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Beowulf is a heroic poem, thought about the highest accomplishment of Old English literature and also the earliest european vernacular epic. It transaction with events of the early 6th century CE and also is believed to have actually been composed in between 700 and 750. Although originally untitled, the was later on named after the Scandinavian hero Beowulf, who exploits and also character carry out its connecting theme.
Beowulf takes place in beforehand 6th-century Scandinavia, primarily in what is well-known today together Denmark and also Sweden.
The writer of Beowulf is unknown. The is feasible that the city was composed by and also transmitted in between several different poets prior to it was maintained in a single manuscript that dates to about 1000.
Upon his go back to Heorot, beo wolf presents come King Hrothgar Grendel’s decapitated head and the jeweled hilt of the knife he supplied to kill Grendel’s mother.
There is no proof of a historic Beowulf, but other characters, sites, and also events in the poem can be historically verified. Because that example, the poem’s Danish King Hrothgar and also his nephew Hrothulf space generally thought to have actually been based upon historical figures.
Beowulf, heroic poem, the highest achievement of Old English literature and the earliest european vernacular epic. The work-related deals with occasions of the early 6th century, and, while the date of its ingredient is uncertain, part scholars think that that was composed in the 8 hours century. Although initially untitled, the poem was later named ~ the Scandinavian hero Beowulf, who exploits and also character carry out its connecting theme. Over there is no proof of a historic Beowulf, however some characters, sites, and events in the poem have the right to be in history verified. The city did not appear in publish until 1815. It is preserved in a solitary manuscript that days to circa 1000 and is well-known as the beo wolf manuscript (Cotton multiple sclerosis Vitellius A XV).
Beowulf preparing to cut off the head of the monster Grendel, illustration native Hero-Myths & Legends that the brothers Race, 1910.
Beowulf falls into two parts. It opens up in Denmark, wherein King Hrothgar has actually a splendid mead hall well-known as Heorot, a ar of celebration and also much merriment. However, the joyous noise angers Grendel, an evil monster living in a nearby swamp. Because that 12 years the creature terrorizes Heorot with nightly visits in which the carries off Hrothgar’s warriors and devours them.
After learning of the Danes’ trouble, young Beowulf, a prince the the Geats in what is now southern Sweden, arrives through a small band the retainers and offers to rid Heorot that its monster. Hrothgar is astonished at the little-known hero’s daring however welcomes him. ~ an night of feasting, lot courtesy, and also some discourtesy—at one point, one of Hrothgar’s men insults Beowulf—the king retires, leaving beowulf in charge. During the night, Grendel comes from the moors, rips open the heavy doors, and also devours one of the resting Geats. He then grapples through Beowulf, who refuses to use a weapon. Beowulf grips among Grendel’s hands through such force that the monster ultimately wrenches himself cost-free only as soon as his arm is torn turn off at the shoulder. Mortally wounded, Grendel returns to his swamp and dies. Beo wolf then screens the monster’s arm in Heorot for all to see.
The following day is among rejoicing in Heorot, and a feast is thrown in Beowulf’s honour. However, as the warrior sleep the night, Grendel’s mother, another swamp monster, concerns avenge she son’s death, and she kills one of Hrothgar’s men. In the morning beowulf dives into her just (lake) to search for her, and also she strikes him. They battle in her dry cavern at the mere’s bottom, and also Beowulf lastly kills her v a sword. In the cave, beo wolf discovers Grendel’s corpse, whose head he cuts off and takes ago to Heorot. The danes rejoice as soon as more. Hrothgar provides a bye speech about the personality of the true hero, and Beowulf, enriched through honours and also princely gifts, returns house to King Hygelac the the Geats.
The second component passes rapidly over Hygelac’s subsequent death in a fight (of historic record), the fatality of his son, and Beowulf’s sequence to the kingship and his peaceful dominance of 50 years. However, the tranquility ends when a fire-breathing dragon becomes enraged after ~ a male steals from its treasure-filled lair. The creature starts ravaging Geatland, and the brave but aging beowulf decides to communicate it, despite knowing the he will most likely die. The fight is long and terrible—a painful contrast to the battles of his youth. Painful as well is the desertion of all his retainers other than for his young kinsman Wiglaf, who concerns his aid. They at some point kill the awful dragon, but Beowulf is mortally wounded from a bite in the neck. Prior to he dies, the names Wiglaf his successor. Beo wolf is cremated top top a funeral pyre, and his remains are buried in a barrow constructed by the sea. As his people mourn his death, they likewise express the are afraid that, there is no Beowulf, Geatland will certainly be got into by surrounding tribes.
Beowulf belonging metrically, stylistically, and thematically come a heroic tradition grounded in german religion and mythology. The is also part of the broader tradition that heroic poetry. Plenty of incidents, such as the tearing-off that the monster’s arm and also the hero’s descent into the mere, are acquainted motifs from folklore. The honest values are manifestly the Germanic code of loyalty to chief and tribe and also vengeance come enemies. However the city is for this reason infused through a Christian spirit that it lacks the grim fatality of countless of the Eddaic lays or the sagas of icelandic literature. Beo wolf himself seems more altruistic than various other Germanic heroes or the old Greek heroes of the Iliad. The is significant that his three battles are not against men, which would certainly entail the retaliation the the blood feud, but against evil monsters, opponents of the whole community and also of world itself. Many critics have actually seen the city as a Christian allegory in i beg your pardon Beowulf, the champion the goodness and light, fights the forces of evil and darkness. His sacrificial death is checked out not together tragic but as befitting the end of a great (some would certainly say “too good”) hero’s life.
That is not to say that Beowulf is an positive poem. English writer and Old English scholar J.R.R. Tolkien argued that its complete effect is much more like a long lyrical elegy than an epic. Even the earlier, happier ar in Denmark is filled v ominous references that would have actually been well taken by modern audiences. Thus, after ~ Grendel’s death, King Hrothgar speak sanguinely the the future, which the audience would know will end with the damage of his line and also the burn of Heorot. In the second component the movement is slow and also funereal: scene from Beowulf’s youth space replayed in a minor an essential as a counterpoint come his last battle, and also the the atmosphere becomes increasingly sombre as the wyrd (fate) that comes to all guys closes in ~ above him.
Editions and also adaptations
Beowulf was translated into many languages. Modern English renderings by Seamus Heaney (1999) and Tolkien (completed 1926; released 2014) came to be best sellers. The was likewise the source for retellings in assorted books. Man Gardner’s Grendel (1971), because that example, took the point of watch of the monster, if Maria Dahvana Headley’s The just Wife (2018) was set in modern American suburbia and offered a an ext sympathetic portrayal of Grendel’s mother, who was presented together an army veteran enduring from PTSD. In 2020 Headley additionally published a feminist translate in of Beowulf, and her variation featured modern language, consisting of slang and profanities.
Beowulf’s enduring very nice one was additionally evident in its numerous film, television, and also theatrical adaptations. Robert Zemeckis’s 2007 movie, a mix of animation and live action, was cowritten by Neil Gaiman and also featured a actors that had Anthony Hopkins and also Angelina Jolie. The poem likewise inspired the film Beowulf & Grendel (2005) and also the TV movie Grendel (2007). Significant stage productions included the opera Grendel (2006), which to be directed by Julie Taymor, who additionally cowrote the libretto. In addition, various video games and comic publications were influenced by Beowulf.
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