Beowulf - An Anglo-Saxon Epic Poem
by The Heyne-Socin
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Professor of English and History in The College of William and Mary


Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1892, by


in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.


My Wife




Preface vii

Bibliography of Translations xi

Glossary of Proper Names xiii

List of Words and Phrases not in General Use xviii

The Life and Death of Scyld (I.) 1

Scyld's Successors } (II.) 3 Hrothgar's Great Mead-Hall

Grendel, the Murderer (III.) 5

Beowulf Goes to Hrothgar's Assistance (IV.) 8

The Geats Reach Heorot (V.) 10

Beowulf Introduces Himself at the Palace (VI.) 12

Hrothgar and Beowulf (VII.) 14

Hrothgar and Beowulf (continued) (VIII.) 17

Unferth Taunts Beowulf (IX.) 19

Beowulf Silences Unferth } (X.) 21 Glee is High

All Sleep save One (XI.) 24

Grendel and Beowulf (XII.) 26

Grendel is Vanquished (XIII.) 28

Rejoicing of the Danes (XIV.) 30

Hrothgar's Gratitude (XV.) 33

Hrothgar Lavishes Gifts upon his Deliverer (XVI.) 35

Banquet (continued) } (XVII.) 37 The Scop's Song of Finn and Hnaef

The Finn Episode (continued) } (XVIII.) 39 The Banquet Continues

Beowulf Receives Further Honor (XIX.) 41

The Mother of Grendel (XX.) 44

Hrothgar's Account of the Monsters (XXI.) 46

Beowulf Seeks Grendel's Mother (XXII.) 48

Beowulf's Fight with Grendel's Mother (XXIII.) 51

Beowulf is Double-Conqueror (XXIV.) 53

ǐ Beowulf Brings his Trophies } (XXV.) 57 Hrothgar's Gratitude

Hrothgar Moralizes } (XXVI.) 60 Rest after Labor

Sorrow at Parting (XXVII.) 62

The Homeward Journey } (XXVIII.) 64 The Two Queens

Beowulf and Higelac (XXIX.) 67

Beowulf Narrates his Adventures to Higelac (XXX.) 69

Gift-Giving is Mutual (XXXI.) 73

The Hoard and the Dragon (XXXII.) 75

Brave Though Aged } (XXXIII.) 78 Reminiscences

Beowulf Seeks the Dragon } (XXXIV.) 81 Beowulf's Reminiscences

Reminiscences (continued) } (XXXV.) 83 Beowulf's Last Battle

Wiglaf the Trusty } (XXXVI.) 88 Beowulf is Deserted by Friends and by Sword

The Fatal Struggle } (XXXVII.) 91 Beowulf's Last Moments

Wiglaf Plunders the Dragon's Den } (XXXVIII.) 93 Beowulf's Death

The Dead Foes } (XXXIX.) 95 Wiglaf's Bitter Taunts

The Messenger of Death (XL.) 97

The Messenger's Retrospect (XLI.) 99

Wiglaf's Sad Story } (XLII.) 103 The Hoard Carried Off

The Burning of Beowulf (XLIII.) 106

Addenda 109



The present work is a modest effort to reproduce approximately, in modern measures, the venerable epic, Beowulf. Approximately, I repeat; for a very close reproduction of Anglo-Saxon verse would, to a large extent, be prose to a modern ear.

The Heyne-Socin text and glossary have been closely followed. Occasionally a deviation has been made, but always for what seemed good and sufficient reason. The translator does not aim to be an editor. Once in a while, however, he has added a conjecture of his own to the emendations quoted from the criticisms of other students of the poem.

This work is addressed to two classes of readers. From both of these alike the translator begs sympathy and co-operation. The Anglo-Saxon scholar he hopes to please by adhering faithfully to the original. The student of English literature he aims to interest by giving him, in modern garb, the most ancient epic of our race. This is a bold and venturesome undertaking; and yet there must be some students of the Teutonic past willing to follow even a daring guide, if they may read in modern phrases of the sorrows of Hrothgar, of the prowess of Beowulf, and of the feelings that stirred the hearts of our forefathers in their primeval homes.

In order to please the larger class of readers, a regular cadence has been used, a measure which, while retaining the essential characteristics of the original, permits the reader to see ahead of him in reading.

Perhaps every Anglo-Saxon scholar has his own theory as to how Beowulf should be translated. Some have given us prose versions of what we believe to be a great poem. Is it any reflection on our honored Kemble and Arnold to say that their translations fail to show a layman that Beowulf is justly called our first epic? Of those translators who have used verse, several have written from what would seem a mistaken point of view. Is it proper, for instance, that the grave and solemn speeches of Beowulf and Hrothgar be put in ballad measures, tripping lightly and airily along? Or, again, is it fitting that the rough martial music of Anglo-Saxon verse be interpreted to us in the smooth measures of modern blank verse? Do we hear what has been beautifully called "the clanging tread of a warrior in mail"?


Of all English translations of Beowulf, that of Professor Garnett alone gives any adequate idea of the chief characteristics of this great Teutonic epic.

The measure used in the present translation is believed to be as near a reproduction of the original as modern English affords. The cadences closely resemble those used by Browning in some of his most striking poems. The four stresses of the Anglo-Saxon verse are retained, and as much thesis and anacrusis is allowed as is consistent with a regular cadence. Alliteration has been used to a large extent; but it was thought that modern ears would hardly tolerate it on every line. End-rhyme has been used occasionally; internal rhyme, sporadically. Both have some warrant in Anglo-Saxon poetry. (For end-rhyme, see 153, 154; for internal rhyme, 221, 640.)

What Gummere[1] calls the "rime-giver" has been studiously kept; viz., the first accented syllable in the second half-verse always carries the alliteration; and the last accented syllable alliterates only sporadically. Alternate alliteration is occasionally used as in the original. (See 761, 85.)

No two accented syllables have been brought together, except occasionally after a caesural pause. (See 219 and 121.) Or, scientifically speaking, Sievers's C type has been avoided as not consonant with the plan of translation. Several of his types, however, constantly occur; e.g. A and a variant (/ x / x) (/ x x / x); B and a variant (x / x / ) (x x / x / ); a variant of D (/ x / x x); E (/ x x / ). Anacrusis gives further variety to the types used in the translation.

The parallelisms of the original have been faithfully preserved. (_E.g._, 1_16 and 1_17: "Lord" and "Wielder of Glory"; 1_30, 1_31, 1_32; 2_12 and 2_13; 2_27 and 2_28; 3_5 and 3_6.) Occasionally, some loss has been sustained; but, on the other hand, a gain has here and there been made.

The effort has been made to give a decided flavor of archaism to the translation. All words not in keeping with the spirit of the poem have been avoided. Again, though many archaic words have been used, there are none, it is believed, which are not found in standard modern poetry.


With these preliminary remarks, it will not be amiss to give an outline of the story of the poem.


Hrothgar, king of the Danes, or Scyldings, builds a great mead-hall, or palace, in which he hopes to feast his liegemen and to give them presents. The joy of king and retainers is, however, of short duration. Grendel, the monster, is seized with hateful jealousy. He cannot brook the sounds of joyance that reach him down in his fen-dwelling near the hall. Oft and anon he goes to the joyous building, bent on direful mischief. Thane after thane is ruthlessly carried off and devoured, while no one is found strong enough and bold enough to cope with the monster. For twelve years he persecutes Hrothgar and his vassals.

Over sea, a day's voyage off, Beowulf, of the Geats, nephew of Higelac, king of the Geats, hears of Grendel's doings and of Hrothgar's misery. He resolves to crush the fell monster and relieve the aged king. With fourteen chosen companions, he sets sail for Dane-land. Reaching that country, he soon persuades Hrothgar of his ability to help him. The hours that elapse before night are spent in beer-drinking and conversation. When Hrothgar's bedtime comes he leaves the hall in charge of Beowulf, telling him that never before has he given to another the absolute wardship of his palace. All retire to rest, Beowulf, as it were, sleeping upon his arms.

Grendel comes, the great march-stepper, bearing God's anger. He seizes and kills one of the sleeping warriors. Then he advances towards Beowulf. A fierce and desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensues. No arms are used, both combatants trusting to strength and hand-grip. Beowulf tears Grendel's shoulder from its socket, and the monster retreats to his den, howling and yelling with agony and fury. The wound is fatal.

The next morning, at early dawn, warriors in numbers flock to the hall Heorot, to hear the news. Joy is boundless. Glee runs high. Hrothgar and his retainers are lavish of gratitude and of gifts.

Grendel's mother, however, comes the next night to avenge his death. She is furious and raging. While Beowulf is sleeping in a room somewhat apart [x] from the quarters of the other warriors, she seizes one of Hrothgar's favorite counsellors, and carries him off and devours him. Beowulf is called. Determined to leave Heorot entirely purified, he arms himself, and goes down to look for the female monster. After traveling through the waters many hours, he meets her near the sea-bottom. She drags him to her den. There he sees Grendel lying dead. After a desperate and almost fatal struggle with the woman, he slays her, and swims upward in triumph, taking with him Grendel's head.

Joy is renewed at Heorot. Congratulations crowd upon the victor. Hrothgar literally pours treasures into the lap of Beowulf; and it is agreed among the vassals of the king that Beowulf will be their next liegelord.

Beowulf leaves Dane-land. Hrothgar weeps and laments at his departure.

When the hero arrives in his own land, Higelac treats him as a distinguished guest. He is the hero of the hour.

Beowulf subsequently becomes king of his own people, the Geats. After he has been ruling for fifty years, his own neighborhood is wofully harried by a fire-spewing dragon. Beowulf determines to kill him. In the ensuing struggle both Beowulf and the dragon are slain. The grief of the Geats is inexpressible. They determine, however, to leave nothing undone to honor the memory of their lord. A great funeral-pyre is built, and his body is burnt. Then a memorial-barrow is made, visible from a great distance, that sailors afar may be constantly reminded of the prowess of the national hero of Geatland.

The poem closes with a glowing tribute to his bravery, his gentleness, his goodness of heart, and his generosity.

* * * * *

It is the devout desire of this translator to hasten the day when the story of Beowulf shall be as familiar to English-speaking peoples as that of the Iliad. Beowulf is our first great epic. It is an epitomized history of the life of the Teutonic races. It brings vividly before us our forefathers of pre-Alfredian eras, in their love of war, of sea, and of adventure.

My special thanks are due to Professors Francis A. March and James A. Harrison, for advice, sympathy, and assistance.




B. = Bugge. C. = Cosijn. Gr. = Grein. Grdvtg. = Grundtvig. H. = Heyne. H. and S. = Harrison and Sharp. H.-So. = Heyne-Socin. K.= Kemble. Kl. = Kluge. M.= Muellenhoff. R. = Rieger. S. = Sievers. Sw. = Sweet. t.B. = ten Brink. Th. = Thorpe. W. = Wuelcker.

* * * * *


Arnold, Thomas.—Beowulf. A heroic poem of the eighth century. London, 1876. With English translation. Prose.

Botkine, L.—Beowulf. Epopee Anglo-Saxonne. Havre, 1877. First French translation. Passages occasionally omitted.

Conybeare, J.J.—Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London, 1826. Full Latin translation, and some passages translated into English blank-verse.

Ettmuller, L.—Beowulf, stabreimend uebersetzt. Zuerich, 1840.

Garnett, J.M.—Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon Poem, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Boston, 1882. An accurate line-for-line translation, using alliteration occasionally, and sometimes assuming a metrical cadence.

Grein, C.W.M.—Dichtungen der Angelsachsen, stabreimend uebersetzt. 2 Bde. Goettingen, 1857-59.

Grion, Giusto.—Beovulf, poema epico anglo-sassone del VII. secolo, tradotto e illustrato. Lucca, 1883. First Italian translation.

Grundtvig, N.F.S.—Bjowulfs Drape. Copenhagen, 1820.

Heyne, M.—A translation in iambic measures. Paderborn, 1863.

Kemble, J.M.—The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Traveller's Song, and the Battle of Finnsburg. London, 1833. The second edition contains a prose translation of Beowulf.

Leo, H.—Ueber Beowulf. Halle, 1839. Translations of extracts.


Lumsden, H.W.—Beowulf, translated into modern rhymes. London, 1881. Ballad measures. Passages occasionally omitted.

Sandras, G.S.—De carminibus Caedmoni adjudicatis. Paris, 1859. An extract from Beowulf, with Latin translation.

Schaldmose, F.—Beowulf og Scopes Widsith, to Angelsaxiske Digte. Copenhagen, 1847.

Simrock, K.—Beowulf. Uebersetzt und erlaeutert. Stuttgart und Augsburg, 1859. Alliterative measures.

Thorkelin, G.J.—De Danorum rebus gestis secul. III. et IV. poema Danicum dialecto Anglosaxonica. Havniae, 1815. Latin translation.

Thorpe, B.—The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Scop or Gleeman's Tale, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Oxford, 1855. English translation in short lines, generally containing two stresses.

Wackerbarth, A.D.—Beowulf, translated into English verse. London, 1849.

Wickberg, R.—Beowulf, en fornengelsk hjeltedikt, oefersatt. Westervik. First Swedish translation.

von Wolzogen, H.—Beowulf, in alliterative measures. Leipzig.

Zinsser, G.—Der Kampf Beowulfs mit Grendel. Jahresbericht of the Realschule at Forbach, 1881.



* * * * *

[The figures refer to the divisions of the poem in which the respective names occur. The large figures refer to fitts, the small, to lines in the fitts.]

* * * * *

AElfhere.—A kinsman of Wiglaf.—36_3.

AEschere.—Confidential friend of King Hrothgar. Elder brother of Yrmenlaf. Killed by Grendel.—213; 3089.

Beanstan.—Father of Breca.—9_26.

Beowulf.—Son of Scyld, the founder of the dynasty of Scyldings. Father of Healfdene, and grandfather of Hrothgar.—118; 21.

Beowulf.—The hero of the poem. Sprung from the stock of Geats, son of Ecgtheow. Brought up by his maternal grandfather Hrethel, and figuring in manhood as a devoted liegeman of his uncle Higelac. A hero from his youth. Has the strength of thirty men. Engages in a swimming-match with Breca. Goes to the help of Hrothgar against the monster Grendel. Vanquishes Grendel and his mother. Afterwards becomes king of the Geats. Late in life attempts to kill a fire-spewing dragon, and is slain. Is buried with great honors. His memorial mound.—626; 72; 79; 93; 98; 1228; 1243; 231, etc.

Breca.—Beowulf's opponent in the famous swimming-match.—98; 919; 921; 922.

Brondings.—A people ruled by Breca.—9_23.

Brosinga mene.—A famous collar once owned by the Brosings.—19_7.

Cain.—Progenitor of Grendel and other monsters.—256; 2011.

Daeghrefn.—A warrior of the Hugs, killed by Beowulf.—35_40.

Danes.—Subjects of Scyld and his descendants, and hence often called Scyldings. Other names for them are Victory-Scyldings, Honor-Scyldings, Armor-Danes, Bright-Danes, East-Danes, West-Danes, North-Danes, South-Danes, Ingwins, Hrethmen.—1_1; 2_1; 3_2; 5_14; 7_1, etc.

Ecglaf.—Father of Unferth, who taunts Beowulf.—9_1.

Ecgtheow.—Father of Beowulf, the hero of the poem. A widely-known Waegmunding warrior. Marries Hrethel's daughter. After slaying Heatholaf, a Wylfing, he flees his country.—7_3; 5_6; 8_4.

Ecgwela.—A king of the Danes before Scyld.—25_60.


Elan.—Sister of Hrothgar, and probably wife of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes.—2_10.

Eagle Cape.—A promontory in Geat-land, under which took place Beowulf's last encounter.—41_87.

Eadgils.—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eanmund.—34_2.

Eanmund.—Son of Ohthere and brother of Eadgils. The reference to these brothers is vague, and variously understood. Heyne supposes as follows: Raising a revolt against their father, they are obliged to leave Sweden. They go to the land of the Geats; with what intention, is not known, but probably to conquer and plunder. The Geatish king, Heardred, is slain by one of the brothers, probably Eanmund.—36_10; 31_54 to 31_60; 33_66 to 34_6.

Eofor.—A Geatish hero who slays Ongentheow in war, and is rewarded by Hygelac with the hand of his only daughter.—4118; 4148.

Eormenric.—A Gothic king, from whom Hama took away the famous Brosinga mene.—19_9.

Eomaer.—Son of Offa and Thrytho, king and queen of the Angles.—28_69.

Finn.—King of the North-Frisians and the Jutes. Marries Hildeburg. At his court takes place the horrible slaughter in which the Danish general, Hnaef, fell. Later on, Finn himself is slain by Danish warriors.—17_18; 17_30; 17_44; 18_4; 18_23.

Fin-land.—The country to which Beowulf was driven by the currents in his swimming-match.—10_22.

Fitela.—Son and nephew of King Sigemund, whose praises are sung in XIV.—1442; 1453.

Folcwalda.—Father of Finn.—17_38.

Franks.—Introduced occasionally in referring to the death of Higelac.—19_19; 40_21; 40_24.

Frisians.—A part of them are ruled by Finn. Some of them were engaged in the struggle in which Higelac was slain.—1720; 1742; 1752; 4021.

Freaware.—Daughter of King Hrothgar. Married to Ingeld, a Heathobard prince.—2960; 3032.

Froda.—King of the Heathobards, and father of Ingeld.—29_62.

Garmund.—Father of Offa.—28_71.

Geats, Geatmen.—The race to which the hero of the poem belongs. Also called Weder-Geats, or Weders, War-Geats, Sea-Geats. They are ruled by Hrethel, Haethcyn, Higelac, and Beowulf.—47; 74; 1045; 118; 2714; 288.

Gepids.—Named in connection with the Danes and Swedes.—35_34.

Grendel.—A monster of the race of Cain. Dwells in the fens and moors. Is furiously envious when he hears sounds of joy in Hrothgar's palace. Causes the king untold agony for years. Is finally conquered by Beowulf, and dies of his wound. His hand and arm are hung up in Hrothgar's hall Heorot. His head is cut off by Beowulf when he goes down to fight with Grendel's mother.—250; 31; 313; 819; 1117; 122; 1327; 153.

Guthlaf.—A Dane of Hnaef's party.—18_24.

Half-Danes.—Branch of the Danes to which Hnaef belonged.—17_19.


Halga.—Surnamed the Good. Younger brother of Hrothgar.—2_9.

Hama.—Takes the Brosinga mene from Eormenric.—19_7.

Haereth.—Father of Higelac's queen, Hygd.—2839; 2918.

Haethcyn.—Son of Hrethel and brother of Higelac. Kills his brother Herebeald accidentally. Is slain at Ravenswood, fighting against Ongentheow.—34_43; 35_23; 40_32.

Helmings.—The race to which Queen Wealhtheow belonged.—10_63.

Heming.—A kinsman of Garmund, perhaps nephew.—2854; 2870.

Hengest.—A Danish leader. Takes command on the fall of Hnaef.—1733; 1741.

Herebeald.—Eldest son of Hrethel, the Geatish king, and brother of Higelac. Killed by his younger brother Haethcyn.—3443; 3447.

Heremod.—A Danish king of a dynasty before the Scylding line. Was a source of great sorrow to his people.—1464; 2559.

Hereric.—Referred to as uncle of Heardred, but otherwise unknown.—31_60.

Hetwars.—Another name for the Franks.—33_51.

Healfdene.—Grandson of Scyld and father of Hrothgar. Ruled the Danes long and well.—2_5; 4_1; 8_14.

Heardred.—Son of Higelac and Hygd, king and queen of the Geats. Succeeds his father, with Beowulf as regent. Is slain by the sons of Ohthere.—31_56; 33_63; 33_75.

Heathobards.—Race of Lombards, of which Froda is king. After Froda falls in battle with the Danes, Ingeld, his son, marries Hrothgar's daughter, Freaware, in order to heal the feud.—301; 306.

Heatholaf.—A Wylfing warrior slain by Beowulf's father.—8_5.

Heathoremes.—The people on whose shores Breca is cast by the waves during his contest with Beowulf.—9_21.

Heorogar.—Elder brother of Hrothgar, and surnamed 'Weoroda Raeswa,' Prince of the Troopers.—29; 812.

Hereward.—Son of the above.—31_17.

Heort, Heorot.—The great mead-hall which King Hrothgar builds. It is invaded by Grendel for twelve years. Finally cleansed by Beowulf, the Geat. It is called Heort on account of the hart-antlers which decorate it.—2_25; 3_32; 3_52.

Hildeburg.—Wife of Finn, daughter of Hoce, and related to Hnaef,—probably his sister.—1721; 1834.

Hnaef.—Leader of a branch of the Danes called Half-Danes. Killed in the struggle at Finn's castle.—1719; 1761.

Hondscio.—One of Beowulf's companions. Killed by Grendel just before Beowulf grappled with that monster.—30_43.

Hoce.—Father of Hildeburg and probably of Hnaef.—17_26.

Hrethel.—King of the Geats, father of Higelac, and grandfather of Beowulf.—74; 3439.

Hrethla.—Once used for Hrethel.—7_82.

Hrethmen.—Another name for the Danes.—7_73.

Hrethric.—Son of Hrothgar.—1865; 2719.


Hreosna-beorh.—A promontory in Geat-land, near which Ohthere's sons made plundering raids.—35_18.

Hrothgar.—The Danish king who built the hall Heort, but was long unable to enjoy it on account of Grendel's persecutions. Marries Wealhtheow, a Helming lady. Has two sons and a daughter. Is a typical Teutonic king, lavish of gifts. A devoted liegelord, as his lamentations over slain liegemen prove. Also very appreciative of kindness, as is shown by his loving gratitude to Beowulf.—2_9; 2_12; 4_1; 8_10; 15_1; etc., etc.

Hrothmund.—Son of Hrothgar.—18_65.

Hrothulf.—Probably a son of Halga, younger brother of Hrothgar. Certainly on terms of close intimacy in Hrothgar's palace.—1626; 1857.

Hrunting.—Unferth's sword, lent to Beowulf.—2271; 259.

Hugs.—A race in alliance with the Franks and Frisians at the time of Higelac's fall.—35_41.

Hun.—A Frisian warrior, probably general of the Hetwars. Gives Hengest a beautiful sword.—18_19.

Hunferth.—Sometimes used for Unferth.

Hygelac, Higelac.—King of the Geats, uncle and liegelord of Beowulf, the hero of the poem.—His second wife is the lovely Hygd, daughter of Haereth. The son of their union is Heardred. Is slain in a war with the Hugs, Franks, and Frisians combined. Beowulf is regent, and afterwards king of the Geats.—46; 54; 2834; 299; 2921; 3156.

Hygd.—Wife of Higelac, and daughter of Haereth. There are some indications that she married Beowulf after she became a widow.—28_37.

Ingeld.—Son of the Heathobard king, Froda. Marries Hrothgar's daughter, Freaware, in order to reconcile the two peoples.—2962; 3032.

Ingwins.—Another name for the Danes.—1652; 2069.

Jutes.—Name sometimes applied to Finn's people.—17_22; 17_38; 18_17.

Lafing.—Name of a famous sword presented to Hengest by Hun.—18_19.

Merewing.—A Frankish king, probably engaged in the war in which Higelac was slain.—40_29.

Naegling.—Beowulf's sword.—36_76.

Offa.—King of the Angles, and son of Garmund. Marries the terrible Thrytho who is so strongly contrasted with Hygd.—2859; 2866.

Ohthere.—Son of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes. He is father of Eanmund and Eadgils.—4035; 4039.

Onela.—Brother of Ohthere.—3615; 4039.

Ongentheow.—King of Sweden, of the Scylfing dynasty. Married, perhaps, Elan, daughter of Healfdene.—3526; 4116.

Oslaf.—A Dane of Hnaef's party.—18_24.

Ravenswood.—The forest near which Haethcyn was slain.—4031; 4041.

Scefing.—Applied (1_4) to Scyld, and meaning 'son of Scef.'


Scyld.—Founder of the dynasty to which Hrothgar, his father, and grandfather belonged. He dies, and his body is put on a vessel, and set adrift. He goes from Daneland just as he had come to it—in a bark.—1_4; 1_19; 1_27.

Scyldings.—The descendants of Scyld. They are also called Honor-Scyldings, Victory-Scyldings, War-Scyldings, etc. (See 'Danes,' above.)—2_1; 7_1; 8_1.

Scylfings.—A Swedish royal line to which Wiglaf belonged.—36_2.

Sigemund.—Son of Waels, and uncle and father of Fitela. His struggle with a dragon is related in connection with Beowulf's deeds of prowess.—1438; 1447.

Swerting.—Grandfather of Higelac, and father of Hrethel.—19_11.

Swedes.—People of Sweden, ruled by the Scylfings.—35_13.

Thrytho.—Wife of Offa, king of the Angles. Known for her fierce and unwomanly disposition. She is introduced as a contrast to the gentle Hygd, queen of Higelac.—2842; 2856.

Unferth.—Son of Ecglaf, and seemingly a confidential courtier of Hrothgar. Taunts Beowulf for having taken part in the swimming-match. Lends Beowulf his sword when he goes to look for Grendel's mother. In the MS. sometimes written Hunferth. 91; 1841.

Waels.—Father of Sigemund.—14_60.

Waegmunding.—A name occasionally applied to Wiglaf and Beowulf, and perhaps derived from a common ancestor, Waegmund.—366; 3861.

Weders.—Another name for Geats or Wedergeats.

Wayland.—A fabulous smith mentioned in this poem and in other old Teutonic literature.—7_83.

Wendels.—The people of Wulfgar, Hrothgar's messenger and retainer. (Perhaps = Vandals.)—6_30.

Wealhtheow.—Wife of Hrothgar. Her queenly courtesy is well shown in the poem.—10_55.

Weohstan, or Wihstan.—A Waegmunding, and father of Wiglaf.—36_1.

Whale's Ness.—A prominent promontory, on which Beowulf's mound was built.—3852; 4276.

Wiglaf.—Son of Wihstan, and related to Beowulf. He remains faithful to Beowulf in the fatal struggle with the fire-drake. Would rather die than leave his lord in his dire emergency.—36_1; 36_3; 36_28.

Wonred.—Father of Wulf and Eofor.—4120; 4126.

Wulf.—Son of Wonred. Engaged in the battle between Higelac's and Ongentheow's forces, and had a hand-to-hand fight with Ongentheow himself. Ongentheow disables him, and is thereupon slain by Eofor.—4119; 4129.

Wulfgar.—Lord of the Wendels, and retainer of Hrothgar.—618; 630.

Wylfings.—A people to whom belonged Heatholaf, who was slain by Ecgtheow.—86; 816.

Yrmenlaf.—Younger brother of AEschere, the hero whose death grieved Hrothgar so deeply.—21_4.



ATHELING.—Prince, nobleman.

BAIRN.—Son, child.

BARROW.—Mound, rounded hill, funeral-mound.


BEAKER.—Cup, drinking-vessel.


BIGHT.—Bay, sea.


BOSS.—Ornamental projection.

BRACTEATE.—A round ornament on a necklace.




CARLE.—Man, hero.

EARL.—Nobleman, any brave man.


EMPRISE.—Enterprise, undertaking.


ERST-WORTHY.—Worthy for a long time past.


FERRY.—Bear, carry.

FEY.—Fated, doomed.

FLOAT.—Vessel, ship.

FOIN.—To lunge (Shaks.).


GREWSOME.—Cruel, fierce.

HEFT.—Handle, hilt; used by synecdoche for 'sword.'

HELM.—Helmet, protector.

HENCHMAN.—Retainer, vassal.

HIGHT.—Am (was) named.

HOLM.—Ocean, curved surface of the sea.

HIMSEEMED.—(It) seemed to him.

LIEF.—Dear, valued.

MERE.—Sea; in compounds, 'mere-ways,' 'mere-currents,' etc.



NAZE.—Edge (nose).



QUIT, QUITE.—Requite.


REAVE.—Bereave, deprive.


SETTLE.—Seat, bench.

SKINKER.—One who pours.


SWINGE.—Stroke, blow.




UNCANNY.—Ill-featured, grizzly.


WAR-SPEED.—Success in war.

WEB.—Tapestry (that which is 'woven').

WEEDED.—Clad (cf. widow's weeds).

WEEN.—Suppose, imagine.

WEIRD.—Fate, Providence.

WHILOM.—At times, formerly, often.

WIELDER.—Ruler. Often used of God; also in compounds, as 'Wielder of Glory,' 'Wielder of Worship.'


WOLD.—Plane, extended surface.







{The famous race of Spear-Danes.}

Lo! the Spear-Danes' glory through splendid achievements The folk-kings' former fame we have heard of, How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.

{Scyld, their mighty king, in honor of whom they are often called Scyldings. He is the great-grandfather of Hrothgar, so prominent in the poem.}

Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers 5 From many a people their mead-benches tore. Since first he found him friendless and wretched, The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it, Waxed 'neath the welkin, world-honor gained, Till all his neighbors o'er sea were compelled to 10 Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute: An excellent atheling! After was borne him

{A son is born to him, who receives the name of Beowulf—a name afterwards made so famous by the hero of the poem.}

A son and heir, young in his dwelling, Whom God-Father sent to solace the people. He had marked the misery malice had caused them, 15 [1]That reaved of their rulers they wretched had erstwhile[2] Long been afflicted. The Lord, in requital, Wielder of Glory, with world-honor blessed him. Famed was Beowulf, far spread the glory Of Scyld's great son in the lands of the Danemen.


{The ideal Teutonic king lavishes gifts on his vassals.}

20 So the carle that is young, by kindnesses rendered The friends of his father, with fees in abundance Must be able to earn that when age approacheth Eager companions aid him requitingly, When war assaults him serve him as liegemen: 25 By praise-worthy actions must honor be got 'Mong all of the races. At the hour that was fated

{Scyld dies at the hour appointed by Fate.}

Scyld then departed to the All-Father's keeping Warlike to wend him; away then they bare him To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades, 30 As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings Word-sway wielded, and the well-loved land-prince Long did rule them.[3] The ring-stemmed vessel, Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor, Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing;

{By his own request, his body is laid on a vessel and wafted seaward.}

35 The beloved leader laid they down there, Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel, The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels, Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over, Was placed near at hand then; and heard I not ever 40 That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle, Bills and burnies; on his bosom sparkled Many a jewel that with him must travel On the flush of the flood afar on the current. 45 And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly, Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him

{He leaves Daneland on the breast of a bark.}

Who when first he was born outward did send him Lone on the main, the merest of infants: And a gold-fashioned standard they stretched under heaven [3] 50 High o'er his head, let the holm-currents bear him, Seaward consigned him: sad was their spirit, Their mood very mournful. Men are not able

{No one knows whither the boat drifted.}

Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside,[4] Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied.

[1] For the 'aet' of verse 15, Sievers suggests 'a' (= which). If this be accepted, the sentence 'He had ... afflicted' will read: He (i.e. God) had perceived the malice-caused sorrow which they, lordless, had formerly long endured.

[2] For 'aldor-lease' (15) Gr. suggested 'aldor-ceare': He perceived their distress, that they formerly had suffered life-sorrow a long while.

[3] A very difficult passage. 'Ahte' (31) has no object. H. supplies 'geweald' from the context; and our translation is based upon this assumption, though it is far from satisfactory. Kl. suggests 'laendagas' for 'lange': And the beloved land-prince enjoyed (had) his transitory days (i.e. lived). B. suggests a dislocation; but this is a dangerous doctrine, pushed rather far by that eminent scholar.

[4] The reading of the H.-So. text has been quite closely followed; but some eminent scholars read 'sele-raedenne' for 'sele-raedende.' If that be adopted, the passage will read: Men cannot tell us, indeed, the order of Fate, etc. 'Sele-raedende' has two things to support it: (1) v. 1347; (2) it affords a parallel to 'men' in v. 50.



{Beowulf succeeds his father Scyld}

In the boroughs then Beowulf, bairn of the Scyldings, Beloved land-prince, for long-lasting season Was famed mid the folk (his father departed, The prince from his dwelling), till afterward sprang 5 Great-minded Healfdene; the Danes in his lifetime He graciously governed, grim-mooded, aged.

{Healfdene's birth.}

Four bairns of his body born in succession Woke in the world, war-troopers' leader Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good; 10 Heard I that Elan was Ongentheow's consort,

{He has three sons—one of them, Hrothgar—and a daughter named Elan. Hrothgar becomes a mighty king.}

The well-beloved bedmate of the War-Scylfing leader. Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, Waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen Obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, 15 A numerous band. It burned in his spirit To urge his folk to found a great building, A mead-hall grander than men of the era

{He is eager to build a great hall in which he may feast his retainers}

Ever had heard of, and in it to share With young and old all of the blessings 20 The Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers. Then the work I find afar was assigned [4] To many races in middle-earth's regions, To adorn the great folk-hall. In due time it happened Early 'mong men, that 'twas finished entirely, 25 The greatest of hall-buildings; Heorot he named it

{The hall is completed, and is called Heort, or Heorot.}

Who wide-reaching word-sway wielded 'mong earlmen. His promise he brake not, rings he lavished, Treasure at banquet. Towered the hall up High and horn-crested, huge between antlers: 30 It battle-waves bided, the blasting fire-demon; Ere long then from hottest hatred must sword-wrath Arise for a woman's husband and father. Then the mighty war-spirit[1] endured for a season,

{The Monster Grendel is madly envious of the Danemen's joy.}

Bore it bitterly, he who bided in darkness, 35 That light-hearted laughter loud in the building Greeted him daily; there was dulcet harp-music, Clear song of the singer. He said that was able

{[The course of the story is interrupted by a short reference to some old account of the creation.]}

To tell from of old earthmen's beginnings, That Father Almighty earth had created, 40 The winsome wold that the water encircleth, Set exultingly the sun's and the moon's beams To lavish their lustre on land-folk and races, And earth He embellished in all her regions With limbs and leaves; life He bestowed too 45 On all the kindreds that live under heaven.

{The glee of the warriors is overcast by a horrible dread.}

So blessed with abundance, brimming with joyance, The warriors abided, till a certain one gan to Dog them with deeds of direfullest malice, A foe in the hall-building: this horrible stranger[2] 50 Was Grendel entitled, the march-stepper famous Who[3] dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness; The wan-mooded being abode for a season [5] In the land of the giants, when the Lord and Creator Had banned him and branded. For that bitter murder, 55 The killing of Abel, all-ruling Father

{Cain is referred to as a progenitor of Grendel, and of monsters in general.}

The kindred of Cain crushed with His vengeance; In the feud He rejoiced not, but far away drove him From kindred and kind, that crime to atone for, Meter of Justice. Thence ill-favored creatures, 60 Elves and giants, monsters of ocean, Came into being, and the giants that longtime Grappled with God; He gave them requital.

[1] R. and t. B. prefer 'ellor-gaest' to 'ellen-gaest' (86): Then the stranger from afar endured, etc.

[2] Some authorities would translate 'demon' instead of 'stranger.'

[3] Some authorities arrange differently, and render: Who dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness, the land of the giant-race.



{Grendel attacks the sleeping heroes}

When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used it For beds and benches when the banquet was over. Then he found there reposing many a noble 5 Asleep after supper; sorrow the heroes,[1] Misery knew not. The monster of evil Greedy and cruel tarried but little,

{He drags off thirty of them, and devours them}

Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers Thirty of thanemen; thence he departed 10 Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to, With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward. In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking, Was Grendel's prowess revealed to the warriors:

{A cry of agony goes up, when Grendel's horrible deed is fully realized.}

Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted, 15 Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous, The long-worthy atheling, sat very woful, Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen, [6] When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer, The spirit accursed: too crushing that sorrow,

{The monster returns the next night.}

20 Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried, But one night after continued his slaughter Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little From malice and murder; they mastered him fully. He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for 25 A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges, A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice Told him truly by token apparent The hall-thane's hatred: he held himself after Further and faster who the foeman did baffle. 30 [2]So ruled he and strongly strove against justice Lone against all men, till empty uptowered

{King Hrothgar's agony and suspense last twelve years.}

The choicest of houses. Long was the season: Twelve-winters' time torture suffered The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction, 35 Endless agony; hence it after[3] became Certainly known to the children of men Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar Grendel struggled:—his grudges he cherished, Murderous malice, many a winter, 40 Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he [4]Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of The men of the Dane-folk, for money to settle, No counsellor needed count for a moment [7] On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer;

{Grendel is unremitting in his persecutions.}

45 The monster of evil fiercely did harass, The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger, Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then The mist-covered moor-fens; men do not know where Witches and wizards wander and ramble. 50 So the foe of mankind many of evils Grievous injuries, often accomplished, Horrible hermit; Heort he frequented, Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen

{God is against the monster.}

(Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch,[5] 55 The light-flashing jewel, love of Him knew not). 'Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings

{The king and his council deliberate in vain.}

Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private Sat the king in his council; conference held they What the braves should determine 'gainst terrors unlooked for.

{They invoke the aid of their gods.}

60 At the shrines of their idols often they promised Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they The devil from hell would help them to lighten Their people's oppression. Such practice they used then, Hope of the heathen; hell they remembered 65 In innermost spirit, God they knew not,

{The true God they do not know.}

Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler, No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven, The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to 70 The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for, Wax no wiser; well for the man who, Living his life-days, his Lord may face And find defence in his Father's embrace!

[1] The translation is based on 'weras,' adopted by H.-So.—K. and Th. read 'wera' and, arranging differently, render 119(2)-120: They knew not sorrow, the wretchedness of man, aught of misfortune.—For 'unhaelo' (120) R. suggests 'unfaelo': The uncanny creature, greedy and cruel, etc.

[2] S. rearranges and translates: So he ruled and struggled unjustly, one against all, till the noblest of buildings stood useless (it was a long while) twelve years' time: the friend of the Scyldings suffered distress, every woe, great sorrows, etc.

[3] For 'syethethan,' B. suggests 'sarcwidum': Hence in mournful words it became well known, etc. Various other words beginning with 's' have been conjectured.

[4] The H.-So. glossary is very inconsistent in referring to this passage.—'Sibbe' (154), which H.-So. regards as an instr., B. takes as accus., obj. of 'wolde.' Putting a comma after Deniga, he renders: He did not desire peace with any of the Danes, nor did he wish to remove their life-woe, nor to settle for money.

[5] Of this difficult passage the following interpretations among others are given: (1) Though Grendel has frequented Heorot as a demon, he could not become ruler of the Danes, on account of his hostility to God. (2) Hrothgar was much grieved that Grendel had not appeared before his throne to receive presents. (3) He was not permitted to devastate the hall, on account of the Creator; i.e. God wished to make his visit fatal to him.—Ne ... wisse (169) W. renders: Nor had he any desire to do so; 'his' being obj. gen. = danach.




{Hrothgar sees no way of escape from the persecutions of Grendel.}

So Healfdene's kinsman constantly mused on His long-lasting sorrow; the battle-thane clever Was not anywise able evils to 'scape from: Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people, 5 Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture,

{Beowulf, the Geat, hero of the poem, hears of Hrothgar's sorrow, and resolves to go to his assistance.}

Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac's liegeman, Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel's achievements Heard in his home:[1] of heroes then living He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble. 10 He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty; He said he the war-king would seek o'er the ocean, The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers. For the perilous project prudent companions Chided him little, though loving him dearly; 15 They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory.

{With fourteen carefully chosen companions, he sets out for Dane-land.}

The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them Trustworthy warriors; with fourteen companions The vessel he looked for; a liegeman then showed them, 20 A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country. Fast the days fleeted; the float was a-water, The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then Well-equipped warriors: the wave-currents twisted The sea on the sand; soldiers then carried 25 On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels, Handsome war-armor; heroes outshoved then, Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure.


{The vessel sails like a bird}

The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze, Likest a bird, glided the waters,

{In twenty four hours they reach the shores of Hrothgar's dominions}

30 Till twenty and four hours thereafter The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments, The sea cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains, Nesses enormous: they were nearing the limits 35 At the end of the ocean.[2] Up thence quickly The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland, Fastened their vessel (battle weeds rattled, War burnies clattered), the Wielder they thanked That the ways o'er the waters had waxen so gentle.

{They are hailed by the Danish coast guard}

40 Then well from the cliff edge the guard of the Scyldings Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o'er the gangway Brave ones bearing beauteous targets, Armor all ready, anxiously thought he, Musing and wondering what men were approaching. 45 High on his horse then Hrothgar's retainer Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness.

{His challenge}

"Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving 50 A high riding ship o'er the shoals of the waters, [3]And hither 'neath helmets have hied o'er the ocean? [10] I have been strand-guard, standing as warden, Lest enemies ever anywise ravage Danish dominions with army of war-ships. 55 More boldly never have warriors ventured Hither to come; of kinsmen's approval, Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely

{He is struck by Beowulf's appearance.}

Nothing have known. Never a greater one Of earls o'er the earth have I had a sight of 60 Than is one of your number, a hero in armor; No low-ranking fellow[4] adorned with his weapons, But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving, And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings 65 And farther fare, I fully must know now What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers, Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion Hear ye and hearken: haste is most fitting Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from."

[1] 'From ham' (194) is much disputed. One rendering is: Beowulf, being away from home, heard of Hrothgar's troubles, etc. Another, that adopted by S. and endorsed in the H.-So. notes, is: B. heard from his neighborhood (neighbors), i.e. in his home, etc. A third is: B., being at home, heard this as occurring away from home. The H.-So. glossary and notes conflict.

[2] 'Eoletes' (224) is marked with a (?) by H.-So.; our rendering simply follows his conjecture.—Other conjectures as to 'eolet' are: (1) voyage, (2) toil, labor, (3) hasty journey.

[3] The lacuna of the MS at this point has been supplied by various conjectures. The reading adopted by H.-So. has been rendered in the above translation. W., like H.-So., makes 'ic' the beginning of a new sentence, but, for 'helmas baeron,' he reads 'hringed stefnan.' This has the advantage of giving a parallel to 'brontne ceol' instead of a kenning for 'go.'—B puts the (?) after 'holmas', and begins a new sentence at the middle of the line. Translate: What warriors are ye, clad in armor, who have thus come bringing the foaming vessel over the water way, hither over the seas? For some time on the wall I have been coast guard, etc. S. endorses most of what B. says, but leaves out 'on the wall' in the last sentence. If W.'s 'hringed stefnan' be accepted, change line 51 above to, A ring-stemmed vessel hither o'ersea.

[4] 'Seld-guma' (249) is variously rendered: (1) housecarle; (2) home-stayer; (3) common man. Dr. H. Wood suggests a man-at-arms in another's house.



{Beowulf courteously replies.}

The chief of the strangers rendered him answer, War-troopers' leader, and word-treasure opened:

{We are Geats.}

"We are sprung from the lineage of the people of Geatland, And Higelac's hearth-friends. To heroes unnumbered

{My father Ecgtheow was well-known in his day.}

5 My father was known, a noble head-warrior Ecgtheow titled; many a winter He lived with the people, ere he passed on his journey, Old from his dwelling; each of the counsellors Widely mid world-folk well remembers him.

{Our intentions towards King Hrothgar are of the kindest.}

10 We, kindly of spirit, the lord of thy people, The son of King Healfdene, have come here to visit, [11] Folk-troop's defender: be free in thy counsels! To the noble one bear we a weighty commission, The helm of the Danemen; we shall hide, I ween,

{Is it true that a monster is slaying Danish heroes?}

15 Naught of our message. Thou know'st if it happen, As we soothly heard say, that some savage despoiler, Some hidden pursuer, on nights that are murky By deeds very direful 'mid the Danemen exhibits Hatred unheard of, horrid destruction 20 And the falling of dead. From feelings least selfish

{I can help your king to free himself from this horrible creature.}

I am able to render counsel to Hrothgar, How he, wise and worthy, may worst the destroyer, If the anguish of sorrow should ever be lessened,[1] Comfort come to him, and care-waves grow cooler, 25 Or ever hereafter he agony suffer And troublous distress, while towereth upward The handsomest of houses high on the summit."

{The coast-guard reminds Beowulf that it is easier to say than to do.}

Bestriding his stallion, the strand-watchman answered, The doughty retainer: "The difference surely 30 'Twixt words and works, the warlike shield-bearer Who judgeth wisely well shall determine. This band, I hear, beareth no malice

{I am satisfied of your good intentions, and shall lead you to the palace.}

To the prince of the Scyldings. Pass ye then onward With weapons and armor. I shall lead you in person; 35 To my war-trusty vassals command I shall issue To keep from all injury your excellent vessel,

{Your boat shall be well cared for during your stay here.}

Your fresh-tarred craft, 'gainst every opposer Close by the sea-shore, till the curved-necked bark shall Waft back again the well-beloved hero 40 O'er the way of the water to Weder dominions.

{He again compliments Beowulf.}

To warrior so great 'twill be granted sure In the storm of strife to stand secure." Onward they fared then (the vessel lay quiet, The broad-bosomed bark was bound by its cable, [12] 45 Firmly at anchor); the boar-signs glistened[2] Bright on the visors vivid with gilding, Blaze-hardened, brilliant; the boar acted warden. The heroes hastened, hurried the liegemen,

{The land is perhaps rolling.}

Descended together, till they saw the great palace, 50 The well-fashioned wassail-hall wondrous and gleaming:

{Heorot flashes on their view.}

'Mid world-folk and kindreds that was widest reputed Of halls under heaven which the hero abode in; Its lustre enlightened lands without number. Then the battle-brave hero showed them the glittering 55 Court of the bold ones, that they easily thither Might fare on their journey; the aforementioned warrior Turning his courser, quoth as he left them:

{The coast-guard, having discharged his duty, bids them God-speed.}

"'Tis time I were faring; Father Almighty Grant you His grace, and give you to journey 60 Safe on your mission! To the sea I will get me 'Gainst hostile warriors as warden to stand."

[1] 'Edwendan' (280) B. takes to be the subs. 'edwenden' (cf. 1775); and 'bisigu' he takes as gen. sing., limiting 'edwenden': If reparation for sorrows is ever to come. This is supported by t.B.

[2] Combining the emendations of B. and t.B., we may read: The boar-images glistened ... brilliant, protected the life of the war-mooded man. They read 'ferh-wearde' (305) and 'guethmodgum men' (306).



The highway glistened with many-hued pebble, A by-path led the liegemen together. [1]Firm and hand-locked the war-burnie glistened, The ring-sword radiant rang 'mid the armor 5 As the party was approaching the palace together

{They set their arms and armor against the wall.}

In warlike equipments. 'Gainst the wall of the building Their wide-fashioned war-shields they weary did set then, [13] Battle-shields sturdy; benchward they turned then; Their battle-sarks rattled, the gear of the heroes; 10 The lances stood up then, all in a cluster, The arms of the seamen, ashen-shafts mounted With edges of iron: the armor-clad troopers

{A Danish hero asks them whence and why they are come.}

Were decked with weapons. Then a proud-mooded hero Asked of the champions questions of lineage: 15 "From what borders bear ye your battle-shields plated, Gilded and gleaming, your gray-colored burnies, Helmets with visors and heap of war-lances?— To Hrothgar the king I am servant and liegeman. 'Mong folk from far-lands found I have never

{He expresses no little admiration for the strangers.}

20 Men so many of mien more courageous. I ween that from valor, nowise as outlaws, But from greatness of soul ye sought for King Hrothgar."

{Beowulf replies.}

Then the strength-famous earlman answer rendered, The proud-mooded Wederchief replied to his question,

{We are Higelac's table-companions, and bear an important commission to your prince.}

25 Hardy 'neath helmet: "Higelac's mates are we; Beowulf hight I. To the bairn of Healfdene, The famous folk-leader, I freely will tell To thy prince my commission, if pleasantly hearing He'll grant we may greet him so gracious to all men." 30 Wulfgar replied then (he was prince of the Wendels, His boldness of spirit was known unto many, His prowess and prudence): "The prince of the Scyldings,

{Wulfgar, the thane, says that he will go and ask Hrothgar whether he will see the strangers.}

The friend-lord of Danemen, I will ask of thy journey, The giver of rings, as thou urgest me do it, 35 The folk-chief famous, and inform thee early What answer the good one mindeth to render me." He turned then hurriedly where Hrothgar was sitting, [2]Old and hoary, his earlmen attending him; The strength-famous went till he stood at the shoulder 40 Of the lord of the Danemen, of courteous thanemen The custom he minded. Wulfgar addressed then His friendly liegelord: "Folk of the Geatmen


{He thereupon urges his liegelord to receive the visitors courteously.}

O'er the way of the waters are wafted hither, Faring from far-lands: the foremost in rank 45 The battle-champions Beowulf title. They make this petition: with thee, O my chieftain, To be granted a conference; O gracious King Hrothgar, Friendly answer refuse not to give them!

{Hrothgar, too, is struck with Beowulf's appearance.}

In war-trappings weeded worthy they seem 50 Of earls to be honored; sure the atheling is doughty Who headed the heroes hitherward coming."

[1] Instead of the punctuation given by H.-So, S. proposed to insert a comma after 'scir' (322), and to take 'hring-iren' as meaning 'ring-mail' and as parallel with 'gueth-byrne.' The passage would then read: The firm and hand-locked war-burnie shone, bright ring-mail, rang 'mid the armor, etc.

[2] Gr. and others translate 'unhar' by 'bald'; old and bald.



{Hrothgar remembers Beowulf as a youth, and also remembers his father.}

Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings: "I remember this man as the merest of striplings. His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled, Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his 5 One only daughter; his battle-brave son Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend. Seafaring sailors asserted it then,

{Beowulf is reported to have the strength of thirty men.}

Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen[1] carried As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men's grapple 10 Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

{God hath sent him to our rescue.}

The holy Creator usward sent him, To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render 'Gainst Grendel's grimness gracious assistance: I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage. 15 Hasten to bid them hither to speed them,[2] To see assembled this circle of kinsmen; Tell them expressly they're welcome in sooth to The men of the Danes." To the door of the building


{Wulfgar invites the strangers in.}

Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted: 20 "My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you, The East-Danes' atheling, that your origin knows he, And o'er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither, Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets, 25 To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle-boards, Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring." The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman, An excellent thane-group; some there did await them, And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded. 30 Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them, 'Neath Heorot's roof; the high-minded went then Sturdy 'neath helmet till he stood in the building. Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten, His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman):

{Beowulf salutes Hrothgar, and then proceeds to boast of his youthful achievements.}

35 "Hail thou, Hrothgar! I am Higelac's kinsman And vassal forsooth; many a wonder I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel, In far-off fatherland I fully did know of: Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth, 40 Excellent edifice, empty and useless To all the earlmen after evenlight's glimmer 'Neath heaven's bright hues hath hidden its glory. This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them, Carles very clever, to come and assist thee, 45 Folk-leader Hrothgar; fully they knew of

{His fight with the nickers.}

The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me When I came from the contest, when covered with gore Foes I escaped from, where five[3] I had bound, [16] The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying 50 The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows, The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered) Enemies ravaged; alone now with Grendel

{He intends to fight Grendel unaided.}

I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil, The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore 55 Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain, Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition: Not to refuse me, defender of warriors, Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee, That I may unaided, my earlmen assisting me, 60 This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot. I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature

{Since the monster uses no weapons,}

From veriest rashness recks not for weapons; I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious, My liegelord beloved, lenient of spirit, 65 To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target, A shield to the onset; only with hand-grip

{I, too, shall disdain to use any.}

The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then, Foeman with foeman; he fain must rely on The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of.

{Should he crush me, he will eat my companions as he has eaten thy thanes.}

70 I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle, To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk, Boldly to swallow[4] them, as of yore he did often The best of the Hrethmen! Thou needest not trouble A head-watch to give me;[5] he will have me dripping


{In case of my defeat, thou wilt not have the trouble of burying me.}

75 And dreary with gore, if death overtake me,[6] Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me, The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity, Marking the moor-fens; no more wilt thou need then

{Should I fall, send my armor to my lord, King Higelac.}

Find me my food.[7] If I fall in the battle, 80 Send to Higelac the armor that serveth To shield my bosom, the best of equipments, Richest of ring-mails; 'tis the relic of Hrethla,

{Weird is supreme}

The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go!"

[1] Some render 'gif-sceattas' by 'tribute.'—'Geata' B. and Th. emended to 'Geatum.' If this be accepted, change 'of the Geatmen' to 'to the Geatmen.'

[2] If t.B.'s emendation of vv. 386, 387 be accepted, the two lines, 'Hasten ... kinsmen' will read: Hasten thou, bid the throng of kinsmen go into the hall together.

[3] For 420 (b) and 421 (a), B. suggests: aer ic (on) fifelgeban yethde eotena cyn = where I in the ocean destroyed the eoten-race.—t.B. accepts B.'s "brilliant" 'fifelgeban,' omits 'on,' emends 'cyn' to 'ham,' arranging: aer ic fifelgeban yethde, eotena ham = where I desolated the ocean, the home of the eotens.—This would be better but for changing 'cyn' to 'ham.'—I suggest: aer ic fifelgeband (cf. nhd. Bande) yethde, eotena cyn = where I conquered the monster band, the race of the eotens. This makes no change except to read 'fifel' for 'fife.'

[4] 'Unforhte' (444) is much disputed.—H.-So. wavers between adj. and adv. Gr. and B. take it as an adv. modifying etan: Will eat the Geats fearlessly.—Kl. considers this reading absurd, and proposes 'anforhte' = timid.—Understanding 'unforhte' as an adj. has this advantage, viz. that it gives a parallel to 'Geatena leode': but to take it as an adv. is more natural. Furthermore, to call the Geats 'brave' might, at this point, seem like an implied thrust at the Danes, so long helpless; while to call his own men 'timid' would be befouling his own nest.

[5] For 'head-watch,' cf. H.-So. notes and cf. v. 2910.—Th. translates: Thou wilt not need my head to hide (i.e., thou wilt have no occasion to bury me, as Grendel will devour me whole).—Simrock imagines a kind of dead-watch.—Dr. H. Wood suggests: Thou wilt not have to bury so much as my head (for Grendel will be a thorough undertaker),—grim humor.

[6] S. proposes a colon after 'nimeeth' (l. 447). This would make no essential change in the translation.

[7] Owing to the vagueness of 'feorme' (451), this passage is variously translated. In our translation, H.-So.'s glossary has been quite closely followed. This agrees substantially with B.'s translation (P. and B. XII. 87). R. translates: Thou needst not take care longer as to the consumption of my dead body. 'Lic' is also a crux here, as it may mean living body or dead body.



{Hrothgar responds.}

Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings: "To defend our folk and to furnish assistance,[1] Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf.

{Reminiscences of Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow.}

The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in, 5 Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict 'Mid Wilfingish warriors; then the Wederish people For fear of a feud were forced to disown him. Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes, [18] The race of the Scyldings, o'er the roll of the waters; 10 I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen, The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth, Rich in its jewels: dead was Heregar, My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken, Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am! 15 That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded; O'er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent Ornaments old; oaths did he swear me.

{Hrothgar recounts to Beowulf the horrors of Grendel's persecutions.}

It pains me in spirit to any to tell it, What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me, 20 What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing. Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop; Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel. God can easily hinder the scather From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer

{My thanes have made many boasts, but have not executed them.}

25 O'er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges. Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking, The building was bloody at breaking of daylight, 30 The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied, The folk-hall was gory: I had fewer retainers, Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of.

{Sit down to the feast, and give us comfort.}

Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes,[2] Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee!"

{A bench is made ready for Beowulf and his party.}

35 For the men of the Geats then together assembled, In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready; There warlike in spirit they went to be seated, Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service, [19] Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum,

{The gleeman sings}

40 And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom

{The heroes all rejoice together.}

Hearty in Heorot; there was heroes' rejoicing, A numerous war-band of Weders and Danemen.

[1] B. and S. reject the reading given in H.-So., and suggested by Grtvg. B. suggests for 457-458:

waere-ryhtum u, wine min Beowulf, and for ar-stafum usic sohtest.

This means: From the obligations of clientage, my friend Beowulf, and for assistance thou hast sought us.—This gives coherence to Hrothgar's opening remarks in VIII., and also introduces a new motive for Beowulf's coming to Hrothgar's aid.

[2] Sit now at the feast, and disclose thy purposes to the victorious heroes, as thy spirit urges.—Kl. reaches the above translation by erasing the comma after 'meoto' and reading 'sige-hreethsecgum.'—There are other and bolder emendations and suggestions. Of these the boldest is to regard 'meoto' as a verb (imperative), and read 'on sael': Think upon gayety, etc.—All the renderings are unsatisfactory, the one given in our translation involving a zeugma.



{Unferth, a thane of Hrothgar, is jealous of Beowulf, and undertakes to twit him.}

Unferth spoke up, Ecglaf his son, Who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, Opened the jousting (the journey[1] of Beowulf, Sea-farer doughty, gave sorrow to Unferth 5 And greatest chagrin, too, for granted he never That any man else on earth should attain to, Gain under heaven, more glory than he):

{Did you take part in a swimming-match with Breca?}

"Art thou that Beowulf with Breca did struggle, On the wide sea-currents at swimming contended, 10 Where to humor your pride the ocean ye tried,

{'Twas mere folly that actuated you both to risk your lives on the ocean.}

From vainest vaunting adventured your bodies In care of the waters? And no one was able Nor lief nor loth one, in the least to dissuade you Your difficult voyage; then ye ventured a-swimming, 15 Where your arms outstretching the streams ye did cover, The mere-ways measured, mixing and stirring them, Glided the ocean; angry the waves were, With the weltering of winter. In the water's possession, Ye toiled for a seven-night; he at swimming outdid thee, 20 In strength excelled thee. Then early at morning On the Heathoremes' shore the holm-currents tossed him, Sought he thenceward the home of his fathers, Beloved of his liegemen, the land of the Brondings, The peace-castle pleasant, where a people he wielded, [20] 25 Had borough and jewels. The pledge that he made thee

{Breca outdid you entirely.}

The son of Beanstan hath soothly accomplished. Then I ween thou wilt find thee less fortunate issue,

{Much more will Grendel outdo you, if you vie with him in prowess.}

Though ever triumphant in onset of battle, A grim grappling, if Grendel thou darest 30 For the space of a night near-by to wait for!"

{Beowulf retaliates.}

Beowulf answered, offspring of Ecgtheow: "My good friend Unferth, sure freely and wildly,

{O friend Unferth, you are fuddled with beer, and cannot talk coherently.}

Thou fuddled with beer of Breca hast spoken, Hast told of his journey! A fact I allege it, 35 That greater strength in the waters I had then, Ills in the ocean, than any man else had. We made agreement as the merest of striplings Promised each other (both of us then were

{We simply kept an engagement made in early life.}

Younkers in years) that we yet would adventure 40 Out on the ocean; it all we accomplished. While swimming the sea-floods, sword-blade unscabbarded Boldly we brandished, our bodies expected To shield from the sharks. He sure was unable

{He could not excel me, and I would not excel him.}

To swim on the waters further than I could, 45 More swift on the waves, nor would I from him go. Then we two companions stayed in the ocean

{After five days the currents separated us.}

Five nights together, till the currents did part us, The weltering waters, weathers the bleakest, And nethermost night, and the north-wind whistled 50 Fierce in our faces; fell were the billows. The mere fishes' mood was mightily ruffled: And there against foemen my firm-knotted corslet, Hand-jointed, hardy, help did afford me; My battle-sark braided, brilliantly gilded,

{A horrible sea-beast attacked me, but I slew him.}

55 Lay on my bosom. To the bottom then dragged me, A hateful fiend-scather, seized me and held me, Grim in his grapple: 'twas granted me, nathless, To pierce the monster with the point of my weapon, My obedient blade; battle offcarried 60 The mighty mere-creature by means of my hand-blow.

[1] It has been plausibly suggested that 'sieth' (in 501 and in 353) means 'arrival.' If so, translate the bracket: (the arrival of Beowulf, the brave seafarer, was a source of great chagrin to Unferth, etc.).




"So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance,

{My dear sword always served me faithfully.}

With my dear-loved sword, as in sooth it was fitting; They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly, 5 Ill-doers evil, of eating my body, Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean; But wounded with edges early at morning They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean,

{I put a stop to the outrages of the sea-monsters.}

Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers 10 No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east, God's beautiful beacon; the billows subsided, That well I could see the nesses projecting,

{Fortune helps the brave earl.}

The blustering crags. Weird often saveth 15 The undoomed hero if doughty his valor! But me did it fortune[1] to fell with my weapon Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder 'Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely, Nor of wight more woful in the waves of the ocean; 20 Yet I 'scaped with my life the grip of the monsters,

{After that escape I drifted to Finland.}

Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current,

{I have never heard of your doing any such bold deeds.}

The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth, 25 And of sword-terror none; never hath Breca At the play of the battle, nor either of you two, Feat so fearless performed with weapons Glinting and gleaming . . . . . . . . . . . . [22] . . . . . . . . . . . . I utter no boasting;

{You are a slayer of brothers, and will suffer damnation, wise as you may be.}

30 Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers, Thy nearest of kin; thou needs must in hell get Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom. I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf, Never had Grendel such numberless horrors, 35 The direful demon, done to thy liegelord, Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy,

{Had your acts been as brave as your words, Grendel had not ravaged your land so long.}

Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them. He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred, The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred, 40 Of the Victory-Scyldings, need little dismay him: Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares

{The monster is not afraid of the Danes,}

Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure, Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth

{but he will soon learn to dread the Geats.}

From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor 45 Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning

{On the second day, any warrior may go unmolested to the mead-banquet.}

Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes, O'er children of men shines from the southward!" 50 Then the gray-haired, war-famed giver of treasure

{Hrothgar's spirits are revived.}

Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright-Danish ruler Expected assistance; the people's protector

{The old king trusts Beowulf. The heroes are joyful.}

Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution. There was laughter of heroes; loud was the clatter, 55 The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then,

{Queen Wealhtheow plays the hostess.}

Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful, Gold-decked saluted the men in the building, And the freeborn woman the beaker presented

{She offers the cup to her husband first.}

To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes, 60 Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing, Lief to his liegemen; he lustily tasted Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler. The Helmingish lady then graciously circled 'Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater:


{She gives presents to the heroes.}

65 Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen

{Then she offers the cup to Beowulf, thanking God that aid has come.}

Might bear to Beowulf the bumper o'errunning; She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank, Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished, 70 That in any of earlmen she ever should look for Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker, Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow's giving,

{Beowulf states to the queen the object of his visit.}

Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures, Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow: 75 "I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean,

{I determined to do or die.}

When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen, I would work to the fullest the will of your people Or in foe's-clutches fastened fall in the battle. Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess, 80 Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall." These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing, The boast of the Geatman; with gold trappings broidered Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by.

{Glee is high.}

Then again as of yore was heard in the building 85 Courtly discussion, conquerors' shouting, Heroes were happy, till Healfdene's son would Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing; For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he A fight was determined,[2] since the light of the sun they 90 No longer could see, and lowering darkness O'er all had descended, and dark under heaven Shadowy shapes came shying around them.

{Hrothgar retires, leaving Beowulf in charge of the hall.}

The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other, Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures, 95 Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving To his care and keeping, quoth he departing: [24] "Not to any one else have I ever entrusted, But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen, Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler. 100 Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses; Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess, Watch 'gainst the foeman! Thou shalt want no enjoyments, Survive thou safely adventure so glorious!"

[1] The repetition of 'hwaeethere' (574 and 578) is regarded by some scholars as a defect. B. suggests 'swa aer' for the first: So there it befell me, etc. Another suggestion is to change the second 'hwaeethere' into 'swa aer': So there I escaped with my life, etc.

[2] Kl. suggests a period after 'determined.' This would give the passage as follows: Since they no longer could see the light of the sun, and lowering darkness was down over all, dire under the heavens shadowy beings came going around them.



{Hrothgar retires.}

Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him, Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building; The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for, The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel

{God has provided a watch for the hall.}

5 The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch, As men heard recounted: for the king of the Danemen He did special service, gave the giant a watcher: And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted

{Beowulf is self-confident}

His warlike strength and the Wielder's protection.

{He prepares for rest.}

10 His armor of iron off him he did then, His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed His chased-handled chain-sword, choicest of weapons, And bade him bide with his battle-equipments. The good one then uttered words of defiance, 15 Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted:

{Beowulf boasts of his ability to cope with Grendel.}

"I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess, In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself; Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber, Of life to bereave him, though well I am able.

{We will fight with nature's weapons only.}

20 No battle-skill[1] has he, that blows he should strike me, To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty [25] In strife and destruction; but struggling by night we Shall do without edges, dare he to look for Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father 25 The glory apportion, God ever-holy,

{God may decide who shall conquer}

On which hand soever to him seemeth proper." Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber, The pillow received the cheek of the noble;

{The Geatish warriors lie down.}

And many a martial mere-thane attending 30 Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely

{They thought it very unlikely that they should ever see their homes again.}

That ever thereafter any should hope to Be happy at home, hero-friends visit Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood; They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall, 35 Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings

{But God raised up a deliverer.}

Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes Aid and comfort, that every opponent By one man's war-might they worsted and vanquished,

{God rules the world.}

40 By the might of himself; the truth is established That God Almighty hath governed for ages Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid

{Grendel comes to Heorot.}

The trav'ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding. The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building,

{Only one warrior is awake.}

45 One only excepted. 'Mid earthmen 'twas 'stablished, Th' implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling; But serving as warder, in terror to foemen, He angrily bided the issue of battle.[2]

[1] Gr. understood 'godra' as meaning 'advantages in battle.' This rendering H.-So. rejects. The latter takes the passage as meaning that Grendel, though mighty and formidable, has no skill in the art of war.

[2] B. in his masterly articles on Beowulf (P. and B. XII.) rejects the division usually made at this point, 'a.' (711), usually rendered 'then,' he translates 'when,' and connects its clause with the foregoing sentence. These changes he makes to reduce the number of 'com's' as principal verbs. (Cf. 703, 711, 721.) With all deference to this acute scholar, I must say that it seems to me that the poet is exhausting his resources to bring out clearly the supreme event on which the whole subsequent action turns. First, he (Grendel) came in the wan night; second, he came from the moor; third, he came to the hall. Time, place from which, place to which, are all given.




{Grendel comes from the fens.}

'Neath the cloudy cliffs came from the moor then Grendel going, God's anger bare he. The monster intended some one of earthmen In the hall-building grand to entrap and make way with:

{He goes towards the joyous building.}

5 He went under welkin where well he knew of The wine-joyous building, brilliant with plating, Gold-hall of earthmen. Not the earliest occasion

{This was not his first visit there.}

He the home and manor of Hrothgar had sought: Ne'er found he in life-days later nor earlier 10 Hardier hero, hall-thanes[1] more sturdy! Then came to the building the warrior marching,

{His horrid fingers tear the door open.}

Bereft of his joyance. The door quickly opened On fire-hinges fastened, when his fingers had touched it; The fell one had flung then—his fury so bitter— 15 Open the entrance. Early thereafter The foeman trod the shining hall-pavement,

{He strides furiously into the hall.}

Strode he angrily; from the eyes of him glimmered A lustre unlovely likest to fire. He beheld in the hall the heroes in numbers, 20 A circle of kinsmen sleeping together,

{He exults over his supposed prey.}

A throng of thanemen: then his thoughts were exultant, He minded to sunder from each of the thanemen The life from his body, horrible demon, Ere morning came, since fate had allowed him

{Fate has decreed that he shall devour no more heroes. Beowulf suffers from suspense.}

25 The prospect of plenty. Providence willed not To permit him any more of men under heaven To eat in the night-time. Higelac's kinsman Great sorrow endured how the dire-mooded creature [27] In unlooked-for assaults were likely to bear him. 30 No thought had the monster of deferring the matter,

{Grendel immediately seizes a sleeping warrior, and devours him.}

But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of A soldier asleep, suddenly tore him, Bit his bone-prison, the blood drank in currents, Swallowed in mouthfuls: he soon had the dead man's 35 Feet and hands, too, eaten entirely. Nearer he strode then, the stout-hearted warrior

{Beowulf and Grendel grapple.}

Snatched as he slumbered, seizing with hand-grip, Forward the foeman foined with his hand; Caught he quickly the cunning deviser, 40 On his elbow he rested. This early discovered The master of malice, that in middle-earth's regions, 'Neath the whole of the heavens, no hand-grapple greater

{The monster is amazed at Beowulf's strength.}

In any man else had he ever encountered: Fearful in spirit, faint-mooded waxed he, 45 Not off could betake him; death he was pondering,

{He is anxious to flee.}

Would fly to his covert, seek the devils' assembly: His calling no more was the same he had followed Long in his lifetime. The liege-kinsman worthy

{Beowulf recalls his boast of the evening, and determines to fulfil it.}

Of Higelac minded his speech of the evening, 50 Stood he up straight and stoutly did seize him. His fingers crackled; the giant was outward, The earl stepped farther. The famous one minded To flee away farther, if he found an occasion, And off and away, avoiding delay, 55 To fly to the fen-moors; he fully was ware of The strength of his grapple in the grip of the foeman.

{'Twas a luckless day for Grendel.}

'Twas an ill-taken journey that the injury-bringing, Harrying harmer to Heorot wandered:

{The hall groans.}

The palace re-echoed; to all of the Danemen, 60 Dwellers in castles, to each of the bold ones, Earlmen, was terror. Angry they both were, Archwarders raging.[2] Rattled the building; [28] 'Twas a marvellous wonder that the wine-hall withstood then The bold-in-battle, bent not to earthward, 65 Excellent earth-hall; but within and without it Was fastened so firmly in fetters of iron, By the art of the armorer. Off from the sill there Bent mead-benches many, as men have informed me, Adorned with gold-work, where the grim ones did struggle. 70 The Scylding wise men weened ne'er before That by might and main-strength a man under heaven Might break it in pieces, bone-decked, resplendent, Crush it by cunning, unless clutch of the fire In smoke should consume it. The sound mounted upward

{Grendel's cries terrify the Danes.}

75 Novel enough; on the North Danes fastened A terror of anguish, on all of the men there Who heard from the wall the weeping and plaining, The song of defeat from the foeman of heaven, Heard him hymns of horror howl, and his sorrow 80 Hell-bound bewailing. He held him too firmly Who was strongest of main-strength of men of that era.

[1] B. and t.B. emend so as to make lines 9 and 10 read: Never in his life, earlier or later, had he, the hell-thane, found a braver hero.—They argue that Beowulf's companions had done nothing to merit such encomiums as the usual readings allow them.

[2] For 'reethe ren-weardas' (771), t.B. suggests 'reethe, renhearde.' Translate: They were both angry, raging and mighty.



{Beowulf has no idea of letting Grendel live.}

For no cause whatever would the earlmen's defender Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer, He deemed his existence utterly useless To men under heaven. Many a noble 5 Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old, Would guard the life of his lord and protector, The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so; While waging the warfare, this wist they but little, Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending

{No weapon would harm Grendel; he bore a charmed life.}

10 To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit: That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons Of all on the earth, nor any of war-bills [29] Was willing to injure; but weapons of victory Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with. 15 His death at that time must prove to be wretched, And the far-away spirit widely should journey Into enemies' power. This plainly he saw then Who with mirth[1] of mood malice no little Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen 20 (To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him, But Higelac's hardy henchman and kinsman Held him by the hand; hateful to other

{Grendel is sorely wounded.}

Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered The direful demon, damage incurable

{His body bursts.}

25 Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered, His body did burst. To Beowulf was given Glory in battle; Grendel from thenceward Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes, Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for 30 Unwinsome and woful; he wist the more fully

{The monster flees away to hide in the moors.}

The end of his earthly existence was nearing, His life-days' limits. At last for the Danemen, When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished. The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil, 35 Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar, Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work, In repute for prowess; the prince of the Geatmen For the East-Danish people his boast had accomplished, Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully, 40 The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered And were forced to endure from crushing oppression, Their manifold misery. 'Twas a manifest token,

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