Beowulf and the Wills: Traces of Totemism?

Beowulf and the Wills: Traces of Totemism?

Glosecki, Stephen O.

The Heroic Age Issue 5 Summer/Autumn 2001


This paper accounts for the prominence of the avunculate (the mother’s brother-sister’s son relationship) in Beowulf and other OE sources. Commentary from 1861 to the present is examined in order to establish that the avunculate does indeed reflect matrilineal kinship structure, which in turn suggests that a full-scale totemic kinship system prevailed in prehistoric Germania.

Click here to read/download this article (HTML file)

Sign up to get a Weekly Email from

* indicates required

Smartphone and Tablet users click here to sign up for
our weekly email