English 11 10/18/12 Conflicting Beliefs in Anglo-Saxon Culture While reading through the epic poem Beowulf, I noticed many conflicting beliefs between Pagan and Christian values. The reason for this is when missionaries attempted to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity in year 596. By 650, most of Britain was Christian but still held on to some of their Pagan beliefs. In the next few paragraphs I will explain some of the conflicting beliefs in Beowulf. While reading, there were many Christian values in the poem.
On page 1226, while Beowulf is preparing himself to battle the dragon, it is written that he “watched and controlled his God-sent strength and his outstanding natural powers.” This is an example of a strong Christian belief that is shown in the poem – everything humans have is a gift from God, the one God who has all the power in the universe. This line from the monks is enforcing this belief, showing that Christianity was slowly taking over Paganism in Europe. Beowulf is a perfect example of how although Europe was adopting new, monotheistic ideas, they were not ready to release their polytheistic beliefs just yet. Although it may seem controversial at times, it is a wonderful work of literature that demonstrates the opposing viewpoints that were arising in Europe around the time of its composition. Stuck in between Paganism and Christianity, Europe was now composed of a combination of these two very different belief systems, which led to drastic changes throughout the
Seamus Heaney’s translation of the epic poem “Beowulf” successfully explores the reconciliation of Christian, mythological and Pagan influences. It analyses the text’s depiction of the archetypal hero and it’s symbol allusions through the indeterminable battle between Good and Evil, the concept of Fate, and the ‘superhuman’ within a mortal realm. Beowulf utilises poetic themes of religion in the way it manages to blend pagan and Christian morals and values and displace paradoxical notions. Heaney manages to combine his Christian perception of the loving but demanding virtues of an all-powerful and Judgmental God with the insane futility of the Germanic’s thirst for vengeance. Myth helped define the ancestral Germanic people’s existence, in
Next, we will list some moments were the mixture of religions can be found: In theory we have that Beowulf is our hero and savior of people just as Jesus was, and that symbolism comes from Christianity, however, we have the very strong paganism element which would be the “killing”, even when our hero saves people he does it by murdering monsters, action that in Christianity is not accepted, so clearly we can see the mixture of both religions. Moreover, even when Beowulf would be the equivalent of Jesus as said before, there are some differences proper from paganism. First we have that Beowulf goes with
But in a Christian nation, as our Founders would have defined it, the principles and institutional foundations are Biblically based and the people in general share a Biblical world-view. Before America was America Christopher Columbus' commission was given to set out and find a new world. Though this order was given from King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella of Spain according to Columbus’ personal log, his purpose in seeking undiscovered worlds was to “bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the heathens. …. It was the Lord who put into my mind … that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies … I am the most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely … No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Saviour, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service.” Columbus, being a Catholic, was Protestant and felt obligated to bring God to the world.
Christian Influences in the Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem of Beowulf By J.E. Pellemans V iewed by many as thoroughly pagan, the story of Beowulf, in actuality, shows a multitude of aspects typically associated with Christianity. Many present-day scholars are now in agreement that the poem may have been composed more than twelve hundred years ago, in the first half of the eighth century, although some would place it as late as the tenth century.1 Bearing that in mind, we can at least carefully assert that either the nameless author must have been a Christian or that some of the work’s interpolators were. But if Christian elements are present in the poem, were they a conscious effort of the author? First of all, let us discuss the elements in Beowulf that fairly explicitly seem to give an indication of a Christianoriented view.
Beowulf, an English poem set in Denmark and Geatland, was written in about 1000 AD, and is the oldest surviving piece of literature written in Old English. Although it was written by a Christian author, the 500 AD setting depicted a time when the values of Christianity began to mix with the much older polytheistic views of Paganism. The poem’s fusion of Christian kindness and Germanic Code brutality created a protagonist, Beowulf, who was morally ambiguous. Beowulf acknowledged God’s role in his strengths and in his life, but he claimed that fate assisted him in his greatest victories. He embraced the Pagan value of making a name for himself and creating his own legacy, which is the opposite of what Christians are taught to do.
The Anglo-Saxon time period, also known as the “Dark Ages” fostered radically different pagan ideals and themes than we see in our modern day society. The story of Beowulf, set around 500 A.D., takes place in Denmark and Geatland (a region in what is now southern Sweden), and works to combine its pagan ideals along with ideals that many of us believe in today, such as Christianity. “Beowulf” is a renowned story that blends both the Anglo-Saxon beliefs of honor and glory along with Christian beliefs, and also manages to teach Christian principles such as being humble and sacrificing yourself for others to even its own pagan believing society. Upon hearing of the horrific dragon attacking his people, Beowulf had absolutely no qualms about
During the early 1500s there were many things that brought about religious change in Eastern Europe because of Martin Luther in Germany and King Henry VIII in England. The motives and the actions of the two were different in that Martin Luther had an intention of bringing about religious change where as King Henry VIII didn’t, having defended the church’s original catholic faith with no tolerance of opposition to it, having caused a reform because of a personal matter. Martin Luther was a German Augustinian friar who questioned not only the practices of the church, but he condemned it for teaching wrongly which ultimately lead to questioning the entire sacramental system of Catholicism in relation to salvation. He wrote and published many pamphlets that elaborated his ideas and denounced what he considered to be false teachings with motives of changing the beliefs of many into what he saw to be the proper things that should be taught and preached by the church. The publication of Luther’s German translation of the New Testament in 1523 democratized religion.
In this instance, fate is looked upon as being cruel towards mankind. It seems as though fate took the liberty to destroy life where ever it saw fit. “Fate swept him away because of his proud need to provoke a feud with the Frisians.”(85) Fate also causes death to keep people out of misery. For example, “Fate swept [them] far way sent [his] whole brave high-born clan to their final doom.” Fate made it so that neither Beowulf nor his army would be able to fight in battle ever again. Many were saddened by this event, but they understood that fate is the reason why things happened in this