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Beowulf

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Beowulf (ba’o woolf)

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Beowulf

  1. 1.  Is an Anglo-Saxon poem based on the tradition by the Anglo-Saxons from their home from the continent.  Consists of three separate stories that recount to an exploit of the hero Beowulf.
  2. 2.  King Hrothgar (hroth-gar), a king of a Danish tribe called the scyldings (skil- dingz), built a place or a “folk hall” called Heorot (he-o-rot), which is a large, four-sided wooden building with a roof of high gable- like horns.  After the building of the Heorot was finished, Hrothgar, his wife Wealhþeow, and his warriors or thanes held a celebration that disturbed Grendel.  Grendel is a troll- like gigantic monster which is a descendant from Cain, the first murderer, and no sword could penetrate his body.
  3. 3.  The night after the celebration, Grendel carried off and ate thirty of Hrothgar’s thanes, and continued to do it again and again until the hall was abandoned by him and his people.  The story of Grendel’s doings was foretold by traveling poets and singers to the Geats (ga-ats), and was heard by Beowulf, a noble thane of the court of Hygelac (hig-e- lak). With his king’s permission, accompanied by fourteen chosen warriors, crossed the sea to give aid in Heorot.  When they reached Heorot, Beowulf introduced himself frankly to Hrothgar and is accompanied by Hunferth (oon- farth), Hrothgar’s orator.
  4. 4.  Beowulf and his men stayed the night in Heorot, unarmed, for they believe that the monster would fight without a sword or any weapon. After they fall asleep, Grendel enters the hall and attacks, devouring one of Beowulf's men.  Beowulf has been feigning sleep and leaps up to clench Grendel's hand, battling until it seems as though the hall might collapse. Beowulf's retainers draw their swords and rush to his aid, but their blades cannot pierce Grendel's skin.  Finally, Beowulf tears Grendel's arm from his body to the shoulder and Grendel runs to his home in the marshes and died.
  5. 5.  After the defeat of Grendel, Hrothgar and his men sleep in Heorot. Grendel’s mother, angered by his son’s death, appears and attacks the hall. She killed Æschere, Hrothgar’s trusted warrior, in revenge for Grendel's defeat.  Hrothgar, Beowulf and their men tracked Grendel’s mother to her lair under a lake. Beowulf prepares for battle and is presented with a sword called Hrunting by Hunferth.
  6. 6.  After stipulating a number of conditions to Hrothgar in case of his death (including the taking in of his kinsmen and the inheritance by Unferth of Beowulf's estate), Beowulf dives into the lake. He is swiftly detected and attacked by Grendel's mother. However, she is unable to harm Beowulf through his armour and drags him to the bottom of the lake. In a cavern containing Grendel's body and the remains of men that the two have killed, Grendel's mother and Beowulf engage in fierce combat.
  7. 7.  At first, Grendel's mother appears to prevail. Beowulf, finding that Hrunting cannot harm his foe, discards it in fury. Beowulf is again saved from his opponent's attack by his armour. Beowulf grabs a magical sword from Grendel's mother's treasure, and with it beheads her.  Travelling further into the lair, Beowulf discovers Grendel's dying body and severs its head. The blade of the magic sword melts like ice when it touches Grendel's toxic blood, until only the hilt is left. This hilt is the only treasure that Beowulf carries out of cavern, which he presents to Hroðgar upon his return to Heorot. Beowulf then returns to the surface and to his men at the "ninth hour“
  8. 8.  He returns to Heorot, where Hroðgar gives Beowulf many gifts, including the sword Nægling which is Hrothgar’s family’s heirloom. Beowulf and his thanes were rewarded.
  9. 9.  Beowulf returns home and eventually became the king of his own people. One day, fifty years after Beowulf's battle with Grendel's mother, a slave steals a golden cup from the lair of an unnamed dragon at Earnaness.  When the dragon sees that the cup has been stolen, it leaves its cave in a rage, burning everything in sight. Beowulf and his warriors come to fight the dragon, but Beowulf tells his men that he will fight the dragon alone and that they should wait on the barrow.  Beowulf descends to do battle with the dragon but finds himself outmatched. His men, upon seeing this display and fearing for their lives, creep back into the woods.
  10. 10.  One of his men, however, Wiglaf, who finds great distress in seeing Beowulf's plight, comes to Beowulf's aid. The two slay the dragon, but Beowulf is mortally wounded.  Beowulf is buried in the land of Geats on a cliff overlooking the sea, where sailors are able to see his tumulus. The dragon's treasure is buried with him, in accordance with Beowulf's wishes, rather than distributed to his people, and there is a curse associated with the hoard to ensure that Beowulf's wish is kept.

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