Anglosaxon literature and Culture.
Anglosaxon religious beliefs
The Epic poem Beowulf is an important source of data to ‘somehow’reconstruct the outrageous Anglo-Saxon culture. Unfortunately, because it was orally transmitted, and later on, Christian beliefs were incorporated, it has got many facts that do not match with theirreligious costumes. For example, the written version of Beowulf tends to show Anglo-Saxons tribes as Christians, even though they were pagan.
The first chapter tells about Grendel, a powerful monster thatgets extremely angry at celebrations that recall ‘The Almighty making the earth, shaping beautiful plains marked off by oceans’,(Beowulf,92) This way Grendel represents madness; and the Anglosaxons,fair people who just want to recall God’s glory. However, history says that the first Christianized kingdom were the Kent in England, 595. The Pope Gregorio Magno sent missioners to Christianize KingEthelbert and his people. (Saint Beda, 731) This means that monks transformed the original story, and the scopes who first sang it were completely pagan. In fact, they just wanted to sing and recalltheir own deities for entertaining the King and his men.
Anglosaxon kings claimed a direct ancestral lineage from a god, particularly Woden, the most prominent god. As such, it also had an influence onlaw codes during their terms. Nevertheless, Grendel, ‘…never dared to touch king Hrothgar’s glorious Throne, protected by God’ (Beowulf, 167) In other words, monks wanted to save the story butreplacing the polytheistic faith with the Christian one.
Curiously, monks did not change the heroic belief in fate, and the Geat warrior, Beowulf says when facing the dragon, ‘I mean to stand, not runfrom his shooting flames, and stand till fate decides which of us wins.’ (Beowulf, 2525) This probably did not bother monks much, and they decided to keep the warriors characteristics in some parts of...