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To be without silver is better than to be without honor -- Old Norse Proverb RM Liuzzas reflections on his translation of Beowulf treated this early work as historical text a poem and a myth The ambiguities surrounding Beowulfs origins however made an isolated historical analysis limited As Liuzza acknowledged Beowulf is a fictionalized matrix of past in present in the text17 and was survived in small collection of other texts copied by two different scribes its original purpose and audience unknown 11 Since the poem likely originated from oral traditions a literary analysis also falls short Beowulf is frustratingly ambivalent11 But reading it as a mythic work however is a strong lens for understanding the Scandinavian imagination Myth as RM Liuzza observed works to condense and contain the most fundamental sources of cultural tension in a society and also validates current ideologies18 Beowulf transmitted Scandinavian ideologies about the structure of society Order stemmed from the virtues of loyalty kinship and courage and Beowulf the character becomes the physical embodiment of order The work also contained antagonists such as the fratricidal Unferth the monstrous Grendel and Grendels mother that pose a threat to this order Conflicts between Beowulf and the antagonists therefore represent the fabric of Scandinavian society giving rise to the cultural anxieties Liuzza described Characters in Beowulf are drawn in grotesque caricature19 exaggerating features of the characters persona The hero was not meant to be read simply as Beowulfs protagonist therefore but to represent and defend Scandinavian culture Beowulf represents qualities that were valued in Scandinavian culture he is courageous loyal and honors kinship As the author of Beowulf states the son of Ecgtheow showed himself brave renowned for battles and noble deeds pursued honor by no means slew drunken his hearth-companions he had no savage heart119 Beowulf proves that he is both strong and unafraid of death through impressive feats of bravery He entered battle geared up in his warriors clothing
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