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Beowulf. http:// Essential Question. How does Beowulf illustrate the characteristics of an Epic?. The Poem. Beowulf is an Epic Poem Written in Old English Many versions Poems Books Graphic Novels/Comic Books Movies

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essential question
Essential Question
  • How does Beowulf illustrate the characteristics of an Epic?
the poem
The Poem
  • Beowulf is an Epic Poem
  • Written in Old English
  • Many versions
    • Poems
    • Books
    • Graphic Novels/Comic Books
    • Movies
  • Author Unknown
    • Passed on through storytelling for centuries until finally written down
  • Thought to have been composed between 700 and 850 CE
  • Passed down through Oral Tradition
  • Finally written down around 1000 CE
  • Based on real events
    • Documents have been found that talk about Hygelac, Beowulf’s lord, dying in 521 AD
  • Because this story existed for so long before being written down, there is no “true” version
what is an epic
What is an Epic?
  • An Epic is a long story about an important event for a culture or country.
    • Often the beginnings of a culture or country
  • An Epic has at least one major Hero.
    • Epic Hero: Determines the Fate of a culture or nation, often in battle.
  • An Epic is usually written as a long poem in complicated, beautiful language.
    • Beowulf was originally a poem, but has morphed into other forms of literature.
other characteristics of epics
Other Characteristics of Epics
  • Usually have supernatural beings – monsters, gods, angels.
  • Grand scale: The fate of a nation or culture hangs in the balance.
  • The Epic Hero is a person of great national importance.
  • Involves extraordinary deeds in battle OR a long and dangerous journey.
  • Epics were told orally to remember historical events – which are usually exaggerated.
other epics
Other Epics
  • The Aeneid – about the beginnings of Rome and Italy
  • The Odyssey – about the beginnings of Greece
  • Paradise Lost – about Humanity’s struggle against Satan
  • The Iliad – about the Trojan War
    • The Death of Hector comes from The Iliad – so you’ve already read an Epic!
  • Beowulf was a popular story in England, but the events actually take place in two countries near England: Sweden and Denmark.
  • The story was told and written by Anglo-Saxons, who tell the story through the lens of their own values:
    • Treasure
    • Glory
books i and ii
Books I and II
  • Book 1: Beowulf comes from Sweden to Denmark, where he has heard about a monster who terrorizes and murders people. Wanting Glory, he comes to kill the monster.
  • Book 2: Still in Denmark, more monster trouble.
book iii
Book III
  • Beowulf has returned to Geatland (in modern Sweden) and becomes King. 50 years pass.
  • A Dragon begins to terrorize Beowulf’s people, and he must save them from the Dragon.
beowulf the character
Beowulf the Character
  • Beowulf is a warrior, and later King, of the Geats (Swedish)
  • Beowulf wants to make a name for himself as the Greatest Warrior.
  • He is eager to risk his life for Glory so that he will always be remembered and respected.
  • He also wants to earn a lot of Treasure, which he plans to take with him to the afterlife when he dies.
  • He believes that having Glory and Treasure will make him Immortal.
old english
Old English
  • Remember Canterbury Tales? (Yes, you do.)
  • Chaucer wrote in Middle English in the 14th Century
  • Beowulf was originally written down in the 11th Century, when English was still what we consider Old English
old english vs middle english
Old English vs. Middle English
  • Canterbury Tales in Middle English:
  • Beowulf in Old English:
  • How are they different?
  • Modern German:
history of english
History of English
  • Britain is made up of four countries:
    • England
    • Scotland
    • Ireland
    • Wales
  • Before the 5th century, the dominant language and culture in Britain was Celtic
  • In the 5th Century, invaders from Germany called Anglo-Saxons conquered England
history of english1
History of English
  • The Anglo-Saxons took over what we know as England, which was pronounced “Angle-land,” and Whales
  • Scotland and Ireland remained Celtic
  • Anglo-Saxons brought their language, which was a version of German – “Angle-ish”
  • We refer to this language today as Old English, because it was the beginnings of our language
anglo saxon culture
Anglo-Saxon Culture
  • Praised Glory and Treasure, because they thought that this was the way to Immortality.
  • Activity: Anglo-Saxon WebQuest