The Old English period Poetry The Angles, Saxons, and Jutes who invaded Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries brought with them the common Germanic metre ; but of their earliest oral poetry, probably used for panegyricmagic, and short narrative, little or none survives. For nearly a century after the conversion of King Aethelberht I of Kent to Christianity aboutthere is no evidence that the English wrote poetry in their own language. Caedmon legitimized the native verse form by adapting it to Christian themes. Others, following his example, gave England a body of vernacular poetry unparalleled in Europe before the end of the 1st millennium.
Historical background[ edit ] Approximate central regions of tribes mentioned in Beowulf, with the location of the Angles in Angeln. See Scandza for details of Scandinavia's political fragmentation in the 6th century. The events in the poem take place over most of the sixth century, after the Anglo-Saxons had started migrating to England and before the beginning of the seventh century, a time when the Anglo-Saxons were either newly arrived or were still in close contact with their Germanic kinsmen in Northern Germany and southern Scandinavia.
The poem may have been brought to England by people of Geatish origins. Though Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript,  scholars generally agree that many of the other figures referred to in Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources.
Specific works are designated in the following section. In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejrewhere Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.
Eadgils was buried at Uppsala according to Snorri Sturluson. When the western mound to the left in the photo was excavated inthe finds showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c.
The eastern mound was excavated inand contained the remains of a woman, or a woman and a young man. The middle barrow has not been excavated. Beowulf kills Grendel with his bare hands and Grendel's mother with a giant's sword that he found in her lair. Later in his life, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats, and finds his realm terrorized by a dragonsome of whose treasure had been stolen from his hoard in a burial mound.
He attacks the dragon with the help of his thegns or servants, but they do not succeed. Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded in the struggle.
He is cremated and a burial mound by the sea is erected in his honour. Beowulf is considered an epic poem in that the main character is a hero who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts. The poem also begins in medias res or simply, "in the middle of things," which is a characteristic of the epics of antiquity.
Although the poem begins with Beowulf's arrival, Grendel's attacks have been an ongoing event. An elaborate history of characters and their lineages is spoken of, as well as their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, and deeds of valour. The warriors form a kind of brotherhood linked by loyalty to their lord.
What is unique about "Beowulf" is that the poem actually begins and ends with a funeral.
At the beginning of the poem, the king, hero, Shield Shiefson dies 26—45 and there is a huge funeral for him. At the end of the poem when Beowulf dies, there is also a massive funeral for Beowulf — Grendel[ edit ] Beowulf begins with the story of Hrothgar, who constructed the great hall Heorot for himself and his warriors.
In it, he, his wife Wealhtheowand his warriors spend their time singing and celebrating. Grendel, a troll-like monster said to be descended from the biblical Cainis pained by the sounds of joy. Hrothgar and his people, helpless against Grendel, abandon Heorot.
Beowulf, a young warrior from Geatland, hears of Hrothgar's troubles and with his king's permission leaves his homeland to assist Hrothgar.
Beowulf refuses to use any weapon because he holds himself to be the equal of Grendel. This display would fuel Grendel's mother's anger in revenge. Grendel's mother[ edit ] The next night, after celebrating Grendel's defeat, Hrothgar and his men sleep in Heorot.
Grendel's mother, angry that her son has been killed, sets out to get revenge. Earlier, after the award of treasure, The Geat had been given another lodging"; his assistance would be absent in this battle. Hrothgar, Beowulf, and their men track Grendel's mother to her lair under a lake.
Unfertha warrior who had doubted him and wishes to make amends, presents Beowulf with his sword Hrunting. After stipulating a number of conditions to Hrothgar in case of his death including the taking in of his kinsmen and the inheritance by Unferth of Beowulf's estateBeowulf jumps into the lake, at the bottom of which he finds a cavern containing Grendel's body and the remains of men that the two have killed.
Grendel's mother and Beowulf engage in fierce combat. At first, Grendel's mother appears to prevail. Beowulf, finding that Hrunting cannot harm his foe, puts it aside in fury. Beowulf is again saved from his opponent's attack by his armour.
Beowulf takes another sword from Grendel's mother and slices her head off with it. Travelling further into Grendel's mother's lair, Beowulf discovers Grendel's corpse and severs his head.A brief lesson on the early history of the Anglo-Saxons and the influences on the early epic poem \"Beowulf.\".
The poem Beowulf, which often begins the traditional canon of English literature, is the most famous work of Old English literature.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has also proven significant for historical study, preserving a chronology of early English history.
Anglo-Saxon Poetry (or Old English Poetry) encompasses verse written during the year Anglo-Saxon period of British history, from the mid-fifth century to the Norman Conquest of Almost all of the literature of this period was orally transmitted, and . Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon poem that was written down in about CE.
True. The story is: Beowulf was written in Old English, the language was spoken in Britain until about CE English 4: Introduction to Anglo-Saxon Literature: Beowulf. 43 terms. Anglo-Saxon test.
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