The Origins Of Beowulf

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Perhaps one of the oldest epic poems reflected upon today, Beowulf is an astounding glimpse into the culture and literature surrounding the Anglo-Saxon period in Northern Europe. Its lines alone account for over ten percent of the literature that has been preserved from this period, making it an invaluable asset to anyone wishing to delve inside the mind of a medieval poet. Unfortunately, a rather substantial caveat associated with examining any work as old as Beowulf is the lack of many definitive pieces of information surrounding its creation. Neither the author, nor the exact date and location of the story’s inception, are known. In fact, even the title, Beowulf, was given much later on by editors of the text, since no original title was recorded.…show more content…
The oldest copy of the text, which was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1731, was composed of the same West-Saxon dialect that characterized the majority of Old English Literature. Structural evidence, however, strongly suggests that this manuscript had been translated from an original dialect of Mercia. This dialect, which was previously common across the present-day Midlands of England, is an essential clue for the poem’s origin. Additionally, the estimations of the period of Beowulf’s actual death, along with the earliest known dates that a manuscript likely existed, contribute to a better understanding of when the open was written.
These pieces of information, along with the strong presence of Christian themes throughout the text, have led to the belief that the poem, which likely originated from the present day Midlands in England, was written by a single, Christian poet, sometime between 580 A.D. and 1000
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