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Beowulf

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by

Jean Conte

on 19 September 2016

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Transcript of Beowulf

Anglo-Saxons 449-1066
Early England was invaded and settled many times.
The major settlers were the Celts, Romans, Angles, Jutes, Normans, and Saxons; all helped shape our language.
Romans arrived in 55BC (Julius Caeser) and stayed until 409 AD leaving behind roads, walls, villas...but no central government.
Without Roman control, separate warring clans emerged and weakened the island, leading to many of the above invaders.
One clan of Celts (called the Britons) left their permanent stamp in the land they settled.
Religion
Early settlers believed in animism and were considered pagans. They thought spirits were everywhere: rocks, rivers, trees, etc. Their priests were called Druids.
When the Romans arrived they conquered the Celts and gradually brought Christianity which was a unifying force.
When the Anglo-Saxons invaded, they brought more fatalistic beliefs associated with Norse mythology.
In fact some of our days of the week come from these myths: Wednesday comes from "Woden's day." Woden was the god of death and magic. Thursday comes from "Thor's day."
Early England
Early settlers were called the Celts. One powerful clan was called the Britons.

Romans invaded in 55 BC led by Julius Caeser, and if they did not have to leave in 409 AD, Italian would have been the dominant language in England.
When the Romans left...
They left behind roads, villas and bathhouses, but no central government.
This weakness left the island ripe for a series of invasions from Germanic people.
Th
t
The Anglo-Saxons
The Angles and Saxons from Germany brought their language, and the land took a new name Engla Land.
The Jutes from Denmark also invaded
The Celts put up a fight but eventually retreated to Wales.
Alfred the Great
At first the Angles and Saxons were no more unified than Celtic Britain; there were many principalities with their own king.
Alfred the Great led the Anglo-Saxons to victory over invading Jutes from Denmark, and finally they were a nation (871-899).
Handwritten by a monk around 1000 A.D.
Written in Old English
Obtained by Sir Robert Cotton
Bound in Cotton Vitellius A.15.
Damaged in fire in 1731
Currently at British Museum
The manuscript
Alliterative verse
Same initial consonants
Line halved by caesura
Four stresses per line
Kenning: compressed metaphor (whale-road, sky-candle)
Litotes: ironic understatement
Synecdoche: part for whole
Epithet- epithet an adjective or descriptive phrase that adds to the quality of our understanding of the person or thing mentioned. (Son of Ecgtheow)
Poetic form and devices
Loyalty
Fighting for one’s king
Avenging one’s kinsmen
Keeping one’s word
Generosity -- gifts symbolize bonds
Brotherly love -- not romantic love
Heroism
Physical strength
Skill and resourcefulness in battle
Courage
Public reputation, not private conscience
Anglo-Saxon values
Comitatus: Germanic warrior band; extreme loyalty
Scop: poet in oral culture (“shaper”)
Preserves history
Entertains court
Spreads hero’s fame
Thane (thegn): warrior
Wergild: “man-price”
Substitute for violence
Payment for killing one’s relative
Wyrd: fate (to the POET = God’s will)
Beowulf vocabulary
Theme stated in the beginning
Call on superior power or muse
Hero with supernatural powers or noble birth
Grand Style
In medias res (story begins in the middle of the action)
Trip to the underworld and return
with a lesson learned
Action is immense

IX. Seven Epic Elements
Beowulf's name is a kenning.
There are several theories about the meaning/translation of his name:
Bee+wolf= bear
Beow+wolf= the God Beow's (agriculture) wolf
Beado+wolf= war wolf
Important Characters

Beowulf- our hero from Geatland (Sweden) who hears of a monster attacking Danes (Denmark) and decides to go help out...because he's super strong.

Hrothgar- leader of the Danes, famed king with the best mead-hall in town (Herot) until.....

Grendel- wicked descendent of Cain attackes Herot and keeps attacking FOR TWELVE YEARS.

Hygelac/Higlac- Beowulf's uncle and ruler of the Geats.

Edgetho/Ecgtheow- Beowulf's deceased father with a noble reputation. He was friends with Hrothgar back in the day.
Full transcript