Comitatus: Anglo Saxon

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The phrase comitatus is exceedingly important in Anglo-Saxon culture, and is demonstrated profoundly in Anglo-Saxon texts. Comitatus means fellowship, particularly an allegiance between a chieftain and his men. This phrase refers to a very important tradition during the times of the Anglo-Saxons. It was so important because these men were constantly protecting their people from outside attacks and invasions and the comitatus was the bond that held these men together and that is what they lived for. Specific Anglo-Saxon texts where comitatus is eminently portrayed is Beowulf, The Wanderer, and The Seafarer.

Beowulf is an Old-English written epic, during the Anglo-Saxon period in which a hero, Beowulf, is shown battling three different agons throughout his life. Comitatus is tremendously present throughout this entire story. For example Beowulf sails to Denmark with fourteen warriors to defeat Grendel, out of respect and to protect their allies, the Danes. This shows Comitatus because Beowulf is not only trusting of his men, but also risking his life for good riddance with King Hrothgar of Denmark. The reason to why Beowulf must defeat the Grendel is because of comitatus as well, because the Danes night in and night out were strengthening their friendship in the mead-hall, Heorot, and Grendel became jealous of this “fellowship.” Another example of comitatus in Beowulf is when Beowulf is fighting the dragon and Wiglaf comes in and helps Beowulf win out of respect for his leader and his accomplishments. Comitatus is presented numerously throughout Beowulf and represents the ideals and way of life of the Anglo-Saxons.

The Wanderer is an Anglo-Saxon poem in which a warrior longs for old times, as he nostalgically ponders when he served his lord as well as feasted with his friends. The wanderer in the story has lost his fellow warriors and lord in battle, and now walks alone in exile. This poem shows the wanderer remembering times of comitatus and...
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