Folklore), 1995.
- Anderson, Carl Edlund. Formation and Resolution of Ideological Contrast in the Early History of Scandinavia. Ph.D. thesis, University of Cambridge, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic (Faculty of English). 
- Overing, Gillian R., and Marijane Osborn. 'Landscape of Desire: Partial Stories of the Medieval Scandinavian World.' Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994: 1-37. (possible sailing times and the account of a "Beowulfian" voyage on the Cattegat)