Paganism In Beowulf Essay

Words: 572
Pages: 3

Jesse Williams
Dr. Wardell
EN 211
Elements of Christianity and Paganism in Beowulf Beowulf is one of the oldest of the long epics written in English, and it is revered as one of the most important pieces of literature written in Old English. The poem is an epic tale of heroism that has many religious themes spread throughout. It is believed to be composed as an oral tradition during the first half of the eighth century, and transcribed in the eleventh century. Because it began as an oral tradition, the author is anonymous. The epic poem, Beowulf, has a complicated origin due to its backgrounds in both Paganism, and Christianity. The time-period in which the poem was written in is important for explaining how the two sets of religious belief systems play such a huge role. Because Beowulf originates from the Anglo-Saxon period,
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The story is set in Scandinavia, before the Anglo-Saxon people migrated to Britain. Many different tribes ruled the land of Scandinavia during this time. The Geats, the Danes, and the Swedes, were constantly fighting with each other. The kings during this time for were no more than men who had an abundance of treasure, lots of strength, and vicious warlords at their side.
Ancient Pagan stories often about heroism, and treasure. A great example of this in Beowulf is, “Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke: ‘So, son of Halfdane, prince of the Shieldings, we are glad to this booty from the lake. It is a token of triumph and we tender it to you. I barely survived the battle under water.” (lines 1651-1655).
However, while that displayed elements of Paganism, Beowulf talks about how he could not accomplish such a task without God. “’It was a hard-fought affair that could have gone badly; if God had not helped me, the outcome would have been quick and fatal.’” (lines 1656-1657), and he continues, “’But the Lord of Men allowed me to behold-for He often helps the unbefriended‘“ (lines