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Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry

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Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry (applies to riddles, Beowulf, The Seafarer, etc.) Facts Originally oral, not written Employs alliteration (repetition of initial ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry


1
Characteristics of Anglo-Saxon Poetry
  • (applies to riddles, Beowulf, The Seafarer, etc.)

2
Facts
  • Originally oral, not written
  • Employs alliteration (repetition of initial
    consonant sounds)
  • Employs kennings (two to four-word poetic
    re-namings of people, places, and things, such as
    whales home for the sea.)

3
Facts (cont)
  • Employs caesuras (rhythmic breaks in the middle
    of lines, where the reciter would pause for
    breath
  • Employs assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds
    in unrhymed, stressed syllables (ex. batter
    these ramparts)

4
  • Repetition (of words, entire phrases, stories)
  • Understatement (saying less than is meant)
  • Gory details
  • References to God/wyrd/fate

5
Beliefs and Traditions
  • WYRD or fate controls life
  • Honor requires revenge/compensation for injury or
    death (WERGILD)
  • Love of war and violence
  • Love of treasure, wealth and prosperity (results
    of bravery)

6
  • Loyalty to family/tribe
  • Love of stories, especially hero stories
  • Belief that nothing good ever lasts
  • Love of rituals feasting, burial, etc.
  • Unwritten contract between king and warrior
    generosity for loyalty (COMITATUS)

7
Qualities of Anglo-Saxon Warrior Hero (and a life
of honor)
  • Excellence, competence, skill
  • In battle
  • In sailing
  • In riding

8
  • Great strength (even superhuman strength)
  • Loyalty (especially to the king)
  • Devotion to duty, eagerness to fight
  • Generosity
  • Love of fame, glory, boasts

9
Characteristics of Epic Literature (such as
Beowulf)
  • Reveals the traditions, customs of the people
  • Grand/large in its scope geography, time
  • Lofty/formal language
  • Employs the supernatural

10
  • Battle between good and evil
  • Illustrates man in a hostile environment, the
    sacrifice of the hero
  • Generally concerns the noble deeds of a
    warrior-hero and his companions
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