H English II [Beowulf: Background]

Beowulf is the — of the great long poems written in English (late 10th century manuscript). Oldest
Epic poems used to be —. Oral
Oral epic poems were sung by a —. Scop
What are some characteristics of the great, oral epic poems? – Hero (has a great historical/legendary reputation, will embody the values of a culture, illustrates what is most admired in his culture)- Setting (vast in scope; ancient world/Anglo-Saxon world)- Action (consists of deeds of great valor and superhuman courage)- Supernatural Forces- Elevated Style
When was Beowulf composed? In the 1st half of the 8th century or as late as the 10th century.
What language was Beowulf composed/spoken and written down in? Old English
When originally spoken and written, the verse was highly —. Alliterative (repetition of a consonant sound)
The verse was rather — with a strong rhythmic — enhanced by —. Terse; Beat; Alliteration
What would you expect to be the subject of a great English poem? Something set in Anglo-Saxon England; warriors and king.
Why were the English audiences and readers interested in the subject of the poem? It tells the story of their Germanic forebears – the Danes and the Geats.
Beowulf is comprised of great storytelling with many of the — and — devices that continue today. Conflict; Storytelling(The heroic quest, the warrior culture, good vs. evil, light vs. dark, order vs. chaos)
During this time period, the religious beliefs were a mix between — and —. Christian; Pagan
What is a scop? Oral poet
What is wyrd? Fate
What is wergild? “Manprice”; Each rank of society was evaluated at a definite price which had to be paid to the dead man’s kinsmen by the killer who wished to avoid their vengeance, even if the killing had been accidental.Important part of their ethos; hierarchy; people have different ranks; rank of person determines their value
What is a thane? A warrior who is loyal to a king (his lord)
What is mead? An alcoholic liquor made of fermented honey and water, often with spices, fruit, malt, etc. added
What is a moor? A tract of open, rolling wasteland, usually covered with heather and often marshy or peaty
What is a mere? A lake or pond
What is a kenning? In Old English poetry, a metaphorical name, usually a compound for something
Who composed Beowulf? No one knows
What did Henry VIII do that threatened the survival of Beowulf and other manuscripts? He got rid of the monasteries and destroyed the great libraries (1536-1541).(More Background on him:He made the Church of England because he wanted a divorce from his wife. He then had a series of wives.)
Is Beowulf a complete document – do we know exactly how it was told/written? No, it is not. The manuscript is a copy, and many of the words have deteriorated. Gaps have to be filled in by guesswork sometimes.
What is unique about this poem? It is the sole survivor of what may have been a thriving epic tradition, and it gives us vital history about the past. There was probably an oral tradition of epics during this time. We learn about the social life and politics through this poem.
What are some of the key values for both king and thane? Strength and courage are both basic virtues. The king should have generosity and concern for the people. He should not just be interesting in his own wealth, but sharing it. The thane must give him loyalty.
What are some social patterns of 6th century Geats, Danes, and Swedes? – Rigidly feudal- Highly civilized- Highly violent- Newly Christian- Glorification of war, death, and fame
What is the attitude toward slavery? It is taken for granted.
What is the importance of weapons? They are vital treasures handed down from father to son. They have personalities and names.
Who are the three monsters Beowulf fights with? – Grendel- Grendel’s mother- Dragon
What is the most precious treasure in this warrior society? What personal qualities seem vitally important? The most precious treasure is fame. The personal qualities of bravery and perseverance seem vitally important.
What does Mr. Raffel assert about the authorship of the poem? It is the work of one Christian man.
List some of Grendel’s actions. – Killing warriors; tearing them apart limb from limb and crunching on their bones- Raids at night when people are sleeping
As a hero, Beowulf is compared to heroes in —. He is unafraid to die as he seeks — and —. Greek mythology; Honor; Glory
When and where do scholars believe the Beowulf story was created? It was believed to have originated in England (Anglo-Saxon), anywhere between the first half of the 8th century to as late as the 10th century.
Where is the action of the story set? 16th century Scandanavia
The story has a deep — background in a — mold. Pagan; Christian
Grendel’s genealogy alludes to what Biblical story? Cain & Abel
Grendel represents —, and he attacks Herot Hall because —. Jealousy/Envy; he is jealous of the humans having fun because he is an outcast
Why can’t Grendel harm King Hrothgar? He has the power of God on his side.
Beowulf descends from a long line of —, and he is from —. Warriors; Geatland
True or False?Beowulf is a mercenary. False
What motivates Beowulf? – Wants to make a great name for himself- Seeking glory/status
How does Beowulf kill Grendel? He lures Grendel from his lair by recreating the circumstances of the first attack. He uses his bare hands to rip of Grendel’s arm.
What did they find in Sutton Hoo? Bodies brutally mangled/murdered; buried in a shaming way
What do the remains of the ship in Sutton Hoo suggest about the burial of kings? They would put the kings on ships and set fire to them and release them into the sea. This showed how much they revered their kings.
What was buried with the kings? Treasures and gold
What evidence in the Danish countryside suggest the presence of a great hall in the 6th century AD? – Location of its postholes- Precious artifacts nearby- Radiocarbon testing
What did the Hall represent? Civilization/sophistication
List some attributes of Grendel’s mom. – Quick- Cunning- Out for blood- Enigmatic- Vengeful
Where does Grendel’s mother live? At the bottom of the icy mere.- Frozen lake with monsters (represent Pagans)
How does Beowulf kill Grendel’s mother? While fighting her in her lair, he sees an ancient sword forged by giants and uses it to sever her head.
What Pope sends Roman Christians to Britain? Pope Gregory
What is the time period? 600 A.D. (7th century)
Beowulf blends beliefs from both the — society and the emerging — one. Pagan; Christian
What is the situation when Beowulf returns to Geatland? Geats are involved in the Swedish civil war.
How is Beowulf rewarded for leading the Geats and fighting their foes? He is granted the throne of Geatland, and remains king for many peaceful decades.
What does the dragon represent? – Human greed- Power- Ferocity- Mystery- Chaotic unknown in nature
Who helps Beowulf defeat the dragon? Wiglaf
The Romans rule for many centuries, ending in the —. 5th
The — took over in the 5th. Anglo-Saxons
What year does St. Augustine arrive to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity? 597
— took over in the 9th century. King Alfred
What year was the Norman conquest?(Normans are French – William the Conqueror/Battle of Hastings) 1066
The name English derives from the —. Angles
Who was King Alfred? He was important in both politics and literature. He united the various kingdoms into one country. He was also a patron of literature. Practically all of the Old English poetry is preserved in copies made in the West Saxon dialect after the reign of Alfred.

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