Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Real Hamlet

From Medievalists:
The career of Amleth is found in the second part of Book III and the first part of Book IV of Saxo Grammaticus’s Gesta Danorum, ‘Deeds of the Danes’. Written in the early 13th century and composed in Latin, this ambitious work is intended to relate the heroic, legendary history of the Danes from mythical times – very much in the same spirit of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum britanniae.

For a very long time, Amleth’s tale has been a point of interest, for it inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, even though Shakespeare is believed to have never gained access to the text except via translated and redacted versions.

The first part tells about Amleth’s lineage, youth, and his famed revenge, which form the basis of Hamlet’s plot. It starts as a kind of side story branched out from the account of the rule of Rørik, king of the Danes at the time. He installed two brothers, Orvendil and Fengi, as co-governors of Jutland. Orvendil accumulated much wealth through the years by raiding and became so greatly favoured by the king that Rørik married his daughter Gerutha to Orvendil. They had a son, Amleth. (Read more.)

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