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Introduction to Beowulf. SOL: 12.3, 12.5. Why do we read Beowulf?. It’s the first Hero’s Journey tale in English The poem documents the values, questions, and attitudes of the time and explores themes that are still present today.

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why do we read beowulf
Why do we read Beowulf?
  • It’s the first Hero’s Journey tale in English
  • The poem documents the values, questions, and attitudes of the time and explores themes that are still present today.
  • It relates the lifestyle of the Anglo-Saxon period. Beowulf’s poet tries to recreate the past for the reader; the poem is almost nostalgic for those bygone pagan days.
beowulf intro
Beowulf Intro.
  • Marks the beginning of English literature
  • Recited by scops
  • Beowulf has 3 major sections
  • Oral recitation
  • Based on legends of various Northern Europeans
  • The time period of the actual story takes place in the late 5th or early 6th centuries.
  • In medias res: story picks up after 12 years of Grendel attacking Herot
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
Beowulf is one of the oldest European epics.

Have you read any other epics?

create a frame of reference that answers the following

Create a frame of reference that answers the following:

What are some attributes of a hero? a villain?

discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • What does a hero look like?
  • Can anyone be a hero?
  • What does a villain look like?
  • Where do these impressions come from? Are these representations accurate?
  • What does our popular culture and media tell us about what a hero should be like?
  • Our Hero Beowulf
    • Loyalty
    • Valor
    • Unselfishness
    • Sense of justice
beowulf s name
Beowulf’s Name
  • Beowulf’s father– Edgetho
    • In most cases, the son is named after the father
      • Don
      • Donald (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– Bear
    • Bears are known as Great Protectors in Norse mythology
    • Strong
  • Wulf– Wolf
    • Wolves are also great protectors, but are also cunning and speedy

Grendel the Monster

do now vocab define the following
Do Now Vocab…Define the following

affliction massive

solace loathsome

mail fetters

mead-hall banner



  • affliction: state of pain or misery
  • solace: comfort, relief
  • mail: flexible body armor
  • mead-hall: banquet halls
  • massive: big and solid
  • loathsome: disgusting
  • fetters: chains for the feet
  • banner: flag


Along narrative poem that recounts the deed of a larger-than-life hero that embodies the values of a particular society

elements of the epic
Elements of the Epic
  • An Epic Hero
  • An Epic Conflict
  • A Heroic Quest
    • A journey in search of something of value
  • Divine Intervention
epic hero
Epic Hero
  • Influential position in society
  • larger-than-life figure who reflects the values and beliefs of the culture
  • Superhuman
  • often of mixed divine and human birth and so possesses human weakness
  • on a quest for something of great value to him or to his people
epic conventions
Epic Conventions
  • Opening statement of theme, followed by an invocation
  • Appeal for supernatural/godly help
  • in medias res
  • Serious tone and an elevated style
  • Long lists/catalogs
  • epic similes
  • kennings