"''Beowulf"'' (c. 700-1000 A.D.) is a heroic epic poem. At 3,182 lines, it is notable for its length in comparison to other Old English poems. It represents about 10% of the extant corpus of Old English poetry. The poem is untitled in the manuscript, but has been known as ''Beowulf'' since the early 19th century.
''Beowulf'' is one of the oldest surviving epic poems in what is identifiable as an early form of the English language. In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of a Germanic tribe from southern Sweden called the Geats, travels to Denmark to help defeat a monster named Grendel. This poem, about Danish and Swedish kings and heroes, was preserved in England because the English people are descendants of Germanic tribes called the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes. Jutes and northern Saxon tribes came from what is now southern Denmark and northern Germany. Thus, Beowulf tells a story about the old days in their homeland.
The poem is a work of fiction, but it mentions an historic event, the raid by king Hygelac into Frisia, ca 516. Several of the personalities of ''Beowulf'' (e.g., Hrothgar, Hrothulf and Ohthere) and some of the events also appear in early Scandinavian sources, suc...