AngloSaxon Literature Essay

This essay has a total of 837 words and 4 pages.


AngloSaxon Literature




As we take a look back at the origins of literature throughout the Anglo-Saxon Period
(449-1066), we see that many of their narratives, stories were simply passed down orally
due to the lack of education prior to the era of Christianity. During the Anglo- Saxon
Era literature initially began to be written down by the monks of the Christian
Monasteries. The Anglo-Saxons contributed many details to human nature. The Anglo-Saxons
named our modern day weekdays after Greek Gods. Heroism within an epic poem was often
present during this period. Epic poetry was categorized as either elegiac or heroic.
Elegiac poetry consists of a feeling of mourning or sorrow due to the loss or lack of
something. Heroic poetry contains several aspects of morality and life threatening
situations where the hero, of course, eliminates the threat of danger therefore suggesting
his heroism. One of the most popular epic poems of this time period is Beowulf.
Throughout the epic, Beowulf, certain ideals of conduct were stressed; Allegiance to lord
and king, Love of glory as the ruling motive of every noble life, and the overall belief
in the inevitability of fate were among those discussed.

Allegiance, or loyalty, if you will, to lord and king is often mentioned in Beowulf. Due
to the loyalty shown to Hrothgar, in Beowulf, by the warriors during their successful
victory in war, he built Herot, the mead-hall for their convenience. Later on in the
epic, Wiglaf, Beowulf’s warrior returned to Beowulf in spite of the rest of his warrior
band’s decision to turn their back on him during his time of need as the fire dragon
gained the upper hand, displays Beowulf’s confrontation with the fire dragon, loyalty
toward Beowulf. By not following the “crowd” and remaining with Beowulf, the ultimate
loyalty of Wiglaf was tested and he proved to Beowulf his loyalty and allegiance. The
absolute origins of feudalism, which didn’t become into existence until the Medieval
Period, began with the Anglo-Saxon belief of allegiance to their lord and king in the act
of providence for the king in return for protection. These ideals lead to the importance
of one, during this time period, to be recognized by many.

Another Anglo-Saxon ideal demonstrated in Beowulf is the love of glory as the ruling
motive of every noble life. Love of glory, fame, and recognition was important to the
Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf’s reputation suggests, even prior to the “Wrath of Grendel”
upon the Danes, that in Sweden, Beowulf’s home place, he was of heroic status. Boasting
allowed, before battle, a feeling of confidence. Throughout this epic, Beowulf displays
examples of boasting. Upon arrival in Denmark, he shows his heroic characteristics as he
boasts before Hrothgar. He first states, “Hail, Hrothgar!” Then continues on to ask
permission to battle the horrendous guardian of crime saying “Grant me, then, lord and
protector of this noble place, a single request…” He also portrays heroism as he
encounters Unferth, where explaining the swimming incident at Brecca allowed him to boast
about his strength and physical abilities. After successfully battling the “shepherd of
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