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Beowulf, ll. 1513-1998 -- Summary

Beowulf, having dived into the mere, has been apprehended by Grendel's mom who drags him to her den.  There is a great battle here.  And the great sword, Hrunting, fails Beowulf.  He kills Grendel's mom with a giant sword, the blade of which melts from the blood.  He returns to Heorot where Hrothgar gives him a suitable reward and fatherly advice.  Beowulf returns to Geatland where he will report to Hygelac on the situation as he saw it in Denmark.  We meet Hygd, Hygelac's wife, and a model of a good queen, who is contrasted with another queen, Thryth. 

 

One thing I found noteworthy is that Grendel's mom is introduced as being less large and fearsome than Grendel, but where Beowulf was quite willing -- insistent even -- to fight Grendel hand to hand, here he comes armed with a sword, and that isn't enough.  I read somewhere that, though the mom may be more trouble, the poet took pains to suggest that the female monster wasn't so tough as the male.  If so, he seems to drop the ball, as Beowulf's fight against Grendel's mom seems more in doubt than his fight with Grendel.

 

The most recent film version of Beowulf featured a computer generated figure modeled on Angelina Jolie -- the suggestion in that film is that the mom cannot be defeated, but the hero must submit to her sexually, and she'll back off.  I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman, who did the screenplay was drawing an inference between the two swords and Beowulf's manliness, but I think that may be what he was doing. 

Dignity, always dignity.
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Redcatlady
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Re: Beowulf, ll. 1513-1998 -- Summary

 


bdNM wrote:

Beowulf, having dived into the mere, has been apprehended by Grendel's mom who drags him to her den.  There is a great battle here.  And the great sword, Hrunting, fails Beowulf.  He kills Grendel's mom with a giant sword, the blade of which melts from the blood.  He returns to Heorot where Hrothgar gives him a suitable reward and fatherly advice.  Beowulf returns to Geatland where he will report to Hygelac on the situation as he saw it in Denmark.  We meet Hygd, Hygelac's wife, and a model of a good queen, who is contrasted with another queen, Thryth. 

 

One thing I found noteworthy is that Grendel's mom is introduced as being less large and fearsome than Grendel, but where Beowulf was quite willing -- insistent even -- to fight Grendel hand to hand, here he comes armed with a sword, and that isn't enough.  I read somewhere that, though the mom may be more trouble, the poet took pains to suggest that the female monster wasn't so tough as the male.  If so, he seems to drop the ball, as Beowulf's fight against Grendel's mom seems more in doubt than his fight with Grendel.

 

The most recent film version of Beowulf featured a computer generated figure modeled on Angelina Jolie -- the suggestion in that film is that the mom cannot be defeated, but the hero must submit to her sexually, and she'll back off.  I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman, who did the screenplay was drawing an inference between the two swords and Beowulf's manliness, but I think that may be what he was doing. 


 

 

On pp. 212-13, Fiona Gameson contrasts Grendel's mother with the typical Anglo-Saxon woman:

 

"In this poem, there is another character of considerable interest who, although female, is not exactly a woman -- Grendel's mother.  In  her we have a fascinating synthesis of those elements most appropriate for, and utterly alien to a woman.  She is a grieving mother -- her most common epithet is "Grendel's mother' (Grend(e)les modor) -- who has lost her only child, yet, at the same time she is an avenger and a dangerous adversary -- both typically male roles.  It should be noted that counterparts to such unfeminine behavior also appear in Anglo-Saxon history.  Furthermore there are aspects of her character which are purely monstrous, and which make her a suitable opponent for the hero Beowulf.  That we are meant to consider her both woman and monster is made clear by the variety of words used to describe her:  'lady' (ides) (1250, 1351), as well as 'monster woman' (aglæcwif) (1259), 'water woman' (merewif) (1519), and 'sea-wolf' (brimwylf) (1505).  Similarly, the setting in which Beowulf meets with her is a fire-lit hall with weapons hanging on the wall (1512b-17, 1557-9) -- this is no beast's lair, but neither is it a normal hall, being under water.  As a woman she presents a very marked contrast with the figure of the courteous and gracious Wealhtheow; indeed, she is the inverse of all that the ideal Anglo-Saxon lady, according to the passage from Maxims I discussed earlier, should be, for she gives neither good counsel, nor gifts -- unless it is 'fierce grappling' (1542) -- and the olnly hospitality she offers is hostile and life-threatening.  The poem underlines this grim irony with the words:  'she sat upon the hall-visitor' (1545).  In addition to being shown as an anti-type of the noble Anglo-Saxon lady, she departs radically from the usual standards of female behavior as portrayed elsewhere in poetry:  rather she displays male traits which, by contemporary standards, may well have enhanced her unnatural and fearsome qualities, adding to her impact as a monster.  Firstly she carries out a vengeful attact against the warriors in Heorot which, though described as less fearful than the onslaught of a man (1282b-4), still causes total panic in the Danes and leaves one of their number dead.  Secondly the actual encounter between her and the hero is no mean test of Beowulf's strength, and it gives rise to the only occasion in his Danish exploits where he is seen to feel fear for his safety, being 'despairing of life' (1565a).  There is never any suggestion that the fight with Grendel's mother is just an interlude in the narration of the hero's adventures, nor is the outcome a foregone conclusion -- Beowulf himself admits that it was thanks to God that he succeeded (1655-8).  By uniting within her the two opposite yet individually credible sets of female and male characteristics, and by imbuing her with great strength and ferocity, the poet creates a figure of considerable interest who is more than a mere excuse for the hero to demonstrate his valour."

 

Redcatlady

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bdNM
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Re: Beowulf, ll. 1513-1998 -- Summary


Redcatlady wrote:

 


bdNM wrote:

Beowulf, having dived into the mere, has been apprehended by Grendel's mom who drags him to her den.  There is a great battle here.  And the great sword, Hrunting, fails Beowulf.  He kills Grendel's mom with a giant sword, the blade of which melts from the blood.  He returns to Heorot where Hrothgar gives him a suitable reward and fatherly advice.  Beowulf returns to Geatland where he will report to Hygelac on the situation as he saw it in Denmark.  We meet Hygd, Hygelac's wife, and a model of a good queen, who is contrasted with another queen, Thryth. 

 

One thing I found noteworthy is that Grendel's mom is introduced as being less large and fearsome than Grendel, but where Beowulf was quite willing -- insistent even -- to fight Grendel hand to hand, here he comes armed with a sword, and that isn't enough.  I read somewhere that, though the mom may be more trouble, the poet took pains to suggest that the female monster wasn't so tough as the male.  If so, he seems to drop the ball, as Beowulf's fight against Grendel's mom seems more in doubt than his fight with Grendel.

 

The most recent film version of Beowulf featured a computer generated figure modeled on Angelina Jolie -- the suggestion in that film is that the mom cannot be defeated, but the hero must submit to her sexually, and she'll back off.  I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman, who did the screenplay was drawing an inference between the two swords and Beowulf's manliness, but I think that may be what he was doing. 


 

 

On pp. 212-13, Fiona Gameson contrasts Grendel's mother with the typical Anglo-Saxon woman:

 

"In this poem, there is another character of considerable interest who, although female, is not exactly a woman -- Grendel's mother.  In  her we have a fascinating synthesis of those elements most appropriate for, and utterly alien to a woman.  She is a grieving mother -- her most common epithet is "Grendel's mother' (Grend(e)les modor) -- who has lost her only child, yet, at the same time she is an avenger and a dangerous adversary -- both typically male roles.  It should be noted that counterparts to such unfeminine behavior also appear in Anglo-Saxon history.  Furthermore there are aspects of her character which are purely monstrous, and which make her a suitable opponent for the hero Beowulf.  That we are meant to consider her both woman and monster is made clear by the variety of words used to describe her:  'lady' (ides) (1250, 1351), as well as 'monster woman' (aglæcwif) (1259), 'water woman' (merewif) (1519), and 'sea-wolf' (brimwylf) (1505).  Similarly, the setting in which Beowulf meets with her is a fire-lit hall with weapons hanging on the wall (1512b-17, 1557-9) -- this is no beast's lair, but neither is it a normal hall, being under water.  As a woman she presents a very marked contrast with the figure of the courteous and gracious Wealhtheow; indeed, she is the inverse of all that the ideal Anglo-Saxon lady, according to the passage from Maxims I discussed earlier, should be, for she gives neither good counsel, nor gifts -- unless it is 'fierce grappling' (1542) -- and the olnly hospitality she offers is hostile and life-threatening.  The poem underlines this grim irony with the words:  'she sat upon the hall-visitor' (1545).  In addition to being shown as an anti-type of the noble Anglo-Saxon lady, she departs radically from the usual standards of female behavior as portrayed elsewhere in poetry:  rather she displays male traits which, by contemporary standards, may well have enhanced her unnatural and fearsome qualities, adding to her impact as a monster.  Firstly she carries out a vengeful attact against the warriors in Heorot which, though described as less fearful than the onslaught of a man (1282b-4), still causes total panic in the Danes and leaves one of their number dead.  Secondly the actual encounter between her and the hero is no mean test of Beowulf's strength, and it gives rise to the only occasion in his Danish exploits where he is seen to feel fear for his safety, being 'despairing of life' (1565a).  There is never any suggestion that the fight with Grendel's mother is just an interlude in the narration of the hero's adventures, nor is the outcome a foregone conclusion -- Beowulf himself admits that it was thanks to God that he succeeded (1655-8).  By uniting within her the two opposite yet individually credible sets of female and male characteristics, and by imbuing her with great strength and ferocity, the poet creates a figure of considerable interest who is more than a mere excuse for the hero to demonstrate his valour."

 

Redcatlady


 

Right you are -- the ideal AS woman, at least in the royal families, would be as "peace-weaver," even if they are not entirely successful in that.  And Grendel's mom is definitely not a "peace-weaver."  In a way, she acts a lot like Beowulf -- he tells Hrothgar that it is better to get vengeance than to grieve, which, in a way, is what Grendel's mom does.  There is some sense that she has no interest in interacting with humans, and only does so to get vengeance for her son, and to get his hand back, a sentiment not uncommon -- those who have lost a loved one want that loved one entire so that s/he can receive proper burial, while the foe often wants to leave the corpse, or parts of it, about for the beasts of battle to come and feast on it.  As people ostensibly Christian, this desire to leave the bodies of the fallen foe to be carrion seems a bit primitive (it certainly is a sign, in the Iliad, of Achilles' reversion to a primitive stage, until he recovers a sense of common decency). 

Dignity, always dignity.
Frequent Contributor
Redcatlady
Posts: 260
Registered: ‎10-30-2006

Re: Beowulf, ll. 1513-1998 -- Summary

bdNM wrote:


Redcatlady wrote:

 


bdNM wrote:

Beowulf, having dived into the mere, has been apprehended by Grendel's mom who drags him to her den. There is a great battle here. And the great sword, Hrunting, fails Beowulf. He kills Grendel's mom with a giant sword, the blade of which melts from the blood. He returns to Heorot where Hrothgar gives him a suitable reward and fatherly advice. Beowulf returns to Geatland where he will report to Hygelac on the situation as he saw it in Denmark. We meet Hygd, Hygelac's wife, and a model of a good queen, who is contrasted with another queen, Thryth.

 

One thing I found noteworthy is that Grendel's mom is introduced as being less large and fearsome than Grendel, but where Beowulf was quite willing -- insistent even -- to fight Grendel hand to hand, here he comes armed with a sword, and that isn't enough. I read somewhere that, though the mom may be more trouble, the poet took pains to suggest that the female monster wasn't so tough as the male. If so, he seems to drop the ball, as Beowulf's fight against Grendel's mom seems more in doubt than his fight with Grendel.

 

The most recent film version of Beowulf featured a computer generated figure modeled on Angelina Jolie -- the suggestion in that film is that the mom cannot be defeated, but the hero must submit to her sexually, and she'll back off. I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman, who did the screenplay was drawing an inference between the two swords and Beowulf's manliness, but I think that may be what he was doing.


 

 

On pp. 212-13, Fiona Gameson contrasts Grendel's mother with the typical Anglo-Saxon woman:

 

"In this poem, there is another character of considerable interest who, although female, is not exactly a woman -- Grendel's mother. In her we have a fascinating synthesis of those elements most appropriate for, and utterly alien to a woman. She is a grieving mother -- her most common epithet is "Grendel's mother' (Grend(e)les modor) -- who has lost her only child, yet, at the same time she is an avenger and a dangerous adversary -- both typically male roles. It should be noted that counterparts to such unfeminine behavior also appear in Anglo-Saxon history. Furthermore there are aspects of her character which are purely monstrous, and which make her a suitable opponent for the hero Beowulf. That we are meant to consider her both woman and monster is made clear by the variety of words used to describe her: 'lady' (ides) (1250, 1351), as well as 'monster woman' (aglæcwif) (1259), 'water woman' (merewif) (1519), and 'sea-wolf' (brimwylf) (1505). Similarly, the setting in which Beowulf meets with her is a fire-lit hall with weapons hanging on the wall (1512b-17, 1557-9) -- this is no beast's lair, but neither is it a normal hall, being under water. As a woman she presents a very marked contrast with the figure of the courteous and gracious Wealhtheow; indeed, she is the inverse of all that the ideal Anglo-Saxon lady, according to the passage from Maxims I discussed earlier, should be, for she gives neither good counsel, nor gifts -- unless it is 'fierce grappling' (1542) -- and the olnly hospitality she offers is hostile and life-threatening. The poem underlines this grim irony with the words: 'she sat upon the hall-visitor' (1545). In addition to being shown as an anti-type of the noble Anglo-Saxon lady, she departs radically from the usual standards of female behavior as portrayed elsewhere in poetry: rather she displays male traits which, by contemporary standards, may well have enhanced her unnatural and fearsome qualities, adding to her impact as a monster. Firstly she carries out a vengeful attact against the warriors in Heorot which, though described as less fearful than the onslaught of a man (1282b-4), still causes total panic in the Danes and leaves one of their number dead. Secondly the actual encounter between her and the hero is no mean test of Beowulf's strength, and it gives rise to the only occasion in his Danish exploits where he is seen to feel fear for his safety, being 'despairing of life' (1565a). There is never any suggestion that the fight with Grendel's mother is just an interlude in the narration of the hero's adventures, nor is the outcome a foregone conclusion -- Beowulf himself admits that it was thanks to God that he succeeded (1655-8). By uniting within her the two opposite yet individually credible sets of female and male characteristics, and by imbuing her with great strength and ferocity, the poet creates a figure of considerable interest who is more than a mere excuse for the hero to demonstrate his valour."

 

Redcatlady


 

Right you are -- the ideal AS woman, at least in the royal families, would be as "peace-weaver," even if they are not entirely successful in that. And Grendel's mom is definitely not a "peace-weaver." In a way, she acts a lot like Beowulf -- he tells Hrothgar that it is better to get vengeance than to grieve, which, in a way, is what Grendel's mom does. There is some sense that she has no interest in interacting with humans, and only does so to get vengeance for her son, and to get his hand back, a sentiment not uncommon -- those who have lost a loved one want that loved one entire so that s/he can receive proper burial, while the foe often wants to leave the corpse, or parts of it, about for the beasts of battle to come and feast on it. As people ostensibly Christian, this desire to leave the bodies of the fallen foe to be carrion seems a bit primitive (it certainly is a sign, in the Iliad, of Achilles' reversion to a primitive stage, until he recovers a sense of common decency).                                                                   

John Grigsby devotes Chapter 10 -- pp. 110-20 to his spin on Grendel's mother:  she is a "water-hag" devolved from an ancient Norse fertility goddess called Nerthus (similar -- very similar, according to Grigsby) to the Greek Demeter.  Nerthus belonged to an early group of Norse gods called the Vanir,  which were overthrown by the pantheon that replaced them and relegated to become the "boogeymen" that haunted graveyards and the "water-hags" that lurked around rivers, lakes, wells, and the like, drowing the unwary (especially children) that got too close; ironically, one such "water-hag" in  Yorkshire went by the monicker of Grindylow.  The darkness of these gods reflected the dual nature of fertility:  in order for there to be life, there has to be death.  The earth goes barren for a time until it is reborn -- and in order for the earth to be reborn, there must be a sacrifice.
On pp. 118-20, the horse figures in Norse mythology, especially in the terrifying experience of "hag-riding" (= haggard = "hag-ridden") -- waking up paralyzed, unable to breathe, feeling like something's on your chest.  Nightmare becomes, literally, NightMARE, and directly connects to the scene between Beowulf and Grendel's mother:

"Ofsæt þa þone selegyst, ond hyre seax geteah

 

She then bestrode  the hall-guest [Beowulf] and drew her dagger.

 

Even if the Beowulf poem had not survived, it would have been apparent that Nerthus, as a fertility goddess akin to Demeter, would have had a nightmare side and that she might appear in a monstrous form.  And Beowulf seems to describe such a creature, in the right location, at the right time -- even down to the ritual position that the nightmare should take -- astride her victim.  Grendel's mother is no invention or interpolation of a folktale motif into a tale of warring tribes.  Her part in Beowulf is, as Tolkien said, as central as that fertility god Sheaf who begins the poem.

 

The Christian author of Beowulf may not have recognized in this hideous water-hag her original divinity, turning this Vanir goddess into 'just' a monster, a 'water-hag' -- a Grindylow (Grendelow?).  In either case, his hero performed an amazing feat when he dived into the waters and emerged unscathed..."

 

Redcatlady

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bdNM
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Re: Beowulf, ll. 1513-1998 -- Summary

Redcatlady wrote:

bdNM wrote:


Redcatlady wrote:

 


bdNM wrote:

Beowulf, having dived into the mere, has been apprehended by Grendel's mom who drags him to her den. There is a great battle here. And the great sword, Hrunting, fails Beowulf. He kills Grendel's mom with a giant sword, the blade of which melts from the blood. He returns to Heorot where Hrothgar gives him a suitable reward and fatherly advice. Beowulf returns to Geatland where he will report to Hygelac on the situation as he saw it in Denmark. We meet Hygd, Hygelac's wife, and a model of a good queen, who is contrasted with another queen, Thryth.

 

One thing I found noteworthy is that Grendel's mom is introduced as being less large and fearsome than Grendel, but where Beowulf was quite willing -- insistent even -- to fight Grendel hand to hand, here he comes armed with a sword, and that isn't enough. I read somewhere that, though the mom may be more trouble, the poet took pains to suggest that the female monster wasn't so tough as the male. If so, he seems to drop the ball, as Beowulf's fight against Grendel's mom seems more in doubt than his fight with Grendel.

 

The most recent film version of Beowulf featured a computer generated figure modeled on Angelina Jolie -- the suggestion in that film is that the mom cannot be defeated, but the hero must submit to her sexually, and she'll back off. I'm not sure if Neil Gaiman, who did the screenplay was drawing an inference between the two swords and Beowulf's manliness, but I think that may be what he was doing.


 

 

On pp. 212-13, Fiona Gameson contrasts Grendel's mother with the typical Anglo-Saxon woman:

 

"In this poem, there is another character of considerable interest who, although female, is not exactly a woman -- Grendel's mother. In her we have a fascinating synthesis of those elements most appropriate for, and utterly alien to a woman. She is a grieving mother -- her most common epithet is "Grendel's mother' (Grend(e)les modor) -- who has lost her only child, yet, at the same time she is an avenger and a dangerous adversary -- both typically male roles. It should be noted that counterparts to such unfeminine behavior also appear in Anglo-Saxon history. Furthermore there are aspects of her character which are purely monstrous, and which make her a suitable opponent for the hero Beowulf. That we are meant to consider her both woman and monster is made clear by the variety of words used to describe her: 'lady' (ides) (1250, 1351), as well as 'monster woman' (aglæcwif) (1259), 'water woman' (merewif) (1519), and 'sea-wolf' (brimwylf) (1505). Similarly, the setting in which Beowulf meets with her is a fire-lit hall with weapons hanging on the wall (1512b-17, 1557-9) -- this is no beast's lair, but neither is it a normal hall, being under water. As a woman she presents a very marked contrast with the figure of the courteous and gracious Wealhtheow; indeed, she is the inverse of all that the ideal Anglo-Saxon lady, according to the passage from Maxims I discussed earlier, should be, for she gives neither good counsel, nor gifts -- unless it is 'fierce grappling' (1542) -- and the olnly hospitality she offers is hostile and life-threatening. The poem underlines this grim irony with the words: 'she sat upon the hall-visitor' (1545). In addition to being shown as an anti-type of the noble Anglo-Saxon lady, she departs radically from the usual standards of female behavior as portrayed elsewhere in poetry: rather she displays male traits which, by contemporary standards, may well have enhanced her unnatural and fearsome qualities, adding to her impact as a monster. Firstly she carries out a vengeful attact against the warriors in Heorot which, though described as less fearful than the onslaught of a man (1282b-4), still causes total panic in the Danes and leaves one of their number dead. Secondly the actual encounter between her and the hero is no mean test of Beowulf's strength, and it gives rise to the only occasion in his Danish exploits where he is seen to feel fear for his safety, being 'despairing of life' (1565a). There is never any suggestion that the fight with Grendel's mother is just an interlude in the narration of the hero's adventures, nor is the outcome a foregone conclusion -- Beowulf himself admits that it was thanks to God that he succeeded (1655-8). By uniting within her the two opposite yet individually credible sets of female and male characteristics, and by imbuing her with great strength and ferocity, the poet creates a figure of considerable interest who is more than a mere excuse for the hero to demonstrate his valour."

 

Redcatlady


 

Right you are -- the ideal AS woman, at least in the royal families, would be as "peace-weaver," even if they are not entirely successful in that. And Grendel's mom is definitely not a "peace-weaver." In a way, she acts a lot like Beowulf -- he tells Hrothgar that it is better to get vengeance than to grieve, which, in a way, is what Grendel's mom does. There is some sense that she has no interest in interacting with humans, and only does so to get vengeance for her son, and to get his hand back, a sentiment not uncommon -- those who have lost a loved one want that loved one entire so that s/he can receive proper burial, while the foe often wants to leave the corpse, or parts of it, about for the beasts of battle to come and feast on it. As people ostensibly Christian, this desire to leave the bodies of the fallen foe to be carrion seems a bit primitive (it certainly is a sign, in the Iliad, of Achilles' reversion to a primitive stage, until he recovers a sense of common decency).                                                                   

John Grigsby devotes Chapter 10 -- pp. 110-20 to his spin on Grendel's mother:  she is a "water-hag" devolved from an ancient Norse fertility goddess called Nerthus (similar -- very similar, according to Grigsby) to the Greek Demeter.  Nerthus belonged to an early group of Norse gods called the Vanir,  which were overthrown by the pantheon that replaced them and relegated to become the "boogeymen" that haunted graveyards and the "water-hags" that lurked around rivers, lakes, wells, and the like, drowing the unwary (especially children) that got too close; ironically, one such "water-hag" in  Yorkshire went by the monicker of Grindylow.  The darkness of these gods reflected the dual nature of fertility:  in order for there to be life, there has to be death.  The earth goes barren for a time until it is reborn -- and in order for the earth to be reborn, there must be a sacrifice.
On pp. 118-20, the horse figures in Norse mythology, especially in the terrifying experience of "hag-riding" (= haggard = "hag-ridden") -- waking up paralyzed, unable to breathe, feeling like something's on your chest.  Nightmare becomes, literally, NightMARE, and directly connects to the scene between Beowulf and Grendel's mother:

"Ofsæt þa þone selegyst, ond hyre seax geteah

 

She then bestrode  the hall-guest [Beowulf] and drew her dagger.

 

Even if the Beowulf poem had not survived, it would have been apparent that Nerthus, as a fertility goddess akin to Demeter, would have had a nightmare side and that she might appear in a monstrous form.  And Beowulf seems to describe such a creature, in the right location, at the right time -- even down to the ritual position that the nightmare should take -- astride her victim.  Grendel's mother is no invention or interpolation of a folktale motif into a tale of warring tribes.  Her part in Beowulf is, as Tolkien said, as central as that fertility god Sheaf who begins the poem.

 

The Christian author of Beowulf may not have recognized in this hideous water-hag her original divinity, turning this Vanir goddess into 'just' a monster, a 'water-hag' -- a Grindylow (Grendelow?).  In either case, his hero performed an amazing feat when he dived into the waters and emerged unscathed..."

 

Redcatlady

Thanks for the explication -- the Vanir were overthrown (or at least downgraded in favor of) by the Aesir (those who live on Asgard -- Wotan, Thor, and others). 

Your mentioning the night mare and the feeling of something on your chest -- this condition is called "sleep paralysis."  As someone who has suffered from it on occasion -- it is quite terrifying -- your brain appears to wake up, but your body is still in sleep mode, so you cannot move.  I have never felt pressure as if someone were on top of me, but it's a terrifying condition. Lucky for me, it only happens a couple of times a year in my case, and my wife is a light enough sleeper that I've learned I can cry out in my sleep paralyzed condition, and she can shake me awake.  Prior to being married,  it took a monumental effort to force my body to respond, increasing my panic even more. 

Dignity, always dignity.