Heroes and Exiles; English Poetry of the Age of Beowulf (EAS3152)

30 credits

Beowulf is one of the great works of early European literature, and one of the best long poems in English of any period. In elegaic mood, a sophisticated Christian poet looks back on an age of heroes, whose pagan religion he has to reject, but whose great-hearted nobility he cannot help but admire. Beowulf is part of a rich body of poetry that has come down to us from the Anglo-Saxon period, and that evokes a world of battle-hardened warriors; retainers faithful to their lords unto death; exiles cut off from kin-group, overlords or husbands, and occasionally allows us glimpses into a more intimate, domestic world. The forms and characteristic themes of a poetry that is pagan in origin also find themselves adapted for use in the service of an advanced Christian culture.