Beowulf Lost This Essay Is About How We Hav Lost A Bit Of Our Human History Due To The Alteration Of This Originally Pagan Text

974 words - 4 pages

Beowulf LostThroughout the epic poem Beowulf there is a reoccurring literary conflict between Christian and Pagan elements that depict the Anglo-Saxon culture. Beowulf is the first great poem of the English language and as such its origins as well as its date of creation have been the subject of much debate. The question then becomes: does the poem provide us with an accurate if idealized view of early Germanic culture? Or has the poem, through a series of translations, lost numerous Pagan elements. Some may argue that the translations, having been done by monks who wished to alter the offensive Anglo-Saxon lifestyle, have given the text many unnecessary Christian references. This ancient text is an invaluable connection to our past and our culture but with these various discrepancies in religion the pure form and view of what was then a polytheist society has been destroyed.There is only one manuscript of Beowulf that has survived to the present day. It's once owner was presumed to be an early Anglo-Saxon scholar known as Laurence Nowell, Dean of Lichfield. Afterwards it was put into the manuscript collection of Sir Robert Bruce Cotton and was shelved under the bust of Roman Emperor Aulus Vitellius. In 1700, Cotton's collection was donated to the British people. And so for one reason after another this manuscript and others were moved to various locations over many years. It was in 1731 that the place at which the manuscript was stored, The Ashburnham House, caught fire. The manuscript in which Beowulf was bound was badly burned around the edges. It was saved by being thrown from the window with numerous other manuscripts. Already we had lost precious pieces of valuable ancient texts, even if it was only an accident. The lost of parts of the manuscript made it difficult to decipher to meanings of the original text. However, the task has been taken on by many who wished to preserve history.In 1787 G.J. Thorkelin, an Anglo-Saxonist from Iceland, and a hired scribe made two transcripts of Beowulf. It was not until the next century that the British Museum went about systematically repairing the manuscript damaged by the fire. By that time, much of the text of Beowulf had crumbled away from the edges of the pages. By 1845 the manuscript containing Beowulf was rebound mounted on paper frames that help slow the deterioration of the edges of the pages.F.A. Blackburn has given credence to the idea that "the poem was composed by a heathen, either from old stories or from old lays. At a later date it was revised by a Christian, to whom we owe the Christian allusions found in it" (Savage). In his essay, The Cristian Colouring in the Beowulf, he notes that the evidence for this idea is prevalent throughout the text. There are the passages containing biblical history or allusions to some scriptural narrative including references to Cain, Abel,...

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