Tuesday 20 August 2019

Short notes on Anglo saxon chronicle , Battle of Maldon , Beowulf


The English have left us the earliest Vernecular collection in the several compilation which bear the the name Anglo Saxon chronicle . More important than any translation is the 'English' or 'Saxon chronicle' .This was probably at first a dry record , especially if important birth and deaths in the west Saxon kingdom . Alfred (848-901) enlarged this scant record , beginning the story with Caesar's conquest. When it touches his own reign , the dry chronicle becomes and interesting and connected story , the oldest story belonging to any modern nation in it's own language .

Short notes on Anglo saxon chronicle , Battle of Maldon , Beowulf

Anglo Saxon Chronicle

The record of Alfred's reign probably by himself , is a splendid bit of writing and shows clearly his claim to a place in literature as well as in history .
The chronicle is continued after Alfred's death and is the best monument of early English prose that is left to us . Here and there stirring songs are included in the narrative like " The battle of Brunanburgh " and the "Battle of Maldon " the last entered 991 seventy five years before the Norman conquest, is the swan song of Anglo Saxon poetry . As is to be expected the style varies greatly from simple notices to long passages of narrative and description. Most interesting are certain character studies , particularly that of the conqueror himself while the well known description of the horrors of Stephen's reign are worthy of note . The chronicle was continued for a century after the Norman conquest , and is extremely valuable not only as a record of events but as a literary monument showing the development of our language .

Read about  Anglo Norman Period


The Battle of Maldon is a late old English narrative poem of the 11th century. The poem is concerned with an encounter near Maldon in Wessex. On 10th or 11th August 991 , a band of viking Invaders from Denmark routed an English army led by Byrntnoth . The anglo Saxon chronicle gives some spare details about this event particularly those which were historically significant . The unknown poet of the Battle of Maldon created an enduring and popular literary work out of this local event. The result is a heroic poem about loyalty , about the share experience of victory and defeat , the text of the poem is incomplete. It has 325 metrically alliterating lines and some of which are irregular. The original manuscript from a transcript made of the poem was lost in a fire in 1731 , but the poem survives in a transcript made a few years earlier . This shows the poem as already incomplete . But the surviving poem doesn't suffer from it's incomplete state , because the essence is still intact .

The poem is a battle narrative and not a verified historical chronicle. It gives a series of pictures reflecting the progress of the Battle but the poem focused in the attitude and experience of individual warriors, first in the exchanges before the fighting and then in the conventionalised speeches made by various English warriors , to avenge the defeat of the leader . Thus , the poem has an episodic organisation which gives a clear development to the incident that occurred during the Battle . The climax of the poem is a speech of the senior warrior whose opening words expresses the moral resolution and physical strength .
The style of the poem is direct. Individual speeches are rhetorical but the diction chooses ordinary prosaic devices . The poem also has a good deal of irony and verbal wit .


Beowulf is the outstanding heroic epic of old English . The poet writing this poem is anonymous , but most scholars place him in the anglian kingdom  , in the early or middle eight century. He is also supposed to be Christian nobleman since the poem has some Christan and aristocaric colouring. The selling of the poem is in southern Scandinavian.

Beowulf is the most remarkable of Anglo Saxon heroic poetry . The poem of nearly three thousand lines is looked upon as the oldest surviving epic of the Teutonic people . The poem celebrate the greatness of Beowulf Teutonic tribal Lord , who devotes himself to the noble cause of protecting the weak against the wicked . Beowulf fights and saves the weak and innocent people against the monsters and the dragons and finally lays down his life for the welfare of his land and people . The whole theme is inspired and bears the magnificent mark of epic poetry . Beowulf stands as the symbol of an ideal man - heroic , noble and ready to serve and die for a good cause , the poem comprises of three episodes - Beowulf victory over Grendal , his triumph over Grendal mothers and his last victory against a dragon and heroic death for his people .

The Beowulf poet seems to have inherited not only his subject matter but also his medium of composition from his Germanic ancestors . The language and style of the poem are shaped by the tradition of public and oral verse composition. Christianity and literacy have also contributed to the poem which portrays a heroic world from a post heroic view point . The poem achieves a profound synthesis between the pre Christan and christain tradition.
Beowulf to sum up is the longest old English poem and the most considerable piece of literature in old English. It is considered an early heroic epic . It has a grave and profound understanding of life . It's poetic merits are of highest . In a word it is a work of art of nature it's complexities and balance .

                 BEOWULF STORY

It is the earliest known epic , written in anglo Saxon period . The written version is 10th century but the poem may go back to the 7th century . Here the christain and heroic pagan elements are mingled . Though the myth was introduced by the angles , the events and character are Scandinavian . Hrothgar , king of Danes built a great Hall , Heorot , but it is constantly ravaged by the monster Grendal , the swedish prince Beowulf , nephew of the king of the Geats slays the monster by wrestling with it and by wrenching out it's arm .

Read Beowulf as an epic

Grendal's mother than seeks vengens by carrying off one of the Danish nobles , but Beowulf enters the Moore beneath which she lives and kills her too . Beowulf returns home and in due course becomes the king of Geats . When he has reigned 50years ,his kingdom is invaded by a fiery dragon which he manages to kill with the aid of a young Nobel man wiglaf , when all the rest of his followers have fled . However, he receives his own death wound in the fights and as he dies he pronounces wiglaf his successor . His body is burnt on a great funeral pyre and the dragon threasure is burried with his ashes , twelve of his followers ride round a funeral mound celebrating his greatness.

Although, the material of the narrative is Norse rather than Anglo Saxon , it's spirits resembles that of contemporary poems rather than the Norse sagas . It's epic form has cause scholars to attribute virgilian influence. Whatever it's source , the written form which we have received probably the work of a Northumbiran work .

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