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HULYA TAFLIPaper

HULYA TAFLIPaper

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Published by Patty Hughes
The Alp and the Monster in pre-Islamic Epic (The Book of Dede Korkut) and Beowulf
The Alp and the Monster in pre-Islamic Epic (The Book of Dede Korkut) and Beowulf

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Published by: Patty Hughes on Dec 10, 2011
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HULYA TAFLI
 
The Alp and the Monster in pre-Islamic Epic (
The Book of  Dede Korkut
) and
 Beowulf 
 HÜLYA TAFLI 
Research Assistant in the field of English Literature, Nigde University
In Turkish epics it may be asserted that there are two types of heroes: thehero and the monster. Before Islam the hero is considered to be the god-like creature that has the exemplary characteristics and does his best for the sake of his nation. Especially in the belief system of the Sky-God andshamanism before Islam, the hero is selected by the Sky-God by means of trance or dream. Being a hero is such a privilege that is not acquired bycoincidence. It may be asserted that in pre-Islamic epics the hero hassupernatural powers or inborn abilities to fight against the monsters. Themajor character of the epic is an
alp,
or epic hero, who endures the worst possible scenarios in life to save his people from disasters. Epic is usuallyknown by the
alp' 
s name. He is fully supported by a sizable cast of characters and is opposed by powerful and treacherous foes and villains.Regardless of the hopelessness of the circumstances, the
alp
can never besubjugated and can never abandon the fight. Although, the audience, areaware of the fact that he has inborn abilities, he, on his own, has to find hisway to prove his prowess. He is at the age of fourteen expected to kill themonster(s). In this respect the concept of the monster varies; it issometimes in disguise of a giant, a wicked hag, a serpent, Satan, wickedangel, or underworld creature. The hero deserves his title after killing themonster in Turkish Literature. In this article the relation of hero andmonster will be shed into light and the concept of monster in Turkish epic(The Book of Dede Korkut) and in English epic (Beowulf) will bedepicted.Epic, The Book of Dede Korkut, Beowulf, alp (epic hero), monster, pre-Islam, pre-Christianity, monotheism (Islam, Christianity)
 
 2
THE ALP AND THE MONSTER IN PRE-ISLAMICTURKISH EPIC (
THE BOOK OF DEDE KORKUT 
) AND
 BEOWULF
 
Epic is an extended narrative poem, grand in scope, exalted in style, andheroic in theme, often giving expression to the ideals of a nation or race
1
.Although the locations and the eras of the epics differ, the similarities of conditions bring them into existence. The epic is easy to memorize and thegleemen or the scops
2
memorize the epics to recite them to their societies,for this reason the process of the epic started orally and passed on fromone generation to other by word of mouth. Within the epic it is notdifficult to recognize the folklore, customs, social structure and the political issues of the society that it belonged to. In epic there is thereflection of the traditions and myths of a culture or group of people, inaddition to this, the deeds of the major and functional characters areshaped by these traditions and myths. Hence it can be asserted that themyths, legends, folklore, customs, social and the political issues of thegroup establish the basis of an epic. Similarly
 Beowulf 
and
The Book of  Dede Korkut 
are epics that both preserve and reflect the virtues and valuesof their societies.This study aims to find out the similarities and differences of these twoepics within the concept of the alp and monster relation by pointing outthe pre and after monotheism. The folklore, tribal life, heroic, social andthe political issues, events and characters, relations with the neighbourshave common characteristic, and these common concepts shape thestructure of the morality, and the concept of being the hero of the society.However, the geographical location, the period of composition, gender relations, and to some extent the forms are different in
 Beowulf 
and
The
 
 
HULYA
 
TAFLI
3
 Book of Dede Korkut.
The geographical location of 
 Beowulf 
is in thenorthwest of England and
The Book of Dede Korkut 
is in the north of Anatolia. Orchard states that the geographical location of 
 Beowulf 
isaround the Baltic Sea and the North Sea where the Swedes, Jutes, Geats,Danes, Angles, Heathobards and Frisians lived
3
. When these tribes arecompared chronologically, it can be seen that the Angles were highlyinfluenced by the Danes, Geats, and other Germanic and Scandinaviantribes. Cherniss asserts that these tribes may be considered to be theancestors of the English; the scops may have travelled among the tribes of Germania and the documents of the travels highlight the ancestors of theEnglish
4
. On the other hand the geographical location of 
The Book of  Dede Korkut 
is around the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, in what istoday Asia. The Huns, once members of the ancient Göktürk Empire,moved westward to settle along the banks of the Syr Darya, then westwardto the shores of the Caspian Sea, South to Transoxiana and northward tothe steppes beyond the Aral Sea
5
.It is generally accepted that
The Book of Dede Korkut 
was put down intowriting in the ninth century
6
and
 Beowulf 
was put down into writing sometime between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century of the first millenium, in Anglo-Saxon or Old English
7
. Although they were put down into writing two centuries apart, there are certain characteristicscommon to these two epics. It may be asserted that both epics havecommon characteristics though composed at different times and indifferent places. As stated by Binyazar each epic posesses thecharacteristics of the heroic and folk epic tradition: history andimagination, mythology and folklore are intermingled in them
8
, butÇobano
ğ
lu suggests that epics cannot be thought of as historicaldocuments, which show verisimilitude
9
. Structurally,
 Beowulf 
consists of 

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