Beowulf: Examples From The Poem
It was the place where kings and nobles would gather in order to celebrate, boast and brag, feast and listen to the professional poets.
What did the mead-hall represent to the Anglo-Saxon warrior?
A long narrative poem on a serious subject presented in a formal style. Beowulf is an example of an epic poem.
What is an epic poem? Give an example:
The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginnings or words.
“The harrowing history haunted the heroes.”
What is alliteration? Give an example:
A literary device in which a noun is renamed in a creative way using a compound word or union of two separate words to combine ideas.
Sky-candle (the sun) is an example of a kenning.
What is a kenning? Give an example:
A warrior or thane would pledge to defend his lord or King to the death. In return the lord or King would reward him with land and gifts.
What was the relationship between lord/king and warrior?
A formal exchange of insults. Saying something insulting.
What is a flyting?
A traveling poet. They told the story of Beowulf.
What is a scop?
Christianity and Paganism
Which two belief systems are present in the story?
The Geats (in Southern Sweden)
From which tribe did Beowulf originate?
Who was Beowulf’s father?
Grendel comes from Cain (the son of Adam and Eve; Cain killed his brother). Cain committed the 1st murder in history by killing his brother, Abel. All evil things come from Cain’s heritage, including Grendel.
From whom was Grendel said to be descended? Why was Grendel an outcast?
Beowulf’s father, Edgetho, was friends with Hrothgar. Beowulf believes only he is able to kill Grendel and he wants the glory and fame of killing Grendel. He also pays the debt to Hrothgar on behalf of his father.
Why did Beowulf feel the need to help King Hrothgar? Give both answers.
Unferth doesn’t like Beowulf. He is angry that any warrior anywhere has achieved greater glory that he has.
Which of Hrothgar’s warriors was critical of Beowulf? Why?
Beowulf’s best friend from childhood. Beowulf beat him in a swimming contest.
Who is Brecca?
The mead-hall, Herot
Where did King Hrothgar’s warriors find rest and relaxation?
Denmark, the Danes
Where does Hrothgar rule? What is the name of his people?
He will kill him with his bare hands.
With what weapon does Beowulf intend to fight Grendel?
How many years has Grendel terrorized the King Hrothgar’s people?
How many men does Grendel kill on his first raid?
He uses his hands to tear off Grendel’s shoulder, arm and hand.
How does Beowulf kill Grendel?
Grendel’s arm, hanging from the rafters
What trophy does Beowulf have to show that Grendel has been defeated and where does he display this trophy?
Grendel’s mother, killing of Hrothgar’s best friend (a great warrior)
Who seeks revenge on behalf of Grendel and what is this revenge?
Any treasure he wanted
What does King Hrothgar promise Beowulf if he rids the kingdom of evil?
In a cave underwater
Where does Grendel’s mother live?
God is watching out for him
How does Beowulf survive Grendel’s mother’s attack?
He fights her with his bare hands because his sword Hrunting would not kill her. He then uses a giant’s sword and cuts off her head.
How does Beowulf finally kill Grendel’s mother?
Beowulf becomes the king of which people?
How long does Beowulf reign over his people?
He wants fame and glory to prove his is still honorable and worthy of being king.
Why must Beowulf fight a dragon?
He is defeated by the dragon.
How does Beowulf die?
They run and hide in the forest.
Where are Beowulf’s men when he is fighting the dragon?
Who is the only loyal follower who helps Beowulf?
Tower, or tomb
By what symbol is Beowulf remembered by his people?
He uses weapons less and less and uses his hands. He does things the hard way to please God. He is trusting God to determine his fate.
How does Beowulf’s dependence on weapons change over the course of the story? What does this say about his faith and strength?
Unferth’s sword that he gives to Beowulf.
What is Hrunting?
Germanic and Nordic empires
Which empire had a significant influence on Anglo-Saxon culture (positive and negative)?
Literature that created the oral tradition and praised the heroic deeds of the warriors
The hero is a protagonist whose life is a series of well-marked adventures.
o Endures separation and hardship
o Pays a price
o Entrance into a challenging world
o Returns to the ordinary
Creature of Nightmare
• Monster usually summoned from the deepest, darkest part of the human mind (psyche)
• Threatens the life of the hero
• Often a perversion or desecration of the human body.Grendel is a creature of nightmare.
• Servant who is somewhat heroic themselves
• Protects the hero and reflects the hero’s nobilityWiglaf is Beowulf’s loyal retainer.
Characteristics of the Epic Poem
• The setting is big and vast, often taking place in different nations
• A journey
• Supernatural beings or events
• Long speeches
• Themes that reflect timeless values (courage and honor) and encompass universal ideas (good and evil, life and death)
• Formal language (diction) and serious tone
Characteristics of the Epic Hero
• Descended (comes from) the gods or is of noble birth
• Embodies the ideals, values and morals of the culture
• Performs superhuman deeds
• Performs actions that determine the fate of a nation or large group of people
• Is imperfect
• Learns a lesson
• Is tempted by women
• Is stronger, smarter and braver than other menHow is Beowulf like this?
Hero, protagonist of Beowulf
Monster, antagonist of Beowulf
Beowulf hung Grendel’s arm from the rafters in Herot.
King of the Danes
Danish man (Thule for King Hrothgar) who challenges Beowulf.
Beowulf’s uncle; King of the Geats.
Beowulf’s father and Hrothgar’s friend.
A person who keeps the king honest without the king having to say anything dishonest or rude to the guests of his mead hall.
Unferth is King Hrothgar’s thule.
Individual who pledged to defend his lord or King to the death; in return, the King would reward him with land and gifts.
Beowulf was a Thane for King Hrothgar.
Name for traditional rounds of drinking (to celebrate).
There were usually 3 rounds of symbel (drinking or toasts):
1. To a god
2. To an ancestor
3. Boasting of deeds
Peace. Women were the keepers of the frith (peace).
Gift of land and wealth given by a future husband to his future wife
King Hrothgar’s mead hall.
The place where kings and nobles would celebrate and feast and listen to poets
Alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey and water; the drink in the mead halls.
The religion of the Germanic peoples; they believed in cremation (burning bodies after death)
They worshiped many gods and were not exposed to the new and growing faith of Christianity
New religion that promised an afterlife.
Scops / Bards
A figure of speech in which consonants are repeated, especially at the beginning of words
figure of speech that compares two things that have something in common; does not use the words “like” or “as.”
Thunor / Thor
Anglo-Saxon god of thunder and lightning; Thursday is named after him
Woden / Odin
Anglo-Saxon god of death, poetry, and magic; Wednesday is named after him
Burial and Cremation
Burial – Christian method of the times; bodies are buried in the ground.
Cremation – burning bodies after death; Pagans
Setting of Beowulf. Hrothgar’s kingdom.
Setting of Beowulf. Beowulf’s land. Geatland.
King Hrothgar’s people.
Name of Unferth’s sword that he gives to Beowulf.
Length of time Grendel has been terrorizing Herot and King Hrothgar’s people
How long did Beowulf rule as King of the Geats?
Great Britain was invaded and settled by: (name them all)
Angels, Saxons, Jutes