13. Different PerspectivesIn his 20th-century novel Grendel, writer John Gardner tells the story of Grendel’s attacks against the Danes from the monster’s point of view. Consider the selection you have read from the perspectives of Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon. What reasons might each of them have to hate Beowulf and other men?
14. Creative WritingWrite a one-page scene for a modern epic in which a real or imaginary present-day role model is the hero. You might exaggerate your character’s virtues, create a fierce and evil adversary, or use foreshadowing. Refer to Beowulf for ideas and inspiration.
15. Learning for LifeA Hero’s Handbook on Living Beowulf has much to teach readers about how to form alliances and battle adversaries successfully—skills that are useful in social and professional situations today. Examine the selection to compile a handbook of lessons for your classmates. Save your work for your portfolio.
Reading Focus II: from A History of the English Church and People(Historical Writing by the Venerable Bede)
KEY IDEA History is full of stories of people who received a flash of inspiration during a dream. For example, the 19th-century German chemist Friedrich August Kekule said that the ring-like structure of the molecule benzene presented itself to him when he dozed off and dreamed of a snake holding its tail in its mouth. In the following selection, the Venerable Bede recounts a tale of a humble man who fell asleep one night and woke up the next morning an accomplished poet.
Before Reading Meet The Venerable Bede (673–735)
The Venerable Bede, regarded as the father of English history, lived and worked in a monastery in northern Britain during the late 7th and early 8th centuries. His most famous work, A History of the English Church and People, is a major source of information about life in Britain from the first successful Roman invasion (about AD 46 to AD 731). The book contains many stories about the spread of Christianity among the English.
Raised By MonksAt the age of seven, Bede was taken by his parents to a monastery at Wearmouth, on the northeast coast of Britain, where he was left in the care of the abbot, Benedict Biscop. It is not known why the boy’s parents left him or whether he ever saw them again. When he was nine, Bede moved a short distance to a new monastery at Jarrow, where he spent the rest of his life.
A Bookish BoyBede seems to have been a naturally devout and studious child. He read widely in the monastery libraries and participated fully in the religious life of the monastery. He was exposed to the art and learning of Europe through the paintings, books, and religious objects brought from Rome by Abbot Biscop. Bede became a deacon of the church at the age of 19—six years earlier than was usual—and was ordained to the priesthood when he was 30.
Multitalented ScholarBede was a brilliant scholar and a gifted writer and teacher. He was also a careful and thorough historian. He sought out original documents and reliable eyewitness accounts on which to base his writing. Working in a chilly, damp, poorly lit cell in the monastery, Bede managed to write about 40 books, including works on spelling, grammar, science, history, and religion.
Did you know that the Venerable Bede ...
• invented the footnote?
• popularized the dating of events from the birth of Christ—the b.c./a.d. system?
Still Venerable TodayBede’s reputation as a scholar and a devout monk spread throughout Europe during his lifetime and in the centuries following. (The honorific title “Venerable” was probably first applied to him during the century after his death, as an acknowledgment of his achievements.) Although Bede was influenced by the outlook of his time—as is evident in the miracle stories he included in his History—his carefulness and integrity are still respected and valued by scholars today, almost 1,300 years later.