BEOWULFand Anglo-Saxon Britain
The Anglo-saxon invasion (449 C.E.)Rome had control of Britain from 55 B.C.E. 409 C.E.
There the Roman empire developed: - Roads and public baths - Hadrians Wall - Christianity
The Roman empire was too weak to sustain itself in so many territories and withdrew from Britain in 409 C.E.
The Anglo-saxon invasion (449 C.E.)Britain was left with a weak government and open to invasion.
British king Vortigern first invited the Angles and Saxons (of Germany) to help fight the Picts and Scots. In 449 C.E., the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain by the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (of Denmark) was successful and quickly the Anglo-Saxon culture became the norm in Britain.
The Anglo-saxon Control (449 - 1066 C.E.)Britain was renamed England after the Angles. Their language replaced Latin as the dominant language.
The Celt leaders resisted for as long as they possibly could. They retreated into Wales and settled there.
Anglo-Saxon rule was not unified at first. It had individual principalities each with their own king. This was changed by King Alfred of Wessex.
Alfred the Great (ruled 871-899 C.E.)King Alfred of Wessex united the Anglo-Saxons to fight off the Danes (Vikings from across the North Sea). The Danes plundered and destroyed everything in their path but eventually settled in NE and Central England.
Alfred was able to unify England thanks to the reemergence of Christianity. It gave them all a common system of morality and a connection.
The Vikings continued to attack on-and-off until 1066 C.E., but unified England put up a good fight.
Anglo-Saxons: The way of the WarriorThe 1939 Discovery of Sutton Hoo
Loyalty is the base of the Anglo-Saxon culture.
Christianity was accepted simultaneously with the old Norse mythology.
Arts were not a large focus, but bards (known as scops) were as respected as warriors.
Monks and the Book of Kells
Anglo-saxon rule was ended in 1066 with the Norman invasion.
Book of Kells
BEOWULFThe History and the Language
The History of BeowulfThe oldest surviving epic poem in the English language written specifically in West Saxon Old English.
Somewhat based on truth, figures such as King Hygelac have been identified as real people.
May have been an elegy to the unknown king of Sutton Hoo.
Takes place around 500C.E. in Denmark and Sweden.
The History of Beowulf:A Timeline~700-900 C.E.: Beowulf is composed by Anonymous
~1000 C.E.: Monk scribes make the Beowulf manuscript, likely the Christian elements of the poem are inserted at this time.
1563 C.E.: Englishman Laurence Nowell acquires scribes' manuscript after the Catholic monastery is demolished.
1731 C.E.: After years of changing owners, the manuscript is damaged in a house fire and then becomes a part of the British museum so it remains preserved.
The Language of Beowulf
Beowulf is written in unrhyming verse, without stanzas, with a caesura (pause) in the middle of each line.
Each part is called a hemistich,which is half a line of verse. A complete line is called a stich. Each hemistich contains two stressed (accented) syllables and a varying number of unstressed (unaccented) syllables.
Old English With a Space for the Caesura Translation: Hwt! We Gar-Dena in geardagum, oldeodcyninga, rym gefrunon,a elingas ellen fremedon.
BEOWULFPrologue Part 5lines 1-370
Terminology + VocabularyKenning a condensed metaphor, typically a hyphenated compound word that characterizes a person, place or thing. A type of epithet. Ex: whale-road, treasure-giver
Comitatus - the basic idea that everyone protects the king at all costs even if it means a warrior giving up his own life
Interlacing twisting and knotting imagery of this era, it represented a concept that nothing in the Anglo-Saxon period was independent. Everything depended on everything else whether agricultural, cultural, personal, or any other way. ***mead - An alcoholic liquor made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water
thane - One who in Anglo-Saxon times held lands of the king or other superior by military service
The legacy of Dane Shield Sheafson * Patriarchal lineage * On the water / foundling and founder * Great-grandfather of Hrothgar
Herot Danish king Hrothgars mead hall * Ring-bearing, drinking, and songs for the loyalty of thanes * Symbol of law and order amidst chaos (light vs. darkness)
Grendel * Descendant of Cain * Symbolic destroyer of order
Beowulf * Position as the nephew of the Geatish king Hygelac * His atmosphere of bravery as he presents himself to the Danish watchman and herald Wulfgar.
1. What is the theme found in this passage?: His fathers warriors were wound round his heart With golden rings, bound to their prince By his fathers treasure. So young men build The future, wisely open-handed in peace, Protected in war: so warriors earn Their fame, and wealth is shaped with a sword. (l. 20-25)
2. Why hasnt Hrothgar rid Herot of Grendel in twelve years?
3. Why does the sentry personally lead Beowulf and his men to Herot after hearing their reason for coming to Denmark? Why does Wulfgar do the same?
BEOWULFPart 6 - 12Lines 371835
Terminology + Vocabularyfoil - a character that contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight various features of the main character's personality
wergild - a death-price paid to compensate the kin of anyone a warrior has killed
ring-hoard - the 'treasury' of a nation or people; often made up literally of gold formed into large rings, sometimes linked together.
Edgethos debt * Debt owed to Hrothgar over the death of Hathlaf * Beowulfs intentions
Unferths allegations * The swimming challenge with Breca true heroism * Unferth as a foil to Beowulf * Welthow womanly symbol of sincerity
Versus Grendel * Calm and clear-minded, Beowulf prepares * Fear from Grendels perspective * Overpowering strength and the trophy
1. How does Hrothgar know of Beowulf?
2. What is Beowulfs response to Unferths taunts?
3.Why does this statement please Welthow?: My purpose was this: to win the goodwill Of your people or die in battle, pressed In Grendels fierce. Let me live in greatness And courage, or in this hall welcome my death! (lines. 634-638)
4. Why does Beowulf meet Grendel bare-handed?
BEOWULFPart 13 - 18Lines 836-1250
Terminology + Vocabularyscop a bard, a musician who sings stories of heroism
wyrd - fate
torque a metal collar or neck-chain
The Scop and his Tales * Sigmund and the dragon * Hermod * Finn, king of the Frisians
Rewards and acclaim * Hrothgar adopts Beowulf in his heart as a son * Beowulfs modesty over not killing Grendel * Treasures * Welthow presents the torque * Mention of her sons
1. What is the song of Siegmund?
2. Who is Hermod?
3. What is the song of Finn?
BEOWULFPart 19 - 23Lines 1251-1650
Terminology + Vocabularybulwark a strong wall raised for protection and defense
fetters - anything that confines or restrains
surging - moving with a violent, heaving, swelling motion
Lines 1251 - 1650
Grendels mother attacks * A blood feud revisited * Fear of no patriarchal lineage * The death of Esher and Beowulfs charge. (l. 1384-1389) * The importance of armor
Fighting deep within the lake * Beowulf descends, beyond mortal limits deep into hell * A light amidst darkness and evil * Unferth fails, wielding of the giants sword * Beheading of a corpse * Only the Geats remain believing in Beowulfs victory
1. Why is it frightening to the Danes and Geats that Grendels father is not known?
2. How may the lake containing Grendels mother and her lair be described?
3. How does Unferths behavior toward Beowulf change now?
BEOWULFPart 24-31Lines 1651-2199
Terminology + VocabularyNONE!
Lines 1651 - 2199
The Shift from Brave Warrior to Mature Leader * Rebirth from the water * Hrothgar tells of evil King Hermod and the ways of a good ruler * ETERNAL treasures, not worldly ones
The Return Home * Gratitude and spoils for everyone, even the watchman * Thrith as a foil to Higd * Beowulfs prediction of doom for Freaws wedding * Presentation of gifts as honor, Beowulf humble and an honorable subject
1. Identify these characters: Higlac, Higd, Thrith
2. What does Beowulf foresee will happen with Freaws marriage? Why is this important?
3. What is the message of this quote said by Hrothgar: O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride. For a brief while your strength is in bloom but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow illness or the sword to lay you low, or a sudden fire or surge of water or jabbing blade or javelin from the air or repellent age. Your piercing