Beowulf Society

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Beowulf Society The earliest known manuscript of Beowulf is thought to have been written in the tenth century, however, the poem had most likely been told as an oral tradition for centuries before that. In fact, the poem's events date back to the sixth century. However, because there is only one manuscript of Beowulf still in tact very little is known about the poem or its author. The poem does, however, give us great insight into the culture of the people who composed and told this epic tale. Because the poem was performed orally mainly between the eighth and tenth centuries, but dealt with subject matter of centuries earlier, it is difficult to decipher and separate the cultural context involved in the poem from one century to the next. The poem was probably unrecognizable from its original state after two hundred years of oral tradition that would have changed its content drastically. The storyline of the poem, the battles and significant events, probably maintained most of their identity while the cultural context took on another form more suited to the current culture of the people. By the time it was written, in 1000, the poem was probably most representative of the tenth century culture yet it still managed to tell a story similar to the original version. Beowulf, then, gives us a significant insight into the cultural views of the tenth century Anglo-Saxons including their political, social and moral views. The individualistic society was just beginning to replace the tribal system in which no individual had been seen as more important to the success of the tribe than any other. The individuality that Beowulf displayed helped establish new rules in society. Beyond this, Beowulf gives us an even greater insight into middle ages society. Woven throughout almost every aspect of their culture and the poem are very strict moral codes and values. Loyalty, honesty, family ties, courage and even Christianity play a major role in this epic poem. In each of the...
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