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Epics and Beowulf ENG 400 British Literature Unit I: From Legend to History.

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Presentation on theme: "Epics and Beowulf ENG 400 British Literature Unit I: From Legend to History."— Presentation transcript:

1 Epics and Beowulf ENG 400 British Literature Unit I: From Legend to History

2 EPIC POEMS Beowulf – Literary Concepts

3 The Epic  An epic is a long narrative poem that celebrates the deeds of a legendary or heroic figure (Ex. Sundiata, Siegfried, etc.) Hero’s goals are of national importance. Hero’s adventures reflect values and traditions of his people.  Epics are one of the earliest forms of literature.

4 Types of Epics: Folk vs. Literary Folk Epic (spoken)  based on oral tradition; passed down orally (many authors)  written down long after originally composed Literary Epic (written)  composed by an individual author who drew on the conventions of folk epics  published and then read individually or read aloud

5 Conventions & Characteristics of Epics  Invoking a Muse: at the beginning of poem, poet calls on a goddess or spirit for inspiration  Beginning in media res: poem begins with the action already underway  Elevated style: higher-order, dramatic language heightens importance of events in story; often contains catalogs (lists)

6 Conventions & Characteristics cont...  Epic hero on a quest: central character, usually of high birth, goes on a quest or dangerous journey that tests his spirit  Supernatural forces: epic includes gods and monsters who may help or oppose the hero  Valorous deeds: hero must take brave actions that reveal his bravery and reflect his cultural values

7 Legendary Hero  A legendary hero is a larger- than-life character whose accomplishments are celebrated in traditional tales.  The hero upholds the values of his culture (i.e. bravery, loyalty, honor, wisdom, etc.).  What values do we look for in our heroes?

8 BACKGROUND INFORMATION & VOCABULARY Beowulf

9  The poem Beowulf reflects the traditions and values of the Anglo-Saxons of 8 th - century Britain.  The story takes place in 6 th - century Scandinavia.  Beowulf, a Geat from southern Sweden, sails to help the Danish king Hrothgar in his fight against the monster Grendel. ulf/contents.htm

10 Beowulf continued  Although the story of Beowulf originated in the 8 th century, it was not written down until the 11 th century.  Traveling minstrels called scops told and retold the story.  The story contains elements of Scandinavian and Celtic folk tales.

11 Cultural Values  Beowulf himself exemplifies the values of bravery loyalty heroism.  The story contains clear Christian influences as well.

12 Vocabulary reparation (n) compensation for a wrong purge (v) to purify or cleanse physical spiritual

13 Vocabulary continued... writhing (adj) Definition: twisting or turning motions, often caused by pain or discomfort Related words: writhe (v) massive (adj) big and solid; bulky

14 Vocabulary continued... sol- (word root) from Latin “solari,” meaning to relieve or comfort Words to Know:  console (v): to provide a source of comfort to somebody who is distressed or disappointed  disconsolate (adj): extremely unhappy or disappointed  inconsolable (adj): so deeply distressed that nobody can offer any effective comfort  solace (n): comfort, relief

15 Vocabulary continued... loathsome (adj) disgusting; repulsive; worthy of hatred

16 READING VERSE AS PROSE PARAPHRASING Beowulf – Reading Strategies

17 Reading Strategy: Verse as Prose  Prose is everyday language; verse is poetry.  Verse uses rhythm, meter, rhyme, figurative language, and many other literary elements to enhance the reading experience.  However, when aiming for basic comprehension when reading verse, you should read it as prose first.  As you read for understanding, focus on reading and paraphrasing complete thoughts (mainly sentences, sometimes clauses) rather than lines or stanzas.  To do this, read the text to punctuation that indicates the end of a thought (or to conjunctions) instead of reading to the end of the line.

18 Verse as Prose continued... Verse Form A powerful monster living down In the darkness growled in pain, impatient As day after day the music rang Loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing Call and the poet’s clear songs, sung Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling The Almighty making the earth, shaping These beautiful plains marked off by oceans, Then proudly setting the sun and moon To glow across the land and light it: The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees And leaves, made quick with life, with each Of the nations who now move on its face. And then As now warriors sang of their pleasure: Converted to Prose A powerful monster living down in the darkness growled in pain, impatient as day after day the music rang loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing call and the poet’s clear songs, sung of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling the Almighty making the earth, shaping these beautiful plains marked off by oceans, then proudly setting the sun and moon to glow across the land and light it: the corners of the earth were made lovely with trees and leaves, made quick with life, with each of the nations who now move on its face. And then as now warriors sang of their pleasure:

19 Verse as Prose Practice Verse Form So Hrothgar’s men lived happy in his hall Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel, who haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in a hell Not hell but earth. He was spawned in that slime, Conceived by a pair of those monsters born Of Cain, murderous creatures banished By God, punished forever for the crime Of Abel’s death. The Almighty drove Those demons out, and their exile was bitter, Shut away from men; they split Into a thousand forms of evil—spirits And fiends, goblins, monsters, giants, A brood forever opposing the Lord’s Will, and again and again defeated. Convert this verse passage to prose by writing it out in sentences or thoughts.

20 Paraphrasing  You can paraphrase complex passages by identifying key details and restating them in your own words.  To paraphrase a passage Read over the original passage (break into manageable pieces). Identify key details, words, and phrases. Restate these details in your own words. Check your paraphrase for accuracy.

21 Paraphrase vs. Summary Summary  Contains a smaller amount of detail (only most important information)  Shorter than text being summarized  Used to give a general understanding of something  Summarizing shows that you understand! Paraphrase  Contains a similar level of detail (most or all of the information)  Around the same length as the text being paraphrased  Used to help develop a detailed understanding of something  Paraphrasing helps you develop understanding!

22 Paraphrase Practice 1: How can we put the first lines of the Odyssey into our own words? Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end, after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.  Muse = goddess of the arts (Calliope was goddess of epic poetry)  contending = fighting, participating in battle  harried = chased, made to suffer  plundered = robbed, looted  stronghold = castle and surrounding city or village

23 Paraphrase Practice 1 cont... Original Text Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end, after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy. Sample Paraphrase Inspire me, Goddess, and use me to tell the story of that great fighter, the traveler, who was chased for countless years after looting the castle and city on the mountains of Troy.

24 Paraphrase Practice 2: Now try to paraphrase the beginning of Beowulf! Verse Form A powerful monster living down In the darkness growled in pain, impatient As day after day the music rang Loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing Call and the poet’s clear songs, sung Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling The Almighty making the earth, shaping These beautiful plains marked off by oceans, Then proudly setting the sun and moon To glow across the land and light it: The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees And leaves, made quick with life, with each Of the nations who now move on its face. And then As now warriors sang of their pleasure: Converted to Prose A powerful monster living down in the darkness growled in pain, impatient as day after day the music rang loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing call and the poet’s clear songs, sung of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling the Almighty making the earth, shaping these beautiful plains marked off by oceans, then proudly setting the sun and moon to glow across the land and light it: the corners of the earth were made lovely with trees and leaves, made quick with life, with each of the nations who now move on its face. And then as now warriors sang of their pleasure:

25 Paraphrase Practice 2 cont... Original Text A powerful monster living down In the darkness growled in pain, impatient As day after day the music rang Loud in that hall, the harp’s rejoicing Call and the poet’s clear songs, sung Of the ancient beginnings of us all, recalling The Almighty making the earth, shaping These beautiful plains marked off by oceans, Then proudly setting the sun and moon To glow across the land and light it: The corners of the earth were made lovely with trees And leaves, made quick with life, with each Of the nations who now move on its face. And then As now warriors sang of their pleasure: Paraphrase A fierce creature that lived in the darkness was frustrated and tortured by the music that constantly played in the mead hall of Herot, the beautiful sounds of the harp and the poet’s voice, singing of the Creation, remembering how God made the world, the land and the sea, and then proudly placed the sun and moon in the sky to bring light: He made it beautiful with plants and then created humanity, whose countries cover the earth. Just as we do now, those soldiers sang of their joy. Summary A creature that lived in the darkness was tormented by the music from Herot, where the soldiers were joyfully singing about God creating the world.

26 ESSENTIAL QUESTION NOTES from Beowulf

27 EQ1: What Is the Relationship between Literature and Place? (Pgs. 6-7) island geography mead hall “sea-road”

28  Capturing a Vanishing World “Hero’s Code” recording history and a way of life  Functions of epics and epic heroes EQ2: How Does Literature Shape or Reflect Society? (Pg. 9)

29 Beowulf original tale incorporates other folklore new elements added as story is retold orally Christian elements added by monks who write it down EQ3: What Is the Relationship of the Writer to Tradition? (Pg. 11)


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