What aspect of an epic is present in the following passage from Beowulf?  Passage referred to: Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy Sword, hammered by giants, strong And blessed with their...

What aspect of an epic is present in the following passage from Beowulf?

 

Passage referred to:

Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy

Sword, hammered by giants, strong

And blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons

But so massive that no ordinary man could lift

Its carved and decorated length. He drew it

From its scabbard, broke the chain on its hilt . . . .

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The following passage from the Old English poem Beowulf is typical of epic writing in a number of ways:

Then he saw, hanging on the wall, a heavy

Sword, hammered by giants, strong

And blessed with their magic, the best of all weapons

But so massive that no ordinary man could lift

Its carved and decorated length. He drew it

From its scabbard, broke the chain on its hilt . . . .

Common epic elements in this passage include the following:

  • The hero prepares for mortal combat.
  • The hero has unusual or even superhuman strength.
  • The hero knows how to handle weapons well.

However, perhaps the most important aspect of this passage that links it with the traits of epic poetry is its emphasis on the way the plot of the poem is here complicated by superhuman beings or events.  The focus of this very brief passage in on the fact that the sword has been

. . . hammered by giants, strong

And blessed with their magic . . . .

The passage does not describe Beowulf actually performing a superhuman indeed; instead, he simply prepares to perform one.  His behavior in this small, single passage affects no one besides himself.  The main emphasis of this very brief selection from the poem, then, is on the magic of the giants.

 

Sources:

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