Nam Virtus Perficitur in Infirmitate: Christian Baptism of the Heroic Tradition and the Battle of Maldon

Open Access
Author:
Babich, Nicholas
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Humanities
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Scott Thompson Smith, Thesis Supervisor
  • Xiaoye You, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Heroic
  • Anglo-Saxon
  • Old English
  • Christian
  • Catholic
  • The Battle of Maldon
  • Beowulf
  • Epic
Abstract:
This honors thesis addresses the heroic protagonists in Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry, particularly in the late fragmentary poem, The Battle of Maldon. The thesis seeks to defend the Anglo-Saxon heroic persona as compatible in abstract terms with Christian ethics and doctrine, although the persona originated in the pagan Germanic homelands. I have concluded that the “Germanic hero” was in large part valued, preserved, and cultivated in the Christian tradition. Early medieval Christianity had already cultivated a very similar figure in the image of Christ as a suffering servant and His saints and martyrs, who all suffered for a greater, “heroic” end. This end, Christian sanctification and perfection, grants the heroic genre a new and spiritually profound dimension that augments an older, pagan, heroic system that existed in pre-Christian Anglo-Saxon England.