Pages 5 (1088 words)
composed for easy memorization and recitation, and contain regular rhythms, caesuras, kennings, assonance, and alliteration
anglo-saxon lyrics: lines usually with four strong beats
anglo-saxon lyrics: pauses for breath in the middle of lines
anglo-saxon lyrics: two-word poetic renamings, like “whales’ home” for the sea
anglo-saxon lyrics: repeated vowel sounds in unrhymed, stressed syllables
anglo-saxon lyrics: repeated initial consonant sounds in stressed syllables
a poem mourning the loss of someone or something. writers use poetic devices to convey a mood of sadness.
which has more caesuras–the seafarer or the wanderer?
epic hero – epic
the epic hero is the central character of an epic. this character is a larger-than-life figure, typically of noble or semi divine birth, who pits his courage, skill, and virtue against opposing, often evil, forces. In the early english epic beowulf, for example, the hero beowulf is a young warrior of high standing who battles a brutal and bloodthirsty monster.
how is beowulf an epic hero?
young warrior of high standing
battles a brutal and bloodthirsty monster
super powers to go underwater and defeat grendel’s mother
revered as larger-than-life by his warriors
he is extremely courageous and does things for honor
takes a quest to a neighboring kingdom to defeat grendel
has superhuman strength when he fights grendel with his bare hands–and wins!
elements of the epic
serious tone and lofty style
in medias res
voyage across the sea
trip to the underworld
quest – epic
a long, dangerous journey or mission undertaken by the epic hero.
the quest is the hero’s opportunity to prove his heroism and win honor and undying renown. beowulf embarks on a quest to aid a neighboring kingdom by defeating the hideous monster grendel.
valorous deeds – epic
these actions demonstrate the hero’s courage, strength, or virtue and make up most of the action in the narrative. for example, beowulf’s superhuman strength is shown when he fights the savage grendel with his bare hands–and wins!
divine intervention – epic
in many epics, the hero receives help from a god or another supernatural force who takes an interest in his quest. in the ancient greek epic the iliad, for example, the goddess athene helps the hero achilles.
great events – epic
important events form the history or mythology of a nation or culture often provide the themes and backdrop for the epic narrative. the iliad, for example, takes place during the trojan war, a war in which the greeks invaded and conquered the city of troy.
lengthy narrative – epic
an epic poem must be a work of considerable length, spanning several books, cantos, or chapters
serious tone and lofty style – epic
the poem itself must assume a grave and serious tone. though many epics contain lighter moments, these are always secondary to the primarily somber mood of the entire work. the poem must also be written in a grandiose, exalted style to distinguish it form works of lower orders.
epic similes – epic
the epic simile is an extended comparison between one element or character of the poem and some foreign entity. the simile is highly visual, and either forces the reader to consider the object of the simile in a new light or helps reveal a secret about the lament which would be too complex to detail didactically.
catalogs/genealogies – epic
an epic poem will often include copious inventories and catalogs of characters, equipment, or some other pertinent element of the plot. the poem will also supply expansive genealogies for important characters or artifacts, to lend an air of antiquity and authority to the respective element in the poem.
invocation – epic
an epic opens by stating the subject or purpose, followed by an invocation of a muse (a spirit thought to inspire an artist) or supernatural force who would help to tell the story. the invocation serves as an introduction to the action that is about to unfold.
in medias res – epic
many epics start in medias res (“in the middle of things”)–in other words, the reader joins the story in the thick of the action
voyage across the sea – epic
the pic hero and/or other characters will often journey across the seas to discover new lands or explore distant regions. the voyage serves to expand the setting of the drama considerably, and this helps to magnify the overall significance of the epic’s action.
trip to the underworld – epic
a visit to the underworld is also a common epic motif. the epic hero will often gain intelligence form the departed spirits that he encounters. the journey both to and from the nether regions is most often fraught with peril.
epic battles – epic
vivid descriptions of mighty battles, either one-on-one duels between universal champions or the amassed engagement of powerful armies, are a common feature of the epic poem. these mighty contests may indeed appear to glorify war, but they also personify the conflicts endured by the given nation, culture, or race that the epic hero symbolizes.
in ancient times, stories about heroes were retied or sung as entertainment and passed down orally from one generation to the next. these stories were eventually unified into folk epic and written down long after they were first composed
examples of folk epics
sundiata (west african)
literary epics are written by individual authors, drawing on the style and conventions of the folk epic.
examples of literary epics
iliad and odyssey by homer
aeneid by virgil
divined comedy by dante alighieri
paradise lost by john milton
loyalty to leader
fierce personal valor
right to boast of brave deeds
courtesy to people of rank
generosity of the ruler to loyal warriors
awareness of the shortness of life
the strong influence of an impersonal fate upon everything
belief in the supernatural
a highly developed feeling for beauty
distinctive qualities of anglo-saxon writings
function of the stop
strong beat and alliteration
heroic tradition (the epic)
use of latin language by church scribes
elegiac tradition (the lyrics)
elements of the anglo-saxon culture that differ form those of this century
environment background or setting
characteristics of a hero
attitude toward the supernatural
the role of the king or ruler