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 their day-to-day lives with a sense of wonder.
"Beowulf" is a epic poem that combines the contrasting beliefs of the
traditional Paganism and the modern assessment of Christianity. The majority of
the characters in "Beowulf" are Pagans which is based of the belief of many gods
(polytheism). As shown in the prologue. Many characters were petrified of the
newly uprising of the monotheism (belief in one god) which was present in
Christianity. Due to this fear Christianity was not highly thought of in the
poem even though the poem was hand written by the monks of the Christian