Beowulf Introduction to Leadership. Background Information The Anglo-Saxon Period—A.D.449-1066

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Introduction to Leadership1Background InformationThe Anglo-Saxon PeriodA.D.449-1066Before the Anglo-Saxons

Britain settled by the CeltsMigrated from continental Europe between 800 and 600 B.C.Julius Caesar arrived in 55 B.C. to begin a 400 year occupation of Britain.The Roman forces withdrew from Britain by the early 5th century.Anglo-Saxon England

After the Romans withdrew, Britain became venerable.In 449 A.D. Germanic tribes, mostly Angles, Saxons, and, Jutes began invading Britain.By the end of the 7th century, Anglo-Saxons had become one people-The English.The modern name England comes from the word for land of the Angles.

Christianity and PaganismThe Britons under Roman rule were Christian, the invading Germanic tribes were pagan.In 563 A.D. Saint Patrick began to reconvert the population beginning in the north and working his way south.In 596 A.D. Saint Augustine began in the south of the island and began working his way north.By the end of the 7th century, England had become Christian.

6 MonasteriesThe missionaries brought literacy to England. They established libraries and schools within their monastaries.Roman alphabet was adopted. Importance of written word expanded.Latin was used as the Literary and scholarly language.Literature moved from an oral tradition to a written tradition.

End of Anglo-Saxon RuleIn 1066 A.D. William, the duke of Normandy, invaded England, as he had been promised the throne by King Edward.Harold of Wessex had claimed the throne.Harold was defeated and killed at the Battle of Hastings.William became the first Norman kind of England.The Anglo-Saxon period ended.

BeowulfFirst masterpiece in English literatureDescribes the adventures of a hero who came from the southern part of what is now Sweden to aid a people living what is now Denmark.Stories were part of a culture that a Germanic tribe bought with them when they invaded and settled England after Hygelac's (actual Swedish king) death in 521 A.D.Anglo-Saxon minstrel, or scop, composed poetry in an oral form before an audienceHanded down through generations in an oral form--not written down until much laterPart of only 4 surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts

9Beowulf PoetBetween 725 A.D. and 1000A.D. someone took the folk epic Beowulf as it had been orally passed down and wrote it down in Anglo-Saxon (Old English)The Beowulf-poet has absolute knowledge of the customs, traditions, and values of the Anglo-Saxon societyHe knows the Hebrew scriptures, as he refers to the Biblical story of Cain and AbelMay have been familiar with Latin literature, i.e. Virgil's AeneidLoved words and languageUltimately interested in the nature of success, true friendship, the final value to be found in life and in death, not just heroic adventures akin to fairy talesCombines both Christian and Pagan aspects in the poem

10Beowulfs appealOutstanding adventure storyBeowulf is an appealing heropossesses skill, courage and knowledgedevotes his life to making the world a better placechooses to risk death to help othersfaces his own death with heroism and dignity

Boars Head Crest

Iron Helmut11Beowulfs appeal (cont.)Interested in the psychological aspects of human behavior* cowardice, jealousy* courage nobilityExhibits a mature appreciation of the transitory nature of human life and achievement* We, too, must create a meaningful life in a world full of danger* Like them, we must adopt a code of behavior that allows us to take pride in ourselves, our accomplishments, our relationships with others

Anglo-Saxon Necklace

Shield MountGermanic HeroInvolved groups of warriors who served princes or kings * War was a customary occupation * warriors slept with armor at their side * spent time defending their own country or raiding other countries for wealth King provided warriors with food, drink, weapons and armor, land, and jewels warrior was obligated to fight to the death to defend his king only justice was retributive, i.e. death for death monetary value (wergild) was placed on the life of an individualpayment could be demanded upon death

Germanic Warriors cont.Pagan warriors believed in wyrd (unalterable fate) Immortality could only be achieved through fame which lasted beyond ones death Since life was so hard, one had to take pleasure in what good life had to offer so, eating, drinking, receiving gifts and achieving fame and honor, were highly valued.

Sutton HooAnglo-Saxon burial ship discovered 1939Literary Terms for Old EnglishEpic: a long verse narrative in an elevated style, presenting characters of high position in adventuresExamples: The Iliad, The Odyssey, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf

Characteristics of an Epic The hero is a figure of imposing statureThe setting is vast, covering great nations or worldsAction consists of deeds of great valor or require super human strengthSupernatural forces are evidentA styled of sustained elevation and grand simplicityThe poet recounts deed of the hero with a measure of objectivityServed warrior cultures by boosting tribal pride and teaching later generations a code of values

Elements of an Epic The poet opens by stating the themeThe poet then invokes a museOpens the narrative in media res (literally means in the midst of things)Has extensive use of epic similes

Folk EpicAn epic without certain authorshipFolk, or popular, epics are believed to have developed from the orally transmitted folk poetry of tribal bards or other authors; they were eventually transcribed by anonymous poets. Well-known examples of the folk epic are the

Epic Similean elaborated comparison. Differs from the ordinary simile by being more involved and ornate. A secondary object is developed into an independent aesthetic objectExample: Then the great sword, eaten with blood of battle Began to soften and waste awayIn iron icicles, wonder of wonders, Melting away most like to iceWhen the Father looses the fetters of frostSlackens the bondage that abinds the wave,Strong in power of times and seasons; (1086-92) KenningAn elaborate metaphor used in Old English poetry as a synonym for a simple nounExample: whale-road

Litotesa form of understatement and a characteristic of Old English poetryExample:Twas a weary while! twelve winters time

Epithetsdescriptive phrases that may be repeated over and over. Frequently, several epithets are used in the same sentenceExample: Prince of the Danes, protector of Scyldings, Lord of nations, and leader of men,


Repetition of the first sounds of words.Used to help scops remember the poem and to create unity within a piece. Used to help unify poem and create complete, balanced linesExample:Marauding monsters and menacing trolls (71)

CaesuraPause in a line of verse, usually near the middleNatural pauseEach line of verse is divided into two half-linesExample: Success in battle; retainers bold Obeyed him gladly; his band increased (39-40)