Sources returnpage

Beowulf

Category: Books sutras and myths

Beowulf is the conventional title of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.

It is a hero’s story which largely documents shamanic journeys in the spiritual world. It is is full of symbolic references – dragons, castles, treasure and so on all of which can be taken at face value and  a really good ripping yarn or as the story of a spiritual quest along the lines of many epics of this type – for example King Arthur and his court.

In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats in Scandinavia, comes to the help of Hroðgar, the king of the Danes, whose mead hall (in Heorot) has been under attack by a monster [demon] known as Grendel. After Beowulf slays him, Grendel's mother attacks the hall [castle or palace ]and is then also defeated. Victorious, Beowulf goes home to Geatland in Sweden and later becomes king of the Geats. After a period of fifty years has passed, Beowulf defeats a dragon, but is fatally wounded in the battle. After his death, his attendants bury him in a tumulus, a burial mound, a hill, in Geatland.

The story survives in a single manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. Its composition by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet is dated between the 8th and the early 11th century. In 1731, the manuscript was badly damaged by a fire that swept through a building housing a collection of Medieval manuscripts assembled by Sir Robert Bruce Cotton. The poem fell into obscurity for decades, and its existence did not become widely known again until it was printed in 1815 in an edition prepared by the Icelandic-Danish scholar Grímur Jónsson Thorkelin.

Vikings – Neil Oliver

The epic poem Beowulf, set in Scandinavia but composed in England by an unknown genius sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries, recounts the deeds of the hero, a warrior of the Geats………  The poem makes mention of the Scyflings – a variant of Ynglnga – and also of a warrior named Othere.  Near to Vendel, at a place called Husby, is a burial mound known to the locals as Othere’s mound.  An excavation there in 1917 revealed the remains of a powerfully built man who had been buried sometime in the sixth century – so the lines separating history, saga and fiction become pleasingly blurred.

 

   

Observations

For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.