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Where Did Beowulf Come from? Beowulf is an oral epic- a story about a hero that was told aloud in long ago times We don’t know who made up the story;

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Presentation on theme: "Where Did Beowulf Come from? Beowulf is an oral epic- a story about a hero that was told aloud in long ago times We don’t know who made up the story;"— Presentation transcript:


2 Where Did Beowulf Come from? Beowulf is an oral epic- a story about a hero that was told aloud in long ago times We don’t know who made up the story; It was probably more than one person adding on to the story as time went by First hero story from Europe It was first written down about 1000AD It tells a story from about 500 AD

3 Beowulf The story mixes Christian and non-Christian world views The poem, filled with biblical allusions to the Old Testament, is also influenced by Germanic oral tradition and Old Norse myths and legends It was first published in modern times in 1815 It is written in a style of writing known as “Old English”

4 Old English The Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian peoples had invaded the island of Britain and settled there several hundred years earlier than Beowulf began, bringing with them several closely related Germanic languages that would evolve into Old English. Old English is nothing like modern English!

5 Old English Prologue from Beowulf Sample text in Old English (Prologue from Beowulf) Modern English version

6 Which Means… Lo, praise of the prowess of people-kings of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped, we have heard, and what honor the athelings won! Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes, from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore, awing the earls. Since erst he lay friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him: for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve, till before him the folk, both far and near, who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate, gave him gifts:

7 Which Really Means… Listen to my story! We have heard of the long- ago years, of the glory of the Danish kings. We have heard how they swung their mighty swords in brave deeds. In those days Scyld Scefing made slaves of enemy soldiers and terrified their nobles. The Danes had found him helpless as a child. He had been floating on the sea in a ship, surrounded by gifts, a strange kingchild. He grew tall, sailed the seas, rode through the land, till other kings sailed the whale-paths to seek him, offer him gold and bow to him. He ruled lands on all sides. That was a brave king!

8 Literary Devices in Beowulf Beowulf is noted especially for three literary devices : caesura, alliteration and kenning Remember that a literary device is a way of writing to produce a special effect

9 Caesura A break or a pause in the middle of a verse Helps in reading and give special effects to a word or phrase- often marked with a double line (ll) Example from Beowulf Hwæt! we Gar-Dena || on geardagum ("Lo! we Spear-Danes, in days of yore).

10 Alliteration the repetition of similar sounds, especially the initial consonant sound of a word or of a stressed syllable Examples from Beowulf (there are three alliterations in every line ) Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings, Leader beloved, and long he ruled In fame with all folk since his father had gone...

11 Kenning two-word metaphorical name for something Examples in Beowulf Ship: "the bent-necked wood," "the ringed prow," "the foamy-necked," "the sea-wood," "the sea-farer" Sea: "the swan-road" "the whale-road" "the sea- bird's baths" Sword: "the leaving of the file" "battle-lightning“ Dragon: "the twilight-spoiler“ Battle: "the storm of swords" Queen: "peace-bringer among nations" Lord/king: "the protector of warriors;" "ring- giver;" "dispenser of treasure

12 Beowulf Themes Goodness conquers evil. Beowulf, of course represents goodness; the three monsters that he slays represent evil. Actions (Beowulf's) speak louder than words (Unferth's). Judge the greatness of a human being by the greatness of his deeds and his noble ancestry. Help thy neighbor. (Beowulf risks his life to help a neighbor, King Hrothgar, in trouble.) Forces of darkness–irrational, menacing–are always at work in society. Life is a continuing struggle. After Beowulf defeats Grendel, Grendel's mother seeks revenge. Beowulf kills her. Eventually, in old age, he faces still another challenge, this time from a dragon. He kills the dragon, too, but suffers a mortal wound. After he dies, new troubles loom on the horizon in the form of wars with neighboring tribes.

13 Beowulf Pronunciation Guide It might be of some help in reading Beowulf to know how to pronounce some of the names. The accent always falls on the first syllabus of a name. The "sc" that starts many of the names is pronounced "sh." The "e" is usually pronounced as an independent vowel, so "Beowulf" sound like "Bay'-oh-wolf," "Heorot" is "Hay-oh-roht," and "Geats" are Gay'ahts." The letter "h" at the beginning of a name is aspirated (strongly-breathed). Old English Name: Pronounciation:Ælfhere alf hair uh Æschere ash hair uh Beanstan bayan stahn Dæghrefn day hreven Eadgils ayad gils (hard g) Eanmund ayan mund Earnaness er nuh ness Ecgtheow edge thayo Eofor ayo ver Freawaru fraya wah roo Geat gayat Geatas gayat as Hæthcyn hath kin Healfdene half day nuh (pronounce the l) Heardred har dred Heorogar hair uh gar Heorot hay oh roht Herebeald hair uh bald Heremod hair uh mode Hildeburh hil duh burch Hnæf hnaff Hoc hoke Hreosnabeorh hrayos nuh bairch Hrothgar hroth gar Hronesnes hron us ness Hygelac hee yuh lahk Nægling nail ing Ohthere ocht hair uh Ongentheow on gen thayo (hard g) Scefing shay ving Scop shope Scyld shay ld Wealhtheow walch thayo Weohstan wech stahn Wiglaf wee lahf

14 Quick Summary Written: Between down around 1000 A.D., in England; had been a story told out loud for centuries Author: Unknown Type of Work: Epic poem Setting: in Denmark and Geatland ( what is now southern Sweden) in about 500 A.D. Tone: Exciting, action, foreboding Protagonist: Beowulf Antagonist: Grendal, Grendal’s mother

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