BEOWULF and the Anglo-Saxon Period. Anglo-Saxon Timeline Before we look at the Anglo-Saxon culture and Beowulf, we need to understand what happened before,

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  • BEOWULFand the Anglo-SaxonPeriod

  • Anglo-Saxon Timeline

    Before we look at the Anglo-Saxon culture and Beowulf, we need to understand what happened before, during and after the time period

    Anyone know anything about the Anglo-Saxon time period or culture???

  • The Celts in BritainBefore and during the 4th century B.C. Britain home to several Celtic tribesBritain named for one of the Celtic tribes BrythonsCeltic religion is a form of animismDruids were Celtic priests

  • The Roman Occupation55 B.C.Hadrians WallRomans evacuate their troopsCentral government breaks downJulius Caesar invades BritainCelts defeated by ClaudiusA.D. 43Romans build walls, villas, baths, roads Roman ruinsBritain left vulnerable to attackA.D. 409

  • The Anglo-Saxon InvasionA.D. 449 The Anglo-Saxons push the Celts into the far west of the country.AnglesSaxonsJutesCelts

  • King Alfred against the Danes8th9th centuries Vikings called Danes invade Britain878 King Alfred unifies Anglo-Saxons against the Danes.871 Alfred of Wessex is king of England.England becomes a nation.King Sweyn and his Danish troops arrive in England, from a manuscript (c. 14th century)

  • The Norman InvasionWilliam of Normandy crosses the English ChannelThe Norman Invasion, Bayeux TapestryFrench replaces English as the language of the ruling class1066William defeats Harold and Anglo-Saxon army

  • The Spread of ChristianityChristianity and Anglo-Saxon culture co-existChristian monks settle in BritainBritish pagan religions replaced by ChristianityAround A.D. 400By A.D. 699

  • The Anglo-Saxon InvasionAnglo-Saxon Societykinship groups led by strong warrior chiefpeople farmed, established local governments, produced fine craftworkEnglish emerged as a written languageSimilarity to Arthurian, Charlemagne, Celtic, Viking societies and literaturesReligion Nordic/animist then ChristianTravel and trade

  • Social attitudesWarriorbased societyFocus on the hero, and trial of personal worthSecurity and threat survival in harsh world

    WyrdFate acceptance of the inevitableComitatusLoyalty and responsibility to group

  • Warrior CodeComitatus: Germanic code of loyaltyThane: warrior swears loyalty to the king for whom they fought and whom they protectedKings: generous, protected thanesReputation: thanes were expected to be loyal, brave, courageous; kings were expected to be generous and hospitableWergild: man-payment; a fee paid to the family of a slain man to atone for his murder and to prevent the family from seeking revenge.

  • Old EnglishBeowulf was written in Old English, an early form of EnglishOld English was spoken in the Middle Ages from about 6th century to 11th century CEIn 1066, when William the Conqueror successfully invaded England, bringing his Norman French language with him; the nobility began to speak French, and gradually Old English evolved into Middle English (1100-1500): Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote/The droghte of March hath perced to the rooteModern English has been spoken since the Renaissance Shakespeare is NOT Old English; he is Early Modern English

  • Old English language and literatureThe Wanderer:onne onwcne eft wineleas guma, gesih him biforan fealwe wegas, baian brimfuglas brdan fera, hreosan hrim ond snaw hagle gemenged. onne beo y hefigran heortan benne, sare fter swsneSorg bi geniwad

    Then the friendless man awakes again, He sees before him fallow waves, Sea birds bathing, preening their feathers, Frost and snow fall, mixed with hail. Then are the heavier the wounds of the heart, Grievous with longing for the lord. Sorrow is renewed

  • The Epic PoemAn EPIC is a long narrative poem which follows a heros struggle against universal issues.

  • 2 Types of EpicsFolkTold out loud first (usually by scops)Unknown authorUnknown dates(E.g.Beowulf is a folk epic because we dont know who wrote it) 2. LiteraryKnown author(E.g. Paradise Lost, by John Milton is a literary epic because we know who wrote it.)

  • Elements of an EpicEpic hero an character with a trait or characteristic that is valued by his society. (E.g. Supermans bravery or valor)Quest A journey through which the character or the reader learns somethingValorous Deeds Doing something bravely.Divine Intervention The hand of God (or gods) help the hero, proving his value.Great events The hero has a hand in something important in the history or mythology of a culture.

  • 3 Epic ConventionsInvoke a museMuse inspiration provided by the gods Plot begins in medias resIn medias red In the middle of the actionSerious tone

    Not necessary to have all on these, but need most at least

  • Other EpicsGilgamesh (Babylonian, unknown)

    The Odyssey (Greek, Homer)

    The Iliad (Greek, Homer)

  • But what was an aspiring author to do?Especially if nobody can read !

  • Epics: An oral traditionMany epics were not originally written down by their authors. Instead, they were memorized and retold or sung by wandering entertainers.

  • Some sections of epics were retold from time to time. It helped the storyteller learn the epic and also caught up any audience member who may have missed a part.

  • The StorytellersThe names changed by area:Scop (pronounced shop) in Anglo-Saxon landsTroubadours in FranceMinnesingers in Germany

  • The StorytellersThese entertainers also served to bring news from other areas. Often, if a heroic deed had occurred in the area, it might be blended into the stories he told.

  • Changing StoriesOther influences also played a part in changing the epics. The text of Beowulf shows both Norse pagan belief and Christianity, often in the same line.This may have evolved as the storytellers encountered villages with different beliefs.

  • The epic heroUndertakes role as duty to others, not as a personal achievementStrong sense of social morality, including code of behaviour to enemiesOnly becomes hero when needed, may be unwillingDoes not necessarily have social status prior to heroics, but may achieve it. Considers it a consequence, not an aim, in heroics.

  • Beowulf Background InformationWritten c. 700 C.E.Author unknownOften called the beginning of English literatureWritten in what is now called Old EnglishOnly one complete original copy remains

  • Beowulf

    Thousand year old manuscript written 950-1000 CE by 2 scribes, probably composed 700-800,West Saxon dialect, collected into Cotton Vitellius A.XV, now in British LibraryLongest extant OE poem - 3182 lines

  • Beowulf the original poemStructure - Introduction and 3 distinct episodes1000 lines each on Grendel, Grendel's mother, DragonContinuity break between parts 2 and 3: Cobbling together of 2 stories (are there lots of other Beowulf stories out there?) Or deliberate juxtaposition (rise and fall of hero)?Emphasis on appropriate displays of nobility of character (and bonds of comitatus) Hrothgar- king - rewards serviceBeowulf - warrior - carries out dangerous foraysWiglaf - loyal retainer - sticks by leaderGrendel's mother - family - seeks revenge for attack on son

  • The Setting

  • Geats and DanesBeowulf was a war leader of the Geats, a group of people in what is now southern SwedenHrothgar was king of the Danes

  • Beowulf

    Herot: the golden guest hall built by King Hrothgar where warriors gathered to celebrate.[End of Section]

  • The Mead HallSocial, governmental, emotional center of the villageMead = honey-based wine

  • Beowulf: The Epic Hero

  • Beowulfs Name Beowulfs father EdgethoIn most cases, the son is named after the father DonDonald (son of Don)McDonald (son of son of Don)McDonaldson (son of son of son of Don)Proves Beowulf is own individual with own powers and abilities (and more important than his father)Beo BearBears are known as Great Protectors in Norse mythologyStrongWulf WolfWolves are also great protectors, but are also cunning and speedy

  • An epic hero must face challenges and opponents that the ordinary person could not handle.

  • HOWEVER...There is often a character flaw or other weakness which brings problems to the epic hero.

  • Top 10 Problems Women Have About Dating Beowulf10. Hangs out with dragons.9. Chain mail rips up bed sheets.8. Throws his swords around apartment.7. Wakes up in the middle of the night screaming "She's gonna eat me!6. Carries a long knife to compensate for feelings of inadequacy.5. Only washes twice a year.4. Experiences mead-induced delusions of grandeur and heroism.3. Smells like Grendel breath.2. Freezer full of dragon meat.1. Leaves the toilet seat up.

  • BeowulfIntroducing the EpicHrothgar: king of the Danes.Wiglaf: a Geat warrior, one of Beowulfs select band and the only one to help him in his final fight with the dragon.Other Characters:

  • BeowulfIntroducing the EpicGrendel: man-eating monster who lives at the bottom of a foul mere, or mountain lake.MonstersGrendels mother: water-witch who seeks revenge.Dragon: giant fire-breathing serpent whom Beowulf fights in Part Two of the epic.

  • GrendelHybrid: man vs. man man vs. supernaturalMost human-like of the supernatural fights

  • Grendels MotherLess human than sonAn older and more animal-like evilBefore Beowulf can even battle her, he must face the water creatures

  • The DragonThe oldest and most base form of evilReferred to as the worm Man vs. Supernatural

  • ElevatedLanguage

  • Literary Devices




  • Alliteration: the repetition of consonant sounds in words close together Out from the marsh, from th