Beowulf: Christian vs Pagan Influence Term Paper

1665 Words Apr 11th, 2008 7 Pages
The European epic, Beowulf, was written sometime in the eighth century in England. This time period provides us with an idea for the mixture of Christian and pagan elements because of an English society that was in the process of converting from Paganism to Christianity. Examples of Pagan and Christian traditions are presented all throughout literature. Many of the influences deal with what it going on in the world, when the piece is written. When Beowulf was written, St. Augustine had just come over to try and convert the Anglo-Saxon people to Christianity; although the conversion succeeded it was a shallow conversion, and there were still people following the Pagan ways. The fact that Christianity and Paganism are so closely combined in …show more content…
In their battle, Beowulf’s sword is useless against the tough skin of Grendel’s mother. He seizes a sword hanging on the wall that was forged by giants too heavy for any normal human to hold and slashes through the monster’s tough body (61-2). Beowulf’s superhuman strength is even more undeniable when he tells of his swimming match at sea with Breca. They each swam in icy waters for five days and five nights carrying swords to fight off the sea monsters. When Beowulf found himself pulled underwater by a monster, he killed it and eight other sea beasts that came to attack him (42-4). These pagan influences of amazing superhuman strength are not only apparent in Beowulf, but in many of the monsters he confronts on his journey. Another pagan influence is instilled. The hilt of the sword found in the deeps is described as "twisted and ornamented with snakes" and made by giants and supernatural beings. In many pagan religions and believes, animals were worshiped as gods. Beowulf seems afraid of defeat and failure. His boastful remarks are reminders to himself of his invincibility. In this poem, the poet is both critical and praising of the Anglo-Saxons’ beliefs and customs. Grendel, as well as his mother, has no knowledge of weapons so he depends on his extraordinary strength to destroy his enemies. He devours men whole leaving almost no trace of blood or destruction except for the door he
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