Old English Literature Quiz
10 Questions
4.7 Stars

Old English Literature Quiz

Test your knowledge on Old English language and literature from the period of the Anglo-Saxons rule in England. Explore the transition from oral tradition with runic inscriptions to alphabet writing on manuscripts, and the impact on modern English language.

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Questions and Answers

What language emerged from the dialect mixing of Saxons, Angles, and Jutes?


During what time did St. Augustine's arrival introduce more Latin words with Christianity to English?

597 AD

In what work is Beowulf considered the shining star of Old English literature?


Where is the story of Beowulf set?

<p>Sweden</p> Signup and view all the answers

What tension lies at the heart of Beowulf?

<p>Pagan vs. Christian values</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is the dominant genre in Old English literature?

<p>Poetry</p> Signup and view all the answers

Which Germanic tribes came to the British Isles in the 5th century AD?

<p>Saxons, Angles, and Jutes</p> Signup and view all the answers

What is one of the reasons why Old English literature is important?

<p>It shows the evolution of the English language and its relation to other languages</p> Signup and view all the answers

What key belief is evident in Old English literature?

<p>Strong belief in fate</p> Signup and view all the answers

Which form is NOT unique to Old English poetry?

<p>Sonnet</p> Signup and view all the answers

Study Notes

Old English Period

  • Old English refers to the language and literature spoken and written in England during the Anglo-Saxon rule from 450 AD to 1066 AD.
  • Old English is directly related to modern English, and many modern words came from Old English.

Characteristics of Old English Literature

  • Strong belief in fate
  • Juxtaposition of the church and pagan worlds
  • Admiration of heroic warriors who prevail in battle
  • Expression of religious faith and moral instruction through literature

Style and Genres

  • Oral tradition of literature
  • Poetry is the dominant genre
  • Unique forms: caesura, alliteration, and repetition

Key Literature and Authors

  • Beowulf
  • Exeter Book
  • The Venerable Bede

Importance of Old English

  • Shows the origins of English and its relation to other languages
  • Provides insight into the history, society, and geography of England

Historical Events

  • In the 5th century AD, Germanic tribes (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes) came to the British Isles from northwest Germany and Denmark.
  • The Anglo-Saxons brought their Germanic language, which mixed with Latin and Celtic languages.
  • The Vikings invaded in 878 AD, introducing Norse words to English.


  • Beowulf is an epic poem, considered the supreme achievement of Anglo-Saxon poetry.
  • It is a long heroic epic poem with 3,182 lines, showing sustained high quality.
  • The author is unknown, but seems to have had a good grasp of the Bible and other great epics.
  • The poem glorifies a hero and the values of bravery and generosity.

Setting and Themes

  • Beowulf is set in what is now Sweden, where a tribe called the Geats lived.
  • The story may take place as early as 400 or 500 AD.
  • The poem explores common themes still seen in English literature today, including Christian values vs. pagan values.

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