"The Battle of Maldon" and "The Dream of the Rood"

English 203

Dr. Fike


Review of Day One


1.  Key concept:  comitatus.

2.  Christianizing:  a mixture of pagan and Christian elements.  Christianity as consolation.  Christianity's civilizing effect.

3.  "Wanderer":  central conflict is between wanting to find a new gold lord and realizing that the A-S heroic ethic does not fulfill human needs.  Adherence to A-S heroic ethic --> wisdom --> a religious view.


"The Battle of Maldon"


Key terms:




  1. Outline the poem in three major sections:
    1. Lines 1-99:  Preparation for battle.
    2. Lines 100-97:  Opening of battle, Byrhtnoth's death, cowards' retreat
    3. Lines 198-end:  Offa's speech, attempt at revenge, battle is lost


  1. What is the poem's setting?  See Figure 3.


  1. What is going on in lines 1-10? 
    1. Action:
    2. Significance:
    3. Conflict:


  1. Who do you think wrote the poem?


  1. Who are Byrhtnoth's men?  What do they represent?


  1. Lines 25-40:  Do the Vikings want to fight?  How do we know?
    1. Tribute vs. battle:
    2. Second person singular (line 28):
    3. First person plural:


  1. Lines 41-58:  Why does Byrhtnoth allow the Vikings to cross?  Mistake?
    1. Lytegian:
    2. Battle:

                                                               i.      Buck stops here:

                                                             ii.      Honor:

                                                            iii.      Foil—Aethelred (line 51)

    1. "We have met they enemy, and they is us" (Pogo).


  1. Latter sections:  Other than English vs. Vikings, what is the essential conflict in "The Battle of Maldon"?  How does Offa's speech (lines 224-38) relate to this second conflict?




Excerpt from Beowulf:  Group Work --> large group discussion


1.  What parallels do you see between "Maldon" and the section about the slaying of the dragon?


2.  What conflicts do you find here in the A-S heroic ethic?  Is there something more than we found in "Maldon"?


3.  What do you make of Beowulf's final wish on page 89?


4.  Which thanes in "Maldon" and Beowulf best represent comitatus, and why do you think so?





"The Dream of the Rood"


Key terms:


Related reading:




  1. Fill in the following outline:
    1. Lines 1-30:  Introduction by dreamer

                                                               i.      1-3:

                                                             ii.      4-30:

    1. Lines 31-121:  Rood speaks

                                                               i.      31-73:

                                                             ii.      74-81:

                                                            iii.      82-96:

                                                           iv.      97-120:

    1. Lines 121-56:

                                                               i.      121-38:

                                                             ii.      139-end:


  1. How does this poem use Germanic heroism?
    1. Christ:
    2. Rood:
    3. Problem:


  1. Do you see any parallels between Christ, the Rood, and the dreamer?

            Rood:dreamer::dreamer:us ITO telling the story.