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The article "Life in 999: A Grim Struggle" shows life as it was during the Anglo-Saxon period. The article, from Time magazine, depicts the setting of the lands as a "collection of untamed forests, countless mile upon mile of trees and brush and brier, dark and inhospitable." Readers of Beowulf can see how this picks up on the setting of the epic tale. The setting of the Anglo-Saxon was vast. The use of the phrase "mile upon countless mile" deepens this understanding.
On top of the description of the physical environment, the article looks at the life of the serf:
Wood kindled forges and kept alive the hearths of the mud-and-thatch huts of the serfs. Peasants fattened their hogs on forest acorns (pork was crucial to basic subsistence in the cold of winter), and wild berries helped supplement the meager diet. In a world without sugar, honey from forest swarms provided the only sweetness for food or drink. The pleasures of the serfs were few and simple: earthy lovemaking and occasional dances and fests.
While serfs are not specifically mentioned in Beowulf, one can see the importance of dancing and fests as described by the reasoning behind Hrothgar's building of Heorot:
It came to his mind to order his men to build a hall, a master mead-house far mightier than any seen by the sons of earth, and therein would he bestow to young and old all that the Lord should give him, save people's land and the lives of men.
Another aspect of the Anglo-Saxon life which is seen in the article is the fear of "marauding ships." The sentinel in Beowulf states why his position of watching the shores is needed.
I have been set as a sentinel over this seacoast that no foe of the Danish folk should harm the land with marauding ships.
This idea is paired in the article through the following:
It was in the lord's castle too that peasants and their flocks sought refuge from wolf packs and barbarian invaders.
The people during this period simply feared loss of their lands.
One part of the article which does not show the true fear of the people of this period, as depicted in Beowulf, is:
Thus there was little panic, not even much interest, as the millennium approached in the final months of 999. For what terrors could the apocalypse hold for a continent that was already shrouded in darkness?
Instead, a very different aspect is provided in Beowulf. Hrothgar, fearing more murders at the hands of Grendel, closes the doors of his precious Heorot. Darkness is viewed as the ultimate "thing" to panic.
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