Beowulf **Legendary Warrior Beowulf Battles with Grendel

Introduction

Beowulf is an epic poem that speaks about the heroic exploits of a Scandinavian hero of the same name. The earliest manuscript that contained the poem dates back to around the 10th century.

However, the events referred to in the poem itself date all the way back to the 6th century. It is believed that Anglo-Saxons brought the tale with them to the British Isles when they arrived here.

The tale itself includes the fight of Beowulf with a number of monsters. The final monster he defeats is a dragon, although Beowulf himself is also mortally wounded in the fight.

Origins of the Poem

Although the story of Beowulf is set in the 6th century, it is believed that the story was written much later somewhere between the 7th and 11th centuries.

The poem contains the names of many real characters from the Scandinavian history of the period. Some events noted in the poem, such as battles and raids, also bear strong resemblances to actual historic events.

Battle with Grendel

The first battle the legendary warrior Beowulf fights is with the monster Grendel in the hall of King Hrothgar. This is a troll-like monster that attacks and kills many Danish warriors.

Beowulf, who lives in Geatland, hears of this event and decides to confront the warrior. He comes to live in the hall where Grendel had attacked.

At night, he pretends to be asleep, and when Grendel attacks, he leaps to fight the monster. In the fight, Beowulf is able to tear away the arm of the monster. This fatally wounds the monster. Grendel’s mother is greatly angered at this and decides to avenge the death of Grendel.

Battle with Grendel’s Mother

After Beowulf wins his first heroic fight, he goes away from the hall of Hrothgar. At night, Grendel’s mother attacks the hall and wrecks havoc on the warriors within.

She is able to kill some of the best warriors of the king. Beowulf is then tasked with destroying her. He is able to track her to a lake with the help of the king’s warriors.

At the lake, Beowulf dives down to find the lair of Grendel’s mother. Here he engages in fierce combat with Grendel’s mother. Beowulf is almost defeated but he is able to recover a unique sword lying nearby and cut off her head with it. This secures his victory against the monster’s mother.

Victory and Kingship

After defeating and killing Grendel’s mother, Beowulf gets lavish gifts from Hrothgar. Laden with treasures, gifts, and glory, Beowulf returns to his own land and becomes king of his people.

He reigns with peace and glory for fifty years. However, after he has reigned for fifty years, he must face one final monster. This time, he has to fight a dragon.

Battle with the Dragon

The dragon Beowulf fights is awakened after a slave steals a golden cup from its hoarded treasure. The dragon is enraged and gets out of its liar to seek the cup. It burns everything in its path and Beowulf decides to fight the monster.

He comes with his warriors to confront the dragon but upon reaching near it, tells his warriors to stay behind. He then confronts the dragon on his own and is almost defeated.

One of his warriors then runs to his aid and is able to defeat the dragon together with Beowulf. The dragon is finally killed but Beowulf is also mortally wounded in the fight. He dies at the end of the fight and the Geats ritually burn him with great honor.

Written Text and Oral Traditions

It is believed that the written text of Beowulf is linked with the oral traditions from Scandinavia. Some scholars believe that the text was written for performance while others hold that the text was drawn from oral traditions.

Author of Beowulf

The author of Beowulf is simply known as the ‘Beowulf poet’ as the identity of the author is unknown. It is believed that the poem was composed in Britain once Anglo Saxons had established several kingdoms in Britain.

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