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- 1. Thesis Ancient Scandinavian culture connects to Beowulfthough society, ideas of heroism, and Christian andPagnistic beleifs.
2. Some Background Composed of Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland, there is littleevidence of Ancient Scandinavian countries. Beowulf, questioned to be written between 8th century and 11th century AD, wasa time of the Vikings in Ancient Scandinavia. Settlement had just begun and christianity was beginning to form in Denmarkat this time. During the time of Beowulf, many themes of paganism are shownthough Christian elements still linger throughout the novel. The Vikings had a great belief in battle honor which is largely shown inBeowulf 3. Ancient Denmark andSwedenDenmark Sweden In the 10th century, the DanesSweden developed later thanwere officially chrisitanized. Denmark and was christianized in the 11th century. The Danes during the Viking agedominated western Europe forDuring the Viking age, Swedensmany years.expansion was much towards the east. The Viking age brought a greatdeal of overpopulation in It wasnt until 13th century ADDenmark. that royalty gained any power.http://www.denmark.dk/en/menu/About-Denmark/Denmark-In-Brief/ http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Lifestyle/Facts/History-of-Sweden/#idx_1 4. Ancient ScandinavianSociety and BeowulfAncient Scandinavian society combines Germanic heroic tradition along with adistinct Christian influence. Throughout Beowulf the theme of Christianity andNorse paganism is obvious. The burial customs and the idea that Cain isGrendels ancestor gives readers a glimpse into the cultural context of that society. Every person had a role in society. Because of the dangers lurking in thewilderness, the people of ancient Scandinavia understood that they needed to worktogether for survival. In an heroic society, being an outcast like Grendel, was similar tobeing a slave. Courage was essential to society because it meant that a person could be counted onto perform their duty, even in the face of danger. Beowulf exhibits the virtue of an idealhero because his actions in the poem are selfless, require courage, and serve as anexample of how a warrior would have acted in ancient Scandinavia. Loyalty and generosity also played an important role in society. The relationshipbetween King Hrothgar and his thanes show their loyalty to him. Also, King Hrothgargenerously bestows gifts to Beowulf for being a hero. 5. Scaninavians strongly believe in fate, and that a persons destiny remained the samefrom birth. To the ancent Scandinavians, death was the final defeat for anyone, even a hero. Insome ways the wages of Heroism is death (-Tolkien) 6. Heroism in BeowulfHeroism played an important role in ancient Scandinavian society. During theViking age of 800-1100 AD, countries of Scandinavia were under invasion andbattle. Being a hero meant great honor in society. Heroism and honor go handin hand and is what brings Beowulf to Denmark at the start of the epic poem. In the epic poem of Beowulf, Beowulf is portrayed as a hero with more strength fromhis body than from any weapon. He is strong enough to destroy a monster with hisbare hands. Beowulf performs super human actions such as surviving emerssed in water forhours battling with Grendels mother. Unferth is a jealous man and he envies Beowulfs fame and power. However, Unferthhas no honor as he is a kinslayer. This is not only the most disgraceful crime ofall, but he also questions Beowulfs honor. Another of Beowulfs attributes, willfulnessand loyalty, is lacking in Unferth. Although Unferth begins supporting Beowulf, he isstill changing his mind, and thus, his loyalty. 7. Towards the beginning of the poem,the tale of Beowulfs heroism againstBrecca is told. Even though he lost, Beowulf failedheroically. When he raced Brecca helost only because he was fighting adangerous sea monster, thus savingboth him and his opponents lives. In the end of the poem, Beowulfchanges from a heroic warrior to aheroic king. Both roles required him toput others before himself, and risk hiswell being for that of others. 8. ConversionChristianity inThe Viking age was an age ofgreat change in ancientScandinavian society. At theScandinavia beginning of 800 AD, mostVikings were paganistic, andbelieved in many gods. Harald BluetoothThe Vikings inherited chrisitanideas quite rapidly through many Harald bluetooth was son of Gorm The Old andof their raids and attacks.Queen Thyra who ruled Denmark. Harald isthought to have died around 980 AD. Germanic and Anglo-Saxonmissionaries traveledScandinavia to covert countriesto christianity. Beginning withDenmarkchristianized in the10th centurySweden was thelast to christianized in the late11th century AD. This jelling stone is incripted with christian writingand symbols. The last three lines stateHarald who won the whole of Denmark, and allhttp://www.fortidensjelling.dk/jellinge5.htmNorway, and turned the Danes to Christianity. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/religion _01.shtml 9. There are many christian elements found in Beowulf; man survivesChristianity inthrough protection of god, and that wealth must be shared.Beowulf During Beowulfs fight with Grendels mother"The fight would have ended straightaway if God In the poem, Grendel is had not guarded me" (1.4)considered an ancestor ofDuring the poem, Hrothgar tellsCain- a large biblical reference. Beowulf that being king is achieve Cain killed histhrough god. The story of kingbrother, Abel, and was Heremond is about a king who falls because of greed and selfishness.banished from the Garden ofEden by God. In Ancient angry-hearted he covets, no plated rings doesScandinavia, fratricide is thehe give in mens honor, and then he forgets andregards not his destiny because of whatworst crime one can commit. God, Wielder of Heaven, has given himAnglo-Saxon society was verybefore, his portion of glories" (5.13)much structured aroundhe covets is form the Christian tenbrotherhood and kinship. commandments. 10. Paganism in Ancient ScandinaviaNorse Paganism is a subset of Germanic Paganism, people who inhabitedNorthern and Central Europe during the Viking Age When Christianity took over in the early 8th century, Norse paganism began to falterand wane into Christianity. Scandinavian archeological sites have Petro glyphs, divided into sub categories ashunter-glyphs (mainly found in Northern Scandinavia) and agriculture-glyphs. Thesenormally depict basic hunting and fishing, but scholars deemed the glyphs to discussreligious themes. Little to no existence of temples for worship. Claims of a temple in Uppsala, Sweden with three wooden statues. One of them ispredicted to be Odin, but ultimately unverified due to lack of archeological evidenceto prove it. The Vikings were Norse people (warriors-like Beowulf-merchants and explorers) whoraided areas of Europe for trade (and to explore) in the late 8th century. 11. Human sacrifices used to be common; sacrificial offerings to gods and religiouspurposes and the other for funeral purposes where the people sacrificed for theirlord are believed to follow him into afterlife and continue to serve him. Odin was the mighty god of gods of the Norse people. Sacrificial practices areassociated with strangling or hanging to death. (The Bronze Age Tollund Man)Ambivalent scholars argue strangled victims could be out of capital punishment. 12. Religion in BeowulfChristianityPaganism Christianity says that we Superhuman powers areshouldnt let greed and wealthportrayed by Beowulf intake over ourselves, this isswimming underwater forwhat Hrothgar teaches tohours, and his supernaturalBeowulf.human strength. Grendels connection to Cain in Concept of fame andthe bible.heroism. During Beowulfs battle with Fate that comes with deathGrendels mother he believes it or greatness throughout theis god who has brought him thepoem.sword. 13. SourcesWikipedia contributors, Norse Paganism, Wikipedia, 476346930, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 February 2012 20:51UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norse_paganismWikipedia contributors, Viking, Wikipedia, 476794672, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 15 February 2012 20:51UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking#LiteratureLambert, Tim. Ancient Scandinavia. Local Histories. February 26, 2012.http://www.localhistories.org/ancientscandinavia.htmlVikings. 2012. The History Channel website. Feb 26 2012, 6:14 http://www.history.com/topics/vikings.Leiren I. Terje, From Pagan to Christian. University of Washington. 1999. February 26, 2012.http://faculty.washington.edu/leiren/vikings2.htmlLund, Neils. The Viking Age. Denmark.dk, the Official Website of Denmark. May 10, 2010. February 26, 2012.http://www.denmark.dk/en/menu/About-Denmark/History/The-Viking-Age/History of Sweden: War, Peace, and Progress. Sweden.se, the Official Gateway to Sweden. June 2010. SwedisInstitute, February 26, 2012. http://www.sweden.se/eng/Home/Lifestyle/Facts/History-of-Sweden/Williams, Gareth. Viking Religion. BBC History. February 17, 2011. February 26, 2012.http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/vikings/religion_01.shtmlMcCarter, William. Beowulf and Ethics in a Heroic Society. Yahoo Voice. September 7, 2010. February 26, 2012.