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Beowulf: The Beginnings of English Literature. Origins  Unknown author; possibly one Christian author in Anglo- Saxon England  Unknown date of composition.

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Presentation on theme: "Beowulf: The Beginnings of English Literature. Origins  Unknown author; possibly one Christian author in Anglo- Saxon England  Unknown date of composition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Beowulf: The Beginnings of English Literature

2 Origins  Unknown author; possibly one Christian author in Anglo- Saxon England  Unknown date of composition (roughly 8 th -11 th Century CE)

3 Literary Devices  Allusion: Biblical, Germanic oral tradition, Norse myth and legend, historical Anglo- Saxon kings (eg. King Offa of Mercia)  Alliteration (eg. Scyld’s strong son)  Epic poetry: a long narrative poem written in elevated style which celebrates the deeds of a legendary hero or god.  Kenning: two-word metaphorical name for something (eg. whale-road=sea)  Scop: Anglo-Saxon composers and storytellers (like minstrels or bards)

4 Warrior Code  Comitatus: Germanic code of loyalty  Thane: warrior – swears loyalty to the king for whom they fought and whom they protected  Kings: generous, protected thanes  Reputation: thanes were expected to be loyal, brave, courageous; kings were expected to be generous and hospitable  Wergild: “man-payment”; a fee paid to the family of a slain man to atone for his murder and to prevent the family from seeking revenge.

5 Geats and Danes  Beowulf was a war leader of the Geats, a group of people in what is now southern Sweden  Hrothgar was king of the Danes

6 Old English  Beowulf was written in Old English, an early form of English  Old English was spoken in the Middle Ages from about 6 th century to 11 th century CE  In 1066, William the Conqueror successfully invaded England, bringing his Norman French language with him; the nobility began to speak French, and gradually Old English evolved into Middle English ( ): “Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote/The droghte of March hath perced to the roote”shoures sootedroghte  Modern English has been spoken since the Renaissance – Shakespeare is NOT Old English; he is Early Modern English

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8 Elements of an Epic 1.Epic hero– an character with a trait or characteristic that is valued by his society. (E.g.– Superman’s bravery or valor) 2.Quest– A journey through which the character or the reader learns something 3.Valorous Deeds– Doing something bravely. 4.Divine Intervention– The hand of God (or gods) help the hero, proving his value. 5.Great events– The hero has a hand in something important in the history or mythology of a culture.

9 2 Types of Epics 1.Folk –Told out loud first (usually by scops) –Unknown author –Unknown dates –(E.g.—Beowulf is a folk epic because we don’t know who wrote it) 2.Literary –Known author –(E.g.– Paradise Lost, by John Milton is a literary epic because we know who wrote it.)

10 3 Epic Conventions 1.Invoke a muse –Muse– inspiration provided by the gods 2.Plot begins in medias res –In medias red– “In the middle of” the action 3.Serious tone Not necessary to have all on these, but need most at least

11 Possible OER Evaluate a story you’ve read or seen as an epic story. –O! Brother, Where Art Thou? Epic hero– Ulysses Everett McGill Quest– To seek the treasure Valorous deeds– Singing the song, escaping the sheriff, saving Tommy from the KKK, et al. Divine intervention– the flood Great events– Helping elect Pappy O’Daniel as governor of Mississippi instead of the KKK head dragon Literary epic– Cohen brothers wrote it in 2001 Invokes a muse at the beginning Begins in the middle of the story as they escape jail Serious tone? Notsomuch.

12 Beowulf’s Name Beowulf’s father– Edgetho –In most cases, the son is named after the father Don Donald (son of Don) McDonald (son of son of Don) McDonaldson (son of son of son of Don) Proves Beowulf is own individual with own powers and abilities (and more important than his father) Beo– Bear –Bears are known as Great Protectors in Norse mythology –Strong Wulf– Wolf –Wolves are also great protectors, but are also cunning and speedy


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