Essay PreviewMore ↓
The written word has existed for thousands of years, with the style and subject matter of literature changing to fit the times. English literature is no different, with three distinct periods of writing (Old English, Middle English and modern English). As the earliest period of documented literature, the Old English period is marked by the primitive styles and language of the Anglo Saxon people. Though they were sea-faring warriors, the Anglo Saxons were capable of strong emotions, best captured in poetry. However, these works were not written down. Rather, they were recited or sung. Some men even devoted their lives to this purpose. These skilled minstrels were known as scops.
The scop was an Anglo-Saxon poet who was commissioned by the early Germanic kings or soldiers to entertain them by reciting the poetry to the accompaniment of a harp or a similarly stringed instrument. From the Old English word “scieppan”, scop means to create, form or shape. The scop was also referred to as a gleeman, from the Old English word “gleoman”, who was a musician or performer. Though the scop was a performer, like the gleeman, the work of the scop was more artistic, as the name denotes. Unlike the gleeman, scops also wrote and performed their own poetry. Also, they had to be able to insert fitting verse where necessary, depending upon the occasion or celebration .
Scops were known to travel from village to village; however, many had permanent posts in the king’s court or mead halls. Usually, they performed for great feasts, celebrations, or the homecoming of soldiers from war. Their performances were usually short, but there were usually many lines of verse. Beowulf itself is over 3000 lines long. Any given song could deal with events from the present, such as battles won or recent adventures had. In Beowulf, the scop announced Beowulf’s triumph over Grendel the morning after the deed. Some songs might deal with figures from the past like the ancestors of the Anglo Saxons. Other subjects reflected in the poetry include the sea, brave deeds, glory of warriors, and the love of home. Scops were also commissioned to write elegies or songs for the dead. It was considered an honor to have a scop sing one's praise or mourn one’s death. But, regardless of the subject matter, the theme was lofty and its tone was earnest.
How to Cite this Page
"Anglo Saxon Scops." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Aug 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The Anglo Saxon period is the oldest known period of time that had a complex culture with stable government, art, and a fairly large amount of literature. Many people believe that the culture then was extremely unsophisticated, but it was actually extremely advanced for the time. Despite the many advancements, the period was almost always in a state of war. Despite this fact, the Anglo-Saxon period is a time filled with great advancements and discoveries in culture, society, government, religion, literature, and art.... [tags: essays research papers fc]
1754 words (5 pages)
- Scops: A Living History A scop is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "an Old English poet or minstrel." However, scops were simply so much more than that to the medieval world. They were the only means of entertainment for the people of the time. There was no television or Internet to escape to, and books were not readily available. Most medieval people in the eighth through twelfth centuries could not read or write,so the scops would tell amusing stories or tales of heroic deeds to the music of their harps.... [tags: English Literature Dictionary Essays]
636 words (1.8 pages)
- Beowulf, the national epic of England, was passed down from generation to generation tells the legend of a mighty hero. This folk epic portrays the ideas of 16th century Anglo-Saxon culture until the early 8th century when a monk transcribed it into written form. Housed in the British Museum, the manuscript is considered to be a historical document as well as a great piece of literature. This tale narrates a story about a man who saves two nations from terrible beings which embody evil. Beowulf contains many themes such as the fantasy of supernatural creatures and the role of woman.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
1332 words (3.8 pages)
- When Worlds Collide The world of Beowulf and that of modern America have some interesting similarities. The Anglo- Saxon belief in "wyrd," or fate, is alive and well in the 21st century. Like the Anglo- Saxons, our culture regards the crime of killing one’s own kin or family to be the most heinous of all. Americans love entertainment just as much as the Anglo- Saxons of Beowulf’s time did. Of course, with our modern technology like movies, television, and the Internet, we are allowed to experience many more methods of enjoyment than medieval people were able to enjoy.... [tags: Culture Anglo Saxon Essays]
758 words (2.2 pages)
- According to the definition, a hero is one who embodies the values of their society. In the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf, written by an anonymous author, the character Beowulf is used to convey the value that Anglo-Saxons placed on courage, strength, and loyalty. Courage is certainly a trait which every hero must possess, particularly because no one wants a hero who is a coward. Thankfully, Beowulf is no coward. When Beowulf hears of Grendel’s exploits in Denmark, he travels to the “distant” land, without hesitation, to rid the Danes of that “demon…conceived by a pair of those monsters born of Cain, murderous creatures banished by God”.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
693 words (2 pages)
- The Anglo Saxon period is also known as the dark ages, mainly because written sources for the early years of Saxon invasion are scarce. This culture was a period of war breaking up the Britannia into separate kingdoms. The climate has changed the way the Anglo Saxons have chose their homes because of the glaciers melting caused foods so it made choosing more difficult. They ended up settling in Bbritain for sometime it was warmer. This meant that their crops were more successful. They had many loyal warriors that fought in the roman army in Bbritain.... [tags: Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf, Anglo-Saxon England]
1160 words (3.3 pages)
- Anglo Saxon’s history is well known for their loyalty, courage and bravery. Beowulf our protagonist is symbolized as a hero, who represents the Anglo Saxons at the time. Beowulf earns his fame and respect through battling creatures nobody else would want to face. These creatures symbolize the evil that lurks beyond the dark. Beowulf’s intense battle with these creatures’ symbolizes the epic battle of good versus evil. In the end good triumphs over evil but one cannot avoid death. Beowulf’s death can be symbolized as the death of the Anglo Saxons.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
843 words (2.4 pages)
- In present day's society a hero can be seen as someone who risk their own safety or well-being to help someone else either individually or to help the community. Today's requirement to be a hero can be anyone as long as they make sacrifices for others, in which they can be seen as selfless and caring. Many traits that are portrayed of heroes currently were once used to determine a hero in Anglo-Saxon times. In the epic poem Beowulf, by an unknown author, the protagonist Beowulf is visioned to be the archetype of an Anglo-Saxon hero.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
581 words (1.7 pages)
- Originating in the Anglo-Saxon period, the epic poem Beowulf portrays a legendary hero. Beowulf established the earlier form of heroism, and was then later introduced in to the English culture. Praised and admired by many people, Beowulf possesses several distinct traits that allow him to be defined perfectly as an ideal Anglo-Saxon hero; his eagerness to seek glory and fame, rather than richness and treasures, his loyalty and graceful attitude not only to his rulers but also to his followers, and his contradictory beliefs of faith and fate In the Anglo-Saxon society, an ideal hero does not seek riches of gold and treasures; instead, he seeks fame and glory through his accomplishments.... [tags: Epic Poems, Grendel, Anglo-Saxon]
864 words (2.5 pages)
- Anglo-Saxon Ideal Code of Conduct The epic poem of “Beowulf” presents the characteristics of two heroes, Beowulf and Hrothgar. During this Anglo-Saxon time period, Hrothgar rules as the king of his Danish lands. However, this king faces many problems due to the disturbances of a monster known as Grendel. As an Anglo-Saxon warrior of the time, Beowulf hears of this creature and journeys through the hero's path to kill Grendel. Through this journey, Hrothgar and Beowulf reconstruct the code of conduct of an ideal Anglo-Saxon king and warrior.... [tags: Beowulf Epic Poems Anglo-Saxon Literature Essays]
576 words (1.6 pages)
- Anglo-Saxon History and Beowulf
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Passage Explication (928 -1207)
- Different Learning Styles: Exploring the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator
- Early Childhood Programs
- Victim's Rights: Why Do Laws Protect the Criminal More than the Victim?
- Analysis of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The scops were very important to Anglo-Saxon society. The scops were messengers of traditional morality. They used the poetry to motivate their listeners to live good and honest lives. Also, because most of the historic events were recorded in poetry, they were carried by the scops to places far and near. By traveling with these stories, the scops helped to preserve the history of the Germanic people for generations later. The Anglo Saxon people believed that poetry was the closest thing to immortality. Thanks to the work of these oral historians, we can still read about their culture, achievements, and beliefs. The dream of being remembered has become a reality.
Important Anglo-Saxon Words
Here is a collection of some of the more important and widely known Anglo Saxon words-
The agreement between the king and his warriors which stipulates that, in return for shelter, food, and gifts, the warriors will protect the king in battle with their lives.
A rash promise or pledge to perform an act, usually made in the meadhall due to intoxication. Originally, this simply meant a pledge
. Blood vengeance
Belief that a family is honor bound to retaliate against another tribe that has offended or attacked a member of their clan.
The alternative to blood vengeance or the man price or payment to the opposing tribe as a peaceful way to end disputes.
The name for the warriors, which represented their elevated status over the common man.
Name of the tribe to which the hero Beowulf belonged.
The name given to women who are married off to the men from opposing tribes as way to bring about peace.
Alcoholic beverage that was staple during Anglo Saxon times. The mead-hall evolved around the drink and became the center of the community.
Name for the king, who gave gifts of gold rings and other treasures as prizes to deserving warriors.
The afterlife for the Anglo-Saxon people. In Valhalla, warriors battle all day and feast all night.
Word meaning secret; early form of writing used during the Anglo Saxon period. These symbols were usually inscribed on weapons and armor and included magical charms.
War banner given to a hero after a great victory or buried with a great king as a tribute into the Afterlife.
Anglo-Saxon Heathenism. 22 July 2003. 4 Feb. 2004. < http://www.englishheathenism.homestead.com/glossary~ns4.html >.
Bede. “Caedmon’s Hymn.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Abrams, M. H., and Stephen Greenblatt. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000.
Canote, Swain W. “Law: Law as Wyrd.” Law: Law as Wyrd. 4 Feb. 2004. <>.
David, Alfred. “The Wife’s Lament.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Abrams, M. H., and Stephen Greenblatt. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 102-103.
Donaldson, E. T. “The Wanderer.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Abrams, M. H., and Stephen Greenblatt. 7th ed. 2 vols. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2000. 99-102.
Howe, Nicholas. Beowulf A Prose Translation. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.
Readings of Old English. Da Engliscan Gesipas. 27 Jan.2004. <.>
Scop. Encyclopedia Britannica. 27 Jan. 2004. <.>
“Wyrd in the Wanderer.” Old English Term Essay. 4 Feb. 2004. <>.