Anglo-Saxon Epics: Beowulf

 Anglo-saxon poetry was both Christian and pagan. Poetry of pagan origin is divided in the Anglo-Saxon epics and the Elegies.

Richard McDonald defines an epic as “a long narrative poem concerning event important to the history or mythology of the nation or race of people, featuring a hero or heroes of high position within that society whose valours deeds represent characteristics viewed as benefitial by his/her society. The action of the poem covers a large portion of the hero’s world and includes his/her interaction with supernatural fources”. As an example we have to mention Beowulf.

 Beowulf is the most important poem of the Anglo-Saxon literature. It is the first manuscripte that we have in a Vernacule language in Europe. We only have a copy, written in Wessex It is in the National Library in London. The original poem was probably written in the eighth or tenth century.

A poem like Beowulf is transmitted orally, generation by generation until one day a poet decides to write it down. What the poet writes down is the real poem, with the corrections & emendations done through the years it has been transmitted orally and also the additions of the poet. The poems were done to be sung.            


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