In conclusion, the epic tale of Beowulf is a pagan tale with a pagan hero. Although there are Christian images throughout the tale, the story is clearly pagan in nature. The Beowulf poet portrays the culture and people by separating the main ideas like a prism does with light. Although there are the Christian references surface throughout the tale, a look at the epic as a whole clearly shows its true pagan nature. No matter which end of the spectrum you are looking from, all the ideas prove that pagan concepts and principles prevail over the values of Christianity.
He sets up a fictitious society in which Christianity is disregarded and disdained, but nominal Christianity remains. The author writes to defend this nominal Christianity from abolition. The arguments that the author uses, which are common knowledge in his time, if applied to Christianity in Swift's time would be quite dangerous allegations. Indeed, the reasons that Swift gives for the preservation of the fictitious Christianity are exactly what he sees wrong with the Christianity practiced in his time. By applying Swift's satirical argument for the preservation of this fictitious religion to that which was currently practiced, Swift asserts that their Christianity served ulterior motives, both for the government and for the people.
The Christians are monotheistic in beliefs, meaning that Christians believe in only one God. The Anglo-Saxons on the other followed paganism, meaning the Anglo-Saxon people believed in many gods. Having the main hero of a myth that originated in pagan culture make references to the god of another religion, that would be considered not only a crime of blasphemy in Christianity and showing disrespect the pagan’s gods and beliefs as well. The third, and probably the biggest, place we see evidence of Christianity in the story of Beowulf is the character of Beowulf and how similar he is to Jesus. Beowulf 's character is very much similar to that of Jesus ' in many ways.
The two major societies presented in Beowulf are the Danes and Geats and they are supposed to completely represent Christianity and just that, however; paganism was seeped into the epic poem purposely by the author. As they have to suffer under Grendel’s constant attacks, the Danes “turn to their heathen gods for help” and “at pagan shrines they vowed offerings to idols, swore oaths that the killer of souls might come to their aid” which are all things that Pagans would do (175-177). Because the author has Christian rulers but has them doing what Pagans would do in this same situation his goal in presented. This is exactly what Pagans do, they worship Gods and ask them for materialistic things such as winning wars and battles.
The Misuse of Religion During Slavery and How Slave Narratives Depict Slaves Religious Views “I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ: I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of the land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity.” Frederick Douglas’s infamous quote was used to explain how slave masters seem to value a different form of Christianity than he was used to. Slave masters would explain to slaves and slave families that Christianity wrote it into their bible and laws that they were meant to be slaves and pick out particular passages that they would manipulate to support their views. For centuries, slave owners have looked for way to justify the need for slaves and a way to manipulate slaves into believing that slavery was their true calling. They would use Bible stories such as the Curse of Ham as well as the Mark of Cain in reference to African Americans to legitimize slavery to their slaves.
Warnings against this development were voiced by such leading theologians as Eusebius, who being the most diligent glorifier of Constantine, characterized the use of images of the Apostles Paul and Peter as well as of Christ himself as a pagan custom (1,1). One reason that some Christians balked at the idea of icons was because of the emperor's cult. It was through anti-Christian legislation that Christians were compelled to venerate the imperial images by offering sacrifices to them. The refusal to make the sacrifice was the chief cause of martyrdom at the time. Thus, after the church was recognized as the Roman imperial church, its reaction was expressed in the riotous destruction of the pagan divine images.
In contrast, Pagans worship the spirit of earth as a god, believing it to be the ultimate force, which is neither good nor evil. The religion states the more base human tendencies that Christians would call sinful would be glorified as the reflections of nature. These would include pursuits of pleasure, luxury, or sexual gratification. Many modern pagans especially the ones Yeats associated with do not dispute the ideas of Christianity concerning God but they do not worship him. Early leaders of this movement, like Alister Crowley, with whom Yeats was associated with considered themselves Satanists in this right since Christians equate the spirit of the world with the devil.
Beowulf was written in the time when the society was in the process of converting from Paganism to Christianity. In this epic poem, these two religions come through the actions of its characters. The acceptance of feuds and the courage of war are just a few examples of the Pagan tradition, while the Christian mortalities refrain from the two. Beowulf is torn between his Christian heart to help the people as well as the selfish reward of Paganism. Though he wants the Christian’s respect he thrives for the satisfaction of fighting.
The poem and Beowulf both show paganism and Christianity ideals and beliefs. In Beowulf there is fate, humility, fame, loyalty, and so much more that did not even get mentioned. Although the poem appears to be originally a pagan story, there are many clues in the text that point to Christian influence and traditions. In addition to Beowulf and his heroic deeds against Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon the author combines elements of Christian ideal and pagan ideal. The combination of Christian and pagan elements and references now shows Beowulf’s position in English history.
Many flaws originate from this change, however. According to Kl‘ber, "heathen practices are mentioned in several places, such as the vowing of sacrifices at idol fanes, the observing of omens and the burning of the dead, whic... ... middle of paper ... ...s in Beowulf do not hold the same sentiments about Christianity that the poet holds. If Beowulf truly possessed the Christian ideals that the poet often insinuates, he would not find it necessary to be cremated, nor have his tomb adorned with riches. These elements reveal to us the difficulty of infusing a Christian dogma into a heathen society. The Beowulf poet is successful with this task in some respects, but in the case of cremation he is somewhat remiss.