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HIST 1001-B Oct. 30,2012.docx

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Carleton University
HIST 1001
Hal Goldman

Beowulf - October 30, 2012 • Origin: Oral tale where it was a book that probably changed over time • Argued that a monk wrote it • “Best explanation” – series of oral tales told over hundreds of years eventually written down in the 8-11 century • Written in Anglo-Saxan and not Latin • Germanic warriors who invade and occupy after Rome rushes England • The Germanic people rush into fill the void in England • First literature written in the local language of the people • “Vernacular” language • We think it was written by a monk because at the time only church people were literate. • Story is about the Scandinavians (German relatives), not the Anglo-Saxons • Fair amount of cultural communication with Northern Europe • Begins with a discussion of the genealogy of the Danes • Gives the people lineage – trace back to the heroes • Story begins any way any meeting between two Germans meeting would go ->First question you ask when you meet a fellow German is ‘Who are your people?’, ‘Who is your lord?’ ’Who are you?’ ‘What have you done?’ Find out whose side you are on, how do I position myself to you. What is your loyalty in position to me? • People are defined by their tribe, who they are and what actions they’ve done • Tells people how to be dealt with (Do I need to be afraid of you or do I dominate you?) • Hrothgar -> Success in battle, is a good king, protects his people built Herot, was generous – “Ring giver” • A good leader is generous with his men • He is an alpha wolf -> lead by warriors with consensus • Grendel the monster who hears about all the happiness comes in and rampages, killing the people for 12 years. • King is developing a reputation for not being able to protect their people • Geates hear about Gredel -> Gathers 13 followers and outfit themselves with outfits of war • Discovered by Hrothgar coastguard • Beowulf does not identify himself • “Come into hall, but leave weapons here” • “Okay, but we’ll leave some men here to guards here” • -> Trust but verified • Only before Hrothgar’s herald will Beowulf identify himself. “my name has power, I will not tell my name to lesser people” • Hrothgar knows who Beowulf because Hrothgar knows Beowulf’s name -> Beowulf’s father fled to Hrothgar and Hrothgar paid
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