Beowulf and Distinct Pagan Context Essay

Submitted By eburton2008
Words: 351
Pages: 2

An unknown Anglo-Saxon poet composed Beowulf, a pagan epic of grand proportions in 700 A.D. The poem takes place in 500 A.D before many of the Anglo-Saxons had been converted to Christianity; therefore, the poem has distinct pagan context. “The difficulty in Beowulf is that the pagan elements seem to confound the aesthetic effect, to destroy the consistency of tone” (Benson 36). Because Beowulf was orally narrated for many years before the tale was written down, the poem has been overly impacted by the influence of the narrator. A Christian narrator would focus primarily on the Christian points throughout the poem while a non-Christian would focus more on the pagan aspects. The prologue opens with the funeral of King Scyld Scefing where readers witness many forms of pagan rituals being performed in acts of placing lavish assets and swords with the body to service the deceased in the after life, but there are many Christian aspects intertwined during this prologue as well. “He knew what they had tholed, the long times and troubles they’d come through without a leader; so the Lord of Life, the glorious Almighty, made this man renowned” (14-17). Throughout the poem there are several references towards Christianity, many which refer to God or the Almighty. The monstrous character Grendel is significant to the Christian point of view because he is thought to be the descendant of Cain from the Bible. “…He had dwelt for a time and in misery among the banished…