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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

7 What do I need to know?  As we read, make a list of characters and their traits: try two-column notes  Make note of any literary devices used  Note any words with which you are unfamiliar; if necessary, define them  Think about how this epic is like The Odyssey or other epics you’ve read  Think about other works of literature that relate to Beowulf

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