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the time of her greatest development, explorations, and conquests. The story centers around the adventures and achievements of Vasco da Gama, who in 1497 sailed his ships through unknown waters and discovered the new route to India.

(8) "The Cid" is the great folk-epic of Spain, written about 1200. The story has, as its center, the deeds of the great "Cid," or "lord," Rodrigo, in his wars with the Moors.

(9) "The Nibelungenlied" is the great folk-epic of Germany, dating as far back as the sixth or seventh century.

(10) "The Song of Roland," which is thought to be the work of Théroulde, is the great epic of France in the time of Charlemagne and his paladins, Roland and Oliver.


(11) The Kalevala," the great epic of Finland, was put in its present form by Lönnrot in the early part of the nineteenth century. Some of the episodes of which it is composed date back over three thousand years.

(12) "Beowulf" gives the civilization of the early Anglo-Saxons. (13) "Paradise Lost" and (14) "Paradise Regained" sum up Christianity in the days of Puritan England.

(15) "Drake" gives almost a complete view of Elizabethan England.

Of these great epics, those easiest to understand are: "The Iliad," "The Odyssey," "The Eneid," "The Nibelungenlied," "The Song of Roland," "Beowulf" and "Drake."


1. Choose a particular portion of "The Iliad." "The Odyssey," "The Eneid," "The Song of Roland," or "The Nibelungenlied," and, either orally or in the form of a theme, report as fully as possible all that you are able to discover regarding the civilization of the ancient Greeks, Romans, French, or Germans. Try to imagine that all other books on the subject have been lost and you are seeking to find out all you can about this particular civilization. Some of the best references for this work are Books I, VI, XXII, XXIII, and XXIV of "The Iliad" in any of the poetical or prose translations; Books I, VI, VII, VIII, XIII, and XVII of "The Odyssey"; Books II, V, VI, and VII of "The Eneid"; Part II of "The Song of Roland"; and the first eighteen "Adventures" of "The Nibelungenlied." Remember that, although the translations read may be in prose, the originals are all in the poetic form.

2. Point out some of the most striking episodes. 3. What partic

1 These student-helps, given at intervals throughout this book, are, of course, not exhaustive, but suggest possibilities that may make the study more valu


ular great action, time, and hero are binding these together? 4. Can you determine the cause of the struggle that is depicted? 5. Who are the opposing forces? 6. Did you find the story interesting? Which interested you more-the story of the adventures experienced, or what was revealed regarding the life and ideals of the people?

The Great Epics of England.-Of the great epics named, those that belong especially to English literature will need a little fuller treatment.

Beowulf. This poem is the oldest and one of the greatest of the English epics. It was probably composed, in large part, before the Anglo-Saxons left their continental home in Scandinavia, but it was not until about the eighth or ninth century that some Christian monk of Anglo-Saxon descent put it in its present form. Although there are Christian touches, the poem is pagan in warp and woof. Some scholars still maintain that the events related took place after the coming of the Anglo-Saxons to England in 449 A. D. In any case, the poem deals with the life of our AngloSaxon forefathers, and is of especial value to us because it reveals the kind of people they really were.

The poem itself is divided into three parts.1 The first deals with the story of Seyld, the king of the Spear Danes, the ancestor of Hrothgar, for whom the hero, Beowulf, does his mighty deeds. Thus the first and second parts of the story are but slightly connected. The second part deals with the main deeds of Beowulf, who leaves his home in the land of the Geats (southern Sweden) to go to the rescue of his father's friends, the Spear Danes. The Danes have for twelve years suffered because of the terrible raids of the monster, Grendel, whom no weapon could harm. After many of King Hrothgar's best warriors have been devoured, Beowulf finally arrives upon the scene and succeeds, after a terrible fight, in killing Grendel, and, later, his mother, the monster mere-wife.

1 This outline of the story of "Beowulf" is purposely made short, because good detailed accounts may be found in almost all of the histories of English literature. Some of the best of these references in reach of high school students are Long's English Literature, pp. 10-18; Halleck's History of English Literature, pp 23-26; Moody and Lovett's History of English Literature, pp. 5-9: Newcomer's English Literature, pp. 18-21; Pancoast's Introduction to English Literature, pp 37-43: Saintsbury's A Short History of English Literature, p 5: Scudder's English Literature, pp. 31-33: Simond's A Student's History of English Literature, pp. 10-14: Taine's History of English Literature, pp. 62-67; Guerber's Legends of the Middle Ages, pp. -21; Long's English and American Literature, pp. 9-13.



Ry na urgerye dagum. pead cyning. ppym Framon huda æpe ingaf elle Fremedon. oft fyld seeping seepe pm monega mahin moodo feel of zeak esfode expl syddan quest pay. pea sceapt funden he per poppe geba peox under poleminn peopð mynd.un þah. off him hipple para ymb fittendra open inom pade hypan feolde gomban gyldan har god cyning. dem exifque pu after conned stong in glandun joue god fende polce coppoppe pyar dampe zeat phie en duszon aldenafe. Lange hpile hmm bar in pea poldne pealde popold pe con sorp bampus polye blað pide ippans fee fo GAL


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FACSIMILE OF THE FIRST PAGE OF "BEOWULF" (Manuscript in the British Museum)

The third part of the poem takes up the story of Beowulf's last fight. The scene here is laid fifty years after the events related in part two. Beowulf is successful in overcoming a frightful fire-drake, but the monster's fiery breath enters his lungs. He dies, but not before he has obtained for his people the vast treasures found in the fire-drake's cave.


1. From the following extracts from "Beowulf" what information may be gained concerning the civilization of the Anglo-Saxons? See how much even these few lines reveal as to their attitude towards women; the virtues they most admired; what they had, did, knew, or believed. 2. What is the great struggle depicted? What are the most interesting episodes? 3. What points of comparison can you make between the life found here and that which you discovered in "The Iliad," "Odyssey," "Eneid," "Song of Roland," or "Nibelungenlied"? How far apart in time were they? 4. Which story interested you more? Why? 5. What familiar story are you reminded of in that of Seyld? Which is the older story?


Then Scyld departed at the hour of fate,
The warlike to go into his Lord's keeping:
They him then bore to the ocean's wave,
His trusty comrades, as he himself bade,
Whilst with words ruled the friend of the Scyldings,
Beloved land-prince; long wielded he power.
There stood at haven with curved prow,
Shining and ready, the prince's ship:
The people laid their dear war-lord,
Giver of rings, on the deck of the ship.

The mighty by th' mast. Many treasures were there,
From distant lands, ornaments brought;
Ne'er heard I of keel more comelily filled
With warlike weapons and weeds of battle,
With bills and burnies! On his bosom lay
A heap of jewels which with him should
Into the flood's keeping afar depart:

Then placed they yet a golden standard
High over his head, let the waves bear
Their gift to the sea; sad was their soul,
Mourning their mood.1

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1 Garnett's translation of "Beowulf." lines 26-42: 47-50. All these extracts used by special permission of Mrs. James Mercer Garnett, owner of the copyright.

It came into his mind
That he a great hall would then command,
A greater mead-hall his men to build
Than children of men ever had heard of,
And there within would he all deal out
To young and to old, as God him gave,
Except the folk-land and lives of men.
Then far and wide heard I the work was ordered
To many a tribe throughout this mid-earth
The folk-hall to deck. Him in time it befell
Quickly with men, that it was all ready,
The greatest of halls: Heorot as name gave he it,
He who with his word power far and wide had.
He belied not his promise, bracelets he dealt,
Treasure at banquet. The halls arose
Lofty and pinnacled.1


Thus were the warriors living in joys
Happily then, until one began
Great woes to work, a fiend of hell:
The wrathful spirit was Grendel named,
The mighty mark-stepper who the moors held,
Fen and fastness: the sea-fiend's abode.

Then went he to seek out, after night came,
The high-built house, how the Ring-Danes,
After their beer-feast, it had arranged.
He found then therein a band of nobles

Asleep after feasting; sorrows they knew not,
Misfortunes of men. The demon of death,
Grim and greedy, soon was ready,
Fierce and furious, and in rest took
Thirty of thanes: thence back he departed,
Exulting in booty, homeward to go.

With his fill of slaughter to seek out his dwelling.

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1 Lines 67-82.

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That was great sorrow of the friend of the Seyldings,
Misery of mind! Many oft sat

Mighty in council; plans they devised,

What with bold mind then would be best

'Gainst the sudden attacks for them to do.








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