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Beowulf 2. The King and his Thanes. “Anglo-Saxon Culture” by Michael Delahoyde , Washington State University Study Guide by Rod McRae, University of West Georgia. Learning Objectives.

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beowulf 2


The King and his Thanes

“Anglo-Saxon Culture” by Michael Delahoyde, Washington State University

Study Guide by Rod McRae, University of West Georgia

learning objectives
Learning Objectives
  • Analyze cultural, historical, and contemporary contexts and provide evidence from the text to support their understanding. (TEKS §110.32.b.8)
anglo saxon trivia
Anglo-Saxon Trivia
  • Many of our days of the week are based on the names of Anglo-Saxon gods.
      • Tuesday – Tiw, the dark god
      • Wednesday – Woden, the war god
      • Thursday – Thor, the thunder god
      • Friday – Frigga, goddess of the home
leadership in beowulf
Leadership in Beowulf
  • King
  • Thanes (Warriors)
    • Warrior culture - Fighting was a way of life
the code of comitatus
The Code of Comitatus
  • A special relationship between King and his thanes
    • The thane swears to defend the king to his death
    • The king provides protection
    • The king gives the thanes land, wealth, & weapons
  • Created camaraderie between King and his thanes

“And a young prince must be prudent like that,

Giving freely while his father lives

So that afterwards in age when fighting starts

Steadfast companions will stand by him

And hold the line.” (lines 20-24)

  • “Man-payment” or “man-price”
  • Germanic custom of paying a slain man’s family to atone for the killing.
  • Prevents the slain man’s family from taking revenge.
  • Hrothgar paid wergild to Beowulf’s father.
  • Beowulf feels compelled to help Hrothgar in his time of need.
anglo saxon poetry
Anglo-Saxon Poetry
  • Oral tradition meant for mead-hall entertainment.
  • Scops (the poets) and Gleemen (harpists) sung or recited poems. They were the historians of the time.
  • The poetic structure was based on accent and alliteration, not rhyme and meter.
  • Confluence of Christianity and Paganism