Epic of Beowulf

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“Beowulf” is definitely a prime example of outstanding literature. The work itself is an arcane accomplishment that welds the hardened steel of the Viking resilience to the more-contemporary Christian theology. The sheer magnitude of the document is the stuff of legend; inspiring countless stories and still sets off light bulbs the world over. For most purposes, “Beowulf” embodies the ideal for epic poetry; thus making it a staple in the scant catalogue of English epics.

Historically speaking, Beowulf gives the reader a precious look into the lives of a unique culture. Scandinavian tradition was one of brutality and honor. The revered men fought for their status; earning every nick on a blade. We are flung, as the reader, into the archaic world that was Beowulf’s time. An age of pre-chivalric attitudes that were more focused on the individual person rather than the actions of a group. Beowulf was a source of immense pride for the people at the time. He was the strength, the glue that bound Anglo-Saxon culture to their roots. Further, and differently, the notions of Anglo-Saxon traditions we gain from reading the work are immeasurable. As a first-time reader, the images of a great mead hall full bursting with song and celebration was fantastic.

We can attempt to personify with the oppressed people of the various places Beowulf absconds to. Appropriately, he doesn’t abscond, though his actions remind me of a man- a Superman- that could be anywhere and save the world. In that vein, Beowulf is far and away the iconic figure that should typify Anglo-Saxon literature. We are to take away the foundations of the poem from this reading. We are to read the text and graze the surface; as one would grasp the tufts of...

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...e author takes are a little much. He injects just a little much of his own personal moral dynamic and discards far too much of the actual Scandinavian tradition. There are some aspects of the tradition that we lose, or have to find elsewhere, since it is scrapped from the actual text. Religion, for instance, is strictly Christianity whereas the Anglo-Saxon people at that time in that region would not have known what a Christianity was.

The original tradition, the oral tradition that it was intended for, must have been a true masterpiece. Though like Homer and his writings, we can only speculate as to how great it actually was. The great halls alive with the shrill voices of singers chanting the epic battles of Beowulf enrapt the imagination. The sinew and bare bardic tradition stripped of the Jesus garnish and served with arctic frost and bloodspatter.
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