The Influences On Anglo Saxon Poets Essay

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The Influences On Anglo Saxon Poets Essay, Research Paper As was popular during the Anglo-Saxon era, English poets usually wrote epic poems. These authors told stories about experiences in everyday life, the tales of battles won or battles lost, and also about the heroes who set out to defeat all the horrible monsters that plagued the nation. These times greatly influenced the writers of the Anglo-Saxon period because of the harshness of life and law, the mixed beliefs in magic and religion and the hierarchy of their government. Life during the Anglo-Saxon period of England was not exactly like the life we experience in our time. Consequences for not abiding the law were disastrous. “The law itself was violent, though a trespasser would often avoid its severe penalties by

paying a fine if he could afford it” (Page 5). Most crimes were punishable by death, by hanging, beheading, burning, mutilations, castration and scalping, most of the above mentioned in the epic poem “The Chronicle”. Most criminals who committed a crime and got caught never again attempted to do so, or were in so much pain, never again could they do much of anything. The law also permitted men to kill other men that insulted them, owed money or were caught sleeping with a member of his family (Page 9). Wars were fought throughout the history of Anglo-Saxon rule. They fought the British in the fifth and sixth centuries, and later on, the Celts until the end of their reign. They also fought against Viking raiders who were savage seamen. “… they brutally murdered the arch

Bishop Aelfheah, whom they were holding to ransom, by pelting him with bones and the heads of cattle” (Page 4). The small early Anglo-Saxon kingdoms constantly warring with one another. No one ever really won, but they remained in a constant deadlock, always wanting greater wealth and glory. Natural disasters also ended many lives. “… the plague days came, / Death snatched away all the host of men, / Their battlements became waste places, / Their citadel crumbled” (Alexander). Many people died from plagues, famine, storms and droughts. “The Wanderer” mourns the loss of life due to an unspecified cause as everything and everyone he once loved has succumbed to death. The Anglo-Saxons believed in a mixture of catholic religion and pagan customs and rituals. For the first

century and a half of their rule, paganism was favored. Catholic religion became prominent only in the latter four hundred years and although most of the people had converted, many of the pagan beliefs and rituals remained. A great many mystical beings and creatures were still sought out in the latter years of Anglo-Saxon reign. “Often the evil monsters pressed upon me, but with thrust of my sword I dealt them fair return. They had no chance to devour me” (Hosford 12). Amongst these creatures, the most popular was the dragon for it was also believed in Catholic religion. The dragon held treasures that were plentiful beyond the dreams of men. To slay a dragon was a deed well celebrated and most honorable. Many believed that it was honorable to die in battle, or to die

protecting your leader in battle, which was a matter of choice. If a soldier was to come back from a battle without his commander, he would be shunned and disgraced for the rest of his life (Page 21). He was also labeled as “one without honor”. Being without honor was a punishment much worse than death. Honor was extremely important, and a good man’s word was his bond. In the poem “Apolonius of Tyre”, a man, namely Apolonius, returned to a country even though he knew it would be the death of him. He was given a grace period in which to return home, divide his possessions and say good-bye to his friends and family. The only problem was that he was Shipwrecked on the way back to the country in question. A servant worked for his master out of loyalty, not out of force. He