"Beowulf" summary Automatic translate
Beowulf is an epic poem written in Old English by an anonymous author around 1000 AD. Although most of the poem was found intact, some of it was destroyed, probably burned in a fire. A modern English translation by renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney in 1999 won the Whitbread Award and was praised for its freshness and accessibility.
This summary refers to the 2000 edition of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in English.
Heorot, the great banquet hall built by the Danish king Hrothgar, is in danger. For many years he has suffered from the attacks of Grendel, a terrible monster who resents the happiness and camaraderie of the Danes. Every night Grendel raids, takes the Danish warriors to his lair in the swamp and devours them brutally. No one can figure out how to defeat this monster or prevent its grim attacks.
A foreign hero, a Geat named Beowulf, arrives to stop the bloodshed. Although the envious and cowardly Unferth, one of Hrothgar’s men, has doubts about the newcomer, Hrothgar trusts him. Beowulf keeps his word and defeats Grendel in hand-to-hand combat, tearing the monster’s arm out of its eye socket. Hrothgar and his people rejoice, rewarding Beowulf with treasures and honors. However, their joy is short-lived: That same night, Grendel’s monstrous mother avenges her son by making another bloody attack on Heorot.
Beowulf swears that he will defeat Grendel’s mother as well, and dives into the swamp where she lives. Unferth gives Beowulf a sword, but it turns out that Grendel’s mother cannot be killed with this sword. Beowulf must kill her with a sword from her own hoard, forged in the legendary age of the giants. At the news of Beowulf’s second victory, the Danes are filled with joy. Hrodgar adopts Beowulf as his honorary son and sends him home to the Geat king Hygelak, loaded with gifts. Gigelak also rewards Beowulf for his valor.
When Gigelak falls in battle, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats. He successfully rules for 50 years and enjoys the love and respect of his people. However, the monsters disturb the peace again when a slave steals a goblet from the dragon’s hoard. The dragon wakes up and begins to vindictively destroy the village. Beowulf swears that here, as before, he will defeat the dragon alone. He takes a detachment of his men with him to see how he will fight. This time, things don’t go so smoothly: Beowulf is severely wounded and his men flee - all but one, a warrior named Wiglaf. Wiglaf rushes to Beowulf’s aid and together they slay the dragon.
Beowulf dies of his wounds, and the noble Wiglaf passes on his will to his people. When the Geats gather to burn Beowulf at the stake, they mourn not only their leader: They know that in the absence of their great king, their enemies will soon destroy them.
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