Anonymous: Beowulf

(2496 words)
  • Robert Fulk (Indiana University)

Beowulf is the modern name given to what has been, since the nineteenth century, the most admired work of Old English literature, a heroic poem or song of uncertain date, comprising, in the standard edition, 3,182 lines of alliterative verse. It describes the exploits of Beowulf, hero and later king of the Geats (pronounced something like yowts), a people who in earliest recorded times lived in what is now south-western Sweden. It begins with a brief account of the foundling Scyld, who grew to rule Denmark, and of his commitment to the waves in a treasure-laden ship upon his death. His descendant King Hrothgar (the first syllable rhymes with clothe) built a splendid hall, Heorot (meaning ‘hart’), as his …

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Fulk, Robert. "Beowulf". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 22 May 2015.]