Beowulf - Wikipedia
Leonard Neidorf, ed., The Dating of “Beowulf”: A Reassessment (Cambridge: . when Beowulf describes Grendel's glove as 'prepared with a devil's cunning'. The Dating of Beowulf: A Reassessment by Leonard Neidorf. Review by: Mercedes Salvador-Bello. Modern Philology, Vol. , No. 1 (August. Beowulf is an Old English epic story consisting of 3, alliterative lines. It may be the oldest surviving long story in Old English and is commonly cited as one of the most important works of Old English literature. The date of composition is a matter of contention among scholars; the only . Beowulf kills Grendel with his bare hands and Grendel's mother with a.
Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded in the struggle.
He is cremated and a burial mound by the sea is erected in his honour. Beowulf is considered an epic poem in that the main character is a hero who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts.
The poem also begins in medias res or simply, "in the middle of things," which is a characteristic of the epics of antiquity. Although the poem begins with Beowulf's arrival, Grendel's attacks have been an ongoing event.
An elaborate history of characters and their lineages is spoken of, as well as their interactions with each other, debts owed and repaid, and deeds of valour.
The warriors form a kind of brotherhood linked by loyalty to their lord. What is unique about "Beowulf" is that the poem actually begins and ends with a funeral. At the beginning of the poem, the king, hero, Shield Shiefson dies 26—45 and there is a huge funeral for him.
At the end of the poem when Beowulf dies, there is also a massive funeral for Beowulf — Grendel[ edit ] Beowulf begins with the story of Hrothgar, who constructed the great hall Heorot for himself and his warriors.
In it, he, his wife Wealhtheowand his warriors spend their time singing and celebrating. Grendel, a troll-like monster said to be descended from the biblical Cainis pained by the sounds of joy. Hrothgar and his people, helpless against Grendel, abandon Heorot. Beowulf, a young warrior from Geatland, hears of Hrothgar's troubles and with his king's permission leaves his homeland to assist Hrothgar.
Beowulf refuses to use any weapon because he holds himself to be the equal of Grendel. This display would fuel Grendel's mother's anger in revenge. Grendel's mother[ edit ] The next night, after celebrating Grendel's defeat, Hrothgar and his men sleep in Heorot. Grendel's mother, angry that her son has been killed, sets out to get revenge.
Beowulf - Oxford Handbooks
Earlier, after the award of treasure, The Geat had been given another lodging"; his assistance would be absent in this battle. Hrothgar, Beowulf, and their men track Grendel's mother to her lair under a lake. Unfertha warrior who had doubted him and wishes to make amends, presents Beowulf with his sword Hrunting. After stipulating a number of conditions to Hrothgar in case of his death including the taking in of his kinsmen and the inheritance by Unferth of Beowulf's estateBeowulf jumps into the lake, at the bottom of which he finds a cavern containing Grendel's body and the remains of men that the two have killed.
Grendel's mother and Beowulf engage in fierce combat. At first, Grendel's mother appears to prevail. Beowulf, finding that Hrunting cannot harm his foe, puts it aside in fury. Beowulf is again saved from his opponent's attack by his armour.
Beowulf takes another sword from Grendel's mother and slices her head off with it. Travelling further into Grendel's mother's lair, Beowulf discovers Grendel's corpse and severs his head. The blade of Beowulf's sword touches Grendel's toxic blood, and instantly dissolves so that only the hilt remains. Beowulf swims back up to the rim of the pond where his men wait in growing despair. Carrying the hilt of the sword and Grendel's head, he presents them to Hrothgar upon his return to Heorot.
The events prompt a long reflection by the king, sometimes referred to as "Hrothgar's sermon", in which he urges Beowulf to be wary of pride and to reward his thegns.
The dragon[ edit ] Main article: The dragon Beowulf Beowulf face to face with the fire-breathing dragon Beowulf returns home and eventually becomes king of his own people. When the dragon sees that the cup has been stolen, it leaves its cave in a rage, burning everything in sight.
Beowulf and his warriors come to fight the dragon, but Beowulf tells his men that he will fight the dragon alone and that they should wait on the barrow. Beowulf descends to do battle with the dragon, but finds himself outmatched. His men, upon seeing this and fearing for their lives, retreat into the woods. One of his men, Wiglaf, however, in great distress at Beowulf's plight, comes to his aid. The two slay the dragon, but Beowulf is mortally wounded. After Beowulf dies, Wiglaf remains by his side, grief-stricken.
When the rest of the men finally return, Wiglaf bitterly admonishes them, blaming their cowardice for Beowulf's death. Afterward, Beowulf is ritually burned on a great pyre in Geatland while his people wail and mourn him, fearing that without him, the Geats are defenceless against attacks from surrounding tribes. Afterwards, a barrow, visible from the sea, is built in his memory Beowulf lines — The poem has been dated to between the 8th and the early 11th centuries, with some recent scholarship offering what has been called "a cohesive and compelling case for Beowulf's early composition.
Albert Lord felt strongly that the manuscript represents the transcription of a performance, though likely taken at more than one sitting. Tolkien believed that the poem retains too genuine a memory of Anglo-Saxon paganism to have been composed more than a few generations after the completion of the Christianisation of England around AD and Tolkien's conviction that the poem dates to the 8th century has been defended by Tom ShippeyLeonard Neidorf, Rafael J.
On the other hand, some scholars argue that linguistic, palaeographical, metrical, and onomastic considerations align to support a date of composition in the first half of the eighth century;     in particular, the poem's regular observation of etymological length distinctions Max Kaluza's law has been thought to demonstrate a date of composition in the first half of the eighth century.
Hutcheson, for instance, does not believe Kaluza's Law can be used to date the poem, while claiming that "the weight of all the evidence Fulk presents in his book [b] tells strongly in favour of an eighth-century date. XV Beowulf survives in a single manuscript dated on palaeographical grounds to the late 10th or early 11th century. The Beowulf manuscript is known as the Nowell Codex, gaining its name from 16th-century scholar Laurence Nowell.
XV" because it was one of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton 's holdings in the Cotton library in the middle of the 17th century. Many private antiquarians and book collectors, such as Sir Robert Cotton, used their own library classification systems. Smith's catalogue appeared inand Wanley's in In the letter to Wanley, Hickes responds to an apparent charge against Smith, made by Wanley, that Smith had failed to mention the Beowulf script when cataloguing Cotton MS.
Hickes replies to Wanley "I can find nothing yet of Beowulph. Since then, parts of the manuscript have crumbled along with many of the letters.Beowulf - Old English Reading
Rebinding efforts, though saving the manuscript from much degeneration, have nonetheless covered up other letters of the poem, causing further loss. Kevin Kiernan, in preparing his electronic edition of the manuscript, used fibre-optic backlighting and ultraviolet lighting to reveal letters in the manuscript lost from binding, erasure, or ink blotting. The first scribe made a point of carefully regularizing the spelling of the original document by using the common West Saxon language and by avoiding any archaic or dialectical features.
Yet it remains a matter of speculation whether this hypothetical early source included any of the other details shared by Beowulf and late genealogies, such as the story of a foundling who becomes king.
If the poet did borrow the name from a lost source, it cannot be the source hypothesized by Cronan. This essay is a triumphalist diatribe framed as a statistical survey of Beowulf scholarship, The charge that the Toronto volume manufactured consensus is odious in a book devoid of essays advocating a late date or agnosticism. One cannot help but read this footnote against the backdrop of a volume that includes only one essay by a woman.
Harris considers the possibility that the monastery replaced a pagan institution, but this interpretation rests on a doubtful translation. However, videlicet rarely follows forms of the relative pronoun qui elsewhere in Bede; more commonly, it stands between the relative adjective qui and its noun. Throughout, Pascual projects language change as a stepwise, totalized process, such that a single glossary entry can mark the death of a word sense across an entire language p. This collection embodies the boldness of conjecture, but mostly without acknowledging the limitations of conjecture.
On the whole, the contributors feel that they have assigned Beowulf to its proper historical moment, in which its viewpoints and styles are normalized. Such a view, it seems to me, must be mistaken. Like some of the other contributors, Frantzen resorts to a facile equation between literary style and cultural or metrical history, the ironic effect of which is that Beowulf disappears in a universe of its own creation.
On the contrary, most readers have found Beowulf so overwhelming as poetry, so sensitive to the histories of things and ideas it inherits, that the discovery of its date of composition would raise as many questions about the poem as it would answer.