Event Title

Beowulf: God, Men and Monsters

Location

CSU 204

Start Date

5-4-2010 1:00 PM

End Date

5-4-2010 3:00 PM

Student's Major

English

Student's College

Arts and Humanities

Mentor's Name

Mary Johnston

Mentor's Department

English

Mentor's College

Arts and Humanities

Description

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem translated into Modern English in 2000 by Seamus Heaney. My paper hypothesises that the central conflict of Beowulf is the struggle between the decentralising and supernatural ways of the ancients (Shield Sheafson, Grendel, and Grendel’s Mother) and the centralising and corporeal values of the modern heroes (Hrothgar, Beowulf, and Wiglaf.) The poet traces a definitive move away from the ancient’s pagan heroic values to his own Christian heroic values. However, as in the poet’s contemporary culture, certain pagan traditions, such as familial fidelity, persist in Beowulf. The poet’s audience, the Anglo-Saxons, honoured their pagan ancestors through story telling. The Christian leadership discouraged story telling since their ancestors were pagan and thus beyond salvation. The poet needed a subtle means of dealing with the obviously pagan and foreign content of the Ur-Beowulf. In Beowulf, he simultaneously acknowledges God’s will and the heroism of their Norse ancestors. In addition, since the poet had a limited knowledge of Germanic and Norse life, he tells the story through his own Anglo-Saxon perspective.

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Apr 5th, 1:00 PM Apr 5th, 3:00 PM

Beowulf: God, Men and Monsters

CSU 204

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem translated into Modern English in 2000 by Seamus Heaney. My paper hypothesises that the central conflict of Beowulf is the struggle between the decentralising and supernatural ways of the ancients (Shield Sheafson, Grendel, and Grendel’s Mother) and the centralising and corporeal values of the modern heroes (Hrothgar, Beowulf, and Wiglaf.) The poet traces a definitive move away from the ancient’s pagan heroic values to his own Christian heroic values. However, as in the poet’s contemporary culture, certain pagan traditions, such as familial fidelity, persist in Beowulf. The poet’s audience, the Anglo-Saxons, honoured their pagan ancestors through story telling. The Christian leadership discouraged story telling since their ancestors were pagan and thus beyond salvation. The poet needed a subtle means of dealing with the obviously pagan and foreign content of the Ur-Beowulf. In Beowulf, he simultaneously acknowledges God’s will and the heroism of their Norse ancestors. In addition, since the poet had a limited knowledge of Germanic and Norse life, he tells the story through his own Anglo-Saxon perspective.

Recommended Citation

Bartz, Emily. "Beowulf: God, Men and Monsters." Undergraduate Research Symposium, Mankato, MN, April 5, 2010.
http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/urs/2010/oral-session-07/1