Research Papers on Beowulf, the Epic Poem
The following is the factual history behind the epic poem Beowulf. You may want to include these background facts in your research paper on Beowulf:
- Beowulf is an epic poem from the Early Middle Ages
- Originally written in Old English.
- Written sometime between the 8th and 11th centuries.
- The story itself may have an oral tradition dating back further.
- Scholars debate whether the poem was an original composition or the result of oral tradition.
- Set in Scandinavia, the story tells the tale of the hero Beowulf, who defeats the monster Grendel.
Beowulf, the Epic Poem
An epic poem is a long poem that tells a story, frequently of heroic deeds. In Beowulf, the story takes place in the 5th century, in the land of the Geats, modern-day Sweden. The story itself probably migrated to England with the Angle and Saxon invasions, but was not written down until at least the 7th century. A Latin translation published in 1815 was the beginning of modern scholarship’s appreciation of the poem and its place in the development of English literature.
In the poem, Beowulf, hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of King Hrothgar, whose great mead hall is under attack from the monster Grendel. After an epic battle, Beowulf kills both Grendel and Grendel’s mother with his bare hands. Later parts of the poem detail how Beowulf became King of the Geats, whose realm is attacked by a dragon. Beowulf slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded. The poem ends by describing Beowulf’s burial in a giant mound. Mound burials were quite common in Scandinavia during the Viking period.