Beowulf - Cathedral Catholic

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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?

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