Beowulf: Link Between Traditions - Pagan and Christian

Topics: Virtue, Paganism, Polytheism Pages: 2 (434 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Beowulf: Link Between Traditions - Pagan and Christian

"Beowulf" is a link between two traditions, Pagan and the Christian. The virtues of courage in war and the acceptance of feuds between men and countries as a fact of life stem from the older Pagan tradition. On the other hand Christianity's moralities are based meekness and poverty. "Beowulf" brings this two convictions together through the actions of the characters. Even though Beowulf possesses spiritual strength, he isn't particularly concerned with the Christian virtues. He wants to help people, in a Christian way, but his motivation for doing so is complicated. Beowulf has a eagerness for material rewards and earthly fame which is a characteristic of Paganism. Beowulf had the heart of the Christian to help people but wants the selfish rewards of Paganism. Shild's funeral is another example of Paganism, it takes place at the end of the prologue. The people that were under his reign put him on the deck of a ship and surrounded him with jewels, gold, helmets, swords, etc. The importance of material goods are one of the cardinal characteristics of the Pagan's beliefs. Hrothgar and his counselors make useless attempts to appease Grendel in Verse 2. They can't offer him gold or land, as they might an ordinary enemy. Like most people in a time of crisis they slip back into old ways of thinking. Instead of praying to God for support, they sacrifice to t he stone idols of their pagan past.

The Christian motifs that run through the poem contrast with the pagan system of values that underlies the actions of the kings and the warriors. The influence of Christianity was just beginning to make its mark in this world, and most of the characters are torn between their newly discovered religious feelings and their old, heathen way of perceiving things. The idea that there's a higher being that controls one's actions revolutionized people's concepts of themselves, and infused...
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