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Reply to: Beowulf single-authorship claim is unsupported

The Original Article was published on 11 November 2021

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Fig. 1: Heat map of the fraction difference between the prior distributions from our original study and the re-analysis of Plecháč et al.
Fig. 2: Replication of figure 2 of Plecháč et al. following fuller normalization of orthographic differences in Beowulf.

Data availability

The normalized version of Klaeber’s Beowulf is available from the authors on request. All other datasets are freely and publicly available at

Code availability

All custom code is freely and publicly available at


  1. Plecháč, P., Cooper, A., Nagy, B. & Šeļa, A. Beowulf single-authorship claim is unsupported. Nat. Hum. Behav. (2021).

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We thank D. Donoghue for his contributions to the section on metre, especially in alerting us to the passage of S. Sturluson, and M. Drout for providing us with the normalized version of Klaeber’s Beowulf.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



M.S.K., P.C. and J.P.D. designed the study, performed the study, analysed the results and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Madison S. Krieger or Joseph P. Dexter.

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Human Behaviour thanks Michael Drout and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Ratio of intraline to total sense-pauses for the partition of Beowulf, the mean of all texts in the Old English verse corpus, some salient individual texts, and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey.

The error bar for the corpus mean denotes one s.d. of the ratios for all of the texts. This figure is a replication of figure 2a in our original paper with the correct texts for Genesis A and Genesis B. Beo., Beowulf; Gen., Genesis; K&D, Krapp and Dobbie.

Extended Data Fig. 2 Histograms of fraction difference in slope for hapax compounds for 1,000 binary partitions of Beowulf and five other texts (Exodus, Elene, Juliana, Christ and Satan, and Andreas).

Note that the horizontal scale differs between histograms. Beowulf appears markedly more homogeneous than the comparison texts.

Extended Data Fig. 3 Sample data for the orthographic normalization of Beowulf.

A large number of alterations is needed to normalize spelling between the two scribal hands. The table shows the changes required for the first 100 lines of the poem; a complete list of changes is available from the authors on request.

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Krieger, M.S., Chaudhuri, P. & Dexter, J.P. Reply to: Beowulf single-authorship claim is unsupported. Nat Hum Behav 5, 1484–1486 (2021).

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