Beowulf Scandinavia


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Beowulf Scandinavia

  1. 1. Thesis Ancient Scandinavian culture connects to Beowulfthough society, ideas of heroism, and Christian and Pagnistic beleifs.
  2. 2. Some Background… Composed of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, there is little evidence of Ancient Scandinavian countries. Beowulf, questioned to be written between 8th century and 11th century AD, was a time of the Vikings in Ancient Scandinavia. Settlement had just begun and christianity was beginning to form in Denmark at this time. During the time of Beowulf, many themes of paganism are shown though Christian elements still linger throughout the novel. The Vikings had a great belief in battle honor which is largely shown in Beowulf
  3. 3. Ancient Denmark and Sweden Denmark Sweden In the 10th century, the Danes  Sweden developed later than were officially chrisitanized. Denmark and was christianized in the 11th century. The Danes during the Viking age dominated western Europe for  During the Viking age, Sweden‟s many years. expansion was much towards the east. The Viking age brought a great deal of overpopulation in  It wasn‟t until 13th century AD Denmark. that royalty gained any power. s/History-of-Sweden/#idx_1
  4. 4. Ancient Scandinavian Society and BeowulfAncient Scandinavian society combines Germanic heroic tradition along with adistinct Christian influence. Throughout Beowulf the theme of Christianity andNorse paganism is obvious. The burial customs and the idea that Cain isGrendel‟s ancestor gives readers a glimpse into the cultural context of that society. Every person had a role in society. Because of the dangers lurking in the wilderness, the people of ancient Scandinavia understood that they needed to work together for survival. In an heroic society, being an outcast like Grendel, was similar to being a slave. Courage was essential to society because it meant that a person could be counted on to perform their duty, even in the face of danger. Beowulf exhibits the virtue of an ideal hero because his actions in the poem are selfless, require courage, and serve as an example of how a warrior would have acted in ancient Scandinavia. Loyalty and generosity also played an important role in society. The relationship between King Hrothgar and his thanes show their loyalty to him. Also, King Hrothgar generously bestows gifts to Beowulf for being a hero.
  5. 5.  Scaninavians strongly believe in fate, and that a person‟s destiny remained the same from birth. To the ancent Scandinavians, death was the final defeat for anyone, even a hero. In some ways “the wages of Heroism is death” (-Tolkien)
  6. 6. Heroism in BeowulfHeroism played an important role in ancient Scandinavian society. During theViking age of 800-1100 AD, countries of Scandinavia were under invasion andbattle. Being a hero meant great honor in society. Heroism and honor go handin hand and is what brings Beowulf to Denmark at the start of the epic poem. In the epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf is portrayed as a hero with more strength from his body than from any weapon. He is strong enough to destroy a monster with his bare hands. Beowulf performs super human actions such as surviving emerssed in water for hours battling with Grendel‟s mother. Unferth is a jealous man and he envies Beowulf‟s fame and power. However, Unferth has no honor as he is a kinslayer. This is not only the most disgraceful crime of all, but he also questions Beowulf‟s honor. Another of Beowulfs attributes, willfulness and loyalty, is lacking in Unferth. Although Unferth begins supporting Beowulf, he is still changing his mind, and thus, his loyalty.
  7. 7. • Towards the beginning of the poem, the tale of Beowulf‟s heroism against Brecca is told.• Even though he lost, Beowulf failed heroically. When he raced Brecca he lost only because he was fighting a dangerous sea monster, thus saving both him and his opponents lives.• In the end of the poem, Beowulf changes from a heroic warrior to a heroic king. Both roles required him to put others before himself, and risk his well being for that of others.
  8. 8. Conversion Christianity in  The Viking age was an age of great change in ancient Scandinavian society. At the Scandinavia beginning of 800 AD, most Vikings were paganistic, and believed in many gods. Harald Bluetooth  The Vikings inherited chrisitan ideas quite rapidly through many• Harald bluetooth was son of Gorm The Old and of their raids and attacks. Queen Thyra who ruled Denmark. Harald is thought to have died around 980 AD.  Germanic and Anglo-Saxon missionaries traveled Scandinavia to covert countries to christianity. Beginning with Denmark—christianized in the 10th century—Sweden was the last to christianized in the late 11th century AD.• This jelling stone is incripted with christian writing and symbols. The last three lines state„Harald who won the whole of Denmark, and all, and turned the Danes to Christianity.‟ _01.shtml
  9. 9.  There are many christian elements found in Beowulf; man survives Christianity in through protection of god, and that wealth must be shared. Beowulf  During Beowulfs fight with Grendel‟s mother "The fight would have ended straightaway if God• In the poem, Grendel is had not guarded me" (1.4) considered an ancestor of  During the poem, Hrothgar tells Cain- a large biblical reference. Beowulf that being king is achieve• Cain killed his brother, Abel, through god. The story of king and was banished from the Heremond is about a king who falls because of greed and selfishness. Garden of Eden by God. In Ancient Scandinavia, fratricide “angry-hearted he covets, no plated rings does is the worst crime one can he give in men‟s honor, and then he forgets and regards not his destiny because of what commit. Anglo-Saxon society God, Wielder of Heaven, has given him was very much structured before, his portion of glories" (5.13) around brotherhood and  “he covets” is form the Christian ten kinship. commandments.
  10. 10. Paganism in Ancient ScandinaviaNorse Paganism is a subset of Germanic Paganism, people who inhabitedNorthern and Central Europe during the Viking Age When Christianity took over in the early 8th century, Norse paganism began to falter and wane into Christianity. Scandinavian archeological sites have Petro glyphs, divided into sub categories as hunter-glyphs (mainly found in Northern Scandinavia) and agriculture-glyphs. These normally depict basic hunting and fishing, but scholars deemed the glyphs to discuss religious themes. Little to no existence of temples for worship. Claims of a temple in Uppsala, Sweden with three wooden statues. One of them is predicted to be Odin, but ultimately unverified due to lack of archeological evidence to prove it. The Vikings were Norse people (warriors-like Beowulf-merchants and explorers) who raided areas of Europe for trade (and to explore) in the late 8th century.
  11. 11.  Human sacrifices used to be common; sacrificial offerings to gods and religious purposes and the other for funeral purposes where the people sacrificed for their lord are believed to follow him into afterlife and continue to serve him. Odin was the mighty god of gods of the Norse people. Sacrificial practices are associated with strangling or hanging to death. (The Bronze Age Tollund Man) Ambivalent scholars argue strangled victims could be out of capital punishment.
  12. 12. Religion in Beowulf Christianity Paganism Christianity says that we  Superhuman powers are shouldn‟t let greed and wealth portrayed by Beowulf in take over ourselves, this is swimming underwater for what Hrothgar teaches to hours, and his supernatural Beowulf. human strength. Grendel‟s connection to Cain in  Concept of fame and the bible. heroism. During Beowulf‟s battle with  Fate that comes with death Grendel‟s mother he believes it or greatness throughout the is god who has brought him the poem. sword.
  13. 13. SourcesWikipedia contributors, Norse Paganism, Wikipedia, 476346930, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 February 2012 20:51UTC, contributors, Viking, Wikipedia, 476794672, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 February 2012 20:51UTC,, Tim. “Ancient Scandinavia.” Local Histories. February 26, 2012.“Vikings.” 2012. The History Channel website. Feb 26 2012, 6:14 I. Terje, “From Pagan to Christian.” University of Washington. 1999. February 26, 2012., Neils. “The Viking Age.”, the Official Website of Denmark. May 10, 2010. February 26, 2012.“History of Sweden: War, Peace, and Progress”., the Official Gateway to Sweden. June 2010. SwedisInstitute, February 26, 2012., Gareth. “ Viking Religion.” BBC History. February 17, 2011. February 26, 2012., William. “Beowulf and Ethics in a Heroic Society.” Yahoo Voice. September 7, 2010. February 26, 2012.