How does the bard/scop tell the story of Beowulf?What is his overall message and how it is achieved?

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

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The job of the scop during the Anglo-Saxon period was to tell the stories of the period, like the epic poem Beowulf. During this period, written texts were almost obsolete. Therefore, the scop would tell stories from memory to the best of his ability.

This being said, the stories would never have been exactly the same each time. Instead, the elevated language of the Anglo-Saxon poetry allowed the scop to take some liberties with the story itself.

The use of kennings (typically hyphenated metaphoric words) were used to make the language more beautiful. One example of this in Beowulf is that instead of saying the ship, the scop would use the kenning "wave-traveller." Another poetic device typically used in the Anglo-Saxon poems was alliteration. Again, the purpose of this was to allow the scop's song to be more fluid and rhythmical. Alliteration is the repetition of a consonant sound within a line of poetry. An example of alliteration is Beowulf is "seashore's sand."

Therefore, the scop's job to sing the tales of the epic Anglo-Saxon heroes (like Beowulf) and elegiac poetry of the period ("The Wanderer" "The Seafarer", and "The Wife's Lament") was made much easier through the sing-song fluidity.

The message of the scop was to simply tell hardships of the men at sea and the heroic adventures of the men the Anglo-Saxon culture raised up.

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