Beowulf Literary Unit Two Texts We’ll Study: 1. Epic Poem- Beowulf Poet- unknown Anglo-Saxon The focus of this presentation! 2. Elegy- “The Seafarer” Poet- unknown Anglo-Saxon _____________________________________ *Let’s Meet our Translator, Dr. Burton Raffel The Beowulf Text • First work ever recorded in Old English- The Ancestral Language of English speakers. • Surviving version of text composed around 750 and written down in in the 11th century. • Originated as a FOLK EPIC, presented by scops. • Referred to as a “self-portrait” of a culture. • Viewed mostly as an historical text until the 20th century. • Considered England’s National Epic. England- The Name Says it All! • Britain’s Invaders- Britons, Gaels, Celts, Romans, and eventually the Anglo-Saxons. • Anglo-Saxons: pagan tribes from the area we know today as Germany. • Invasion Motivation: deep-Sea fishermen and farmers seeking new land and better waters. • Britain acquires the name “Angle-Land” from its Scandinavian invaders. A Snapshot of Beliefs and Cultures • Christianity and Pagan culture battle for victory in this newly invaded country. • The text Beowulf represents both belief systems and cultures. • “Good” vs. “Evil” dominate the plot. • Depicts warrior culture and a very hierarchical social structure (kings, warriors, commoners, servants/peasants). Anglo-Saxon Literature Basics • Poetry (their good stuff) -heroic: recounts the achievements of warriors (Beowulf). -elegiac: laments the loss of people and the past (“The Seafarer”). • Prose- Composed in Latin b/c the vernacular was viewed as a “vulgar tongue”. Epic Poetry • Basic Elements: Epic Hero, a quest, valorous deeds, divine intervention, and great events. • Showcases characteristics such as: courage, strength, and dignity. • Begins usually “in medias res”. • Tone is serious. • Style is lofty. • Long speeches that catalog battles, weapons, and royal gifts. • Function as entertainment and an education. Epic Hero • High Social Status and/or standing. • Larger-than-life figure who nonetheless is mere mortal…interesting! • Is the “good guy”. • Important to his culture and his people! • The epitome of what it means to be part of its culture and its time. • This guy (and it usually is) is making it rain mead! Things to Consider… • Paraphrasing vs. Summarizing Poetry • Indirect vs. Direct Characterization • Elements of Christian and Pagan Beliefs and Cultures • What is good and what is evil? • Allusions- the Creation story, Cain and Abel • Why is Grendel so angry? • What does the description of Hrothgar tell us about Anglo-Saxon Warrior kings?