The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf


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A brief lesson on the early history of the Anglo-Saxons and the influences on the early epic poem \"Beowulf.\"

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The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf

  1. 1. The Anglo-Saxons and Beowulf A presentation by Katelyn Wood ED 205-16 Quit
  2. 2. Table of Contents <ul><li>Anglo-Saxon Era: Timeline </li></ul><ul><li>Anglo-Saxon society </li></ul><ul><li>Pagan vs. Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>Anglo-Saxon Literature </li></ul><ul><li>Beowulf </li></ul><ul><li>Resources </li></ul><ul><li>Author’s slide </li></ul><ul><li>Concept Map </li></ul>Quit
  3. 3. The Anglo-Saxon Era: Timeline <ul><li>43CE Romans invade Britain. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Encountered the Celts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Romans build roads, villas, huge buildings, and forts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introduced Christianity. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>420CE Romans leave. </li></ul><ul><li>Link to video of life after the Romans </li></ul>Quit
  4. 4. Timeline Continued <ul><li>450CE Jutes from Denmark, and the Angles and Saxons from Northern Germany invade England. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Germanic tribes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anglo-Saxons push out Celts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Link to video of The Anglo-Saxon Invasion of Britain </li></ul></ul><ul><li>597CE Anglo-Saxons become Christian </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Link to video of The Spread of Christianity </li></ul></ul>Quit
  5. 5. Timeline Continued <ul><li>787CE Viking raids begin </li></ul><ul><li>871-899CE King Alfred the Great becomes King of England. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Established education systems, rebuilt monasteries. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fought Danes and forced them from Wessex. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unified Anglo-Saxons under one king to resist the Viking invasions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Danes ruled in the North, Anglo-Saxons in the South. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>1066CE Norman Conquest by William the Conqueror. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>From Norman French. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Defeated Danes and Anglo-Saxons. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Officially ended Anglo-Saxon era and brought about the beginning of the Medieval Period. </li></ul></ul>Quit
  6. 6. Anglo-Saxon Society <ul><li>Anglo-Saxon society. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lived in tribal groups with a high class of warriors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kings emerged as society developed. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Spoke Old English. This was the language that Beowulf was written in. </li></ul><ul><li>Became Christian but still valued heroic ideals and traditional heroes. </li></ul><ul><li>Their culture valued human contact, family, virtue, and a good story. They feared humiliation and loneliness in their lives. In addition, the Anglo-Saxons desired richness, power, and appreciated heroic actions of warriors. </li></ul>Quit
  7. 7. Pagan vs. Christianity in Beowulf <ul><li>Pagan </li></ul><ul><li>Strong nature presence </li></ul><ul><li>Strength of the warrior </li></ul><ul><li>Christianity </li></ul><ul><li>God is mentioned by two of the main characters in the poem: Beowulf and Hrothgar. </li></ul><ul><li>Grendel as Lucifer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both are outcasts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perform a task for God </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grendel is described as a son or descendant of Cain, a clear Biblical reference. </li></ul></ul>The Anglo-Saxons mixed both pagan and Christian traditions. Beowulf contains traces of both beliefs. Quit
  8. 8. Anglo-Saxon Literature <ul><li>Anglo-Saxon literature began as an oral tradition. Stories, poems, and songs were all told aloud and passed from generation to generation orally through minstrels (also called scops). </li></ul><ul><li>Poems traditionally had a strong beat, alliteration, and no rhyme. </li></ul><ul><li>Caesura: “a cutting.” A break in a line of poetry, used in Old English to depict a half line. We use a comma for a modern effect. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. Da com of more under mistheleopum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> “ Out from the marsh, from the foot of the hills.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Kenning: derived from the Norse word “kenna” which means “to know, to recognize.” It is a compact metaphor that functions as a name. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>i.e. helmberend: “Helm bearer” or “warrior” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Old English example </li></ul>Quit
  9. 9. The Epic! <ul><li>Beowulf is the most well-known Anglo-Saxon poem, and is a form of poetry called the epic. Such other examples are Homer’s The Iliad and The Odessey. </li></ul><ul><li>Long narrative that celebrates a hero’s long journeys and heroic deeds. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Ring series and George Lucas’ Stars Wars could be called modern epics. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Characteristics include a noble hero whose character traits reflect their society’s ideals. The hero performs brave acts and appears superhuman. </li></ul>Quit
  10. 10. Heroic Code <ul><li>The epic poem Beowulf strengthens the Heroic Code. This code was derived from the Anglo-Saxons’ Germanic roots, and called for strength, courage, and loyalty in warriors. It also required kings to be hospitable, generous, and have great political skills. This code was a basis for Anglo-Saxon honor. </li></ul>Quit
  11. 11. Common Themes Of an Epic Poem <ul><li>Universal themes of epic poetry </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Good vs. evil </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beowulf vs. Grendel </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Isolation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Courage and honor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beowulf is fearless and brave while fighting the monsters. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gods or semi-divine creatures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Grendel, Grendel’s mother, the dragon </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tale involves the fate of an entire race </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Beowulf saves Hrothgar’s village from Grendel. </li></ul></ul></ul>Quit
  12. 12. Beowulf <ul><li>Most famous of early Germanic poems </li></ul><ul><li>Written anywhere between 400-1000, but most likely after the 500s. </li></ul><ul><li>The author is unknown, but likely to be Christian. It is likely that a few different authors elaborated on the tale. </li></ul><ul><li>Takes place in Sweden, Denmark, and Frisia. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Norse were at this time attacking Britain, thus allowing knowledge of places, people, and ancestors to be available. </li></ul></ul>Quit
  13. 13. Characters <ul><li>Beowulf: main character, a hero featuring all the qualities of an epic hero. He has superhuman strength and is fearless and brave in battler. </li></ul><ul><li>Hrothgar: the king of the village that Beowulf saves from Grendel. </li></ul><ul><li>Grendel: a monster terrorizing Hrothgar’s village. </li></ul><ul><li>Grendel’s mother: a monster set out to avenge her son’s death. </li></ul>Quit
  14. 14. The Plot …in six sentences. <ul><li>Beowulf travels to Hrothgar’s village to save them from Grendel, a terrifying monster eating their warriors. An epic battle ensues with Beowulf is the winner. Of course, Grendel’s mother comes seeking vengeance for her son’s death. Again, Beowulf is called upon to save them all, and he fights heroically and defeats the evil monster. After being vastly rewarded and refusing an offer from Hrothgar to be his heir, Beowulf makes the long trek back to his homeland where he becomes a mighty and generous king for many years. He fights a massive dragon who is threatening his people. He and the dragon both die in the struggle, but he is heroic until the end. </li></ul>Quit
  15. 15. Resources <ul><li>“ The Anglo-Saxon Invasions of Britain” and “The Spread of Christianity” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>“ Life After the Romans” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Old English sample </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Information of the Anglo-Saxon period and of Beowulf </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Anderson, Rachel. “Medieval Context: Beowulf .” ENG 220 British Literature I. Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI. 10 Jan. 2008. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Schneider, Daniel. “English Literature: Anglo-Saxon Era and Beowulf. ” Honors English Literature. Linden High School, Linden, MI. 30 Aug. 2005. </li></ul></ul>Quit
  16. 16. Author’s Slide <ul><li>I am Katelyn Wood, a student at Grand Valley State University currently majoring in Secondary Education for English and History. I enjoy learning about the Anglo-Saxon era and medieval England, which also explains my love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s works and spending entirely too much time reading many other good books. I spend my summers in CO enjoying peaches and the mountains, and I hope to live there permanently one day. </li></ul><ul><li>You can email me at </li></ul>Quit
  17. 17. Concept Map Quit
  18. 18. Old English Example Old English circa 500CE-1100CE “ Cyning” means “king,” so “Cyningas” must mean “kings.” What other words look familiar to today’s language? Quit