Allusions In Beowulf

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The famous Roman fabulist, Phaedrus says, “Things are not always what they seem; the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden”(Phaedrus). Phaedrus’ observation distinguishes the common misconception about the truth derived from religious passages in Beowulf. The epic poem appears to be a Christian poem because of numerous allusions to the Christian God and The Bible. However, careful observation and analysis of the religious passages within the epic reveal the original meaning of the text. Beowulf is not a Christian epic poem, but is originally a heathen text, altered by editors through time to present a new version. Interpreting the text from the perspective that words have lost old …show more content…
Viewing Beowulf under the light of influence by Christianity, the epic poem reveals a deeper meaning to events and characters as allusions to The Bible and Christian doctrine. Grendel is a descendant of Cain and the original act of evil in Beowulf where it says, “out of the curse of his exile there sprang ogres and elves and evil phantoms”(111-112). Beowulf fights and is victorious against Grendel and Grendel’s mother, ending the evil. Beowulf acts as a sacrifice to rid the land of the Danes from evil, delivering the people to Hrothgar, mirroring sacrifice for salvation in The Bible. Interpreting the religious passages in Beowulf as pagan instead of Christian reveals a different significance with the actions of characters and meaning of events. Using a pagan perspective, Beowulf represents the model warrior and most admirable person under the values of the Anglo-Saxon people. Beowulf is subject to fate and must finally die, but his people honored him more than all other kings before; the last lines of the text communicate his honor well: “They said that of all the kings upon the earth he was the man most gracious and fair-minded, kindest to his people and keenest to win fame” (3180-3182). Beowulf is a great hero of his people and a noble man in a pagan interpretation of the text, fulfilling the ideal qualities of his people, yet he is still a mortal to set an example. Without the use of Christina references, Beowulf stands alone as a strong story of a great pagan

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