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Beowulf I. Historical background 400-600 A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf set) 400-600 A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf.

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Presentation on theme: "Beowulf I. Historical background 400-600 A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf set) 400-600 A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf."— Presentation transcript:

1

2 Beowulf

3 I. Historical background A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf set) A.D. -- Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invade (Beowulf set) 410 A.D. – Rome renounces control of Britain 410 A.D. – Rome renounces control of Britain 521 A.D. – Hygelac invades the Netherlands 521 A.D. – Hygelac invades the Netherlands 597 A.D. – St. Augustine 597 A.D. – St. Augustine 625 A.D. – Sutton Hoo 625 A.D. – Sutton Hoo A.D. -- Christian poet composed the poem A.D. -- Christian poet composed the poem

4 II. The manuscript Handwritten by a monk around 1000 A.D. Handwritten by a monk around 1000 A.D. Written in Old English Written in Old English Obtained by Sir Robert Cotton Obtained by Sir Robert Cotton Bound in Cotton Vitellius A.15. Bound in Cotton Vitellius A.15. Damaged in fire in 1731 Damaged in fire in 1731 Currently at British Museum Currently at British Museum Available on The Electronic Beowulf CD Available on The Electronic Beowulf CD

5 III. Poetic form and devices Alliterative verse Alliterative verse Same initial consonants Same initial consonants Line halved by caesura Line halved by caesura Four stresses per line Four stresses per line Kenning: compressed metaphor Kenning: compressed metaphor Litotes: ironic understatement Litotes: ironic understatement Synecdoche: part for whole Synecdoche: part for whole Metonomy: associated word for word itself Metonomy: associated word for word itself

6 IV. Anglo-Saxon values Loyalty Loyalty Fighting for ones king Fighting for ones king Avenging ones kinsmen Avenging ones kinsmen Keeping ones word Keeping ones word Generosity -- gifts symbolize bonds Generosity -- gifts symbolize bonds Brotherly love -- not romantic love Brotherly love -- not romantic love Heroism Heroism Physical strength Physical strength Skill and resourcefulness in battle Skill and resourcefulness in battle Courage Courage Public reputation, not private conscience Public reputation, not private conscience

7 V. Beowulf vocabulary Comitatus: Germanic warrior band (Tacitus) Comitatus: Germanic warrior band (Tacitus) Scop: poet in oral culture (shaper) Scop: poet in oral culture (shaper) Preserves history Preserves history Entertains court Entertains court Spreads heros fame Spreads heros fame Thane (thegn): warrior retainer Thane (thegn): warrior retainer Wergild: man-price Wergild: man-price Substitute for violence Substitute for violence (G wont pay; H pays for Bs father; paid for Hondscioh; Hrethel cant get) (G wont pay; H pays for Bs father; paid for Hondscioh; Hrethel cant get) Wyrd: fate (to the POET = Gods will) Wyrd: fate (to the POET = Gods will)

8 VI. The structure of the poem Three fights (Rogers 1955) Three fights (Rogers 1955) Grendel Grendel Grendels mother Grendels mother The dragon The dragon Ring structure (Niles 1983) Ring structure (Niles 1983) Individual passages Individual passages Three main combats Three main combats Example Example Example Poem as a whole Poem as a whole Inside/order vs. outside/chaos Inside/order vs. outside/chaos Heorot Heorot Heorot

9 X. What is heroism? Strong will? Strong will? Valor in battle? Valor in battle? Concern for others? Concern for others? Are the same traits required for a warrior and for a king?

10 XI. Is Beowulf a hero? Does Beowulf act for selfish motives – glory? treasure? Does Beowulf act for selfish motives – glory? treasure? Does Beowulf act for selfless motives – preserving the community? Does Beowulf act for selfless motives – preserving the community? Does Beowulf ever make a raid or start a feud? Does Beowulf ever make a raid or start a feud? Does B stand for violence or civilization? Does B stand for violence or civilization? Is Beowulf successful as a warrior? As a king? Is Beowulf successful as a warrior? As a king?

11 XII. What is the poets attitude toward the culture? Does the poet celebrate the culture he depicts and mourn its loss? Does the poet celebrate the culture he depicts and mourn its loss? Does he view it as limited and inferior to another alternative, perhaps Christianity? Does he view it as limited and inferior to another alternative, perhaps Christianity? It affirms vengeance It affirms vengeance It overvalues glory It overvalues glory It depends on a hero It depends on a hero References


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