500 1500 C E MEDIEVAL ERA Historical Phases
- Slides: 17
500 -1500 C. E. MEDIEVAL ERA
Historical Phases Old English: Is to be treated like a foreign language, i. e. it has to be learnt with grammar books and dictionaries. Middle English: Phase of transition. Modern English: It starts as soon as we can understand a poem or prose without the help of a grammar book or dictionary.
Old English Literature
Historical Background From the 1 st to the 5 th century, England was a province of the Roman empire and was named Britannia after its inhabitants, the Britons. The Romans brought their language, architects and engineers who gave Britain towns, villas with central heating, public baths and theaters. During the 5 th century, the Roman Empire fell and the Romans withdrew. Later people from Northwest Europe (Germany) settled claiming the country for themselves. They were called Angles and Saxons.
Cont. Their language is sometimes called Anglo. Saxon, but is widely known as Old English: Is to be treated like a foreign language, i. e. it has to be learnt with grammar books and dictionaries.
Old English Literature (500 -1100 A. D) also known as Anglo-Saxon was the earliest form of English. Old English poems are usually long narrative epics giving accounts of great deeds of warriors and heroes. Epic: a long narrative poem on a great and serious subject in the grand style, often praising heroic adventures. Narrative: the telling of a story. Novels, short stories, etc. are narratives.
Anglo-Saxon Epic Beowulf : greatest and first Old English poem (epic) written in the 7 th century by an unknown author composed on the European continent. Beowulf gives us an interesting picture of life in those old days.
Alegdon tha middes maerne theoden Haeleth hiofende hlaford leofne Ongunnon tha on beorge bael-fyra maest Wigend weccan wudu-rec astah Sweart ofer swiothhole swogende leg Wope bewunden The sorrowing soldiers then laid the glorious prince, their dear lord, in the middle. Then on the hill the war -men began to light the greatest of funeral fires. The wood-smoke rose black above the flames, the noisy fire, mixed with sorrowful cries.
In Old English poetry, descriptions of sad events or cruel situations are commoner and in better writing than those of happiness. Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A record of the main happenings of the country. It is the first history of the Germanic people and in some ways the first newspaper. It is the oldest and most interesting prose.
Middle English Literature
Middle English Literature (1100 - 1500 A. D) Middle English: Language used from 1100 1500 A. D. Phase of transition. The greatest poet of the time was Geoffrey Chaucer, who was born in 1340. Chaucer’s major achievement was to create the English language we know today and to establish its literary traditions. Known as father of English poetry because he speaks to us today with as clear a voice as we heard in his own age. It is this living quality that makes him great.
The Canterbury Tales Whan that Aprille with his shoures swote The droghte of Marche hath perced to the rote When April with his sweet showers has struck to the roots the dryness of March…
The Canterbury Tales (17, 000 lines poem): A party of pilgrims tell stories to pass the time on their pilgrimage from London to Canterbury. Rhyme has taken place of Old English Alliteration. Introduced Heroic Couplets into English poetry. Rhyme: Two or more words with the same sound. Alliteration: Repeating a sound or a letter, especially at the beginning of words. Heroic Couplets: A pair of lines that rhyme.
Prose – mainly religious e. g. The Ancren Riwle (13 th century) First English plays: Miracle/Mystery plays. Morality Plays: characters are not people, but virtues and vices (Truth, Honor, Greed, Revenge). Interlude: a funny play by two or three performers.
Old English vs. Middle English Old English LANGAUGE Middle English The Old English Language cannot be read now except by those who have made a special study of it. The Middle English Language is easier to read. It is considered a bridge between Old and Modern English. More of the accents of everyday speech heard in the varieties of Middle English Language. POETRY (1) Poetry was the dominant genre and epic warlike poetry was the prevalent theme. (2) Verse does not rhyme and each line is joined to the other by alliteration. (1) The religious theme in Chaucer’s poem is shown in the pilgrimage to Canterbury. (2) In Chaucer’s verse, rhyme has taken the place of Old English alliteration. PROSE Old English prose was mainly historical because it was a record of the main happenings of the country. A good deal of Middle English prose is religious.
Cont. Old English Middle English DRAMA Did not exist. Beginning of English Drama. The first English plays told religious stories and were performed in or near churches. Speaker A single aristocratic voice, grave, decorous, speaking in terms of high communal aspirations. Different voices, addressing themselves to different audiences – learned and unlearned, aristocratic and middle class, male and female, and frequently to several of these at the same time. Tone Laughter is rarely heard. A lighter kind of humor is apt to flash anywhere, even in the most serious moralizations.
Permission Acknowledgment My sincere appreciation goes to Ms. Ashwaq Basnawi for her generous permission to use her slides for LANE 341 course.