Beowulf – Epic Poetry

Beowulf is a heroic epic poem written sometime between the 8th and the 10th century CE by an unknown old English author. Beowulf is one of the most important and famous works in Anglo-Saxon literature. It is mostly the subject of study, theory, speculation, and discourse of most scholars. Beowulf tells the story of a Scandinavian warrior who gives his services to King Hrothgar of the Danes to help kill the monster Grendel and his mother, who has been scaring the kingdom.

Summary of Beowulf

Beowulf is a hero of the Geats. He comes to offer help to the King of Danes, King Hrothgar, whose kingdom is being terrorized by the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills Grendel and his mother with his bare hands with the use of a giant’s sword that he found in her lair.

Beowulf becomes king of the Geats and found out that his kingdom is being scared by a dragon, wherein some of his treasures were stolen from his lair in a burial mound. With the help of his thegns or servants, he attacks the dragon but they failed. He followed the dragon to its lair at Earnanaes and Wiglaf, whose name means “remnant of valor”, his only Swedish relative dares to join him. During his battle with the dragon, he was mortally wounded during the struggle. Beowulf was cremated and a burial mound by the sea was built in his honor.

First battle: Grendel

Beowulf starts with the story of King Hrothgar, who created the great hall of Heorot for himself and his soldiers. The king, together with his wife Wealhtheow, and soldiers, spends their time celebrating, singing, and dancing. But a troll-like monster, Grendel, a descendant of Cain, hates the sounds of joy and happiness. While they are sleeping, Grendel strikes the great hall, and kills and eats some of Hrothgar’s men. The king and his people abandon Heorot because they are helpless against Grendel.

Beowulf, a young warrior from the Geats, found out about Hrothgar’s troubles and asks permission from his king to help Hrothgar.

He and his men spend the night in Heorot. Beowulf declines the use of weapons and plans to defeat Grendel with his bare hands because he believes he is equal to Grendel.

Beowulf, who is sleeping soundly, leaps up to get a hold of Grendel’s hand. They fought each other intensely. He’s men drew swords and rush to help him but their blades are of no use to Grendel’s skin. Eventually, Beowulf tears down Grendel’s arm from his body and Grendel runs home to the marsh where he dies. The display of “the whole of Grendel’s shoulder and arm”, fuels Grendel’s mother in revenge.

Second battle: Grendel’s mother

Hrothgar and his men sleep in Heorot the next night after celebrating Grendel’s defeat. Grendel’s mother sets out to get revenge for her dead son. Æschere, Hrothgar’s most loyal fighter was killed violently by Grendel’s mother and escaped.

Grendel’s mother was attacked in her lair under a lake by Hrothgar, Beowulf, and his men. A warrior named Unfero presents Beowulf with his sword Hrunting. Beowulf found a cavern when he jumped into the lake and was harassed by water monsters. He was pulled in by Grendel’s mother and engages in intense combat.  

Grendel’s mother seems to be winning at first and his sword Hrunting seems incapable of hurting the woman. Beowulf was thrown to the ground and tries to kill him, but Beowulf is saved by his armor. He found another sword which is made for giants and cuts her head off with it. He found Grendel’s corpse in the lair while traveling further. He cuts Grendel’s head but the blade melts because it is “hot blood”. He swam back to the rim of the pond where his men are waiting. He presents the hilt of the sword and Grendel’s head to Hrothgar upon his return to Heorot. The king gave Beowulf many gifts including the sword of Naegling, which is his family’s heirloom. He rewards Beowulf with his thegns.

Third battle: The Dragon

Beowulf returns home and becomes king of his own turf. Fifty years later, a slave steals a golden cup from the lair of the dragon at Earnanaes. The dragon discovers that the cup was missing and left his lair with rage. Beowulf and his men fight the dragon. He told his men that he will fight the dragon alone and made them wait outside of the dragon’s lair. Wiglaf comes to his aid. They slay the dragon but Beowulf was killed. Wiglaf stayed by his side and blames the men for Beowulf’s death because of their cowardice. Beowulf is cremated on a great pyre in Geatland. His people are mourning and fear that, without him, the Geats are defenseless against the attacks of the surrounding tribes. A barrow was built in his memory which is visible from the sea.

The poem was written in Old English and there have been many translations including one by Seamus Heaney and J.R.R. Tolkien.

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Leana Jan Candoleta

Leana was an administrative officer in a dialysis center. She has extensive experiences with all administrative tasks, including scheduling, information and billing. Having held positions in the medical and business field, leana is able to tailor her skills to meet the needs of various patients and clients. she has increased her efficiency in her skills and roles and became an effective employee in her company. As a senior Administrative Officer, she has helped the company earn millions when it comes to medical transactions. Leana graduated from West Visayas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Development Communication. After she graduated, she worked as an English Tutor in a Foreign School as her first job. She also served the community for a year and three months wherein she gained more experiences in her career record. She was also a holder of Civil Service License. During her college years, Leana was a member of Gawad Kalinga and Philippine League of Development Communication. After 5 years of working, she decided to shift to another career which is teaching. She took up the course Teacher Certificate Program in Phinma-University of Iloilo. She balanced work, school, social life and a mother. She did this to create a bigger future for herself and for her family. Leana is also a member of a non-government association in Iloilo City wherein her passions and hobbies can be shown off to other group members. Leana is a very passionate and goal-achiever person. She will do anything to be on top and be the best among the rest to reach for her better future. She is now waiting for the Licensure Examination for Teachers and hoping that she will pass it.