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“Maldon,” Beowulf, “Rood” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike. Review of Main Points from Last Class Period Key concept: comitatus Christianizing: –As consolation –Civilizing.

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Presentation on theme: "“Maldon,” Beowulf, “Rood” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike. Review of Main Points from Last Class Period Key concept: comitatus Christianizing: –As consolation –Civilizing."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Maldon,” Beowulf, “Rood” ENGL 203 Dr. Fike

2 Review of Main Points from Last Class Period Key concept: comitatus Christianizing: –As consolation –Civilizing effect –Mixture of pagan and Christian elements “Wanderer”: central conflict is between wanting to find a new gold lord and realizing that the A-S heroic ethic (or code) does not fulfill the longing of the human heart and soul. Transitions in “Wanderer”: A-S heroic ethic  wisdom  a Christian perspective.

3 Outline for Today “The Battle of Maldon” Beowulf (excerpt) “The Dream of the Rood” Chief objective: To continue to identify holes (i.e., aporia: see Harmon and Holman) in the A-S heroic code.

4 Key Terms for “Maldon” Look up the following *’d terms in Harmon and Holman or some other handbook: –*Omniscient narrator –*Point of view –*Synecdoche –*Foil

5 Outline of the Poem Lines 1-99: Preparation for the battle Lines : Opening of the battle, Byrhtnoth’s death, cowards’ retreat Lines 198-end: Offa’s speech, attempt at revenge, battle lost

6 The Poem’s Setting See Figure 3 The English: The Vikings/Danes: Causeway = symbol of _____________ Nearby woods = __________________ Distance = too great for ____________ Therefore, much of what we get here is the poet’s invention. Date: August 991 (Beowulf dates from the 8 th century); see the outline at the back of Harmon and Holman.

7 The Poem’s Opening What is happening in lines 1-10? –Action: –Significance: –Conflict: Write answers to this question in your notebooks.

8 Possible Answers What is happening in lines 1-10? –Action: Byrhtnoth orders a warrior to abandon his horse (battles were fought on foot). Another warrior lets his “beloved hawk / Fly to the forest.” See line 186. –Significance: The rider is being cowardly. Horse and hawk are gifts that Byrhtnoth has bestowed on his men. See line 284. –Conflict: heroic ethic (stay and fight and win or die) vs. self-preservation (the safety of the forest)

9 Question Who wrote the poem?

10 Possible Answers One of the warriors who ran away An eyewitness who is not a warrior Someone who heard about the battle second-hand My own sense is that the poet/narrator is NOT one of the warriors. The poet, in that case, would condemn his own actions. The key line is 112.

11 More on the Poet Probably not a cleric Presumably well-educated Familiar with heroic poetry of past centuries and its conventions Supportive of righteous warfare (like Byrhtnoth), warfare for good causes Probably wrote the poem shortly after the battle

12 Who Are Byrhtnoth’s Men, and What Do They Represent? His men—two categories: –Thanes: hired soldiers. –Fyrd: citizen soldiers; guys from the surrounding areas—not professional soldiers; not under obligation to fight past a certain hour, hence B’s sense of urgency. –Hostage at line 259. What these forces represent: –Thanes: comitatus relationship with Byrhtnoth –Fyrd: English people in general –Together, B’s men represent all of England—a microcosm of the whole country. So “The Battle of Maldon” is a nationalistic poem in this respect.

13 Do the Vikings Want To Fight? See page 107, lines Tribute vs. battle (line 28) Second person singular (line 28) First person plural (line 32) “peace” (lines 34, 38, 40) “greatest here” (line 35)

14 Points Viking victory, says the herald, is inevitable. Flattery of B. Attempt to isolate B. (second person singular)

15 Question Why does Byrhtnoth allow the Vikings to cross the causeway? “It was then the eorldisdainfully granted Too much ground to the hostile host.” --lines 86-87

16 Possible Answers Lytegian: “dissemble” (line 83): the Vikings trick Byrhtnoth. Legitimate reasons to do battle: –The buck stops here: the Vikings will just go on to the next town and the next and the next unless someone stops them. –Honor: It is not honorable to pay your way out of a battle. –Foil: Aethelred (line 51) frequently paid tribute to get out of the kind of conflict that the Vikings are presenting in the poem; Byrhtnoth is not the kind of guy who would do so.

17 Further Questions Other than English vs. Vikings, what is the essential conflict in “The Battle of Maldon”? How does Offa’s speech in lines relate to this secondary conflict? Do a “T” chart: one side vs. the other.

18 Possible Answer Heroism Duty Revenge Honor Cowardice Self-preservation Common sense

19 Group Work: Beowulf 1. What parallels do you see between "Maldon" and the section about the slaying of the dragon? 2. What conflicts do you find here in the A-S heroic code? Is there something more than we found in "Maldon"? 3. What do you make of Beowulf's final wish on page 89? 4. Which thanes in "Maldon" and Beowulf best represent comitatus, and why do you think so?

20 “The Dream of the Rood” Rood: cross Rune: an alphabetical letter of the ancient Germanic language (i.e., Anglo-Saxon, a.k.a. Old English) Riddle: "What am I?" (genre) Elegiac monologue (genre) Personification: The cross has human qualities. Prosopopoeia = a monologue in which a speaker is an inanimate object

21 Review Ethopoeia: an imaginary speech attributed to a fictitious human character. Example: “The Wanderer.” Prosopopoeia = a monologue in which a speaker is an inanimate object

22 Factoids Dream vision (lines 1-2: “Lo! I will tellthe dearest of dreams / That I dreamed in the midnight”) Christ's Passion (suffering on the cross) Type of argument: –Purgatio: A literary defense from a charge –Concessio: “I admit that I did this, but you have to consider the fact that the crucifixion opened the way to salvation to humankind.” –Necessitudo: “I did it because I had to—of necessity.” Harrowing of Hell (lines : “burning”) Sin and Death

23 Related Reading /HOME.HTMhttp://www.flsouthern.edu/eng/abruce/rood /HOME.HTM Langland, Piers Plowman: dream vision and harrowing of hell (Passus 18)

24 Outline Fill in the following outline: –Lines 1-30: Introduction by dreamer i. 1-3: ii. 4-30: –Lines : Rood speaks i : ii : iii : iv : –Lines : i : ii. 139-end:

25 Outline Here is an outline of the poem: –Lines 1-30: Introduction by dreamer i. 1-3: Opening words of the dreamer ii. 4-30: Description of the cross –Lines : The cross speaks i : Cross describes its own history and Christ’s crucifixion and death ii : Burial of Christ/cross iii : Present situation—Christ and cross are revered iv : Cross urges the dreamer to promote the cult of the true cross –Lines : Dreamer resumes speaking in his own voice i : Dreamer prays to the cross, describes his situation, and places his hope in God ii. 139-end: Dreamer mentions Christ’s harrowing of hell

26 Points Arising from the Outline What happens to Christ also happens to the cross. The dreamer participates in the crucifixion—sinners crucify Christ every day. The dreamer hopes that Christ will save him as Christ has also saved those in hell. See the harrowing of hell in the poem’s final verse paragraph. Sin and death are not eradicated, but they are “bound” (a word not in the poem), i.e., overcome in an individual person’s case through grace and faith. Adam:tree of knowledge of good and evil:: Christ:cross. Christ is the fruit of the rood tree. Line 95: Cross:wood::Mary:women

27 How Is A-S Code Here? Christ: Rood: Problem:

28 Possible Answers Christ = hero Rood = thane Problem = Thanes are not supposed to kill their lords.

29 Summary of Problems with Heroic Code “The Wanderer”: –Hollowness of material possessions (next slide) –Need to speak about one’s feelings “The Battle of Maldon”: –Conflict between duty and self-preservation, honor and common sense, etc. Beowulf: –Material goods and honor > preserving the life of the king and ensuring the survival of the nation “The Dream of the Rood”: –Thanes are not supposed to kill their lords.

30 Matthew 6:19 “‘Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.’” END


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