Mythical Figure
Best Known As:
The hero of the epic tale bearing his name

Beowulf is the hero of an ancient epic, titled Beowulf, which is the oldest known epic narrative composed in English. Beowulf is a powerful warrior who comes to the aid of the Danish king Hrothgar, whose hall is raided each night by the hideous man-eating monster Grendel. Beowulf slays Grendel and then Grendel's angry mother, and rules as king of the Geats until he himself is slain in battle with a dragon. The Beowulf epic is probably a conglomeration of ancient Scandinavian folk tales, compiled by a single unknown author sometime around the eighth century AD. It remains a standard text in English literature classes in high schools and colleges.

Extra Credit

A 2000 translation of Beowulf by author Seamus Heaney won the Whitbread Book of the Year award in the United Kingdom.

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