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Religion in Writing

Uploaded by Soco_south on Dec 03, 2007


“ . . . He was spawned in that slim, / Conceived by a pair of those monsters born / Of Cain, murderous creatures banished / by God, punished forever for the crime / Of Abel’s death” (lines 19-23). This quotation alone shows the religious influence in the early English epic Beowulf. Religion seems to influence all early English writings, and conflict between Pagan and Christian in the earliest. Most early epics, such as Beowulf, show conflicting views, though are addressed to a Christian audience. And most Christian writings refer to the old ways as Heathenry.
Heathens
Heathen, by understood definition, means ‘one who is uncivilized or uncultured’ which truly is a fallacy. “The word Heathen comes from Old English hæðen, a word whose origin has been stated by scholars as being a native word related to Greek ethnos, or a gloss for Latin pagan ‘rural dweller’ meaning ‘dweller on the heath’”(“Theod”). This term, whatever its origin, is the preferred term when referencing the pagan religion(s) of the Anglo-Saxon tribes. Theses tribes descend from the earlier tribes of Saxons, Jutes, Angles, Frisians, Varni, and other Germanic invaders that migrated to
modern day Britain. Around 500 BCE, these tribes began to expand from modern Denmark, Southern Scandinavia, and Northern Germany to lands formerly held by Celts, Balts, and Illyrians.

Christianity
Christianity began its expansion into Indo-Europe in the later portion of the 400 BCE century. In the beginning, the Christians focused on converting the nobility of the Germanic tribes, hoping the general population would follow. “First of these nobles was Clovis I of the Franks. The Christianization of the Franks soon followed, though it would take until the 7th century to halt some pagan traditions.”(Christianization) The Christianization of the Germanic tribes continued with Irish missionaries. These missionaries, monks if you will, developed a concept known as peregrination. This meant that as punishment for their sins, the monks would travel amongst the unconverted. This alone may link history to the fictitious epic Beowulf, and the monk present at Herot. Furthermore, the development of Christianity in Northern-Europe (setting of Beowulf) was far more violent then the past. The factions of each side fought during conversion, qualifying this as generic warfare instead of “persecution”. Once a chieftain or ruler was converted, the practice of the “heathen” religions was made punishable. This may also be symbolized within Beowulf as Grendel. The concept may be grasped if one thinks of...

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Uploaded by:   Soco_south

Date:   12/03/2007

Category:   Beowulf

Length:   5 pages (1,136 words)

Views:   2034

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