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Paganistic Beliefs in Beowolf
The epic poem Beowolf is one of the founding pieces of literature known to man. The author of the poem is unknown. It is believed that he was a monk or someone of the Christian faith. Although during the time of Beowolf there would not have been Christian beliefs. Although in the poem there are more than twenty-five lines of references to the Christian belief. The poem is about good vs. evil, or the heavens vs. hell. Paganistic implications are also in the poem. Paganism would be the true religion in the time when this poem was written, or first told. An idolatrous person is a pagan. A pagan is someone who worships many gods. Pagans believe in fate. They think that your life is inevitably happening as though it has already been determined by a higher source or power. Which religion, paganism or Christianity, is more dominant and decides more in the poem Beowolf.
In Beowolf Grendel is described as a powerful, murderous, loathsome man-eating monster that lives at the bottom of a foul mountain lake. In the poem Grendel is portrayed as one of the devil's creature or the devil himself. The following passage shows us how Grendel was born in evil;
Conceived by a pair of those monsters born
Of Cain, murderous creatures banished
By God, punished forever for the crime
Of Abel's death....(20-23)
Grendel is a horrifying creature. If he feels love, it is only that of killing people and drinking their blood. There is never a passage describing him as any type of a good being. He is always referred to as a demon, monster, or evil savage. In today's society when anyone thinks of the devil they
think of dark, gloomy, grotesque places or settings. In the poem Beowolf the only time that Grendel comes out is when there are these same type of settings. This is one description of where Grendel stalked;
That shadow of death hunted in darkness,
Stalked Hrothgar's warriors, old
And young, lying in waiting, hidden
In mist, invisibly following them from the edge
Of the marsh, always there, unseen.(74-78)
Here is another more descriptive passage, "Out from the marsh, from the foot of misty/Hills and bogs, bearing God's Hatred, Grendel came,..."(92-94). When referred to in the bible the devil is everyone's enemy. In this line Grendel is referred to in the same perspective, "So mankind's enemy continued his crimes, "(79). The devil is also thought of as the one and only who is against God and his people. The devil is known to tempt people to do sinful or wrongful things. It is almost like a battle between the devil and the people of the Christian belief. Here is a reference to that battle as if Grendel is the devil, "So Grendel ruled, fought with the righteous,/One against many, and won;..."(59-60). Good also wins a fight in the poem. When Beowolf is battling Grendel, it is as if God is battling the devil. This is seen in these passages,
Screams of the Almighty's enemy sang
In the darkness, the horrible shrieks of pain
And defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel's
Taut throat, hell's captive caught in the arms
Of him who of all the men on earth
Was the strongest.(467-472)
In the battle between Grendel and Beowolf a paganistic belief comes into play. The death of Grendel is said to be controlled by fate. The poem reads, "...But fate, that night, intended/Grendel to gnaw the broken bones/Of his last human supper...."(416-418). Then a few lines later Christian thoughts are brought back when describing the death of Grendel. Like in these lines, "And yet his time had come, his days/Were over, his death near; down/To hell he would go,..."(486-488). The question arises, is Grendel's death controlled by a paganistic destiny or the Christian belief of what life brings you. Since Grendel was a son Cain, which is a Christian belief, the reader should think that Grendels death was one without fate and only the sinful death he deserved.
The death of Beowolf is much like that of Grendel. They are both described in paganistic and Christian ways. The pagans believe that their life has already ... more
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Paganism In Christianity
Religions across the globe have their own distinctive rites and rituals, idols, traditions, and values. Each have in common a desire to explain something unexplainable by common wisdom, or attributing some aspect of life to some higher power. Many religions have at their heart etiological stories, which explain some sort of natural phenomenon through the physical manifestation of their deity or deities. From high winds and thunderstorms to love, fertility, and the sun, such religions focus on the physical world in this life. Other religions try to explain the "next" life or the afterlife. These religions usually give a moral code to live by, with stricter adherence to this code offering a better afterlife.
So, aside from obvious differences in practice and ritual, not all religions even address the same issues. In the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, religion is officially defined as:
1 : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
2 : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
3 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and
Religions have in common three things, then: first, a supernatural being to worship; second, a commitment to this being; third, a set of rules to guide the follower through his or her devotion.
Throughout the ancient world, there were many different peoples worshipping in many different ways, as there still is today. Many of these religions were polytheistic in nature, and were of the etiological type. Greco-Roman religion in particular was the basis for a rich culture, giving rise to an extremely artistic and creative period of time.
Greece had philosophers and playwrights such as Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, and Aeschylus. These men eloquently told of their gods, and provided ideas to strengthen the moral character of their culture. You might almost say they were the real prophets of the time. The Buddha guided other nations, Jesus still others. They were pioneers in their own time, and are still revered today. These men looked deep into the heart of the human spirit, and asked what it was to be human. Their insights have given meaning to many people's lives, and have been the basis for many beliefs held today. These men and the cultures they came from have heavily influenced the fields of philosophy, art, theater, architecture, religionwar, and every individual practitioner of each.
In some ancient Asian cultures, the beauty of nature was revered over everything, and this view became the basis of the Eastern lifestyle, creating beautiful gardens around their homes to celebrate their harmony with life. They, too, had their heavens and hells, deities and demi-gods.
In short, each religion differs somewhat, but they all have similarities as well. Many stories in several classical religions share common themes or events. There are a great many similarities between stories of Babylonian, Greek, and Christian origin. An example of a shared event would be "the flood" story. Each of these religions tries to explain the reason of a severe flood, which historians have found actually occurred in their shared region.
Christianity eventually replaced the "old" religions, mostly by means of the spread of the Holy Roman Empire. There were many who opposed being converted, but after the remaining members of these religions realized that failure to convert meant you were a heretic, which meant death, the job of converting was much easier. Even then, some people did not want others telling them how to worship. They had their rituals and customs-they didn't want new ones. This sentiment was conveyed to the leaders of the Roman Churches, who "bent" their rules and procedures to fit these pagan rites and rituals. A good way to convert someone is to make him or her feel like it's the same religion. This is how Christianity has become riddled with elements of "Paganism."
The purpose of this paper is to highlight major aspects of Christianity that have been "borrowed" from other religions in order to show that Christianity is myth just like all of the other "false" religions.
Perfect examples of this are the dates of Christian holidays, most notably Christmas--December 25th. This date is widely used as the birthday of some religious figure in many different cultures for many different ... more
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