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What is an epic?  Literary Genre of Beowulf  Epic:A long narrative poem in elevated style.It presents a character (s) of high degree and details important.

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Presentation on theme: "What is an epic?  Literary Genre of Beowulf  Epic:A long narrative poem in elevated style.It presents a character (s) of high degree and details important."— Presentation transcript:

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2 What is an epic?  Literary Genre of Beowulf  Epic:A long narrative poem in elevated style.It presents a character (s) of high degree and details important events that have a national, worldwide, or cosmic setting.(The Odyssey, the Star Wars films etc.)Traditionally, epics came from oral cultures, were passed down orally, and were of importance to a nation. With the spread of literacy and writing, single authors began to write epics

3 Characteristics of an Epic Poem  1.) an epic hero of imposing stature and who is meaningful as a legend or historical figure  2.) his/her actions take place on a grand scale and are important nationally, internationally, or worldwide  3.) the action consists of a great deed( s) requiring superhuman courage & maybe superhuman strength  4.) supernatural forces (gods, angels, demons) are involved or interested in the action  5.) the style is grand or elevated

4 Background of Beowulf  Oral story guessed to have been written down around 725.(The events take place hundreds of years earlier, circa , in Sweden and Denmark).  -the author is unknown, though it was probably copied down by a Christian monk in England.  -the main plot surrounds a warrior-hero named Beowulf and his men.They are from a tribe called the Geats (pronounced yai-ots) who live in Sweden. They have crossed the ocean to Denmark to help a tribe called the Scyldings (pronounced Shildings).The Scyldings are being eaten and killed by an evil monster called Grendel.

5 Background of Beowulf Continued  -the story captures customs, traditions and values of the Anglo-Saxon Society  -though this poem chronicles the times of most probably a pagan people, by the time this was written, Christianity had established itself as a powerful presence in England.Therefore, we see God and references from the Bible mentioned often in this text.  -stories in Medieval England were often meant to be didactic--teach a lesson (what lesson does Beowulf teach?).

6 Anglo- Saxon Culture  Additional Notes on Anglo-Saxon Culture  The mead-hall:within the tribal cluster of wooden buildings surrounded by a strong wooden fence, stood the mead- hall.Here the king and his warriors (called thanes) feasted and drank mead (Anglo-Saxon beer).In the mead-hall, they were entertained by a scop (shope), a poet/story teller/historian.  The scop:the job of the scop was very important.Besides telling a story, his job was to retell current and past events, to record, remember, and retell history all from the record of his mind.Fame and honor meant a lot to these people; it was the scop’s job to preserve a record of their achievements for later generations.

7 Main Characters in Beowulf  Main Characters in Beowulf  Hygelac (King of the Geats-Beowulf’s king back in Sweden)  Unferth (one of Hrothgar’s thanes--he questions Beowulf’s strength and ability )  Wealhtheow (Hrothgar’s wife)  Beowulf (The hero.A Geat who leads his band of warriors to find and kill Grendel)  Grendel (man-monster who raids Hrothgar’s mead-hall, eating his people)  Hrothgar (King of the Scyldings in Denmark)

8 Relationships in Beowulf  Important Relationships to Remember for Understanding:  Son of Ecgtheow--Beowulf (also called Hygelac’s thane)  Son of Ecglaf--Unferth (also called Hrothgar’s herald)  Son of Healfdene--Hrothgar

9 Kenning Two or more words which, when put together, serve as a symbol or metaphor for another word.  These were often used for entertainment, variety, and to keep the beat and rhythm.Sometimes they are obvious to us.Other times, they are more obscure.Examples:  candle ofheaven -- the sun  peace-weaver -- women  light of battle-- sword

10 Alliteration  Alliteration:the repetition of initial consonant sounds.Also used for entertainment, variety, and to keep the beat and rhythm.(Incidentally, Beowulf doesn’t rhyme-- not all poems have to rhyme.Anglo-Saxon poetry is known more for alliteration than rhyme).Example from lines (4-7):  Many a mead-hall Scyld, son of Sceaf,  Snatched from the forces of savage foes,  From a friendless foundling, feeble and wretched,  He grew to a terror as time brought change

11 Caesura  Caesura:the building block of Anglo-Saxon poetry.Each line had a pause in the middle to create a kind of beat.By my count, each line had 8 syllables with the pause or the caesura in the middle  This is the least important for us to identify in the poem, but we should at least be able to define it


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