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Beowulf

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Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem of unknown authorship, dating as recorded in the Nowell Codex manuscript from between the 8th[2][3] and the early 11th century,[4] set in Denmark and Sweden. Commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf has been the subject of much scholarly study, theory, speculation, discourse, and, at 3182 lines, has been noted for its length. In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who ha
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  Beowulf  is anOld English heroic epic poemof unknown authorship, dating as recorded in theNowell Codex manuscriptfrom between the 8th [2][3] and the early 11th century, [4] set inDenmarkandSweden. Commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature, Beowulf  has been the subject of much scholarly study, theory,speculation, discourse, and, at 3182 lines, has been noted for its length.In the poem,Beowulf , a hero of theGeats, battles threeantagonists: Grendel, who has been attacking the resident warriors of amead hall  calledHeorotin Denmark;Grendel's mother; and an unnameddragon.  The last battle takes place later in life, after returning toGeatland (modern southern Sweden), where Beowulf has become king. In the finalbattle, Beowulf is fatally wounded. After his death his retainers bury himin atumulusin Geatland. The common English pronunciation of Beowulf is/ ˈ be ɪ . ɵ w ʊ lf/. InOld  Englishthe ēo in Bēowulf  was (probably) adiphthong, although itsphonetic value is disputed [5] (it is usually cited either as[ ˈ be ː o      ̯  w ʊ lf] [6]  or[ ˈ be ə ː w ʊ lf] Story  The mainprotagonist,Beowulf , a hero of theGeats, comes to the aid of  Hroðgar, the king of the Danes, whose great hall,Heorot, is plagued by the monsterGrendel. Beowulf kills both Grendel andGrendel's mother, the latter with a magical sword.Later in his life, Beowulf is himself king of the Geats, and finds his realmterrorized by adragonwhose treasure had been stolen from his hoard ina burial mound. He attacks the dragon with the help of his thegns , butthey do not succeed. Beowulf decides to follow the dragon into its lair, atEarnanæs, but only his young Swedish relativeWiglaf dares join him. Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded. He is buried inatumulusby the sea. As an epic Beowulf is considered an epic poem in that the main character is a herowho travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible oddsagainst supernatural demons and beasts. The poet who composedBeowulf, while objective in telling the tale, nonetheless utilizes a certainstyle to maintain excitement and adventure within the story. Anelaborate history of characters and their lineages are spoken of, as wellas their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, and deedsof valor.  Historical background  The events described in the poem take place in the late 5th century,after theAnglo-Saxonshad begun migration and settlement in England,and before the beginning of the 7th century, a time when the Saxonswere either newly arrived or in close contact with their fellowGermanic kinsmenin Scandinavia andNorthern Germany. The poem could have been transmitted in England by people of Geatishsrcins. [8] It has beensuggested that Beowulf  was first composed in the 7th century atRendleshaminEast Anglia, [9] asSutton Hooalso shows closeconnections with Scandinavia, and also that the East Anglian royaldynasty, theWuffings, were descendants of theGeatish Wulfings. [10]  Others have associated this poem with the court of KingAlfred, or withthe court of KingCanute. [4] An approximation of the central regions of the tribes mentioned inBeowulf, and the approximate location of theAngles. For a moredetailed discussion on the fragmented political situation of Scandinaviaduring the 6th century, seeScandza. The poem deals withlegends, i.e., it was composed for entertainmentand does not separate between fictional elements and real historicevents, such as the raid by KingHygelacintoFrisia, ca. 516. Scholars generally agree that many of the personalities of  Beowulf  also appear inScandinavian sources, [11] but this does not only concern people (e.g.,Healfdene,Hroðgar,Halga,Hroðulf ,EadgilsandOhthere), but alsoclans  (e.g.,Scyldings,ScylfingsandWulfings) and some of the events (e.g., theBattle on the Ice of Lake Vänern). The Scandinavian sources arenotably Ynglinga saga , Gesta Danorum , Hrólfr Kraki's saga and the Latinsummary of the lost Skjöldunga saga . As far as Sweden is concerned,the dating of the events in the poem has been confirmed byarchaeological excavations of thebarrowsindicated bySnorri Sturluson  and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere(dated to c. 530) andhis sonEadgils(dated to c. 575) inUppland, Sweden. [12][13][14] In Denmark,recent archaeological excavations atLejre, where Scandinavian traditionlocated the seat of the Scyldings, i.e.,Heorot, have revealed that a hallwas built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of  Beowulf  . [15]   Three halls, each about 50 metres long, were found during theexcavation. [15]  The majority view appears to be that people such as KingHroðgarandtheScyldingsin Beowulf  are based on real people in 6th-centuryScandinavia. [16] Like the Finnsburg Fragment  and several shortersurviving poems, Beowulf  has consequently been used as a source of information about Scandinavian personalities such asEadgilsand  Hygelac, and about continental Germanic personalities such asOffa, king of the continentalAngles.19th-century archeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf  story.Eadgilswas buried atUppsala, according toSnorri  Sturluson. When Eadgils' mound (to the left in the photo) was excavatedin 1874, the finds supported Beowulf  and the sagas. They showed that apowerful man was buried in a large barrow, c 575, on a bear skin withtwo dogs and rich grave offerings. These remains include aFrankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and ataflgame with Roman pawnsof ivory. He was dressed in a costly suit made of Frankish cloth withgolden threads, and he wore a belt with a costly buckle. There were fourcameos from the Middle East which were probably part of a casket. Thiswould have been a burial fitting a king who was famous for his wealth inOld Norse sources.Ongenþeow's barrow (to the right in the photo) hasnot been excavated. [12][13]
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