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Transcript of The Anglo-Saxons
-A little bit of history
-What they valued
-Literary Devices and Poetic Devices
-Conventions of the Epic
-Conventions of the Epic Hero
What the Anglo-Saxons Valued
Protection of Others
Desire for Fame
A sound break in the middle of a poetic line (forces a stop)
Repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry
A trope which compares two dissimilar things, not using like or as
a two-word metaphorical name for something, meant to elevate and beautify the language
a poem which laments the loss of a loved one
Long narrative poem that celebrates the deeds of a legendary heroic figure
Figure who represents the values of a culture
Written about the achievements of warriors
Expresses the thoughts and feelings of a single speaker, usually retelling the events of the speaker's life
One of the main themes of AS literature.
Conventions of the Epic
1. The hero is a figure of great national or cosmic importance, usually the ideal man of his culture.
2. The setting is vast in scope.
3. The action consists of deeds of valor or superhuman courage.
4. Supernatural forces interest themselves in the action and intervene at times. This is called "machinery." G/gods will intervene on behalf of the hero.
5. The style of writing is elevated. Main characters give long, extended speeches.
6. Narrative begins
in media res
(from the egg).
7. Catalogs and genealogies are given (why?).
8. No single author.
9. Written down after centuries of oral transmission.
10. Intended to be sung or recited to music.
11. The poem has national interest and, therefore, possesses national bias.
12. Tended to be generated during periods of upheaval, struggle, and adventure.
13. Main characters are larger-than-life
Characteristics of the Epic Hero
1. Hero introduced in the midst of turmoil (not "in media res," although similar, different)
2. Hero is warrior, leader, and polished speaker. (Why?)
3. Hero possesses distinctive weapons of great size and power; either heirloom (blood hardened and battle ready) or gift from G/gods. Refered to as
(if heirloom, meaning "remenant," "left behind," and "sword")
4. Hero must take a long, perilous journey, often involving a descent into the underworld (can be literal or figurative). This journey is named Neukeia (Greek) and tests the hero's endurance, courage, and cunning.
5. The hero undertakes a task that no one else dare attempt.
6. Arete-Greek for bringing virtue to perfection; excellence.
7. Aristeia-nobility gained through "superari a superiore"
8. Antagonist and protagonist meet at the climax (postponed to sustain maximum interest).
9. Antagonist tends to be "G/god-despiser." Trusts in own ability over that of G/god. May also be a being whom G/gods deserted, explaining his or her hatred.
10. Hero MUST encounter numinous phenomenon (those which possess divine or supernatural forces). Hero must use strength, cunning, and divine assistance to overcome.
Themes within Beowulf
- Fate (Wyrd)- Unchangable (according to the Anglo-Saxons)
-Exile- both forced and
- Loyalty and Vengence
- Kingship (what it means to be a good king or a bad king)
- Establishing Identity
-Light verses Dark
-Good verses Evil
-Christianity verses Paganism
Goodness Conquers Evil
Actions (Beowulf) speak louder than words (Unferth)
Judge the greatness of a human being by the greatness of deeds and noble ancestry.
Help thy neighbor
Forces of darkness-irrational and menacing- are always at work in society.
Life is a continuing struggle.
A little bit of history....
Invaded England in 5th and 6th centuries
In order to raid and settle other lands
Literature focues upon theme of exile.
Believed in many gods
Believed life controlled by fate (wyrd)
Always loyal to king or lord.
Fought on the king's or lord's behalf.
Believed and practiced
: "man payment"
Lived a life of uncertanity.
Death could come at any time (many illnesses and battles).
Gathered in mead halls
Similar to tavern AND church
Here, entertained by scops through poetry, reciting, and song.
Typically stories of battle and war.
Stories, poems, and recitings were not written down. They were memorized and passed down through oral tradition.
What would happen?
The earliest and best known epic poems.
Original manuscript dates to 10th-11th century. Earliest tranmissions of the text date to 8th century.
First manuscript believed to be written between the 8th and 11th centuries.
700-1000 poem date
975-1025 manuscript date.