How Does “Beowulf” Reflect the Anglo-Saxon Culture?
The depictions of Anglo-Saxon culture in “Beowulf” include displays of strength, valor, honor and boastfulness of early epic traditions. Though many scholars believe that “Beowulf” was transcribed by a Christian monk, much of the pagan tradition that preceded Christianity was retained.
According to Article Myriad, “Beowulf” establishes a tradition of heroism, especially with respect to family. “Beowulf” is a construct of the oral story tradition and was performed in mead halls by poets and gleemen long before it was ever transcribed. While the hero in “Beowulf” was celebrated for his valor, he was also praised for his humility. He did not partake in corruption and refused the kingship when it was offered to him.
Anglo-Saxons were ruled by chieftains who maintained their stature through heroic acts of war. It was as important that the chieftain show generosity to his thanes by sharing in the spoils of war as it was for him to be victorious. Anglo-Saxons were tribal and blood feuds were common. Men were honor bound to avenge the death of a family member or face great shame. Feuds were often resolved by either paying for a death with “wergild,” a man price, or by arranging for a peaceful settlement through marriage.