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Anglo-Saxon Literature Beowulf

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1 Anglo-Saxon Literature Beowulf
Old English Period Or Anglo-Saxon Period

2 The Anglo-Saxon Period 449-1066 AD
The island we now call Britain was home to the Celtic people. In 449, they were being invaded by Scottish and Irish tribes and could not fight them off. The Celts asked for help from the Angles, Saxons, and the Jutes(from Denmark) , who were Germanic tribes. Instead of helping, they invaded and took over the island for themselves, and called it “Angle-land.” So, English history and literature begins in 449 AD.

3 English Language During this time, the English language was growing. The Celtic language merged with the Anglo-Saxon language. Some words added by A-S: to, and, for, man, wife, child, drink, eat, sleep, T, W, R, F. When Christian missionaries started coming to England around 600 AD, they brought words such as: altar, monk, preach, school, anthem, rule, candle, offer, hymn From AD, Vikings came to the island with words such as: lift, take, give, live, husband, sky, trust, rotten When the Normans invaded and conquered the Anglo-Saxons, they brought 10,000 words like: action, adventure, marriage, power, vision, rage, honest

4 Christianity of the A-S
In 596, missionaries came & attempted to convert them to Christianity. By 650, most A-S were Christians in name. However, they still held on to some of their pagan traditions.

5 More Invasions Danish Invasions
During the 700 and 800s, the Danes and the Normans began attacking the island of Britain and almost won until Alfred the Great, a Saxon, fought back and won the country back - and there was peace - for a while.

6 End of the Anglo-Saxon Period
When Alfred’s grandson Edward died in 1066, there was an argument over the throne. The Duke of Normandy claimed the throne, but the English chose Harold II. The Duke retaliated by attacking and defeating the Anglo-Saxons at the Battle of Hastings. So, the A-S period ended in 1066 when the Normans won the Battle of Hastings and the Duke - William the Conqueror was the new King.

7 Social Order Based on warrior bonds-they bonded together under a strong leader. Heroic groups; rural and tribal Core of culture was comitatus relationship-warrior bond for each other and their leader. Tribes engaged in blood feuding constantly. WER GELD= “man price,” absolute obligation to avenge a fellow warrior’s death (like gangs). Loyalty: fight to death to protect and/or avenge; obligation to King and warrior. After battles, there was a strict payment of treasure. Chief selected for loyalty, generosity, strength, and courage.

8 Vocabulary Mead - an alcoholic beverage Wyrd - fate; the inevitable
Elegy - a poem of mourning

9 Anglo-Saxon Literature
All literature was oral (spoken), not written, because there was no real written language yet. Literature & history was passed down by Scops, people in each tribe who composed stories and songs about the tribe and its heroes. The stories were passed down from generation to generation. He told the stories every night after supper.

10 Beowulf Was written around 700 AD
Author was unknown- it is known the poet was a Christian, an aristocrat, and was a professional (by language) Poet composed it in his head & performed it. Poem was not written down for about 250 years.

11 Epic Poem, Hero Epic Poem-long narrative poem about a national hero who has the virtues and qualities his society values. Epic poems are fiction with some fact put in. Epic Hero- courageous, resourceful, loyal, generous, willing to avenge wrongs, gentle, brave, strong, loves beauty, has deep feelings, able to express feelings.

12 Characteristics of an Epic
Major characters deliver long, formal speeches. The hero performs courageous, sometimes superhuman deeds. The poem includes universal themes such as good/evil and life/death. The setting is vast in scope, often involving more than one nation. The hero, generally male, is of noble birth or high position. Hero characteristics reflect important ideals of his society. The plot is complicated by supernatural beings or events and may involve a long and dangerous journey to a foreign land.

13 The Story Takes place in Denmark & Sweden (not England)
Herot- hall of Hrothgar, King of Danes Grendel-monster who is descendant of Cain Beowulf-prince of Geats-a Swede First great work of the English/British Literature.

14 What is a Hero? What do you think this story is going to be about?

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