Culture:• Anglo-Saxons originated as Germanic tribes.• They brought with them Germanic myths and legends, including fire-breathing dragons, trolls, ogres, goblins, elves, giants, demons, sea monsters, etc.• Main focus in any Anglo-Saxon warrior’s life was to achieve glory in warfare so he could enter Valhalla (Anglo-Saxon heaven) after death.• Warring, exploring, seafaring, and feasting were central to Anglo-Saxon life (their religion supported these activities)• Anglo-Saxon gods were harsh, warlike gods of Norse mythology-Tiu-god of war (Tuesday), Woden- king of the gods (Wednesday), Thor-god of thunder (Thursday), Freya-goddess of fertility (Friday)
Culture, cont’d:• Anglo-Saxon justice was simple and crude-WERGILD-”man money” (Wergild was the purpose behind the story of Beowulf)• Lots of warfare-quests for land, clan feuds, quests for treasure, etc.• Life was short, hard, and unpredictable• Warriors believed fate (goddess Wyrd) ruled their lives, so the braver, the better. A warrior could “tempt fate” by being brave and charming Wyrd. If a warrior was about to be taken to heaven, he believed he would/could be touched by the hand of the Valkyries (daughters of the gods who went to earth to bring slain warriors back to Valhalla). If a warrior felt “the touch,” he knew he was fated to die soon.• In Valhalla, warriors would feast every night. All battle wounds and broken bones would heal for the feast. Woden was always the host
Anglo-Saxon life, cont’d:• Feasts held in a communal hall called the “mead hall,” (name originated from drink called mead-fermented honey)• Job of the scop (pronounced “shop”) to recite stories of glorious battles/notable warriors to the tribe-intended to get Woden’s attention so warrior spoken about could get to Valhalla• Scop chanted tribal history, often to the accompaniment of a harp. Everything passed by oral tradition during this time. Scop was highly esteemed in tribe because warriors got Woden’s attention because of scop’s creations-lays (name of scop’s stories) served three purposes:4) Told story for entertainment5) Related important tribal values6) Kept their history alive b/c lays could also be spread to other tribes and future generations
Notable Anglo-Saxon literary techniques:• 1) Alliteration-repetition of beginning consonant sounds in a line of poetry• Ex: Line 31-Went wondering what warriors• Ex: Line 33-Sprawled in sleep, suspecting
• 2) Assonance-Repetition of vowel sounds in a line of poetry• Ex: line 30-Then when Grendel• Ex: line 60-One against many and won so Herot
• 3) Kenning-a one to three-word phrase used to rename a person or object• Swan-road (ocean)• Whale-path (ocean)• Sea-steed (boat)• Swimming wood (boat)• Higlac’s follower (Beowulf)• Mankind’s enemy (Grendel)
• 4) Caesura-a mid-line pause or stop within a line of poetry, noted by a semi-colon, period, or dash• Ex: Abel’s death. The Almighty• Ex: earth. He was…..
• 5) Apposition-grammatical form in which a thing is renamed in a different word, phrase, or clause• Ex: “Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend, Grendel.”
Anglo-Saxon Riddles http://classprojects.kenyon.edu/engl/exeter/Gazetteer/Exeterbook.html• Featured in the Exeter Book and a popular Anglo- Saxon form of entertainment were riddles. Before reading some of the Anglo-Saxon riddles (see reading assignment and web link), try some modern riddles featured on the next few slides.
What am I?A silver-scaled dragon with jaws flaming red Sits at my elbow and toasts my bread. I hand him fat slices, and then, one by one, He hands them back when he sees they are done.
What am I ?Little Nancy EtticoatWith a white petticoatAnd a red nose;She h as no feet or handsThe longer she standsThe shorter she grows
What am I ?Two brothers we areGreat burdens we bearWe always are bitterly pressedYet this I must sayWe are full all the dayAnd empty when we go to rest.
What am I?I am greater than God and more evil than the devil. The rich need me. The poor have me. If you eat me you will die.
What am I?At dusk I come without being fetched. At dawn I disappear without being stolen. I am a poet’s tears and a sailor’s guide.
• Toaster• Candle• Pair of shoes• Nothing• Stars