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See Article History Beowulf, heroic poem, the highest achievement of Old English literature and the earliest European vernacular epic.
It deals with events of the early 6th century and is believed to have been composed between and Although originally untitled, it was later named after the Scandinavian hero Beowulf, whose exploits and character provide its connecting theme.
There is no evidence of a historical Beowulf, but some characters, sites, and events in the poem can be historically verified. The poem did not appear in print until Unexpectedly, young Beowulf, a prince of the Geats of southern Sweden, arrives with a small band of retainers and offers to cleanse Heorot of its monster.
During the night Grendel comes from the moors, tears open the heavy doors, and devours one of the sleeping Geats. He then grapples with Beowulf, whose powerful grip he cannot escape.
He wrenches himself free, tearing off his arm, and leaves, mortally wounded. The next day is one of rejoicing in Heorot. In the morning Beowulf seeks her out in her cave at the bottom of a mere and kills her.
The Danes rejoice once more. Hrothgar makes a farewell speech about the character of the true hero, as Beowulf, enriched with honours and princely gifts, returns home to King Hygelac of the Geats.
But now a fire-breathing dragon ravages his land and the doughty but aging Beowulf engages it. The fight is long and terrible and a painful contrast to the battles of his youth.
Painful, too, is the desertion of his retainers except for his young kinsman Wiglaf. Beowulf kills the dragon but is mortally wounded.
The poem ends with his funeral rites and a lament. Beowulf belongs metrically, stylistically, and thematically to a heroic tradition grounded in Germanic religion and mythology.
It is also part of the broader tradition of heroic poetry. The ethical values are manifestly the Germanic code of loyalty to chief and tribe and vengeance to enemies.
Yet the poem is so infused with a Christian spirit that it lacks the grim fatality of many of the Eddaic lays or the sagas of Icelandic literature.
Beowulf himself seems more altruistic than other Germanic heroes or the ancient Greek heroes of the Iliad. It is significant that his three battles are not against men, which would entail the retaliation of the blood feudbut against evil monsters, enemies of the whole community and of civilization itself.
Many critics have seen the poem as a Christian allegorywith Beowulf the champion of goodness and light against the forces of evil and darkness.
That is not to say that Beowulf is an optimistic poem. The English critic J. Tolkien suggests that its total effect is more like a long, lyrical elegy than an epic.
Even the earlier, happier section in Denmark is filled with ominous allusions that were well understood by contemporary audiences. In the second part the movement is slow and funereal: Beowulf has often been translated into modern English; renderings by Seamus Heaney and Tolkien completed ; published became best sellers.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:Translating Beowulf is one of the subjects of the publication Beowulf at Kalamazoo, containing a section with 10 essays on translation, and a section with 22 reviews of Heaney's translation (some of which compare Heaney's work with that of Anglo-Saxon scholar Roy Liuzza).
|Beowulf | Summary, Characters, & Analysis | leslutinsduphoenix.com||Historical background[ edit ] Approximate central regions of tribes mentioned in Beowulf, with the location of the Angles in Angeln. The events in the poem take place over most of the sixth century, after the Anglo-Saxons had started migrating to England and before the beginning of the seventh century, a time when the Anglo-Saxons were either newly arrived or were still in close contact with their Germanic kinsmen in Northern Germany and southern Scandinavia.|
|Anglo-Saxon Poetry - New World Encyclopedia||This lesson is the first literature lesson in a new trimester. Also, I like to set the stage for active learning and performance pedagogy.|
|Browse By Author: L - Project Gutenberg||The dreamer resolves to trust in the cross, and the dream ends with a vision of heaven.|
|Diagnostic information:||Table of Contents Context Though it is often viewed both as the archetypal Anglo-Saxon literary work and as a cornerstone of modern literature, Beowulf has a peculiar history that complicates both its historical and its canonical position in English literature.|
|Daily life and social customs||Historical background[ edit ] Approximate central regions of tribes mentioned in Beowulf, with the location of the Angles in Angeln. See Scandza for details of Scandinavia's political fragmentation in the 6th century.|
Literary authors, collections of writings, literary criticism, and other related information can be found in both our circulating and reference collections at Middetown Thrall Library. Old English literature or Anglo-Saxon literature, encompasses literature written in Old English, in Anglo-Saxon England from the 7th century to the decades after the Norman Conquest of "Cædmon's Hymn", composed in the 7th century, according to Bede, is often considered the oldest extant poem in English, whereas the later poem, The Grave is one of the final poems written in Old English.
This lesson details the importance of Heorot, the mead hall in the epic poem, 'Beowulf.' We'll go over Grendel's attack on the mead hall and the cultural impact of the hall itself. furniture: Early Middle Ages. The Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf, which gives some glimpses of the domestic economy of western Europe in about the 7th century, mentions no furniture other than benches and some kind of seat or throne for the overlord.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Younger Edda, by Snorre This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever.