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1 2 3 4 5. DO NOW: Write on a sheet of paper which country or continent you think each person is from. The Celts lived in a tribal society. The Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings though different cultures, came from a similar geography (Europe) and lived in tribal units as well.

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1 2 3 4 5


Write on a sheet of paper which country or continent you think each person is from.

The Celts lived in a tribal society.
  • The Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings though different cultures, came from a similar geography (Europe) and lived in tribal units as well.
the tribal culture of the celts and other northern europeans tribes
The Tribal Culture of the Celts and other Northern Europeans Tribes
  • Each tribe had their own king
  • They built walled farms and wood-hut villages
  • They used bronze and iron tools, and grew crops
  • They also warred with each other
  • Since war was always a possibility, life was unstable and often violent
  • warriorswere loyal to a king and would fight to the death for him, surrender was cowardly
these were oral cultures (there was no writing or recorded history)
  • these cultures were non-Christian; they were “pagans”, worshipping many gods
  • Scholars say that these invasions happened because of Britain’s fertile land; the land in Northern Europe being less fertile and subject to flooding from the North Sea.
exodus of rome the coming of anglo saxon invaders
Exodus of Rome/The Coming of Anglo-Saxon Invaders
  • After the year 300, however, the vast Roman Empire began to weaken.
  • By the 5th century it had collapsed.
  • The Romans were forced to withdraw their troops from Britain to fight battles at home in Italy.
  • This opened the previously peaceful areas of Roman rule in Britain to INVASION.
anglo saxon england 441 793
Anglo-Saxon England 441-793
  • King Athelbert ruled from 560-616.
    • He “dreamed of a nationwide confederation of tribes which would bring unity and a measure of peace to the land” (McConnell, 4).
  • Catholic Church in Rome became interested in converting the Anglo-Saxons.
  • Rome sent St. Augustine to try and convert England in 597.
  • During the next 40 years, “Christian missionaries, despite setbacks, were able to convert most of the Anglo-Saxon kings and their people to Christianity” (McConnell, 4).
The spread of CHRISTIANITY to the Anglo-Saxon’s, benefited the Anglo-Saxon culture in many ways:
    • it brought writing to this formerly oral culture, an essential skill for an “advanced culture”
    • it brought new values (peace, compassion, cooperation--instead of arrogance and violence)
    • books were copied, records were written by monks, thus preserving their culture in writing
  • Due tovarious invasions during the early Medieval Period, it has also come to be known as The Dark Ages.
As we read Beowulf, we are in Denmark and Sweden, around 500 AD, before the move towards one king, Christianity, peace, and literacy.
  • Though we are in Denmark and Sweden, these tribal cultures (the Geats and the Scyldings) are much like those in early Anglo-Saxon England.
most epics have the following characteristics
Most epics have the following characteristics:
  • an epic hero of imposing stature and who is meaningful as a legend or historical figure
  • his/her actions take place on a grand scale and are important nationally, internationally, or worldwide
  • the action consists of a great deed( s) requiring superhuman courage & maybe superhuman strength
  • supernatural forces (gods, angels, demons) are involved or interested in the action
  • the style is grand or elevated 
additional notes on anglo saxon culture
Additional Notes on Anglo-Saxon Culture
  • The mead-hall:
    • within the tribal cluster of wooden buildings surrounded by a strong wooden fence, stood the mead-hall.
    • Here the king and his warriors (called thanes) feasted and drank mead (Anglo-Saxon beer).
    • In the mead-hall, they were entertained by a scop (shope), a poet/story teller/historian.
  • The scop:
    • Besides telling a story, his job was to retell current and past events, to record, remember, and retell history all from the record of his mind.
    • Fame and honor meant a lot to these people; it was the scop’s job to preserve a record of their achievements for later generations.
main characters in beowulf
Main Characters in Beowulf
  • Beowulf (The hero. A Great who leads his band of warriors to find and kill Grendel)
  • Grendel (man-monster who raids Hrothgar’s mead-hall, eating his people)
  • Hrothgar (King of the Scyldings in Denmark)
  • Hygelac (King of the Geats-Beowulf’s king back in Sweden)
  • Unferth (one of Hrothgar’s thanes--he questions Beowulf’s strength and ability )
  • Wealhtheow (Hrothgar’s wife)
important relationships to remember for understanding
Important Relationships to Remember for Understanding:
  • Son of Ecgtheow--Beowulf (also called Hygelac’s thane)
  • Son of Ecglaf--Unferth (also called Hrothgar’s herald)
  • Son of Healfdene--Hrothgar 
characteristics of anglo saxon poetry the skill and style of the scop
Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (The skill and style of the Scop)
  • An important fact to remember about the style of Beowulf is the matter of ANCESTRY.
  • The writer of Beowulf often mentions details that do not seem to relate to the main plot, (mainly commentary on ancestors: "son of...”; so-and-so’s “thane”).
  • This is done for a few reasons:
    • as an oral marker -- stories were often told in more than one sitting.
    • The scop might leave off one spot and repeat some information the next day to remind listeners where he left off.
When the writer mentions relationships (i.e. calling Beowulf “Hygelac’s thane” in line 131 or calling Hrothgar “the son of Healfdene” in line 125) he may do this to remind listeners of who came from where and who is related to who.
  • They had no writing or history books to chronicle these things.
    • Being remembered was very important in Anglo-Saxon society.
literary devices
Literary Devices
  • Examples of kennings:
    • candle of heaven -- the sun
    • peace-weaver – women
    • light of battle-- sword
  • Alliteration: the repetition of initial consonant sounds.
    • Also used for entertainment, variety, and to keep the beat and rhythm.
    • (Incidentally, Beowulf doesn’t rhyme--not all poems have to rhyme. Anglo-Saxon poetry is known more for alliteration than rhyme).Example from lines (4-7):
      • Many a mead-hall Scyld, son of Sceaf,
      • From a friendless foundling, feeble and wretched
  • Caesura: the building block of Anglo-Saxon poetry. Each line had a pause in the middle to create a kind of beat.
    • Middle-man
the 13 th warrior
The 13th Warrior