ANCIENT ENGLISH LITERATURE BEOWULF Author Anonymous Ca. 8th Century A.D. Ancient English (Anglo Saxon) Background Ancient England was made up of the Germanic and Scandinavians who conquered the Roman empire (476 A.D.). Rome began to be invaded around 190 A.D. with many
of the European tribes listed below note the Jutes, Angles, & Saxons. The historical fall is in 476 A.D. (Ostrogoths below depose Romulus Augustus), Western Empire falls, Dark Ages begin. Ancient English (Anglo Saxon) Background The fall of Rome is important because the Romans provided light to a dark European world. They were a ruthless empire, but their presence supplied civilization.
Some of these invading tribes, esp. the Angles and Saxons, spoke Anglo Saxon or Old English. These peoples eventually became Christian (adopted religion from the conquered Romans, from the Catholic church). Ancient English (Anglo Saxon) Background During the Composition of Beowulf (8th Century A.D.) The anonymous Anglo-Saxon (old word for English) poet who put Beowulf onto paper was a Christian, but writes of an older time when Christianity was weak or even unknown (story probably set about 580 A.D. in Scandinavia). Ancient English (Anglo Saxon) Background During
the Composition of Beowulf (8th Century A.D.) This poet interprets many actions in Beowulf in a Christian manner, but Beowulf itself takes place in an older pagan era. Pagan: A term that describes a religion that is not part of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. A pagan belief system is usually not particularly organized, and falls into a Norse, Celtic, Wiccan, or other folk religion often involving magic/sorcery.
Pagan Era in Ancient Europe (Pre Anglo Saxon) Ca. 550 A.D. & Beowulf Also, without an afterlife (before Christianization), eternal life was only possible by being remembereda great warrior could hope to achieve this. Christianity replaced paganism around 700 A.D. Pagan Era in Ancient Europe (Pre Anglo Saxon) Ca. 550 A.D. & Beowulf Anglo Saxon Tribal Society and Beowulf
A major element in this society is violence. Tribal and intra-tribal competition is a major element. Society is defined by a lord and his warriors (thanes). The lord is a ring-giver because he distributed objects of value (e.g., bracelets, necklaces, land, power, etc.). In return, the warrior (thane) gave his unswerving loyalty, on the battlefield and in times of peace. Women did have rights, could also inherit property and could receive a dowry before marriage.
Pagan Era in Ancient Europe (Pre Anglo Saxon) Ca. 550 A.D. & Beowulf This bond between thane and lord establishes the most important element: community in which individuals find meaning. The Germanic peoples worst fear is that they would become an outlaw or wanderer, having no home. The monster Grendel in the poem is alone-- a rover of borders, as the poet states. This Christian poet interprets Grendel as having been descended from the race of Cain.
Some Important Anglo-Saxon Terms Beowulf is an epic (long narrative about heroes and their exploits) composed about 750 A.D. the story is set around 550 A.D. Scop: The Germanic equivalent of the singer/bard Beowulf is a short epic meant to be sung, and to be recorded in song was another way to achieve a sort of immortality. Some important Anglo-Saxon terms
The poem itself is over 3,000 lines long, although there are some missing lines. Some themes other than community: good vs. evil, destiny (called Wyrd in Anglo Saxon, which weaves the fate of a man), bravery, sacrifice, masculinity & backing it up, and violence. Physically beautiful objects, especially weapons, are a focus (note the language shifts of the word weapon from Middle English to Old English: bef. 900 ME wepen & OE wpen).
Wergild (Man-Price): very similar to blood-price with the ancient Greeks where a payment could be made to stop retaliatory killing. Beowulf in the Latin Alphabet Runic Alphabet Why do you think we study literature from different countries and time periods? What are some things that come to mind when you think of British Literature? Jot
down any words, ideas, or phrases that come to mind when you think of British culture or England itself. What is Brit Lit? Refers to ANY writing from the United Kingdom or ANY territory that has been settled by the UK. What are some of these territories? England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, some islands in the West Indies (Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Trinidad) How might the writing differ between England versus its territories? We get a unique perspective from many places that have been affected by the UK Some territories may have negative opinions of its connection to England,
others a positive one. Beowulf English Literature begins with Beowulf Epic An epic poem is a long, narrative poem that tells the story of a great heros deeds and reflects the values of the society of the time.
Legendary or epic hero Larger than life character Deals with universal themes Only 1 remaining manuscript written in Old English Story deals with two tribes, the Geats and the Danes Hrothgar Danish King Beowulf Hero
Grendel Monster Page 40 in textbook Higlac King of Geats and Beowulfs uncle
Wulfgar a Danish nobleman who meets Beowulf and his men Herot the Hall where Hrothgars men met Ecglaf An older Danish nobleman Unferth Ecglafs son Brecca a friend and competitor of Beowulfs Edgetho- Beowulfs father Independent work: Finish reading The Coming of Beowulf and The Battle with Grendel- pgs 44-51. 1.
2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Answer the following questions in complete sentences in your Classwork section: Why do you think Beowulf ordered some of his men to remain outside Herot with their weapons.(Pg. 47) Paraphrase lines 264-279 on pg 48. What are the reasons Beowulf gives for fighting barehanded? What are Grendels goals as he approaches Herot? What is
Grendels motivation to have a work toward these goals? (pg 49) Are there any details from the description of the battle between Beowulf and Grendel that add realism? Which add epic grandness? Explain Paraphrase lines 392-397 on page 51. What is the difference between victory and glory? What do you think was Beowulfs goal? How does Beowulfs battle with Grendel end? What is an archetype? An archetype is a symbol, story, pattern,
or character type that recurs frequently in literature and evokes strong associations in the reader. For example, the wicked witch and the enchanted prince are character types widely dispersed through folk tales and literature. The story of a hero who undertakes a dangerous quest, as in Beowulf is an archetype. Archetypes Situation Archetypes The Quest /The Journey The Initiation The Fall The Battle between Good & Evil
Symbolic Archetypes Light vs. Darkness Heaven vs. Hell Haven vs. Wilderness Character Archetypes The Hero The Villain The Damsel in Distress The Devil Figure The friendly, misunderstood beast The scapegoat The Outcast The Mother figure The Temptress The Star-crossed lovers Write a well-written paragraph using
specific examples from the epic for each of the following questions: 1. Are Grendel or his mother characters with whom you could garner any sympathy? 2. Are Beowulfs actions and personality traits more human or epic hero? 3. Explain 3 Anglo-Saxon ideals that are portrayed in Beowulf
Read Unferths Taunt independently. Outline as you read, summarizing important points When finished, answer the following questions in your CW section: 1. 2. 3. 4. Who is Unferth and how does he belittle Beowulfs strength? How does Beowulf refute (disprove) Unferths charge? What heroic deeds does he boast of?
Beowulf accuses Unferth of a terrible crime. What is it? Who is Welthow and how did she salute the warriors? HOMEWORK! Read The Battle with Grendel pg 23-26 In groups 4 or 5. Come up with an agreed upon timeline for UNFERTHS TAUNT and THE BATTLE WITH GRENDEL. SHARE WITH THE CLASS
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