Beowulf: a Pagan Epic Hero? Essay

1688 Words Apr 11th, 2007 7 Pages
Beowulf: A Pagan Epic Hero?

Throughout literature there have been countless parallels and references to the story of Christ as written in the Bible. Even in such unexpected places as in seemingly pagan poems of ancient Danes and Geats- an epic with dragons and monsters- one still finds similar biblical allusions. In just such an unexpected place, the epic Beowulf, it's title hero and his circumstance, become an allegory for the story of Christ. In this sense, Beowulf can be seen as a Christian story of salvation.
The similarities between Beowulf and the story of Christ are striking. All one would need to see the many parallels between the two would be a simple sign or thought that this allegory does exist. After that simple hint
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Symbolizing these two opposed concepts of Christian and Pagan as used in Beowulf, are the ideas of God and Wyrd. They are the two deities, or higher powers, by which Christians and Pagan respectively believe in : God and Fate. According to Professor Kennedy, "In the poem, God and Wyrd are brought into juxtaposition in such a manner as to imply control of Fate by the superior power of Christian divinity." (Kennedy, pp. 87-88) By this same thought, Beowulf as a literary work, can be seen as a first progression of epic literature into the Christian genre. It is in a sense, the normal pagan epic written around serious Christian themes.
The most self-evident, and by far most superior of these Christian themes apparent in Beowulf is that of the correspondence between the Monsters and the Devil and therefore the relationship between Beowulf and Christ. "A din arose, strange and mighty; a horrible fear came to the North-Danes, to everyone who heard the shrieking from the wall, --heard the adversary of God chant his grisly lay, his song of defeat,-- the prisoner of hell wailing over his wound." (ln. 787) The descriptions of Grendel are clearly symbolic of the devil. Even his situation and his home are similar to that of Satan. "Then the mighty spirit who dwelt in darkness bore grievously a time of hardship, in that he heard each day loud revelry in hall; -- there was the sound of the harp, the clear song

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