"Beowulf" - the 1st Epic Poem

We know from the history of Great Britain that about 3,000 BC the British Isles were inhabited by a people, who is known as the Iberians. We do not know much about them, as history wasn't written at that time.
During the period from the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC the Celts spread across Europe from East to West. Celtic tribes also invaded Britain. They were the Picts, the Scots and the Britons. The southern part of Britain was called so after the Britons. Today the words Briton and British refer to the people of the whole of the British Isles.
The people who inhabited the British Isles couldn't yet write (writing came much later together with Christianity). But these people were gifted and talented both in handicrafts and in verbal art. From time immemorial people composed songs, legends, fairy tales, riddles. They passed them on from generation to generation by word of mouth. In this way they reflected their joys and fears, their wisdom and history. This historic stage of literary development is called folklore. It can be found in every nation's cultural development. Nobody knows the names of authors or the time of creation. Before being written down the story existed in several variants, new parts might be added later. Legends and myths usually tell of strong noble heroes who struggle against evil forces (representing hostile dangerous nature).
As it has been already pointed out folk poems and legends existed in the oral form and had to be remembered as such. Thus, there had to be some devices in a folklore text, which would serve as aids to memory. These could be rhymes, a repetition of sounds, rhythmical patterns.
There must have been great wealth of heroic narrative verse among the Celts and later the Anglo-Saxons. But unfortunately very little has survived. Among those few is the great epic poem "Beowulf. It is the oldest known English epic poem, the foundation stone of the British poetry. It is the greatest piece of literature of the Anglo-Saxons. It possesses all the features typical of folklore. We would like to know but probably we would never discover the exact answers to the questions: who wrote it? when? and where? Scholars have come to the conclusion that it was probably composed during the 7th or the 8th century. The author of the poem drew his story from old pagan legends brought over from the continent (because there is no mention of England in the text). The scene is set among the Geats (Gutes) who lived on the southern coast of Scandinavia and their neighbours across the strait the Danes. The character of "Beowulf is a combination of features of a nephew of the king of the Gutes who later became the king and of various mythical heroes.
The theme of the poem is the story of a great leader who saves or fries to save people in danger. The characters are all people of noble birth. Beowulf is a strong and fearless advocate of freedom and justice. He expresses the Anglo-Saxon ideals of personal conduct. The characters of villains are: the fire-drake or Dragon, the cannibal-ogre Grendel and his mother a water witch.
The tone of the poem is dark, melancholy and austere. In simple, direct and majestic verse an exiting story of adventure and heroism is told. Beowulf comes victor or winner of all the battles he has to fight, and his victory over the monsters symbolizes the triumph of Man over powers of darkness, evil and death.

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