Aging and the Aged in the Book of Dede Korkut and Beowulf

Reis H.

MILLI FOLKLOR, no.91, pp.25-36, 2011 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: Issue: 91
  • Publication Date: 2011
  • Journal Name: MILLI FOLKLOR
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.25-36
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


This article examines the place and the status of aging and the aged in the Book of Dede Korkut and Beowulf. As social recognition and power are consequent to prowess and heroic achievements in epics aging often necessitates a radical re-positioning of the aged.Representation of the aged and aging in these epics suggests that the aged hero experiences an inevitable loss of status and power as a result of aging and is a relatively passive and weak character with a lower status in the epic world. However, epic narrative at the same time recognizes and places the old as wise people dispensing sound advice and guidance. In the Book of Dede Korkut, the old constitute a weak category needing protection, but Dede Korkut, the bard, and the aged fathers and mothers inspire respect and recognition because of their age related wisdom.In Beowulf, the epic hero Beowulf represents the physical superiority of the youth and the loss of it as a result of aging. Hrothgar is an old king who is no longer able to protect his people because of his old age but is at the same time wise and caring for the same reason. This ambivalence about aging and the aged marks the epic world where survival and heroism are predicated upon the strong youth and where aging necessitates a social re-positioning.