Beowulf English 12
Background • Beowulfis from the Anglo-Saxon culture • They are descendents from three different groups of Germanic people– the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes • These groups migrated to England in the 5th century • The author is unknown, but it is likely that he was from one of the Anglican settlements. • They have found burial sites in the area that are closely linked to some of the things mentioned in the poem
Background • We don’t know if Beowulf ever really existed. Besides this poem, he isn’t mentioned anywhere else. • There are references to real people and events. • Higlac really was the king of the Geats. (But he died in battle in the 520s) • Hrothgar was also a real person • Because characters from the 500s and 600s are interweaved we can assume that that Beowulf was written in the 600s or 700s when audiences would still be familiar with the story
The Epic • Beowulf is an example of an epic • An epic is a long narrative poem, sometimes developed orally, that celebrates the deeds of a legendary heroic figure. • Epics are among the earliest forms of literature
The Epic • The tales in Beowulf originate from a time when stories were passed along by word or mouth. • Traveling minstrels, called scops, entertained audiences with long narrative poems. • These poems changed as they were passed along through the years. Beowulf was told and retold for hundreds of years before it was written down in the eleventh century.
The Epic • Common Features of the epic include: • The hero battles forces that threaten the order of his world. • The story is told in a serious manner, often in special, elevated language
The Hero • A legendary hero is a larger-than-life character whose accomplishments are celebrated in traditional tales. • Beowulf’s boastful self-confidence, his great feats of strength, and his victories in battle make him a classic legendary hero. • He upholds the typical values of loyalty, bravery, and honor. This shows you a lot about their culture
Elements of Anglo-Saxon Poetry • These poems were created to be easy to remember and recite. Because of this, many of the Anglo-Saxon poems, including Beowulf, include these elements: • Caesuras: rhythmic breaks in the middle of lines, where the reciter could pause for breath • Kennings: two-word poetic renamings of people, places, and things, such as whales’ home for the sea.
Old English • Beowulf was originally wrote in Old English, but lucky for you has been translated • Old English:
Old English • Try and read this!