Mrs. Llanos
Author unknown
Epic – a long narrative poem
detailing a hero’s deeds.
Passed down orally by storytellers known as
scops, who also played harp music
People gathered in mead halls the center of
community, culture, & entertainment to hear
Written down between 8th & 10th centuries
 Many mysteries remain surrounding the text
 Written down after the Anglo-Saxons converted to
 Originally written in Old English, the language spoken
in Britain during the Anglo-Saxon period
 A single manuscript exists, now in the British Library in
London; preserved by Christian monks who copied it
Events in the poem take place
between late 5th century & early 7th
Set in a pagan society, but translator
was Christian so contains traces of
both beliefs
Considered the earliest major work
of English poetry to survive ( oral
Title added later, was not included in
 Strength, courage, loyalty
 Generous to his thanes (warriors)
 Show hospitality
 Strong political leader
 King determined by deeds,
not family last name
 A good reputation
 Supported king & thanes
Story of noble warrior, Beowulf
Becomes King of Geats
Fights 3 major battles (Grendel,
Grendel’s Mother, Dragon)
He travels from modern day
Sweden to Herot (in modern day
Scholars think Herot might
have been built on the
coast of Denmark.
Setting is vast in scope, often involving more than
one nation
Plot is complicated by supernatural beings or events
and may involve a long, dangerous journey
Poem reflects timeless values (ex: courage, honor)
Themes are universal (ex: life and death; good and
evil; dark and light)
Major characters often deliver long, formal speeches
The diction is formal and the tone is serious
Is of noble of birth or high position; often of
great historical or legendary importance
Character traits reflect important ideals of the
Performs courageous (sometimes superhuman)
deeds that reflect the values of the era
Actions of hero often determine the fate of a
nation or group of people
a mighty warrior from the land
of the Geats (modern day Sweden)
 Arrives in Denmark and travels to
Herot to see Hrothgar, king of the
 noble, courageous, bold, and
stronger than anyone else
Arrives to fight Grendel, who is
terrorizing Herot, as a favor to
King Hrothgar
 nightmarish creature–half-beast, half-man–that
strikes at night
 Born with dark heart and dark spirit
 Born out of chaos – from the lineage of the biblical
Cain (who killed his own brother)
Grendel's mother
 Disgusting creature
 Lives in swamp with her son
Fire-breathing dragon
 Dragons believed to be former
kings who were greedy
 Dragon is opposite of good king
(i.e. Beowulf)
 Hrothgar and his thanes
 Beowulf and his men
 Tribe Hrothgar made
peace with for
Beowulf’s father