and Sacrifice. Consider the Chronicle of Thietmar of Merseberg
(c.1013): "In those parts, the center of the kingdom is a
place called Lejre, in the region of Zealand. Every nine
years, in the month of January, after the day on which we
celebrate the appearance of the Lord [6 January], they all
convene here and offer their gods a burnt offering of ninety-nine
human beings and as many horses, along with dogs and cocks--the
latter being used in place of hawks. As I have said, they
were convinced that these would do service for them with
those who dwell beneath the earth and ensure their forgiveness
for any misdeeds." In John D. Niles, ed. Beowulf
and Lejre (ACMRS, 2007), p. 299.
Does the slaughter
at Heorot by a creature from beneath the earth reflect
anything of these ancient sacrifices?
Consider the possibility that the mere is the hell-mouth. Might Grendel's mother be Hel, the Norse goddess of the unvalorous dead?