Beowulf is an Old English epic consisting of 3182 alliterative lines. It is one of the most important works of Old English literature. The date of composition is a contentious issue among scholars; the only dating concerns the manuscript, which was published between 975 and 1025. An anonymous poet is called by scholars “the poet Beowulf”. “—Finally, the sword / molten, soaked in blood, dripping down / like water, disappearing like ice when the world / eternal ruler loosens the invisible / shackles and develops icicles and frost.” Which is the best paraphrase for this passage from Beowulf?
To paraphrase Beowulf’s story, it is the story of a hero who killed a monster with a sword. Beowulf is one of the oldest poems written in English.
When English poets wrote Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxons had just moved from Denmark and Sweden to England, so they still had many friends and relatives in their places of origin, so they told stories about these people.
In this story, Beowulf is a great warrior and hero. He sailed to Denmark to save King Hrothgar from a terrible monster named Grendel. A fight broke out, and Beowulf managed to cut Grendel’s arm, so the monster escaped and died of blood loss.
The next night Grendel’s mother came and attacked King Hrothgar’s palace. Beowulf fought him and he also managed to kill him with a magic sword. Beowulf received many awards for his actions.
Then Beowulf had more adventures. He took part in the bicycle invasion of Frisia under the command of King Hygelac (Frank’s sources also mention this invasion, so it is known that this incident took place in 516). Eventually, Beowulf became King of the Gotars until he was about fifty-five. One day he heard that a new monster terrorizing people appeared, this time a dragon. Despite his age, Beowulf was still a hero, so he went and killed the dragon. This time, however, the dragon managed to kill Beowulf.
The best summary of this part of Beowulf is that Beowulf’s bleeding sword has become noticeably fluid, just like ice and ice when God warms and dissolves it. Beowulf delegates power to Geatland Wiglaf.
Approximate middle regions of the tribes mentioned in Beowulf, with the location of Angles in Angeln. See Scandza for details of the political fragmentation of Scandinavia in the 6th century.
The events in the poem take place for most of the sixth century and do not contain English characters. Some suggest that Beowulf was first composed in the 7th century in Rendleshamwe of East Anglia, because the burial on Sutton Hoo showed close ties to Scandinavia, and the royal dynasty of East England, Wuffingas, may have been descendants of Geatish Wulfings. Others have combined this poem with the court of King Alfred the Great or the court of King Walnut the Great.
The poem combines fictitious, legendary and historical elements. Although Beowulf himself is not mentioned in any other Anglo-Saxon manuscript, scholars generally agree that many of the other characters mentioned in Beowulf also appear in Scandinavian sources. (Specific works are indicated in the next chapter).