middle ages disoveries

Essay by kathymejCollege, UndergraduateA-, March 2014

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Middle Ages Discovery

1. Where does the story of Beowulf take place?

The story Beowulf takes place in Denmark and Geatland (a region in what is now southern Sweden)


2. Why is Beowulf a part of British Literature?

Beowulf is the longest epic poem in Old English, the language spoken in Anglo-Saxon England before the Norman Conquest. This renowned poem functions as a building block to British literature. Beowulf, serving as a prologue to British literature, introduced many new concepts.

3. What was the religion of the Norse and of Anglo-Saxons?

Norse mythology presents a worldview that is very, very different from the worldview of modern science or that of monotheistic religions such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. The pre-Christian Germanic religion was animistic, polytheistic, pantheistic, and held a cyclical view of time.


The Anglo-Saxons were pagans when they came to Britain. Religion was not for spiritual revelation, but rather for ensuring success in material things such as a harvest or hunt.

Our days of the week were partially named after pagan gods such as Tiw, Wodin (Odin), Thor, and Friya. Their names are remembered in Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Anglo-Saxon Paganism started around the 7th century and is a form of Germanic Paganism. Paganism is the polytheistic tradition of worshipping deities such as ése, which is kind of like the Norse æsir.


4. Why does Beowulf contain Christian elements?

The poem's fusion of Christian and pagan ideals is a reflection of the time in which it was written. Though still an old pagan story, Beowulf came to be told by a Christian poet. The Beowulf poet is often at pains to attribute Christian thoughts and motives to his characters, who frequently behave in distinctly un-Christian ways. The Beowulf that we read today...