Go over pages 18-20 and then read Books 1-5 Beowulf (we read up to book 3 in class
Paganism v. Christianity
Good v. Evil
Attack on Hrothgar
Beowulf v. Oedipus
Work on Independent Study
Epic Notes: (Who doesn’t love notes)
A long narrative poem that relates the great deeds of a larger than life hero who embodies
the values of a particular society. (Quest story on a large scale.)
Most epics include elements of myth, folklore, legend, and history.
Their tone is serious and their language grand.
Set in many locations: real or imaginary across a wide area.
Must address universal concerns such as: good v. evil, life v. death, sin v. redemption
Undertake quests to achieve something of tremendous value to themselves or their society.
Superior physical strength
During his quest, he must defeat monsters that embody dark, destructive powers.
At the end of the quest, he is glorified by the people he saved.
Important person of historical or legendary character, high social standing
Pitted against overwhelming odds- must be strong and courageous
Values reflect society’s values.
The council of the gods: the plan of events.
The appearance of the goddess.
Captivity in the arms of a woman
The messenger of the gods tells the hero to complete his destiny.
The hero visits a series of fabulous locations which present temptations which obscure his sense of destiny or revelations which clarify it.
That narrator gives a history of times past.
A major character makes a descent into hell.
The providence of the plot manifested most directly in a vision of the future.
The group celebrates the death of a hero with grand ceremonial funeral and games.
The hero fights a great battle in three parts or movements: the critical battle which the hero must win to fulfill his destiny.
The cause of the battle
The second movement of the battle sees the enemy apparently ahead.
The third movement sees the entrance of the hero with his full powers and his defeat of the enemy here in a personal duel.
The hero is reunited with his beloved or his family and in doing so brings history to a peaceful resolution.
Anglo-Saxon Background Notes
English have created a political system over the years “by and for the people.” “Emphasis on personal rights and freedoms”
Great Briton has been invaded by:
Angles and Saxons
Animism: belief that natural phenomena or inanimate objects possess spirits.
Spirits must be constantly satisfied.
Druids: intermediaries between spirits/gods and people
King Arthur-Celtic Warrior legend
Mists of Avalon vs. Gwenyvere’s religion (Christianity)
Feature women legends
Morgan Le Fey
· Stayed for more than 400 years
· Brought armies and organization to Britain to prevent further invasion
o roads, villas, public baths
o defensive walls
· Change of religion to Christianity- unified because of European missionaries
· Without Roman control, just a country of separate clans. No central government.
Anglo-Saxon "Sweep Ashore":
· Angles- Saxons- Germany
· Jutes- Denmark
· Language of the Anglo-Saxons became the language of the country Engla-land (England)
· Celtics fought Anglo-Saxons from overtaking land (Arthur)
· Country divided into separate principalities- each with own king (Macbeth)
· Danes invaded:
o Plundered and destroyed everything
o Fierce Viking people
o King Alfred led group against them- helped make England a more unified nation.
· King Alfred’s success allowed for Christianity to reemerge.
o This also helped to create a unified nation: common faith and morality, right conduct.
· Battle between Danes and Alfred continued until 1066. William Duke of Normandy, France took over.
· Women inherited and held property until Norman Conquest. Also, they were significant contributors towards learning and religion.
Kinship groups were lead by chiefs
Farming, local governments, fine crafts (metal works)
Christianity became dominant religion- linked England to Continental Europe
Monasteries brought learning and literacy-preserved works from older oral tradition.
English gained respect as a written language- Latin still used in churches.
Anglo-Saxon Life: the Warm Hall, the Cold World:
Two class society:
Ruler and related to the founder of the tribe
Consulted witan or Witenagemot(wise men) group of respected earls
Responsible for law and order
Warriors, laborers for the earl
Women: received power as queen, wife of earl or church woman
Fame and success were gained only through loyalty to the king (King Arthur and his knights)
Loyalty grew out of need to protect the group from the wilderness. Most groups lived together with animals in homes surrounded by a wall or fence. This created a sense of community discussion. Rule was by consensus. (What does this mean?)
Anglo-Saxon Religion: Gods for Warriors:
Despite Christianity Anglo-Saxon gods remained (Norse mythology)
Oden: god of death, poetry, magic
Thumor: god of thunder and lightning
Dragon: guardian of treasure and of death (ashes of old warriors)
Concerned more with ethics than with mysticism especially with the early virtues of bravery, loyalty, generosity and friendship.
The Bards: Singing of Gods and Heroes:
Communal Hall: place for shelter, meetings, storytelling
On same level as warriors
As important as fighting, hunting, farming or loving.
Sang with a harp
Told heroic tales that spoke of war, disease, and old age.
“For non –Chiristian Anglo-Saxons, whose religion offered them no hope of an afterlife, only fame and its reverberation in poetry could provide a defense against death.”
*Desire to be remembered for years*
The Christian Monasteries: The Ink Froze:
“In the death shadowed world of the Anglo-Saxons, the poets or bards provided the one element of hope: the possibility that heroic deeds might be enshrined in the society’s memory.”
§ Monasteries were the centers of learning, strongholds of Christianity.
o Monks preserved some of the old literature wrote in either Old English or Latin which remained the main language of study until King Alfred. Manuscripts were copied by hand.
§ King Alfred instituted a running history of England called the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.