BeowulfText and Context
Background►   Composed around 700 A.D.►   The story had been in circulation as an oral narrative for    many years before ...
The Beowulf Poet►   The poet is Christian►   The poem reflects established    Christian tradition►   Allusions to the Old ...
Heroic Values in Beowulf► Relationship between  king and his warriors► The king rewards his  warriors with gifts► If a kin...
Conflict Christian Values and Heroic                Values► This tension is at the  heart of the poem► Pagan history and  ...
The Character of Beowulf► He fights for personal  honor, but is  committed to service  to his own people and  humanity.► A...
Themes► Good vs. Evil► Fate► The Importance of  Establishing Identity► Tension between  Heroic Code and  Christianity► Sig...
Important Elements of the Poem► Elegaic tone► Heroic poem► Contrasts     Christian and pagan     Youth and old age     ...
Sutton Hoo► Burial site discovered in 1939► Important links to Anglo-Saxon world and Beowulf► Remains of a boat were disco...
Sutton Hook Images
Suggested Further Reading► Beowulf, A Verse Translatioin. Trans.  Seamus Heaney. Ed. Daniel Donaghue.  Norton Critical Edi...
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Beowulf

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Beowulf

  1. 1. BeowulfText and Context
  2. 2. Background► Composed around 700 A.D.► The story had been in circulation as an oral narrative for many years before it was written.► The action of the poem takes place around 500 AD► Poet is reviving the heroic language, style and values and pagan values of ancient Germanic oral poetry► The poem deals with ancient Germanic forebears, the Danes and the Geats► Only a single manuscript of the poem survived the Anglo- Saxon era. In the 1700’s it was nearly destroyed in a fire► It was not until 1936 when the Oxford scholar J.R.R> Tolkien published a paper on the poem that is became popular.
  3. 3. The Beowulf Poet► The poet is Christian► The poem reflects established Christian tradition► Allusions to the Old Testament► Beowulf is a Redeemer who is sent by God to save man from sin► The price of salvation is life itself► Correspondences between Beowulf’s death and the death of Christ
  4. 4. Heroic Values in Beowulf► Relationship between king and his warriors► The king rewards his warriors with gifts► If a kinsman is slain, obligation to kill the slayer or obtain payment (wergeld) in compensation
  5. 5. Conflict Christian Values and Heroic Values► This tension is at the heart of the poem► Pagan history and myth are made to point to a Christian moral► Beowulf is poised between two value systems
  6. 6. The Character of Beowulf► He fights for personal honor, but is committed to service to his own people and humanity.► A superhuman who remains recognizable► Contrast old and young Beowulf► Beowulf as savior
  7. 7. Themes► Good vs. Evil► Fate► The Importance of Establishing Identity► Tension between Heroic Code and Christianity► Significance of artifacts► The past
  8. 8. Important Elements of the Poem► Elegaic tone► Heroic poem► Contrasts  Christian and pagan  Youth and old age  Rise and fall of nations  Joy and sorrow  Fate and God’s will Violence Irony
  9. 9. Sutton Hoo► Burial site discovered in 1939► Important links to Anglo-Saxon world and Beowulf► Remains of a boat were discovered and large burial chamber containing numerous artifacts► Artifacts suggest a distinctly Christian element intermingled with pagan ritual.► Episodes in Beowulf now have tangible archaeological violence to add creditability to the blend of customs in the text.
  10. 10. Sutton Hook Images
  11. 11. Suggested Further Reading► Beowulf, A Verse Translatioin. Trans. Seamus Heaney. Ed. Daniel Donaghue. Norton Critical Edition. 2002.► Norton bibliography on Beowulf , p. 2902.► Websites on Beowulf, Old English poetry, and Sutton Hoo.

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