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The Literary Epic ´Beowulf´

Beowulf is famous piece of work, partly by being the first Anglo-Saxon story written down, and for being such a great literary epic. In the beginning, it was traveled mouth to mouth by the scops to the noble people of the time. But the scops kept adding things, and it is the work that the monks wrote down that is the literary epic we read today. A literary epic is a long narrative story, which contains all four elements that define a literary epic.

Those are things as superhuman deeds, supernatural details, noble characters and a vast setting. The epic contains noble characters because the scops told the story for kings and queens, princes and princesses and dukes and duchesses. And they liked to hear about their fictional or nonfictional relatives would do. So the scops added supernatural deeds and details to catch the ears of the listeners even more.

A monster is not anything really common, but where Hrothgar lived, they saw one every day in twelve years. Grendel the monster was huge enough to grab thirty men in one hand, strong enough to burst through a thick wooden door, and by that, fearsome enough to paralyze a whole village for twelve years.

When Beowulf dived into the lake to fight Grendel’s mother he stayed down there for a day. The natural would be to come up for air every other minute, but he could actually breathe under water. And with that ability, he killed Grendel’s mother during a breath-taking battle.
Once again, a dragon is an unusual thing. All things about a dragon are supernatural, such as its ability to blow fire, fly, its rock solid skin and habit of taking and watching gold.
It flew around burning people, but that is definitely nothing seen on an average day in the normal world. But its poisonous fangs were not as supernatural as everything else on it though.
Hrothgar’s throne in Herot was protected by magic, or as the monks said, by God’s divine power. Grendel could not touch it when he went rampage in Herot, nor could anyone else.

While fighting Grendel’s mother under water, he finds a sword formerly used by giants. No man had been able to use it before, but Beowulf simply took it down and cut her head off. He used it as if it had been a normal sword, swinging and chopping as before, quick and strong as always. He then swam to the surface with his new souvenirs. The blade of his newly acquired sword disappeared, but he saved the handle. He also had Grendel’s
head taken off the body, so he brought that up to the surface too. The head took four normal
men to carry, but Beowulf did it all by himself.

The reason for Grendel being in the underwater fortress was that Beowulf had ripped his arm off during the battle between them, making Grendel bleed to death. Beowulf ripped it off! He ripped off the arm of the monster that once could take thirty men in just one hand.
Beowulf’s last battle was with the fearsome, loathing and fire-breathing dragon that was rampaging in his town over a stolen golden cup. Beowulf was sixty-eight years old. He decides to do something about this pest that calls itself a dragon, and he sets out to kill it. But this time he uses armor and weapons (as he did not do against Grendel), because he thinks that age is catching up with him, and the dragon is a very strong enemy. The dragon blows fire on him, melting his shield, but he is still alive and kicking without so much as a scratch so far. But at the end of the battle, or a little before the end, he gets bit by the dragon’s poisonous fangs. He gets some help in shape of his relative, and together they kill the dragon. Beowulf manages to cut the dragon with the rock hard skin in half, but later he dies from the poison running through his veins.

“Beowulf” was told to rich and noble people of the time by scops, hence the noble characters in the story. The people wanted to hear about “themselves”. Beowulf was the prince of Geatland, and later became the king. He was indeed very noble, powerful, and he was a very intelligent and loved leader. He was the nephew of Higlac, who was the king of Sweden. They were all relative, and talked fondly about each other. They seemed to have liked to brag about each other, because it was very big words they used when talking about their relatives and good friends. The story circles around the royal family of the northern parts of Europe, so even Hrothgar were relative to Beowulf and Higlac. Hrothgar was the king of Denmark, and he was the one that built, closed, and reopened the grand mead-hall Herot. Just a thing like that his throne inside of Herot could not be touched by darker powers than Hrothgar’s stated just how liked (even with God) he was.

All events were set in the vast settings of Scandinavia (Sweden, Geatland and Denmark), were the Vikings once lived. They had cold winters, somewhat war summers and tough seas, almost craving a hero to withstand the climate. The Scandinavia was their “solar system” in their “universe”. So they did not think they traveled short distances when traveling across the sea between Geatland and Denm...

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Inactive member [2003-03-30]   Beowulf
Mimers Brunn [Online]. [2018-05-25]

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