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Beowulf’s Origins Composed anywhere from the eighth to eleventh century. Composed in oral tradition of poetry. Filled with biblical allusions to the Old.

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Presentation on theme: "Beowulf’s Origins Composed anywhere from the eighth to eleventh century. Composed in oral tradition of poetry. Filled with biblical allusions to the Old."— Presentation transcript:


2 Beowulf’s Origins Composed anywhere from the eighth to eleventh century. Composed in oral tradition of poetry. Filled with biblical allusions to the Old Testament. Influences by Germanic and Old Norse myth and legend.

3  Plays on the same concept of epic poetry and the epic hero. So what is poetry?  Epic poetry is a long, narrative poem, written in an elevated style, which celebrates the deeds of a legendary hero or god.  Epic hero is a superhuman hero or god of an epic.

4 Literary Devices  Beowulf is noted especially for other literary devices:  Alliteration  Allusion  Epithet  Foreshadowing  Kenning

5  Alliteration the use of repeated consonants/ stressed syllables, especially at the beginning of words.  Allusion reference to a literary or historical person, place, or event or another literary work.  Epithet a word or phrase used to describe a persons attribute. Ex. “Lord of all Life”  Foreshadowing hinting at future events to come in the story.  Kenning a two-word metaphorical name for something, such as “sea-road” for ocean.

6  Anglo-Saxon tradition involved a scop. Scops were both composers and storytellers who traveled from court to court — the entertainers of Anglo-Saxon times.

7 Comitatus and Wergild  The Germanic code of loyalty. Thanes, or warriors, swore loyalty to their king, for whom they fought and whom they protected.  Wergild is a “man-payment.”  Practice of paying a slain man’s family to atone for the deed and to prevent them from taking revenge against the manslayer.

8 Beowulf in a Nutshell  Since its publication and translation two centuries ago, Beowulf has captured the attention of scholars and audiences alike, becoming a keystone of English literary studies as well as the basis of several popular film and TV adaptations.  Tolkien also used many elements from Beowulf as inspiration for his famous "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

9 Did You Know?  In 1939, excavations at Sutton Hoo (in Suffolk, England) uncovered a royal treasure-filled ship buried in the seventh century—not long before Beowulf was composed.  The ship is thought to be the burial site of an early Anglo-Saxon king. The treasures found there were much like those described in Beowulf that scholars suggest Beowulf.




13 Did You Know?  Beowulf contains one of the earliest instances in English of a flyting—a dispute, or an exchange of personal abuse, in verse. In part 2, the Danish warrior Unferth calls Beowulf a “boastful fool” and taunts him for undertaking and losing a reckless swimming match. Beowulf responds by telling how the match really went, accusing Unferth of fratricide, and faulting him for lacking the heart to confront Grendel.

14  What are your first impressions of Beowulf?

15  King Hrothgar, the ruler of the Danes, is troubled by the rampages of a demon named Grendel. Every night, Grendel attacks King Hrothgar's wealthy mead-hall, Herot, killing Danish warriors and sometimes even eating them. How it All Goes Down…

16  Hrothgar was a great warrior in his time, but now he's an old king and can't seem to protect his people. Fortunately, a young Geat warrior named Beowulf travels to Herot Hall from his own lands overseas to lend a helping hand – literally.

17 A Look Back: Grendel’s First Attack and Beowulf’s Arrival  In this section, Hrothgar’s ancestors are briefly described. Herot is constructed, and Grendel attacks it. Beowulf hears of the troubles at Herot and decides to help Hrothgar. Once he arrives, he is welcomed and feasted.


19  Unferth challenges Beowulf ’s reputation. Beowulf defends himself and attacks Unferth’s reputation. Hrothgar makes note that before now he has never entrusted his hall to a stranger. Beowulf stays awake, waiting for Grendel, as the rest of the hall settles into sleep.

20  Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, "A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.” Do you agree or disagree with his statement and why? Are heroes just ordinary men who do something when other men have already given up?

21 Courage in Beowulf  Courage - the foundation of the warrior culture that underlies the story of Beowulf. a true warrior's bravery comes from a completely fatalistic attitude toward life and indifference to death. Someday, he will die and be defeated. Everything happens as God wills it.  All the warrior can do is meet every challenge fearlessly, increasing his own reputation.  When he dies - renowned for his bravery.  There are a lot of cowards in Beowulf…or, if that's a little harsh, people who aren't willing to live by this fatalistic code of honor.

22 The Last Battle  Beowulf has triumphed over all his enemies – finally there comes a day when he has to face his last and most difficult adversary: the dragon. Da da DUM!  Beowulf makes his last boast.  Boasting - a formal part of warrior culture and important for great men. Beowulf's last boast is that he won battles in his youth and that in his old age he is going to fight the dragon "for the glory of winning.”

23  Wishes he could fight the dragon hand-to- hand, the way he fought Grendel when he was young, instead of using a sword.  He shouts out a challenge and the dragon, recognizing a human voice, bursts forward, breathing fire.

24  Why do you think Beowulf wants to fight the dragon alone?  What do Beowulf’s followers do when they realize he is losing the battle? What does Wiglaf do?

25  Beowulf is caught in a crazy battle scene. Beowulf's sword fails for the first time; he has to retreat. He's humiliated.  The dragon keeps hitting Beowulf with fire. Beowulf’s men break ranks and begin to flee. Wiglaf stays.  Wiglaf enters the battle at Beowulf’s side. He encourages Beowulf and Beowulf is inspired to keep fighting.

26  The dragon attacks, but Beowulf angers it by swinging his sword. It snaps!  It attacks again, biting Beowulf in the neck. Blood spurts everywhere. Wiglaf jumps forward stabbing the dragon in the in the belly.  Beowulf stabs the dragon in the side with a knife. This finally kills the dragon.

27 The Denouement  Beowulf is mortally wounded, but manages to kill the dragon and win its treasure.  It's a double-whammy: Beowulf will die, but so does the dragon. After, it's obviously all downhill, so this is definitely the denouement.

28 Gilt- Bronze Winged Dragon: Gilt- Bronze Winged Dragon: Swedish, 8 th Century Portrayed designs of real or mythical animals. Liked to create complex, abstract patterns. Also appeared in Christian art.

29 Gilt-Silver Brooch: Pre-Viking Scandinavia Scandinavia made many artifacts highly decorated. Called barbarian art influenced by Near Eastern origin. Snake forms have been traced to ancient Mesopotamia.

30 Popularity of Beowulf: Eighth Century  Beowulf was written down about A.D 1000, but became popular before that.  Stories like Beowulf became popular because the legends were the roots of their day, telling who their ancestors were.  A scholar taught by Bede wrote questioned some of the characters in the poem, specifically Ingeld, the pagan King, in Beowulf.

31 The Spoils and The Farewell  The dragon has been defeated, but Beowulf's wound is getting worse – he realizes that it's poisoned. He finds a place to sit, looking at the massive structure.  Beowulf realizes he's dying and says the last things he needs to say. He explains to Wiglaf that he would have wanted to bestow his armor on his son, but he doesn't have a son.

32  Beowulf recalls his long reign over the Geats: he's been king for fifty years.  Beowulf orders Wiglaf to go into the barrow, and bring back some treasure for him to see before he dies.  Beowulf is alive but bleeding profusely. Wiglaf cleans the king's wounds again as Beowulf gazes on the treasure.

33  The Geats build Beowulf's funeral pyre, stacking it high with precious armor and treasures. They light the fire and Beowulf's body burns while his people wail and mourn him.  After the pyre burns, the Geats build a barrow over it. The barrow is a memorial to Beowulf which takes ten days to build, and can be seen from the sea.  They bury jewels, gold, and treasures in the barrow to honor Beowulf. Twelve warriors ride around the tomb singing dirges, honoring Beowulf by describing his heroic deeds.

34 Silver Pendant of Vendel: Early Viking Period, 10 th Century. Warriors and conquerors celebrated courage and skill in battle. Pendant shows a face similar to that on Viking helmets, and buckles.

35 The Oseberg Ship: Viking Artifact The best known artifact of Viking times. Boat was buried along with the remains of a princess and a number of sacrificed dogs, horses, and oxen. The rudder was at the side rather than in the stern.

36 Themes  Good vs. evil  Identity  Strength and skill  Religion  Courage  Mortality  Supernatural  Traditions and customs

37  Were you surprised by the conclusion of Beowulf?  How would you have ended the poem? Why?

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