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Anglo-Saxon Literature Anglo-Saxon literature  PAGAN oral epic / lyric saved from oblivion by the monks! Cotton Vitellius  CHRISTIAN Subjects from.

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Presentation on theme: "Anglo-Saxon Literature Anglo-Saxon literature  PAGAN oral epic / lyric saved from oblivion by the monks! Cotton Vitellius  CHRISTIAN Subjects from."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Anglo-Saxon Literature

3 Anglo-Saxon literature  PAGAN oral epic / lyric saved from oblivion by the monks! Cotton Vitellius  CHRISTIAN Subjects from the Bible Life of Saints Moral didactics purposes

4 Old English Poetry:  Long alliterative verse = long line with a strong pause, two halves linked by alliteration  kennings: a sort of metaphorical description: Ex.whales’s road = sea  no rimes

5 Beowulf

6 The Basics  What?  Who?  When?  Where?  Why?

7 What?  What is it? Beowulf is an epic poem. An epic is “a long narrative poem that relates the great deeds of a larger-than- life hero who embodies the values of a particular society”.  What is he? Beowulf is an epic hero  It is poetic, creative, imaginative, and one of the earliest works of art in the English language (Old English)  It is also important to remember that it is NOT a work written in Latin. It is written in the vernacular (OE) and about people who were England’s founders (or conquerors) in the middle of the first millennium.

8 By Whom?  By whom was it composed? Most Anglo-Saxon poetry was oral at first, meaning it was transmitted or performed by a Bard (Scop)> anonymous.  By whom was it written? Somewhere between the eighth and ninth centuries A.D., “The Beowulf-Poet” (his identity is unknown) wrote down the poem which for many years had been sung/spoken. The Beowulf-poet, scholars believe, was an English monk (and therefore, Christian) who probably lived in one of the Anglo-Saxon settlements in Western England (Mercia)

9 About Whom?  Even though the poet himself was English and Christian, the poem is about neither Englishmen nor Christians  It is the story of several Scandinavian peoples (tribes, really), mainly the Geats and the Danes, but also the Swedes. Beowulf is a Geat. He goes to the aid of the Danes, whose king is Hrothgar  They live in...

10 Map of Baltic Region of Scandinavia and the Viking Invasions ( )

11 Who are the main characters?  Beowulf (Geat)  Hrothgar (Dane)  Unferth (Dane)  Wiglaf (Geat)  Grendel  Grendel’s mother  The dragon

12 Main Characters 2  Many people divide the poem into thirds; it is about Beowulf’s three epic battles with evil creatures –Grendel –Grendel’s Mother –The Dragon  However, as Heaney points out, it is also really about three tribes: –The Geats –The Danes –The Swedes

13 Why?  Why do we read it?  It’s a very creative, imaginative, poetic masterpiece.  It gives us insight into the origins of the British people, the culture who, through seafaring conquest, founded the world we currently live in.  It gives us insight into the origins of our language.  It gives us insight into all people everywhere and throughout time (time, birth, death, fame/success/glory, honor, friendship, conflict, home, country, adventure, spirituality—all of these things transcend English literature and matter to all people).  It’s a VERY important piece of literature historically (this is the “because we have to” reason!).

14 Important Themes in the Poem  Life and Death  Fame (often achieved through war)  Good vs. Evil & Religion –Man vs. Man –Man vs. Beast –Good Christian Traits vs. Evil –Good Pagan (Anglo-Saxon traits) vs. Evil –Bad Pagan Traits –Christianity vs. Paganism (Paganism not evil)  Anglo-Saxon Code –Friendship –Loyalty –Fame, Honor –Bravery –Generosity


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