Beowulf project other genre


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Beowulf project other genre

  1. 1. Hero/Warrior Culture in Beowulf and Other Myths David Tang and Peter Wilson
  2. 2. “Beowulf ... clearly belong[s] to a subset of the overall Indo-European sword-hero complex. Moreover, [he] also share[s] at least some elements in common with figures belonging to other subsets of that complex.” - C. Scott Littleton
  3. 3. Premise • Beowulf and his story largely follow common archetypes • However, Beowulf’s Anglo-Saxon warrior • culture is different from cultures seen in other myths. As a result, Beowulf is different from the warrior-heroes seen in other stories
  4. 4. Cultural Differences • In many ways, Beowulf, along with the Anglo-saxon expectations of him, epitomizes the familiar hyper-masculine, brazen hero o Strength and ability in battle o Importance of boasting o Binarism “(I will do x or die)” (Morey 487).
  5. 5. Cultural Differences After all, isn’t this what you think of when you picture Beowulf?
  6. 6. Cultural Differences • However, Beowulf’s role in the community seems to be more complex o Acts as “peace-weaver” through his actions to promote good relationship between tribes (Morey 486)   “[F]ulfills his society’s idealized feminine role” (Morey 486). Role as king includes great generosity, satisfying
  7. 7. Individual Differences • Beowulf is, in many ways, a traditional “sword hero” of mythology o “Beowulf [is] not only [a] refle[x] of a common IndoEuropean sword-hero tradition, but also of a subset of that tradition that tells of a hero's descent to a netherworld to slay a non-draconic monster and/or its mother, one or both of whom are threatening the survival of the hero's community” (Littleton 6).
  8. 8. Similarity to Theseus • Both o Come from afar  Theseus from Troezen  Beowulf of the Geats o Enter dangerous and underground realms  Theseus: most known for success in labyrinth  Beowulf: Grendel’s mother’s cave and the dragon’s lair o Slay ravenous monsters with magical swords
  9. 9. Individual Differences • Beowulf is an interesting combination of brutish and sensible o Often acts more than cerebral heros like Theseus o Still acts with underestimated tact and shrewdness o “The most accomplished binarist in the poem … Beowulf is also aware of the often agonizing circumstances of coming to a decision” (Morey 487).
  10. 10. Sources Morey, Robert. “Beowulf’s Androgynous Heroism.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 95:4 (Oct. 1996): 486-96. JSTOR. Database. 10 Oct. 2013. Littleton, Scott. “Theseus as an Indo-European Sword Hero, with an Excursus on Some Parallels between the Athenian Monster-Slayer and Beowulf.” The Heroic Age1.11 (May 2008): Web. 10 Oct. 2013. <>