Pagan and Christian Elements in Beowulf Essay

Pagan and Christian Elements in Beowulf Essay

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Pagan and Christian Elements in Beowulf          

 
    The praised epic poem, Beowulf, is the first great heroic poem in English literature. The epic follows a courageous warrior named Beowulf throughout his young, adult life and into his old age. As a young man, Beowulf becomes a legendary hero when he saves the land of the Danes from the hellish creatures, Grendel and his mother. Later, after fifty years pass, Beowulf is an old man and a great king of the Geats. A monstrous dragon soon invades his peaceful kingdom and he defends his people courageously, dying in the process. His body is burned and his ashes are placed in a cave by the sea. By placing his ashes in the seaside cave, people passing by will always remember the legendary hero and king, Beowulf.

 In this recognized epic, Beowulf, is abound in supernatural elements of pagan associations; however, the poem is the opposite of pagan barbarism. The presentation of the story telling moves fluidly within Christian surroundings as well as pagan ideals. Beowulf was a recited pagan folklore where the people of that time period believed in gods, goddesses, and monsters. It's significance lies in an oral history where people memorized long, dense lines of tedious verse. Later, when a written tradition was introduced they began to write the story down on tablets. The old tale was not first told or invented by the commonly known, Beowulf poet. This is clear from investigations of the folk lore analogues. The manuscript was written by two scribes around AD 1000 in late West Saxon, the literary dialect of that period. It is believed that the scribes who put the old materials together into their present form were Christians and that his poem reflects a Christian tradition....


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...e epic is the hero's fame, a monument as enduring as earth.

Works Cited

Primary Source

Kermode, Frank, and John Hollander, et al. Beowulf. The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Vol 1. New York: Oxford UP, 1973. 29-98.

Secondary Sources

Chickering, Howell D, Jr. Beowulf: A Dual-Language Edition. New York: Anchor, 1977.

Clark, George. Beowulf. New York: Twayne, 1990.

Holland-Crossley, Kevin, and Bruce Mitchell. Beowulf. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Poupard, Dennis, and Jelena O. Krstonc, ed. Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism: Volume 1. Michigan: Gale Research, 1988.

Morris, Richard, ed. Blickling Homilies: Sermon 17 of the Tenth Century, Old Series, no. 73. London: EETS, 1880. 209-11. Tuso, Joseph F, ed. Beowulf: The Donaldson Translation Backgrounds and Sources Criticism. New York: W.W. Norton, 1975.

 

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