Christian Values In Beowulf

1000 Words4 Pages
During the Anglo-Saxon times, the values and beliefs of the Germanic people were considerably different from the beliefs and values of the modern age, which were reflected in the oldest surviving Old English piece of literature, Beowulf. Beowulf is an epic poem written anonymously during the Anglo-Saxon period in England spanning from the fifth century to the eleventh century. The epic poem takes place in sixth-century Scandinavia. “Recited originally in Old English, Beowulf is based on legends and chronicles of the various Northern Europeans who migrated to England.”(Literature: The British Tradition 18). During the fifth through the eleventh centuries“... the ideals of the Anglo-Saxons included loyalty, valour, selfishness, and a sense of…show more content…
During the poem, one would also be able to find many references to Christianity which were abruptly followed by Pagan references. One instance of abrupt flow is in the first episode. The quote, “... Hrothgar’s glorious throne, protected by God” (Beowulf 83-84), obviously speaks of god, only to be suddenly followed by the quote, “Sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone gods,” (Beowulf 90), which makes a blatant reference to the practice of Paganism; the old stone gods refer to the Germanic gods that were worshipped in Paganism. In this particular case, the reader is first told that God protects the throne and soon after, that after suffering Grendel’s wrath, King Hrothgar resorted back to his Pagan beliefs hoping to alleviate the suffering Grendel has thrown upon the kingdom. In this part of the poem, one can infer that King Hrothgar is man with Christian belief, but only momentarily, as a last attempt, resorted to his old ways. King Hrothgar’s actions are reflective of the Anglo-Saxon period by jumping from one religious idea to another in a short amount of text. During the final battle between the fearsome Dragon and Beowulf, in his dying words, Beowulf thanked God for all that God had given him (Beowulf 816-818), and shortly after while crowning Wiglaf the next king, spoke of how “Fate has swept out race away”(Beowulf…show more content…
The most desirable traits were: loyalty, strength, bravery, wisdom, and fame. Beowulf himself was easily the most admirable character based on the standards of the time. In addition to Beowulf, Wiglaf, who made an appearance in the final episode, was an incredibly honourable warrior. During Beowulf’s battle against Grendel’s mother, there was a contrast between the Geats and the Danes, “The Danes gave up, left the lake and went home, Hrothgar with them. The Geats stayed, sat sadly, watching,” (Beowulf 574-576). In this portion of the story, the warriors of Beowulf remained for their prince, and while they did not believe he survived, they stayed and waited for him nonetheless. The Danes, however, left as soon as they thought that Beowulf had perished. The writer represented the Geats as very loyal men, which reflected positively on Beowulf, while representing the Danes and Hrothgar as disloyal men. The Anglo-Saxons would have definitely preferred the Geats after this particular development. Another trait that Beowulf had represented was strength. The first mention of Beowulf was, “Follower and strongest of the Geats – greater And stronger than anyone anywhere in this world” (Beowulf 110-111), to Anglo-Saxons, the idea that one was the strongest out of everyone was one that every warrior strived towards, because they believed that strength was representative of the character. In
Open Document