Victorious Pagan Beliefs

Victorious Pagan Beliefs

British poet Percy Bysshe Shelley once remarked that "Revenge is the naked idol of the worship of a semi-barbarous age." Though not referring to Old English poetry, Shelley's acclamation is illustrated in the epic poem Beowulf, a heroic expedition written anonymously sometime after 520 AD. Composed during the tumultuous time of emergence of Germanic tribe rule over Christian England, Beowulf combines ideals from both cultures in an explication of moral standards.

In his article, "Beowulf: The Archetype Enters History", Jeffrey Helterman asserts that the Old English epic "has caused almost every critic to assume that the poem is 'something more' than a narrative of heroic adventures and Germanic history" (1). This "something more" that Helterman refers to is the conglomeration of Pagan standards and Christian morals throughout the lengthy text. During the Middle Ages, "much of the Christian poetry is also cast in the heroic mode: although the Anglo-Saxons adapted themselves readily to the ideals of Christianity, they did not do so without adapting Christianity to their own heroic ideal" (David 5). Though Beowulf successfully merges Pagan and...

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