repetition of key consonant sounds; used instead of rhyme; mnemonic devices

metric style

used in Old English; standard line has 4 stresses (or 2 per half line); no set number of syllables; beat enhances musicality


break in middle of the line that helps with breath control

stock phrases

another mnemonic device; includes repetition


getting off track; nearly 1/4 of the poem deals with material that is unrelated to the story - examples: historical information, random poetic verses, and esoteric comments understood only by a contemporary audience of the scop

consistent patterns

1. battles become progressively more difficult
2. monsters become increasingly more sympathetic

elements of the epic

1. invocation to the muse or genealogy
2. begins in medias res
3. great deeds of a hero
4. gods and semi-divine creatures are involved
5. long narrative poem in elevated style
6. long ceremonious speeches


reference to the past, other stories, history, the Bible

Paganism and Christianity

1. poet tells of both the supreme god and the wyrd
2. action is backdropped by dark and pagan past
3. idea that man is only partly free