Date of Award


Degree Type

Master's Essay - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Beowulf and The Song of Roland, two of the greatest and best loved epics of all times, though differing in points of detail have basically much in common. Both are long narrative poems presenting heroic characters in a panoramic setting, and relating episodes pertinent to a whole country in a unified manner and an elevated style. Belonging to the group called authentic, folk, or medieval epics, they evolve in response to the needs of a people who, living in the era between barbarism and civilization, have created in story and song a hero who embodies their ideals and moral values and incorporates their legends, myths, and historical fame. Though originating in disparate lays, folk tales, and ballads made popular by gleemen and jongleurs, each of the epics owes its creation to a single poet of genius who accepted and transformed these narratives into an organic unity. Employing his imagination he selected and elaborated details of the cultural heritage of his country and showed through particular human experiences the significance and universality of man and his destiny. The setting is that of the past, in the period called the heroic age, when courage was the greatest virtue and loyalty the highest requirement, when family ties and fealty to an individual leader were dominant, and the individual had not yet been superseded by stable society.