Beowulf Handout 1

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Beowulf Handout #1
Beowulf is a poem about a hero named Beowulf who belongs to a tribe called the Geats who lived in what is
now Southern Sweden. On your map, write the name Geats in the area of Southern Sweden.
In the story, Beowulf goes to the aid of a group of Danes who lived on the island of Zealand, part of what is
now Denmark. Place a dot on the map and label it Herot. Write the name Danes in the area of Denmark.
Note the distance between Southern Sweden and the island of Zealand (the distance Beowulf and the Geats
sailed) in the blank area below your map.
On the map mark the names of the three tribes, Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who came from Scandinavia
beginning in 441 and ousted the Celts, eventually dominating England. Place them in Denmark: Jutes in the
north; Angles in the South; Saxons near the coast just south of Denmark. They are the first Englishmen, and
they controlled England for 600 years until they were defeated by the Normans in 1066.
When the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes came to England, they didn’t know how to write, but they had a rich oral
literary tradition. They learned to write when they were converted to Christianity beginning in 597. Mark and
identify the year 597 on the timeline.
The Anglo-Saxon culture reached a peak during the eigth century. Most of the poetry that survives dates from
that time. Beowulf is thought to have been written about 725. Mark and identify this date on your timeline.
Your Hawaiian ancestors arrived here from (originally, it is believed, the Marquesas) between the year 600 and
1000. Mark and identify this range on your timeline.
Note this distance in the blank area below your map.
The Anglo-Saxon writer of Beowulf is considered to be a scholar and a Christian. He knew his own history and
culture, the Scriptures, and it is likely that he knew Latin literature as well. It is probable that he used the oral
sagas and legends of his ancestors as the basic material for his epic. It is important to realize that, although
Beowulf is the only full-length English epic that survives from the Anglo-Saxon period, its setting is not
England but _______________ and __________________. Write the setting of this epic poem in the blank
area below your map.
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