-The original "English" language, that is the language of Britain after the withdrawal of the Romans and the subsequent invasions of the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (p. 6) is a Germanic language (right) that bears little resemblance to its modern counterpart. Consequently, Old English texts need to be translated into modern English for introductory students.
-After the Norman Invasion (1066), the French (Latin) influence on the language begins to evolve into Middle English, which in its early stages, is still a challenge for modern readers to tackle.
-By the middle to late 14th century, many Middle English texts (such as those by Chaucer) begin to resemble Modern English more closely, as the following selection shows. Most texts from this period can be read in their original language, although a Modern English version is often useful for some of the words.
Throughout much of the Anglo-Saxon period, the culture struggled with 2 competing influences: The Christian and the Germanic ("Pagan"). The former, which was introduced during the Roman period, spread more fully during the 7th and 8th centuries. This tradition valued such characteristics as mercy, love, and forgiveness. The latter tradition, however, brought over to England by the Germanic tribes of the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Danes, emphasized the features of courage in battle, revenge, ordeal by combat, and fame. At the heart of Beowulf is the struggle between these two competing traditions.