Beowulf An anonymous epic from the late 900s, written in West Saxon; A “classic.” Epic poem Structure • Unrhymed, four-beat, alliterative style. • Characteristic of Old English poetry. • Among the earliest “wholly vernacular works in the English canon” (Yeager 1). • *Original parchment now rests in the British Library, London. Beowulf’s Origins • Most likely began as an oral poem, passed from one generation of singers to the next. • Written sometime around A.D. 1000. • Performed when warriors gathered in meadhalls. • Intimate details of Anglo-Saxon social life. • Beowulf seems to be an entirely fictional character. • Only one historically verifiable moment in the poem (year 521). Terms • • • • Mead: ale and honey Scop: a poet Wyrd: fate; destiny Weirgild: a man price for a soldier; money paid after an enemy’s death; • Kenning: different words to describe an everyday object; hyphenated metaphor. • Alliteration: repetition of consonant sound; • Caesura: a pause in the middle of a line of poetry. To Be a Good Warrior • REMAIN LOYAL TO YOUR KING. • ALWAYS BE BRAVE. • BE SURE TO PAY YO UR WERGILD. • DIE IN BATTLE!!! • THE KING: – PERILS OF POWER – KINGLY VIRTUES – WHAT IS AN ANGLO-SAXON HERO?