Beowulf
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Beowulf. The great English…Danish…German Epic. Why Beowulf? * Oldest full-length poem in any Germanic Language (like us) Vernacular rather than Latin * Historic value * Literary value * Cultural value.

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Beowulf

Beowulf

The great

English…Danish…German

Epic


Why Beowulf?* Oldest full-length poem in any Germanic Language (like us)Vernacular rather than Latin* Historic value* Literary value* Cultural value


The Manuscript - facts*700-1020 AD/ CE– Linguistic/ style– Miniscule influence*Part of codex– 2 scribes*3,182 lines*Nowell*Cotton-Vitellius


Attracting notice
Attracting Notice

* Noticed in the 1700s

* National pride

*Claimed by

British

Danes

Germans

* Ancient/ Modern crossroads


The manuscript style
The Manuscript - Style

  • Events described dated to 400-500 AD

  • Cross ref – Gregory of Tours

  • Epithets indicative of oral influence

  • Last great hero of race

  • Christian/ Pagan mixture


Language
Language

  • Old English – Anglo Saxon

  • Germanic Vs. modern mixed w/ French

  • Traditional poetic form


Listen and watch

Hwæt. We Gardena in geardagum,

LO, praise of the prowess of people-king

2þeodcyninga, þrymgefrunon,

of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,

3hu ðaæþelingasellenfremedon.

we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!

4Oft ScyldScefingsceaþena/ þreatum,

Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,

5monegum mægþum, meodosetlaofteah,

from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,

6egsode eorlas. Syððanærestwearð/

awing the earls. Since erst he lay

7feasceaft funden, he þæsfrofregebad,

friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:


Who came up with this
Who came up with this?

  • Possibilities

    – Direct transcription/ compilation

    – Bankrolled by Danish conqueror

    – Anglo-Saxon king trying to claim a great heritage


The setting
The Setting

Scandanaviaat

War

Geat= Sweden

(live in)

Dane = Denmark

• Lay of the land

Boats, beer,

bravery, and

booty






The plot
The Plot

• 3 battles

• 2 parts

• Hero/ adventure

• Old world vs. new

• Originally separate, but woven together

well enough to be literature


The hero
The Hero

• Beowulf = Bee + wolf/ hunter = bear

• Call – comes in search of monsters

• Fortune & glory

• Bravery & honor

• Die with honor


Themes
Themes

• Feudalism

– King/ Thanes

• Revenge

– Blood debt

• Reward

• Wyrd


Cast

*Beowulf

• Herot

• Grendel

• Grendel’s Mother

• Hrothgar

• Wealhtheow

• Aeschere

• Unferth

• Wiglaf


Cultural meaning
Cultural Meaning

– Berserkers

– Anglo-Saxons seeking legitimization

– Quest for order

– Choosing what of the past to carry into the present

– National pride/ past


Psychological meaning
Psychological Meaning

Freudian/ Jungian

– Subconscious

– Monsters

– Mother image

– Dragon/ defense of land


Social meanings
Social Meanings

– “Other” – indigenes

– Leader must prove his worth

– Rank & reward for service

– Sacrifice for a greater good

– Loyalty, nobility, law



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