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"Beowulf's dagger, his iron blade, had finished the fire-spitting terror that once...

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reedcapps18 | Honors

Posted September 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM via web

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"Beowulf's dagger, his iron blade, had finished the fire-spitting terror that once protected tower and treasure alike; the gray-bearded lord of the Geats had ended those flying, burning raids forever."

Identify the kennings used in the lines above to refer to the dragon and Beowulf. 

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 25, 2013 at 10:30 PM (Answer #1)

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Anglo-Saxon literature is filled with two common literary/poetic devices: kennings and alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry (used to elevate the language and the musical quality of the text). A kenning is a two or three word metaphorical phrase which elevates the language and makes for a more beautiful image. Both alliteration and kennings were used numerous times throughout Beowulf. 

A kenning used to describe the dragon is "fire-splitting terror." This kenning illustrates the dragon as a beast which bellows fire and is a frightening thing. A kenning used to describe Beowulf is "gray-bearded lord." This kenning illustrates that Beowulf is both a king and old. 

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