Anglo-Saxon Literature And The Epic

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Anglo-Saxon Literature and The Epic Stories were told orally in poem or songform (most people could not read or write) Stories provided moral instruction Anglo-Saxons spoke “Old English” Epic Poetry was one of the most commongenres of literature during the period Beowulf was the most famous story tocome out of the Anglo-Saxon eraCharacteristics of Anglo-Saxon Literature Anglo-Saxon poetry used several devices,including:Metaphors: a comparison without “like”or “as”Similes: a comparison using “like” or“as”Alliteration: repetition of the initialconsonant sound in a line of poetryCaesura: a pause in a line of poetry

Kenning: a descriptive phrase orcompound word that substitutes a nounRepetition Stories were often filled with violence andgore Most stories were about heroic warriorsprevailing in battle Characters were driven by fate and theircourage was testedThe Epic Epic poems were a very common form ofAnglo-Saxon Literature An epic is a long, narrative poem thatcelebrates a hero’s deeds Epics were told in the tradition of oralstorytelling (many people could not read orwrite) Characteristics of oral storytelling

Stock epithets: adjectives that pointour special traits of particular people orthingsKennings: a descriptive phrase orcompound word that substitutes forone wordExample- Grendel “sin-staineddemon” is used in place of Grendel’snameCharacteristics of an Epic The hero of an epic is called the epic hero The hero is usually a male of noblebirth/high position and is historical orlegendary The hero’s character traits reflect the idealsof his society and his actions (often

courageous and superhuman) reflect thevalues of his society The hero’s actions often determine the fateof a nation of people The setting usually covers more than onenation The poet uses formal diction (word choice)and serious tone Major characters often deliver long, formalspeeches The plot is complicated by supernaturalbeings/events and usually involves a long,dangerous journey through foreign lands The poem reflects timeless values (courage,honor, etc.) The poem covers universal themes (goodvs. evil, life and death, etc.) Present day epics: Lord of the Rings & StarWars

Beowulf Beowulf is an epic The poem begins In Media Res, or “in themiddle” of the action, common for epicpoetry of the Anglo-Saxon era Beowulf is the epic hero in the story; hetravels great distances to prove hisstrength and has super-human powers The events described in the story take placein the late 5th Century In the story, Hrothgar, king of the Danes,and his people are terrorized by themonster Grendel. Beowulf, a hero of theGeats, comes to Hrothgar’s aid, fightingGrendel and Grendel’s mother.

Anglo-Saxon DetailsAlthough the Anglo-Saxons fought amongthemselves, they had a great deal in common. They used a common language They shared a heroic ideal They had a set of traditional heroes. They were loyal to their leaders and tribe. They held a belief of fierce personal valor. They admired men of outstanding courage. Persons of rank were received with gravecourtesy. Rulers were generous to those who wereloyal They had a democratic habit of mind. They were hardy and brave They had a passion for fine ornaments.

Literature and the Arts began to evolveduring this period. Anglo-Saxon poetry was an oral tradition. Caedmon was considered the first Englishreligious poet. An Anglo-Saxon poet was called a scop. He was the memory and historian of thetribe. The two most important traditions of AngloSaxon poetry were the heroic and theelegiac tradition. “The Seafarer” is a good example of anelegiac poem.The most important single poem from theAnglo-Saxon period is the epic Beowulf

Anglo-Saxon poetry was an oral tradition. Caedmon was considered the first English religious poet. An Anglo-Saxon poet was called a scop. He was the memory and historian of the tribe. The two most important traditions of Anglo-Saxon poetry were the heroic and the elegiac tradition. “The Seafarer” is a good example of an

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