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CLA 322 3/17/16

by: Kenya

CLA 322 3/17/16 CLA 322 P


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Notes for CLA 322 3/17/2016
greek Mythology: Monsters
Han Tran
Class Notes
beowulf, grendel, Anglo-Saxon, Monsters, CLA 322
25 ?




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This 14 page Class Notes was uploaded by Kenya on Wednesday March 23, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLA 322 P at University of Miami taught by Han Tran in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 45 views. For similar materials see greek Mythology: Monsters in Classical Studies at University of Miami.


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Date Created: 03/23/16
CLA 322 3/17/16 Beowulf cont’d The hall is covered over with gold and the threatening figure prowling around it THINK: what is the ontology of this creature Grendel?  The study of being (or the reason for existence) Grendel represents(what most monstersdo) someone’sdeep seated fear Focuson the people he’sthreatening: Heorot (the hall of Hrothgar)  Representative of what is important to this warrior society. All who see the hall assuch will feel threatened if this Hall is attacked st 1 confrontation b/wGrendel and Beowulf: “Flame more than light” o Greek monstersassociated with flame : Typhon (and Chimera) o The flame is innate in this creature, but it is also being contrasted to the light (comes from God) Inhumane characteristics o Raging, angry  Expressed as “demonic”  Demonic coming from Greek Daimon: which isjust an ambiguous (but mostly positive) disembodied figure o Blood thirsty Description of Beowulf o Not a lot of info about his character o Awake and observant o Sense that he is exceptionally physically powerful  Shows off Beowulf’s exceptional strength 1 time Grendel experiences the in escapable, and fear to run away o “Desperate to escape” Beowulf hasthe upper hand?  Beowulf’s men at this point want to help him by using their weapons, but “No blade on earth, no blacksmith’sart could damage their demonic opponent” o Think back to Herakles vs. the Nemean Lion  Beowulf doesn’t kill Grendel outright but tears off his arm to the shoulder o Significant because his hands are his weapons, and Beowulf keeps this “weapon”as a trophy o Not like having Grendel’s corpse Beowulf’s description of his duel:  Diff from Heracles: o Grendel is able to escape, though he losesan arm o “And now he won’t be long for this world...”  Beowulf is certain that this is the end of Grendel in this point in time THINK: What gives Beowulf this confidence? Reference to God as watcher and judge THINK: What do you make of the fact that Grendel escapes,what of the mannerof hisescape?  He’s hard to control fully for anyone (even Beowulf) o OnlyGod has that power to completely end Grendel o Though he never takes a practicalrole, he seems to be in charge of everything The Poet later remarks that Grendel is still a mortal creature, and the fate of all mortal creatures is to die. There is no specified place for Grendel at his death. He leaves hismortal body behind, and goes where all go. He is not a special case (emphasized) Grendel goesback to his lair, underground at the bottomof the marshes: Appearance of Grendel’s mom (she doesn’t have a name) who seeks revenge (but no father)  He doesn’t have a legit father  Both described as fatherless creatures  But the father of his line is Cain, who destroys the idea of Christian brotherhood o All spawn from the virulence of Cain (they aremarked forever more) Grendel and his motherin a nutshell: 1.1355 ff. “They are fatherless creatures, and their whole ancestry ishidden in a past of demons and ghosts. They dwell apart among wolves onthe hills, on windswept crags and treacherous keshes, wherecold streams pour down the mountain and disappear under mist andmoorland.”  Their species include ghost o In this context unhappy, unfulfilled spirits of the dead)  They live amongst wolves o Banished to the realm of wild animals, they have rejected civilization and its laws The two have to be sought in their own den by Beowulf: GO to evil’s root Beowulf not has to arm himself with a special weapon:  Hrunting the sword o Precious objects tend to have their own name in anglo-norse culture 1459 ff. “The iron blade with itsill-boding patterns had been tempered in blood. It had never failed the hand of anyone who heftedit in battle, anyone who had fought and faced the worst in the gap of danger. This was not the first time it had been called to perform heroic feats.” “Ill-boding”  Going to be the death of someone  Not connoting something positive  Used before to kill  It had never failed the hand of anyone who had hefted it in battle (like Apollo’s bow)  Success rate 100% (so far) How did Beowulf get this sword?  Unferth the warrior o He challenged Beowulf (mocking him) and he was notorious for killing his own brother with this sword o Is the sword going to work, therefore, ona line of brother killers? Into the lair: He is attacked by the mother as soon as he enters. Grendel is probably dying in the lair somewhere.  Beowulf in his chainmail isprotected from her talon o This chainmailhas the power to protect against sea beats who also live in this lair “But he soon found his battle torch extinguished: the shining blade refused to bite…”  The sword and all that power failed  Mere-wif (Tarn-hag): Lady of the sea o The sea (for Greeks) is where allmonsters come from Why did the blade fail to hurt her?  It killed a bother, and she is from a family of brother killers He throws the sword away:  He therefore rejects the heritage of brotherly murder  Grendel’smother cannot be defeated by a sword made by mere mortals? Looks around the cave and finds a “sword in her armory”: From the days of the giants  So huge and heavy, only Beowulf (with his strength) could wield it o Reminds one of Excalibur  1 thing he does with sword is to cut off the head of the mother o Soon after : “A light appeared and the place brightened the way the sky does when heaven’scandle is shining clearly.”  Evidence that the purpose of god is being fulfilled  At this moment he sees the dead Grendel and lops of his head o Why? He’salready dead?  Got to make sure he’s dead  Death token? o A barbaric act?  There is something barbaric in thisact The blade (afterall this) Image of spring after frosty winter  Lair filled with treasure o Beowulf takes nothing but the head of Grendel and the hilt of the sword Melting of the blade:  Part of god’s purpose o Doesn’t need to be used again, it fulfilled its destiny o It’s been dipped into too much evil (poisonous blood) Why doesn’t he take any treasure?  The treasure has been tainted by their evil? Brings hilt and head to Hrothgar: Parallel to the Gigantomachy where the giants battled the Olympian o Giants produced byGaia to topple Zeus (in this case to topple God)  Commemorates the first act of Hubris against the ChristianGod MESSAGE: warning from God to his opponents, that even the giants of old were washed away byGod’s vengeful flood and this scene is inscribed on the weapon that defeated Grendel and his mother who are the continuation of the line of opponents to God. Hrothgar looksback overhislife: th  King of Danes for 50 yrs. He had thought himself completely safe, and in the 50 year Grendel appears Beowulf returnsto the land of the Geats, in this time Hygelac falls and Beowulf becomes king andrules for 50 winter (fifty years). Now a creature must appear to him: The Dragon:  Pissed because a slave stole some of his treasure So Beowulf is a successful warrior, who earned his status but in his twilight years he gets an enemy even greater than the one he fights in his youth (Grendel) History of the dragon’s treasure:  Emphasis that no one possessing the treasure could take advantage it and enjoy it for long o Brevity of “pagan” treasure can be equated to the brevity of mortal life The master of the slave loots the cave and the dragon reacts with breathing fire on everyone, and none are sparred not even Beowulf’s home “The throne room of the Geats”  The new Heorot? But Beowulf isdifferent from Hrothgar:  He tries to face his enemy, but he gets help o Commissions the creation of the magical, all iron shield o You can’t fight this beast, but he can try to defend himself against it o Beowulf knows he is going to die Awareness that his enemymay be beyond manmade weapons  Dragons belong beyond his abilities THINK: Why no special sword? THINK: Ishis fight with the dragon diff than with Grendel? Contrast between the fiery dragon and the cold/misty/clammy Grendel “Gushing streams that burst from the barrows”  Similar to Dragon of Ares andCadmus  Association of sacred springs and dragons: pure Water asa treasure to be protected


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