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Beowulf Mid-Term

Study Guide

*Beowulf the oldest known English epic -- author unknown, probably dating back to the early 700s
Hrothgar king of the Danes, husband to Wealhtheow, son of Healfdene, ring-giver and kindly king who honored his warriors by building a great mead hall for celebrations; built a mead hall called Heorot in which to celebrate his warriors' victories
Wiglaf one of Beowulf's loyal thanes in his homeland, only one of Beowulf's men who did not run when the fire dragon attacked Beowulf, warrior to whom Beowulf gave his treasures and also the kingship of the Geats
Grendel monster who attacked mead hall; killed many Hrothgar's thanes; was slain by Beowulf; had his arm pulled from his body-shoulder to hand; had a magic spell woven on him so that no manmade weapon could harm him; he represents evil
Grendel's mother sea monster, avenged her son's death by attacking mead hall, lived in a lair under the lake, had a hoard of treasures in her lair, killed one of Hrothgar's loyal thanes going back to her lair
Fire dragon fire breathing monster, fatally bit Beowulf in the neck, attack Beowulf's kingdom because of a cup stolen from his lair
Wyrd fate
Kenning metaphorical two-word replacements for nouns; a colorful, indirect way of naming something -- ex. whale-road, whalepath = sea; spear play = battle
Wergild msn-money, man-price, a payment made to a family for a wrong doing to a relative
Scop gleeman, singer of tales, a minstrel
Druids pagan priests of the Celtic peoples
Thane a loyal retainer of the king, an earl
Mead wine made from fermented honey
Churls a class of freemen
Thralls a class of slaves
Danes the Vikings, Danish, also called Gar-Danes, Ring-Danes, Spear-Danes, and Scyldings
Geats probably Swedish people, also called Sea-Geats, War-Geats, and Weather-Geats
Old English Period 450-1066 AD - also known as the Anglo-Saxon period
Angles, Saxons, Jutes Germanic tribes that attacked the coast of Britain and conquered much of the country Beginning with the Jutes in 449 AD
Harp lyre - a stringed instrument
Epic a long narrative poem about the exploits of a hero, was presented in a serious way, often through use of elevated language, hero of epic represents widespread national, cultural, or religious values
Scribe monks who copied texts in the monastery
Cantos sections of a poem, also known as fits
Alliteration the repetition of initial (beginning) consonant sounds
Caesura a pause in a line of poetry
Heroic epic a poem whose main purpose is telling the life story of a hero
Scyld Scefing an orphan, waif, who becomes a famous King of the Danes
Ecgtheow Beowulf's father
Hrethel Beowulf's king, King of the Geats when Beowulf slew the monster
Coastguard Hrothgar's thane who greeted Beowulf and his men when their ship sailed into the Danish coast; he led Beowulf and his men to Hrothgar after determining why men in such armor had come to his country
Hunferth (Unferth) Hrothgar's loyal, trusted thane who was jealous of Beowulf, gave Beowulf his sword as a sign of trust and loyalty when Beowulf was going to fight the monster's mother
Hrunting Hunferth's (Unferth's) trusty sword that was loaned to Beowulf for battle, sword that failed Beowulf in battle against the sea-wolf, Beowulf returned this sword upon his return from the sea-wolf's lair
Naegling Beowulf's sword that had never failed him in battle until his battle with the fire-dragon
Mail flexible armor made of metal or chains
Brecca a fellow who challenged Beowulf to a swimming contest, Beowulf won the challenge
two treasures that Beowulf returns with from the sea monster's lair Grendel's head and the jeweled hilt of the giants' sword
Pyre a funeral fire for the dead
Hilt handle of a sword
Corselet piece of body armor
Oral tradition a work, a motif, an idea, or a custom that is passed by word-of-mouth from generation to generation
Created by: rierei1971



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