It also may be helpful for students to be introduced

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Chapter 2 / Exercise 4
The Psychology of Women
Matlin
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It also may be helpful for students to be introduced to the Anglo-Saxon tradition of the scop. This will aid students in understanding some of the literary devices and other stylistic techniques that appear in Beowulf. Scops were both composers and storytellers who traveled from court to court — the entertainers of Anglo-Saxon times. Scops were expected to know a broad repertoire of tales and no doubt be able to compose tales in tribute to the patrons who financed them, a possible explanation for the segment about Offa, a historical king of Mercia from 757-796 (83-84). Students will benefit from learning about the comitatus, or Germanic code of loyalty. Thanes, or warriors, swore loyalty to their king, for whom they fought and whom they protected. In return the king was expected to be generous with gifts of treasure and land. The king also protected his thanes. Kings were highly praised for their generosity and hospitality. Warriors were expected to be brave, courageous, and loyal. Their reputation for such qualities was very important, as evidenced by Beowulf’s description of the swimming match with Brecca (40-41). Students should be made aware of the Germanic custom of paying wergild, or “man-payment,” the practice of paying a slain man’s family to atone for the deed and to prevent them from taking revenge against the manslayer. Wergild is mentioned in Beowulf. Before the events in the poem, Hrothgar paid a wergild to Beowulf’s father. Hence, Beowulf feels compelled to help Hrothgar in his time of need. Some students may have trouble keeping track of the different warrior groups. Suggest that they refer to the Genealogies in the Signet Classic edition (160). It is most important that they remember that Beowulf represents the Geats and that Hrothgar represents the Danes. A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classic Edition of Beowulf 2
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The Psychology of Women
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Chapter 2 / Exercise 4
The Psychology of Women
Matlin
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LIST OF CHARACTERS The Signet Classic edition of Beowulf includes a “Glossary of Names” (149-159). Note: the translator of the Signet Classic edition has altered the familiar (to some) Old English forms of the names. For example “Heorot” is rendered as “Herot.” A large version of the “Genealogies” (160) could be constructed by students and displayed on a bulletin board during the study of Beowulf. JOURNAL TOPICS The writing activities that follow will encourage students to examine some of Beowulf’s themes. These activities are suitable for individual or group assignments. All of them should serve as springboards for class discussion.

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