Anonymous: Beowulf

(2495 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 royal …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Fulk, Robert. "Beowulf". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]