Heroes aid in Clash of Lords 2
The heroic elegiac poem, Beowulf, is a reflection of many Anglo-Saxon ideals and concepts. This work was written after the Anglo-Saxons were already Christianized, yet the pagan traditions that had dominated their lives were still present in their minds. Overall, Beowulf contains many pagan themes and concepts, but yet it also contains many clear references to Christianity. It is an Anglo Saxon work with a peculiar spiritual atmosphere.
In order to evaluate the fusion of Christian ideas and pagan-heroic characteristics, the development of religion in Britain must first be considered. Originally dominated by the Celtic faith, Britains belief structure underwent a significant change with the conquest of the Anglo-Saxons and their Germanic paganism.
In these and the following centuries, Britain was gradually converted to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons Christianisation began in 597. This conversion and the expression of Christian ideas were founded on the existing pagan terminology and symbols, with pagan temples merely stripped of their idols and used as places for Christian worship. Christianisation involved the conversion of a king rather than the people themselves. It is in Beowulf, composed not more than approximately 50 years after this conversion, that we are able to find a vivid image of a society still struggling to establish their identity within a new belief structure.
The two major societies directly depicted by the narrator of Beowulf are the Danes and the Geats, of Southern Scandinavia, home to the epics hero, Beowulf. At first glance, the two societies seem completely converted to the Christian faith. Both Hrothgar and Beowulf, as representatives of their people, acknowledge the power and sovereignty of God in various instances. Regarding his peoples plight, Hrothgar tells Beowulf; My household guard are on the wane, fate sweeps them away into Grendels clutches - but God can easily halt these raids and harrowing attacks!.
Christian terminology is found in the speeches of various characters throughout the poem even regarding the final burial of Beowulf himself; then let us bring the body of our lord, the man we loved, to where he will lodge for a long time in the care of the Almighty.
Moreover, the poet himself praises the divine supremacy on several occasions; Almighty God rules over mankind and always has while denouncing pagan traditions; Oh, cursed is he
Who in times of trouble has to thrust his soul in the fires embrace, forfeiting help; he has nowhere to turn.
As Boris Kuhne argues in his essay; The Amalgamation of Christian Ideas and Pagan Heroic Characteristics in Beowulf, it is notable that the epic bears occasional reference to the Old Testament but none to the New Testament. This goes counter to our knowledge of Old English poetry such as The Dream of the Rood, which proves that the medieval Anglo-Saxon society was well acquainted with the New Testament. Nonetheless, both societies were intrinsically pagan; Denmark was Christianised during the beginning, Sweden close to the end of the 11th century. The poet acknowledges this fact most notably for the Danes: as they suffer under Grendels reign of terror, they turn to their heathen gods for help; at pagan shrines...