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Introduction to Beowulf

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Laura Wolf

on 20 September 2012

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Transcript of Introduction to Beowulf

3. Beowulf is simply good writing 2. The story of Beowulf encompasses common themes that we still see in English literature today 1. Beowulf is the oldest poem in the English language, so everything written since Beowulf stems from it in some way Why Study Beowulf? how much, exactly, is based on historical truth when exactly it was written who wrote it Beowulf – What we don’t know The only copy of the manuscript was written sometime around the 11th century A.D. (1000’s), however… Some of the characters in the poem actually existed. Beowulf is the oldest surviving English poem. It’s written in Old English (or Anglo-Saxon), which is the basis for the language we speak today. Beowulf- What we do know: There are a lot of Christian references in the poem, but the characters and setting are Pagan…this means a monk probably translated it. The story is set even earlier, around 500 A.D. The actual poem probably dates from the 8th century (700’s) or so, and… It wasn’t until after the Norman Invasion (1066) that writing stories down became common in this part of the world. This story was probably passed down orally for centuries before it was first written down. So why wasn’t it written down in the first place? Robert Cotton (1571-1631) Eventually, it ended up in the library of this guy. So what’s happened to the manuscript
since the 11th century? The manuscript is now preserved and carefully cared for in the British Museum. Unfortunately, Cotton’s library burned in 1731. Many manuscripts were entirely destroyed. Beowulf was partially damaged. Although Beowulf was written in English, it is set in what is now Sweden, where a tribe called the Geats lived. Setting: Beowulf’s time and place Insert: Time of Beowulf Europe today Setting: Beowulf’s time and place d. No rhyme c. A caesura, or pause, between beats two and four b. Generally, four feet/beats per line Repetition of initial sounds of words (occurs in every line) 1. Alliterative verse A few things to watch out for The Poetry in Beowulf Oft Scyld Scefing sceapena praetum,
Monegum maegpum meodo-setla ofteah;
Egsode Eorle, syddan aerest weard. Alliterative verse – an example from Beowulf: A few things to watch out for The Poetry in Beowulf For instance: hronade literally means “whale-road,” but can be translated as “sea” b. Most were probably used over and over a. Compound metaphor (usually two words) 2. Kennings A few things to watch out for The Poetry in Beowulf beadoleoma = “flashing light” or “light of battle” = sword beaga brytta = “ring-giver” = lord goldwine gumena = “gold-friend of men” = generous prince banhus = “bone-house” = body Other kennings from Beowulf: A few things to watch out for The Poetry in Beowulf “Dwelling place” = home
“Giver of gold” = king
“Sky-candle” = sun
“Battle sweat” = blood Kennings Continued… In this example, Hildeburh’s brother has just been killed by the Jutes. This is a poetic way of telling us she hated the Jutes absolutely. Hildeburh had no cause to praise the Jutes Example: A negative expression; usually an understatement 3. Litotes A few things to watch out for The Poetry in Beowulf A bard or story-teller. scop Some terms you’ll want to know Some terms you’ll want to know This term identifies the concept of warriors and lords mutually pledging their loyalty to one another Literally, this means “escort” or “comrade” comitatus Some terms you’ll want to know The large hall where the lord and his warriors slept, ate, held ceremonies, etc. mead-hall A warrior thane Some terms you’ll want to know Fate. wyrd Some terms you’ll want to know Beowulf is an epic poem.
This means it has a larger-than life hero and the conflict is of universal importance. There’s a certain serious that accompanies most epics. epic Some terms you’ll want to know A poem that is sad or mournful. elegy Heroism and heroic deeds Fate The sanctity of the home The importance of the sea and sailing Loyalty and allegiance The importance of wealth and treasure Religion: Christian and Pagan influences Good vs. Evil Themes and Important Aspects Same format as comic books

Text & illustrations present information

Book-length, usually contain one story

Medium, not genre Graphic Novels Caption Dialog Balloon Gutter Panel Sound Effect Thought Balloon Thought Balloon Beuwolf The scop was responsible for praising deeds of past heroes, for recording history, and for providing entertainment This idea crops up a lot in the poem, while at the same time there are Christian references to God’s will.
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