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Beowulf Manuscript Written between middle 7 th and late 10 th c. 1 st mentioned in 1536 Owned by the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, who owned the most.

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Presentation on theme: "Beowulf Manuscript Written between middle 7 th and late 10 th c. 1 st mentioned in 1536 Owned by the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, who owned the most."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beowulf Manuscript Written between middle 7 th and late 10 th c. 1 st mentioned in 1536 Owned by the antiquarian Sir Robert Cotton, who owned the most extensive library of Anglo-Saxon texts ever 1700: the Cotton library was willed to England and moved to the Ashburnham House in Westminster October 23, 1731: The Ashburnham Fire 1833: first English edition of Beowulf is published

2 Cotton Vitellius A.xv

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4 Four Dialects of Old English 700 – 1066 West Saxon Kentish Northumbrian Mercian

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6 Old English 1. Alphabet and pronunciation th sound:þ (the thorn)wiþ (with) ð (the eth)ða (then) æ (digraph)a in “hat sc (“sh” sound)sceap (sheep) c (“k” sound) c (“ch” sound) þat (that) þorn(thorn) scip (ship) bæc(back) benc(bench)

7 Rarity of words from Latin and French that make up large portions of our language now (post Norman Conquest). 85% of Old English words are no longer in use. Mannmete wif gæs (grass) cild leaf hus god (good) weall (wall) feohtan (fight)

8 Old English is a synthetic, not an analytic, language: parts of speech have endings for different persons, numbers, tenses, and moods (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative).

9 Audio of lines benslade.shtml Beowulf Prologue Beowulf Prologue (audio with text)

10 Sutton Hoo excavation site in Suffolk

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13 Shield Mount

14 Anglo-Saxon Necklace

15 Boar Crest

16 Sutton Hoo Helmet

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18 The Royal Shield

19 The Royal Shoulder Mounts

20 The Great Gold Buckle

21 Buckle Mount for Sword Scabbard

22 Beowulf in the news…

23 Old English Poetics: Genre and Form Epic or Heroic Epic: long narrative poem on a serious subject told in a formal or elevated style and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whom the fate of a tribe, nation, or the human race depends. Beowulf is a primary epic; that means it originates in the oral tradition. Elegiac: a formal and sustained lament in verse for the death of a particular person or about the transitory nature of life. Lines: The poetic lines of Beowulf are constructed of two half lines, each with two strong stresses and of varying syllables (8 -12 for Beowulf)

24 Old English Poetics: Alliteration Definition: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds Use in Beowulf: The alliteration of Beowulf always occurs between the first stress of the second half line and one or both of the strong stresses of the first half line. Translators of Beowulf into modern English vary in their success in mirroring this style of alliteration. Example: Oft Scyld Scēfing sceaþena þrēatum, monegum mǽgþum meodo-setla oftēah; (4-5).

25 Old English Poetics: The Kenning Definition: a kenning is an OE compound metaphor Examples from Beowulf: “swan-road” “wave-courser” “wave piercer” (1273) “Heaven’s candle” (1391) “war icicle” (1420)

26 Old English Poetics: The Litote Definition: A figure of speech, in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary (OED); often an ironic understatement Examples from Beowulf: “ a pyre on earth, an unweak one” (3138) “That exchange was not good” (1304) “That was not an easy journey” (2586)

27 Old English Interlace The Franks casket (c 700)—left panel From g

28 Old English Interlace South face of the Bewcastle Cross in Cumberland (pre-710) From

29 Old English Interlace Facsimile of the Book of Durrow (folio 192 verso) (mid or late 7 th c) From

30 Old English Interlace The hilt of the Crundale sword (late 7 th c) From

31 Old English Interlace Carpet page from the Lindisfarne Gospels (c 700) From /carpet-pages-from-the-lindisfarne-gospels/

32 Old English Interlace The Gandersheim Casket (later 8 th c. or early 9 th ) Image from

33 Old English Poetics: Beowulf’s Digressions First digression ( ) Thematic focus: What is a good versus a bad king? Second digression ( ) Thematic focus: Commentary on problems within the heroic code of vengeance Third digression ( ) Thematic focus: What is a good versus a bad queen?

34 Old English Poetics: Beowulf’s Digressions Fourth digression ( ) Thematic focus: Loyalties and peace are transitory. Fifth digression ( ): “The Lay of the Last Survivor” Thematic focus: We are often misguided in our values, including those that require revenge. Sixth digression ( ): “Friscian Campaign” and Beowulf’s lineage Thematic focus: your actions are more important than your birth


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