The Dream of the Rood

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Describe the pagan element in "The Dream of the Rood."

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To a large extent "The Dream of the Rood" represents a synthesis of pagan and Christian culture. The pagan elements in the poem are derived from the values of the Anglo-Saxon warrior code, which was prevalent in England at that time. In the rood's dream, it's telling that the cross isn't just a Christian symbol adorned with Christ's blood; it's also richly adorned with gold, which for an Anglo-Saxon warrior is very valuable treasure.

Christ himself is presented to us not as a broken and humiliated figure on a cross, but as a brave, manly Anglo-Saxon warriora warrior set to do battle like the Anglo-Saxons against the invading Danish hordes. With the strength of Christ upon him, the rood is able to destroy all his enemies:

I was able to destroy

all the enemies, nevertheless, I stood firmly.

The young hero stripped himself then (that was God Almighty),

strong and resolute.

The Prince of Peace has been turned into a man of war, a valiant Anglo-Saxon warrior, using the cross to smite his mortal enemies on the field of battle.

The death of Christ is likened to the death of a warrior in battle. Christ has fought the good fight, coming down to earth to save humankind from sin, but now he rests from his labors upon a cross, his earthly ministry having ended in suffering and death. Yet Christ's death, like the death of a Saxon lord in battle, is not the end of it. His glory will live on, his victory shared with the cross, just as a brave and victorious king would share the spoils of war with his loyal warriors.

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