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Funerals & Burials in Beowulf

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Raymond Salzmann

on 29 October 2012

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Transcript of Funerals & Burials in Beowulf

Beowulf Funerals And Anglo-Saxon Culture - 4 Main Burials in Beowulf Shield Sheafson's Burial -Shield Sheafson In the very first pages of Beowulf, Shield Shiefson,
father of Beow, dies: "Far-fetched treasures were piled upon him, and precious gear. I never heard before of a ship so well furbished with battle tackle, bladed weapons and coats of mail. The mast treasure was loaded on top of him: it would travel far on out into the ocean's sway. They decked his body no less bountifully wth offerings than those first ones did who cast him away when he was a child and launched him alone out over the waves"
(Heaney 5). Steps to carrying out a Burial - Preparation of the Body - The Wake - The Funeral - The Funeral Feast Preparation of the body -The women of the deceased washed
the body for burial.
- The women clothe the body and put
hel shoes on so they can walk to the
afterlife in comfort.
- Also, the women need to make
sure that the nails are trimmed. The Wake -The wake of a body is where the deceased's
love ones lament over the body.
- A lamentation is when the attendees of the funeral
for the person, huddle around his or her body and
physically mourn over them.
-An example of a famous lamentation in history is the
lamentation of Christ. The Funeral A- The Eulogy: A speech, best done by the best
friend of the deceased person,about good things about what the deceased person did.
B- Placement of Grave Goods: The heirs place anything they wanted inside the coffin or around it, these items usually consisted of jewelry or tools.
C- A dirge sang by a female relative: A song sung by a female relative to commemorate the life of the deceased. Usually something sorrowful but beautiful.
D- The Burial of the body: A mound is built over a period of ten days before the funeral, and the body is placed in the mound.
E- Songs of Praise: Done by 12 people circling the grave, in Beowulf 12 horseman circled the mound singing songs in honor of the king. The Funeral Feast 1. The closest heir makes an oath made on behalf of all the heirs, after this the eldest heir sits in the favorite chair of the deceased.
2. The seconds closest heir, then drinks from a horn in commemoration of the deceased, and makes his own oath to the deceased.
3. The third closest heir toasts the deceased and makes his own oath to the deceased.
4. Open Rounds: A celebration to the heirs for their inheritance of the throne. Sometimes gifts were even given to the heirs. -Hildeburh's kin -Lay of the Last Survivor -Beowulf Hildeburh's Kin Hildeburh, a danish princess, loses her son and her brother Hnaef in a fight at Finn's Hall: "No infringment by word or deed, no provocation would be permitted. Their own ring-giver after all was dead and gone, they were leaderless, in forced allegiance to his murderer. So if any Frisian stirred up bad blood with insinuations or taunts about this, the blade of the sword would arbitrate it. A funeral pyre was then prepared, effulgent gold bought out from the hoard. The pride and prince of the Shieldings lay awaiting the flame. Everywhere there were blood-plastered coats of mail. The pyre was heaped with boar-shaped helmets forged in gold, with the gashed corpses of well-born Danes~many had fallen. Then Hildeburh ordered her own son's body be burnt with Hnaef's, the flesh on his bones to sputter and blaze beside his uncle's. The woman wailed and sang keens, the warrior went up. Carcass flame swirled and fumed, they stood round the burial mound and howled as heads melted, crusted gashes spattered and ran bloody matter. The glutton element flamed and consumed the dead of both sides" (Heaney 75-77). The Lay of the Last Survivor One of the less-known and more controversial
funerals in Beowulf is known as The Lay of the Last Survivor: "Now, Earth, hold what earls held and heroes can no more; it was mined from you first by honourable men. My own people have been ruined in war; one by one they went down to death, looked their last on sweet life in the hall. I am left with nobody to bear a sword or burnish plated goblets, put a sheen on the cup. The companies have departed. The hard-helmet, hasped with gold, will be stripped off its hoops; and the helmet-shiner who should polish the metal of the war-mask sleeps; the coat of the mail that came through all fights, through shield-collapse and cut of sword, decays with the warrior. Nor may webbed mail range far and wide on the warlord's back beside his mustered troops. No trembeling harp, no tuned timber, no tumbling hawk swerving through the hall, no swift horse pawing the courtyard. Pillage and slaughter have emptied the earth of entire peoples" (Heaney 153-155). Beowulf's Funeral While slaying the dragon Beowulf receives fatal wounds and dies: "On a height they kindled the hugest of all funeral fires; fumes of woodsmoke billowed darkly up, the blaze roared and drowned out their weeping, wind died down and flames wrought havoc in the hot bone-house, burning it to the core. they were disconsolate and waled aloud for their lord's decease" (Heaney 211). Thesis Beowulf presents us many funerals that cultivated the way of life in the Anglo-Saxon time period. Works Consulted Albany F. Major, Folklore , Vol. 35, No. 2 (Jun.
30, 1924), pp. 113-150

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation(Bilingual
Edition). Trans. Seamus Heaney. Print.

Green, Charles. Sutton Hoo: The Excavation of
a Royal Ship Burial. London: Merlin, 1963. Questia School. Web. 28 Oct. 2012.
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