Beowulf

5x puncte

categorie: Engleza

nota: 9.35

nivel: Facultate

The poem deals with legends, i.e., it was composed for entertainment and does not separate between fictional elements and real historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia, ca. 516. Scholars generally agree that many of the personalities of Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources,[8] but this does not only concern people (e.g., Healfdene, Hro­gar, Halga, Hro­ulf, Eadgils and O[...]
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The poem deals with legends, i.e., it was composed for entertainment and does not separate between fictional elements and real historic events, such as the raid by King Hygelac into Frisia, ca. 516. Scholars generally agree that many of the personalities of Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources,[8] but this does not only concern people (e.g., Healfdene, Hro­gar, Halga, Hro­ulf, Eadgils and Ohthere), but also clans (e.g., Scyldings, Scylfings and Wulfings) and some of the events (e.g., the Battle on the Ice of Lake Vńnern).

The Scandinavian sources are notably Ynglinga saga, Gesta Danorum, Hrˇlfr Kraki's saga and the Latin summary of the lost Skj÷ldunga saga. As far as Sweden is concerned, the dating of the events in the poem has been confirmed by archaeological excavations of the barrows indicated by Snorri Sturluson and by Swedish tradition as the graves of Ohthere (dated to c. 530) and his son Eadgils (dated to c. 575) in Uppland, Sweden.[9][10][11]

In Denmark, recent archaeological excavations at Lejre, where Scandinavian tradition located the seat of the Scyldings, i.e., Heorot, have revealed that a hall was built in the mid-6th century, exactly the time period of Beowulf.[12] Three halls, each about 50 metres long, were found during the excavation.[12]
The majority view appears to be that people such as King Hro­gar and the Scyldings in Beowulf are based on real people in 6th century Scandinavia.[13]

Like the Finnsburg Fragment and several shorter surviving poems, Beowulf has consequently been used as a source of information about Scandinavian personalities such as Eadgils and Hygelac, and about continental Germanic personalities such as Offa, king of the continental Angles.
Nineteenth-century archeological evidence may confirm elements of the Beowulf story. Eadgils was buried at Uppsala, according to Snorri Sturluson. When Eadgils' mound (to the left in the photo) was excavated in 1874, the finds supported Beowulf and the sagas.

They showed that a powerful man was buried in a large barrow, c 575, on a bear skin with two dogs and rich grave offerings. These remains include a Frankish sword adorned with gold and garnets and a tafl game with Roman pawns of ivory. He was dressed in a costly suit made of Frankish cloth with golden threads, and he wore a belt with a costly buckle. There were four cameos from the Middle East which were probably part of a casket. This would have been a burial fitting a king who was famous for his wealth in Old Norse sources. Ongen■eow's barrow (to the right in the photo) has not been excavated.[9][10]

The Beowulf manuscript

Beowulf was written in England, but is set in Scandinavia. It is an epic poem told in historical perspective; a story of epic events and of great people of a heroic past. Although the author is unknown, its themes and subject matter are generally believed to be formed through oral tradition, the passing down of stories by scops (tale singers) and is considered partly historical.

At the same time some scholars argue that, rather than transcription of the tale from the oral tradition by a literate monk, Beowulf reflects an original interpretation of the story by the poet.[1][14] M. H. Abrams and Stephen Greenblatt argue in their introduction to Beowulf in the Norton Anthology of English Literature that, "The poet was reviving the heroic language, style, and pagan world of ancient Germanic oral poetry [...] it is now widely believed that Beowulf is the work of a single poet who was a Christian and that his poem reflects well-established Christian tradition."[15]

Beowulf is undoubtedly a Christian hero as he is mentioned in many Christian manuscripts.Some scholars have questioned calling Beowulf a purely Germanic epic. Sivert Hagen, in his essay Classical Names and Stories in the Beowulf, argues that labeling the poem as only Germanic ignores connections between classical literature and Beowulf. He gives as an example Beowulf’s story of his swimming match against Breca which, he argues, has roots in both Germanic and classical culture.

The name Breca derives itself from the Germanic word brandung, which ultimately translates to “Swimmer, King of the Waves.”[16] At the same time, he argues, the tale might be a variation of the mythical contest between Hercules and Achelous – both have four key elements: “a hero, a river-god (Breca), a contest, and victory of the hero.”[17] Hagen also argues that the name Grendel could be construed to contain a Latin epithet that translates to “huge monster.”[18]
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