Ms. Hortensia Padovani
Cultura y Literatura Anglosajona
27th September, 2011
Christianity v/s paganism in Beowulf
When we observe in detail the strongest elements in the epicpoem Beowulf, pagan traits are easily reveled. Wyrd or fate is the force that guides the main characters, and the search for honor and glory set us in the context of the ancient Nordic mythology.Without any doubts this is a reliable sample of the Anglo-Saxon period, but in this work it also appears some features of the Christianity that cannot be left aside when the analysis promises to be wideand deep. So the question is: Is the origin of Beowulf pagan or Christian, or whether it has pagan or Christian influences?
It is admitted by all critics that the Beowulf is essentially aheathen poem; that its materials are drawn from tales composed before the conversion of the Angles and Saxons to Christianity, and that there was a time when these tales were repeated withoutthe Christian reflections and allusions that are found in the poem that has reached us. But in what form this heathen material existed before it was put into its present shape is a questionon which opinions are widely different. (Blackburn, 205)
Although neither the author nor the time of the composition of this epic poem is known, experts assure that it would have been set betweenVI to XI, first orally transmitted and then written by two Christian scribes. This theory seems to be the most accepted but there are several authors that disagree, they think that this work was aninvention of the Christians in order to be more accepted by the community in the period in which pagan words had Christian meanings.
The place in which it is set is the old Denmark and Sweden, and thestory reflects the warrior culture of ancient Germanic people, among whom wars were common, and fights was a traditional occupation. In those ages life had a worth, it was called wergild and it was...