So you’ve just gotten your copy of Beowulf and you’re kind of freaking out. What language is this poem written in, anyway? And what’s up with the fact that it’s a poem … not to mention that it’s a poem with like 3,000 lines? And who can pronounce any of these characters’ names? Or find any of these places on a map? Or figure out what the heck is even going on???
Take a breath.
If you’ve seen a single Hollywood blockbuster, you’re already clued in to a lot of the action in Beowulf. There are monsters of epic proportions. There’s a son who owes a debt to his father. And there’s a main character with almost superhuman characteristics. That would be your hero, Beowulf.
And that’s where the name of this epic comes in, since the poem spends most of its time following Beowulf’s exploits as he proves himself a hero to end all heroes—first as a warrior, and later, as a king.
If all that isn’t enough to tantalize you, how about this little tidbit: Beowulf even features a treasure-guarding dragon at poem’s-end. Though we won’t tell you whether or not Beowulf manages to slay the dragon and bring home the spoils for his people. Don’t you deserve at least one surprise after plowing through 3,000 lines?
* 7th – 10th century was the era in which it was probably written.