Sunday, September 9, 2012

beowulf essay

You're off the hook this weekend-- details in class Monday. In the meantime enjoy the following (original here). Please copy, paste, and translate in a post to your blog.

Beowulf ond Godsylla

Meanehwæl, baccat meaddehæle, monstær lurccen;
Fulle few too many drincce, hie luccen for fyht.
Ðen Hreorfneorhtðhwr, son of Hrwærowþheororthwl,
Æsccen æwful jeork to steop outsyd. Þhud! Bashe! Crasch! Beoom! Ðe bigge gye
Eallum his bon brak, byt his nose offe;
Wicced Godsylla wæld on his asse.
Monstær moppe fleor wyþ eallum men in hælle.
Beowulf in bacceroome fonecall bamaccen wæs;
Hearen sond of ruccus sæd, "Hwæt ðe helle?"
Graben sheold strang ond swich-blæd scharp
Stond feorth to fyht ðe grimlic foe. "Me," Godsylla sæd, "mac ðe minsemete."
Heoro cwyc geten heold wiþ fæmed half-nelson
Ond flyng him lic frisbe bac to fen
Beowulf belly up to meaddehæle bar,
Sæd, "Ne foe beaten mie færsom cung-fu."
Eorderen cocca-cohla yce-coeld, ðe reol þyng.


  1. I love how someone is most likely going to use a translator to figure this out. Then after realizing that it wont work. Will look at it again, and notice that its just a funny version of writing. (Like I just did) >.<

    1. sooo, I wasn't the only one... good to know!

    2. It only took me about five minutes after me getting frustrated that the translator kept telling me it was in fact "English" and I did not believe it.

  2. Can I still have the essay prompt so I can write it this weekend?

    1. I'm rolling Beowulf into a larger prompt that will also include upcoming reading... but I love the spirit of your question, and the best way to improve as a writer is to write, so here is a practice prompt (eligible for next week's peer editing and Project Infinity credit):

      Describe three literary elements that the author of Beowulf uses to establish the main character as a symbol of the Germanic Heroic Code (see below, per Tacitus of Germania and the nice people behind Provide analysis and textual evidence for each element.

      Germanic Heroic Code
      From Tacitus, Germania
      In the day of battle, it is scandalous to the Prince to be surpassed in feats of bravery,
      scandalous to his followers to fail in matching the bravery of the Prince. But it is infamy
      during life, and indelible reproach, to return alive from a battle where their Prince was
      slain. To preserve their Prince, to defend him, and to ascribe to his glory all their own
      valorous deeds, is the sum and most sacred part of their oath. The Princes fight for
      victory; for the Prince his followers fight. Many of the young nobility, when their own
      community comes to languish in its vigour by long peace and inactivity, betake
      themselves through impatience to other States which then prove to be in war. For, besides
      that this people cannot brook repose, besides that by perilous adventures they more
      quickly blazon their fame, they cannot otherwise than by violence and war support their
      huge train of retainers. For from the liberality of their Prince, they demand and enjoy that
      war-horse of theirs, with that victorious javelin dyed in
      the blood of their enemies. In the place of pay, they are supplied with a daily table and
      repasts; though grossly prepared, yet very profuse. For maintaining such liberality and
      munificence, a fund is furnished by continual wars and plunder. Nor could you so easily
      persuade them to cultivate the ground, or to await the return of the seasons and produce
      of the year, as to provoke the foe and to risk wounds and death: since stupid and spiritless
      they account it, to acquire by their sweat what they can gain by their blood.
      Upon any recess from war, they do not much attend the chase. Much more of their
      time they pass in indolence, resigned to sleep and repasts.4 All the most brave, all the
      most warlike, apply to nothing at all; but to their wives, to the ancient men, and to every
      the most impotent domestic, trust all the care of their house, and of their lands and
      possessions. They themselves loiter.5 Such is the amazing diversity of their nature, that in
      the same men is found so much delight in sloth, with so much enmity to tranquillity and
      repose. The communities are wont, of their own accord and man by man, to bestow upon
      their Princes a certain number of beasts, or a certain portion of grain; a contribution
      which passes indeed for a mark of reverence and honour, but serves also to supply their
      necessities. They chiefly rejoice in the gifts which come from the bordering countries,
      such as are sent not only by particulars but in the name of the State; curious horses,
      splendid armour, rich harness, with collars of silver and gold. Now too they have learnt,
      what we have taught them, to receive money.

  3. What version of Beowulf should we use for the essay? I feel like every version/translation is a comlpletly different story.

    1. You can choose. Please remember to cite your source and use textual examples so your readers can follow your thinking.

  4. Let me be the first to say that, when you begin to understand what the story is about it becomes utterly ridiculous. I love it.