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Historical and Literary Background Notes

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Presentation on theme: "Historical and Literary Background Notes"— Presentation transcript:

1 Anglo-Saxon Period 450-1066 A.D.
Historical and Literary Background Notes Source: Pfordresher, John, Gladys V. Veidemanis, and Helen McDonnell eds. “The Anglo-Saxons ” & “Beowulf.” England in Literature. Scott, Foresman and Co. Glenview, IL: ,

2 Shaped by Invaders The Anglo-Saxon culture was shaped by the different peoples who invaded the island of Britain 2000 B.C.E. - Invaders from Iberian Peninsula 600 B.C.E. - Celts 43 A.D. - Romans


4 Anglo-Saxon England 450-1066 A.D.
440 A.D. - Tribes from north west Germany invaded Angles Saxons Jutes

5 Anglo-Saxon Society Tribal society, ruled by warrior kings
Warred with each other Thanes pledged to defend warrior kings and were rewarded with treasure

6 What qualities make someone a hero?

7 Epic Hero Usually protected by or even descended from gods
Performs superhuman exploits, often founding or saving a nation

8 Epic Hero Hero must be able to perform outstanding deeds and have super-human courage Warriors frequently boast before fighting

9 What qualities make someone a villain?

10 Draugr A monster in Old Norse Literature who is an animated corpse
People who had grievances after death could become draugar Wander at night, wreaking aimless vengeance

11 Draugr Supernaturally strong – can’t be killed
A draugr often has a mother called a ketta (“she-cat”) more monstrous than he

12 Epic A long narrative poem celebrating the great deeds of one or more legendary heroes, in a grand, ceremonious style

13 Epic Characteristics Setting is typically vast, usually encompassing stories about great nations or even the universe Use of elevated language (i.e., epithet, metaphor) Supernatural forces are typically evident

14 Scop (or bard) Chanted traditional poems & composed
new ones for feasts and ceremonial occasions

15 List characteristics of stories that are primarily recited from memory instead of read from a book.
What are some examples of these kinds of stories?

16 Alliteration Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words

17 Alliteration Example: “Grendel . . . made his home in a hell
Not hell but earth. He was spawned in that slime . . .”

18 Epithet An adjective or adjectival phrase used to define a characteristic, quality, or attribute of some person or thing

19 Epithet Examples: Shild described as: “Lord of all life, Ruler of glory” Grendel described as: “Shepherd of evil, guardian of crime” Beowulf described as: “mighty protector of men”

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