What is learned about 8th century Germanic culture through reading "Beowulf"?no

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troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the late 7th century, Christianity had pretty much replaced British pagan religions.  In Beowulf, (which was first recorded in 700--according to my literature book), we see a lot of references to pagan beliefs, such as fate and making sacrifices.  However, Beowulf is filled with Christianity as well.  One can see that this was created and told during a time of change.  With the many different invasions and groups taking over one another that had been going on since the 400's, the jumping back and forth between the ideas of pagans and those of Christians is obvious.

In Beowulf, when Hrothgar is trying to figure out what to do to rid them of Grendel, the story shows their beliefs going back and forth between the two religions.

"And sometimes they sacrificed to the old stone gods, made heathen vows, hoping for Hell's support, the Devil's guidance in driving their affliction off.  That was their way, and the heathen's only hope, Hell always in their hearts, knowing neither God nor His passing as He walks through our world, the Lord of Heaven and earth."

These lines show their knowledge of both, and during this time period many were conflicted in their beliefs.  Many were converting to Christianity.

Another aspect of culture is covered on the second link.  The groups or kingdoms were led by a military leader such as Beowulf himself.