Presentation on theme: "An Introduction to the English Folk Epic"— Presentation transcript:
1 An Introduction to the English Folk Epic BEOWULFAn Introduction to the English Folk Epic
2 The Anglo Saxon Period 440 AD-1066 AD Britons: Celtic people, original inhabitants of Britain449 AD: the first people from North German plain settled in KentJutes: from Jutland in DenmarkAngles and Saxons followedBritons were no matchKing Arthur, WhalesBrought Old EnglishA/S England – military society born in warfare1066 AD: Norman Invasion ends A/S society
3 Anglo Saxon Civilization Admired men of courageLoyalty to leader and tribePerson of rank received with courtesyRuler was generous to followersBelievers in an impersonal fateAware of short life span: ubi sunt
4 Christianity Christianity came to Britain in AD 314 St. Augustine – 597 ADFirst archbishop of Canterbury
5 Folk Epics are tales of a national HERO But what is heroic?
6 Characteristics of a Pagan Hero Good FighterLoyalPersevering (Never Gives Up)Wins “Fame” (in Songs in a Mead Hall)
7 Pagan Characteristics, cont. Little Regard for Danger or Self: BraveBattle as a Way of LifePersonal Vengeance as Familial RequirementFATE: Revenge and/or Death
8 Characteristics of a Christian Hero Recognizes God as CreatorHumility in the presence of God’s PowerAltruism in Action
9 Christian Characteristics cont. Contrast between Good and Evil RulersPersonal Vengeance transmuted into Fighting EvilGood is Rewarded and Evil is Punished (Evil in the World)
17 Author/ComposerLikely an educated Christian, possibly a monk
18 Author/ComposerWove together many oral traditions with consummate skillSanitized slightly the pagan traditionsProduced a single tale
19 Manuscript History First English literary masterpiece Beowulf was probably composed between 700 A.D. and 900 A.DThe place of its composition was probably NorthumbriaNorthumbria was home to Roman Catholic monks who excelled in learning and literatureFirst transmitted orally for one to three centuries
20 Manuscript HistoryAlthough its author did not write it down, two English scribes did so in about 1000 A.DSaved from looting of monasteries under Henry VIII
21 Manuscript HistorySaved from fire in Sir Henry Cotton’s Library in 1731Danish scholar translated it in 1787; first published in 1815
24 Danish kingdom ruled by Hrothgar, situated on the island of Zealand (site of present-day Copenhagen, Denmark)A mead hall was a communal gathering place for feasting and drinking meadan alcoholic beverage made of water and fermented honeyMead was a popular drink in Denmark and other Scandinavian countries during the Middle Ages because grapes, a crop that thrives in warmer southern climates, were not readily available to make wine.)
25 Important TermsHeroic Ideal: A/S culture governed by ideals of bravery, loyalty and generosityComitatus: loyalty to king and king to menWyrd: Old English for fateWergild: “manprice”
28 Literary Devices Scops used harp to add beats to poetry Four Lifts per line; with a caesura“chosen champions cheerlessly grievedfor the loss of their lord, leader and defender.They called him of captains, kings of the known world,”Allusionstwo or more words having the same initial sound
29 Literary Devices, cont.Kennings: bardic formulae, used as appositives, for example,"bone-house," refers to the human body"whale's road," refers to the sea"sky's candle," refers to the sun.
30 Themes Good vs. evil Identity Strength and skill Not moral but about fate and reputationGood will fight knowing that eventually they will be defeatedIdentityBoasting = resumeStrength and skillHighly valued even in enemiesSkill slightly devious
31 More Themes Wealth Religion Violence Courage Glory and treasure - immortalityReligionChristianity vs. paganismWyrd and providenceViolenceLoyalty, vengeance and feudCourageFortitude and wisdom
32 More Themes Mortality Supernatural Tradition and customs Ubi Sunt MonstersTradition and customsComitatusWyrgildboasting
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