Beowulf. An epic of good vs. evil. What is Beowulf? Who is Beowulf?. Beowulf is an epic poem that tells about the heroics of an epic hero – that is a great, strong man named Beowulf So, if Beowulf is an epic hero, what does Epic mean?
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Beowulf An epic of good vs. evil
What is Beowulf? Who is Beowulf? • Beowulf is an epic poem that tells about the heroics of an epic hero – that is a great, strong man named Beowulf • So, if Beowulf is an epic hero, what does Epic mean? • An epic is a poem that celebrates the heroic achievements of an individual or larger than life hero • Epics were primarily told by word of mouth, or oral tradition
So what else is important about an epic? • They contain three different literary devices. These are: • Kennings – poetic devices used in Old English poetry, where two words take the place of another • Caesura – pauses in a line of poetry • Alliteration – when two or more words in a line have the same initial sound (i.e – Brave Beowulf…..)
So what is Beowulf all about? • The events of Beowulf take place in the early Anglo Saxon times, before 1000 BC • It was composed in the 700’s AD • It is written by an unknown author, nobody knows who first told this story • Published by monks, who were the only people educated enough to write it down
Beowulf is… • The only complete epic poem of any length from the Anglo Saxon period and the only surviving manuscript of a people who produced Shakespeare and Chaucer • Story takes places in Denmark – Hrothgar is the king of the Danes
Structure • It is an epic poem • Otherwise it is not structured any particular way, this was influenced by the fact that it was told over and over again, and not written down for hundreds of years
Two cultures/Two traditions • Pagan – no belief in God, grim tales, life ruled by fate, not God, Monsters, people struggling for a place in the world • Christian – Believed good and evil were a choice – certainly added as Monks wrote the poem down, to downplay the Pagan qualities
So who were these people? The Anglo Saxons? • They had many ideals for perfect people in their society. These included: • Bravery • Loyalty • Generosity • Being willing to die for your king (or at least put your life on the line)
Important Terms to know for Beowulf • Epic (in your vocabulary terms!) • Scop – Old English term for poet; they sang about the accomplishments of their people and king • Wyrd – Old English word for fate; they believed it was the controlling force in the universe
Terms to know (people, places) • Mead – alcoholic drink made from honey • Mead Hall – Castle where partying, celebrating occurred • Hrothgar – King of the Danes (Denmark) • Herot – Hrothgar’s castle – also referred to as a mead hall • Geats – Beowulf’s people (Sweden) • Beowulf – heroic figure; large man, strong; personification of true good
More terms to know • Grendel – Ugly monster, reeks havoc on Hrothgar and his men; archenemy of all things good; personification of evil