Rivac, Flor-Elise Anne L. Santos, Angelica A.

BSN-IIIB

BEOWULF HISTORICAL BACKGROUND Beowulf is the conventional title of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature. The events described in the poem take place in the late 5th century, after the Anglo-Saxons had begun migration and settlement in England, and before the beginning of the 7th century, a time when the Saxons were either newly arrived or in close contact with their fellow Germanic kinsmen in Scandinavia and Northern Germany. The poem could have been transmitted in England by people of Geatish origins. It has been suggested that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century at Rendlesham in East Anglia, as Sutton Hoo also shows close connections with Scandinavia, and also that the East Anglian royal dynasty, the Wuffings, were descendants of the Geatish Wulfings. Others have associated this poem with the court of King Alfred, or with the court of King Canute. SUMMARY The poem begins with a genealogy of the Danish royal family. Scyld Shefing, the founder of the dynasty, becomes King of the Danes not through wealth (for he comes from an impoverished family) but through his ability to sack the enemies. He has a son named Beow (called Beowulf), also called a great king because he gave his treasures to his men "to make sure that later in life his beloved companions will stand by him." Upon Scyld's death, the people bury him and his treasures at sea in a traditional Germanic ceremony. Beow comes to the throne, and has a son, Healfdene. Healfdene, in turn, becomes the father of Hrothgar, the King of the Danes at the beginning of the story. Hrothgar, an old man and the King of the Danes, is anxious and worried. He has enjoyed many years of prosperity and joy, but the good times have come to a halt. Grendel, a gigantic bear-like monster, has attacked the King in his own hall and killed thirty of Hrothgar's thanes. Grendel's attack came out of jealousy and without warning; and he continues to inflict violence on the Danish world. It is rumored that Grendel is a descendant of Cain, a character from the Old Testament who committed the first murder by killing his own brother out of jealousy.

Hrothgar's favorite retainer. Wealhtheow. After much feasting and many rewards. Hrothgar's gracious and noble queen. When the King and Queen retire for the night. She kills Aeschere. He succeeds in cutting off her head. snatches one of Beowulf's thanes. Hrothgar is joyous over Beowulf's defeat of Grendel. and eight horses with golden bridles. Unferth. Beowulf defends himself and explains that the swimming match was lost because he was attacked by a pack of monsters and also because he had saved Breca's life.Beowulf. Grendel barges in. Unferth lends him his sword. A terrible battle ensues between Grendel's mother and Beowulf. Beowulf assures her that he will kill Grendel and bring peace back to the kingdom. which is called Hrunting. however. When he hears about the attacks of the bloodthirsty Grendel. As the King of the Danes. When Beowulf arrives. a helmet. but find no trace of him. Beowulf wrenches his arm from the socket. Hrothgar invites him to his famous wine hall to join in a celebration. Hrothgar had once protected Ecgtheow. . realizing that he has never met such a tough adversary. a sword studded with jewels. Grendel howls in pain as he departs. starting a terrible battle. He promises to cherish him forever as a son. Hrothgar is again overjoyed about Beowulf's victory. Grendel's mother attacks the hall. Beowulf lies down and falls asleep. After the interior of the Heorot is rebuilt. The hall is filled with merriment and resounds with noise and laughter. Hrothgar also gives Beowulf his own war saddle. to conquer Grendel. snatches Grendel's hand. Beowulf's father. is known as a great and brave man. Beowulf plans to use his famous handgrip. He earned his reputation by swimming for seven days on the open sea and by using a sword to fight off sharks. greets the men upon their arrival. studded with gems. and runs away. a mailshirt (armor). Hrothgar appeals to Beowulf for help. The men try to follow Grendel. Hrothgar has heard about Beowulf's feats and is well acquainted with his lineage. he sets sail for Danish shores in order to help Hrothgar master the monster. In the midst of the celebration. He rushes out. Grendel. but before he can get away. following Grendel's mother to the fearful lake where she resides. the nephew of King Hygelac of Geatland. Beowulf departs for home. The monster then turns on Beowulf. in a time of exile. He presents him with a golden war banner. taunts Beowulf about a swimming defeat. Hrothgar holds a great feast in Beowulf's honor. redecorated. and tears him apart. tries to escape. seeking revenge for her son. which supposedly has the strength of thirty men. and furnished.

The prologue recounts the glory of the Danes. when Hygelac died. With Wiglaf's help. but he still puts up a courageous battle. particularly when Hrothgar became old. he rules in peace and harmony.Years pass. Beowulf is mortally wounded. On the night when Grendel attacked. he manages to slay the terrible enemy. in which the relationship between the lord of the region and those who served under him was of paramount importance. Naegling. Beowulf had killed her and even had Grendel’s head when he returned. Afterwards. His sword. Beowulf becomes the King of Geatland. However he let two of his men die. A huge funeral pyre is built for him and his ashes are honored for ten days then burried him with a massive treasure in a barrow overlooking the sea. in the battle. which later on replaced by such cowardice. He ended up showing his bravery to the Danes and reveals what Unferth is to his land. Beowulf depicts Germanic warrior society. . INTERPRETATION Beowulf is a long poem with no break in its narrative. Beowulf showed respect to every person he encounters and as soon as he set his foot on the land of Denmark up to the King whom he presented his courage on defeating Grendel. Hygelac dies and so does his son. Unlike the other rulers. the sense of a true warrior to act. but always with a powerful sense of social responsibility and morality. Despite the knowledge of the people of God and Christian rituals. Beowulf was determined to beat the monster. they shower their men gifts and generosities just to keep them. As the symbol of both strength and goodness. Beowulf. almost magical powers around its heroic protagonist. fails him. Beowulf goes out to fight the marauding dragon. The verbal battle started by Unferth was a test for Beowulf to show how he manages such attack and defends himself accordingly. Beowulf ruled their kingdom up to the moment the dragon attacked. It is also a masterful poem that weaves superhuman. As a great thane to the king. Then a slave robs a slumbering dragon. which is a necessary sacrifice. Fortunately. they still rely on pagan rituals and believe that the Pagan gods will save them from their misery. Beowulf believes in God and Wyrd to whom he puts his fate on to accomplish his mission. however. Above all. which grows enraged and plagues the land. he does quite extraordinary feats. Grendel’s mother tried to seek revenge on the death of her son. For fifty winters.

However. The dragon is cursed again with burial at sea. Despite Beowulf's own greed that motivated him to fight for the treasure. it still makes him greater than the dragon. Beowulf always thought about his kingdom. as all the monsters did. which moved "at sunset" and in darkness.The thanes were terrified to face the dragon and so Beowulf was to fight the dragon alone. . just as Grendel and his mother were buried. Wiglaf remained to his side. He asked that his remains be buried on the land for he is aware that the sea is already full of monsters beneath.