Christian and Pagan Elements

   The passage includes distinct references to religious beliefs of Christian and pagan nature. One of the very clear Christian elements in this passage is the constant reference to God, apparently one God, called the Guardian of Heaven : "God may always work wonder upon wonder, the Guardian of Heaven"(Norton, 39), and the belief that this God is responsible for many things that happened or are happening.

    The pagan element is the reference to the "God of Old," which is probably a fertility god. Hrothgar says: "... that the God of Old was kind to [Beowulf's mother] in her child-bearing "(Norton, 39). Another Pagan reference is the detailed description of the burial ritual, told in the sad story of Hildeburh. The corpses are put on funeral pyre, along with the gold and other treasures and the whole thing is set on fire: "Fire swallowed them – greediest of spirits – all of those whom war had taken away from both peoples: their strength had departed" (Norton, 41) The burial is clearly pagan, because Christian tradition at that time did not include burial with gold on a funeral pyre: "The funeral pyre was made ready and gold brought up from the hoard" (Norton, 41)

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