beowulf the beginnings of english literature l.
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Beowulf: The Beginnings of English Literature. Origins. Unknown author; possibly one Christian author in Anglo-Saxon England Unknown date of composition (roughly 8 th -11 th Century CE). Literary Devices.

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Unknown author; possibly one Christian author in Anglo-Saxon England

Unknown date of composition (roughly 8th-11th Century CE)

literary devices
Literary Devices
  • Allusion: Biblical, Germanic oral tradition, Norse myth and legend, historical Anglo-Saxon kings (eg. King Offa of Mercia)
  • Alliteration (eg. Scyld’s strong son)
  • Epic poetry: a long narrative poem written in elevated style which celebrates the deeds of a legendary hero or god.
  • Kenning: two-word metaphorical name for something (eg. whale-road=sea)
  • Scop: Anglo-Saxon composers and storytellers (like minstrels or bards)
warrior code
Warrior Code
  • Comitatus: Germanic code of loyalty
  • Thane: warrior – swears loyalty to the king for whom they fought and whom they protected
  • Kings: generous, protected thanes
  • Reputation: thanes were expected to be loyal, brave, courageous; kings were expected to be generous and hospitable
  • Wergild: “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.
geats and danes
Geats and Danes
  • Beowulf was a war leader of the Geats, a group of people in what is now southern Sweden
  • Hrothgar was king of the Danes
old english
Old English
  • Beowulf was written in Old English, an early form of English
  • Old English was spoken in the Middle Ages from about 6th century to 11th century CE
  • In 1066, 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 roote”
  • Modern English has been spoken since the Renaissance – Shakespeare is NOT Old English; he is Early Modern English
what do i need to know
What do I need to know?
  • As we read, make a list of characters and their traits: try two-column notes
  • Make note of any literary devices used
  • Note any words with which you are unfamiliar; if necessary, define them
  • Think about how this epic is like The Odyssey or other epics you’ve read
  • Think about other works of literature that relate to Beowulf