ca. 750



The Poem


Beowulf is the earliest surviving epic poem in Old English. It is known only from a single eleventh century manuscript (British Library, MS Cotton Vitellius A xv). The poem was composed in the Germanic heroic tradition around 750, but the author, like most Anglo-Saxon poets, is unknown. The poem records the great deeds of the heroic warrior Beowulf. In the first part of the epic he frees the Scyldings of Hrothgar's Danish Kingdom by slaying the monster Grendel and his mother. In the second part he is made king of Geatland and fights with a fire-breathing dragon. Beowulf kills the dragon but is mortally wounded. The poem ends with his funeral rites and a prophesy of disaster for the Geats.


Helmet from Sutton Hoo (ca. 625)







Beowulf Bibliography

Beowulf Explanatory Notes