Skip to main content

Full text of "Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic poem"

See other formats










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1893, by 

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 





PREFACE . . ......... . "X )*--'. v ' . . vii 

BIBLIOGRAPHY OF TRANSLATIONS . . . f ,-. j-p/y. V- '' . . xi 



THE LIFE AND DEATH OF SCYLD (I.) . . .' '. -v ^, " -^ -^ . . i 



GRENDEL, THE MURDERER (III.) ...... . . . i i ' '. 5 


THE GEATS REACH HEOROT (V.) f . t pv\ / * ' *' I0 


HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF (VII.) . . v ^* v .* * <'>' >V< '* ' . 14 

HROTHGAR AND BEOWULF (continued} (VIII.) . . . . -.*','. 17 

UNFERTH TAUNTS BEOWULF (IX.) . . . ,. , . . . . : .- . 19 


GLEE is HIGH . . . I. 

ALL SLEEP SAVE ONE (XI.) . ... V-- .' i 24 

GRENDEL AND BEOWULF (XII.) . . ..-. ' * : " . . . 26 

GRENDEL is VANQUISHED (XIII.) . . . .'' l ''". 28 

REJOICING OF THE DANES (XIV.) . .... . . & V > V ;: . 30 

HROTHGAR'S GRATITUDE (XV.) . . . , ' ; 33 


BANQUET (continued} ... "I , xyn , 
THE FINN EPISODE (continued} \ , VTrTTT x 

V (A.V111.) . . * . . . 3" 








vi Contents. 






SORROW AT PARTING (XXVII.) ........... 62 


THE Two QUEENS . . / 

BEOWULF AND HIGELAC (XXIX.) .......... 67 


GIFT-GIVING is MUTUAL (XXXI.) .......... 73 



1 (XXXVI.) . 88 





REMINISCENCES (continued) \ (XXXV ^ 




> ^A.A.A. V LI.) ........ yi 



BEOWULF'S DEATH . . . . / ^ 

THE DEAD FOES . j (XXXIX . ) .......... 95 


THE MESSENGER OF DEATH (XL.) .......... 97 



> ( A.J-.11. ) .......* * u j 



ADDENDA ............... 109 


THE present work is a modest effort to reproduce approximately, in modern 
measures, the venerable epic, Beowulf. Approximately, I repeat ; for a very 
close reproduction of Anglo-Saxon verse would, to a large extent, be prose to 
a modern ear. 

The Heyne-Socin text and glossary have been closely followed. Occasion- 
ally a deviation has been made, but always for what seemed good and sufficient 
reason. The translator does not aim to be an editor. Once in a while, how- 
ever, he has added a conjecture of his own to the emendations quoted from 
the criticisms of other students of the poem. 

This work is addressed to two classes of readers. From both of these alike 
the translator begs sympathy and co-operation. The Anglo-Saxon scholar he 
hopes to please by adhering faithfully to the original. The student of English 
literature he aims to interest by giving him, in modern garb, the most ancient 
epic of our race. This is a bold and venturesome undertaking ; and yet there 
must be some students of the Teutonic past willing to follow even a daring 
guide, if they may read in modern phrases of the sorrows of Hrothgar, of the 
prowess of Beowulf, and of the feelings that stirred the hearts of our forefathers 
in their primeval homes. 

In order to please the larger class of readers, a regular cadence has been 
used, a measure which, while retaining the essential characteristics of the origi- 
nal, permits the reader to see ahead of him in reading. 

Perhaps every Anglo-Saxon scholar has his own theory as to how Beowulf 
should be translated. Some have given us prose versions of what we believe 
to be a great poem. Is it any reflection on our honored Kemble and Arnold 
to say that their translations fail to show a layman that Beowulf is justly called 
our first epic ? Of those translators who have used verse, several have written 


viii Preface. 

from what would seem a mistaken point of view. Is it proper, for instance, 
that the grave and solemn speeches of Beowulf and Hrothgar be put in ballad 
measures, tripping lightly and airily along? Or, again, is it fitting that the 
rough martial music of Anglo-Saxon verse be interpreted to us in the smooth 
measures of modern blank verse ? Do we hear what has been beautifully called 
" the clanging tread of a warrior in mail " ? 

Of all English translations of Beowulf, that of Professor Garnett alone 
gives any adequate idea of the chief characteristics of this great Teutonic 

The measure used in the present translation is believed to be as near a 
reproduction of the original as modern English affords. The cadences closely 
resemble those used by Browning in some of his most striking poems. The 
four stresses of the Anglo-Saxon verse are retained, and as much thesis and 
anacrusis is allowed as is consistent with a regular cadence. Alliteration has 
been used to a large extent ; but it was thought that modern ears would hardly 
tolerate it on every line. End-rhyme has been used occasionally ; internal 
rhyme, sporadically. Both have some warrant in Anglo-Saxon poetry. (For 
end-rhyme, see 1 53, 1 54 ; for internal rhyme, 2 21, 6 40.) 

What Gummere T calls the " rime-giver " has been studiously kept ; viz., the 
first accented syllable in the second half-verse always carries the alliteration ; 
and the last accented syllable alliterates only sporadically. Alternate allitera- 
tion is occasionally used as in the original. (See 7 ei, 8 5.) 

No two accented syllables have been brought together, except occasionally 
after a caesural pause. (See 2 10 and 12 i.) Or, scientifically speaking, Sievers's 
C type has been avoided as not consonant with the plan of translation. Several 
of his types, however, constantly occur ; e.g. A and a variant (/ x | x) (^ x x | 
^ x) ; B and a variant (x L \ x /) (x x L \ x L) ; a variant of D (^ x j ^ x x) ; 
E (. x x | .i). Anacrusis gives further variety to the types used in the trans- 

The parallelisms of the original have been faithfully preserved. (E.g., 1 ie 
and 1 17 : " Lord " and " Wielder of Glory " ; 1 so, 1 si, 1 32 ; 2 12 and 2 is 
2 27 and 2 28 ; 3s and 3 e.) Occasionally, some loss has been sustained ; but, 
on the other hand, a gain has here and there been made. 

The effort has been made to give a decided flavor of archaism to the trans- 
lation. All words not in keeping with the spirit of the poem have been 

1 Handbook of Poetics, page 175, 1st edition. 

Preface. ix 

avoided. Again, though many archaic words have been used, there are none, 
it is believed, which are not found in standard modern poetry. 

With these preliminary remarks, it will not be amiss to give an outline of 
the story of the poem. 


Hrothgar, king of the Danes, or Scyldings, builds a great mead-hall, or 
palace, in which he hopes to feast his liegemen and to give them presents. The 
joy of king and retainers is, however, of short duration. Grendel, the monster, 
is seized with hatfful jealousy. He cannot brook the sounds of joyance that 
reach him down in his fen-dwelling near the hall. Oft and anon he goes to 
the joyous building, bent on direful mischief. Thane after thane is ruthlessly 
carried off and devoured, while no one is found strong enough and bold enough 
to cope with the monster. For twelve years he persecutes Hrothgar and his 

Over sea, a day's voyage off, Beowulf, of the Geats, nephew of Higelac, 
king of the Geats, hears of Grendel 1 s doings and of Hrothgar's misery. He 
resolves to crush the fell monster and relieve the aged king. With fourteen 
chosen companions, he sets sail for Dane-land. Reaching that country, he soon 
persuades Hrothgar of his ability to help him. The hours that elapse before 
night are spent in beer-drinking and conversation. When Hrothgar's bedtime 
comes he leaves the hall in charge of Beowulf, telling him that never before has 
he given to another the absolute wardship of his palace. All retire to rest, 
Beowulf, as it were, sleeping upon his arms. 

Grendel comes, the great march-stepper, bearing God's anger. He seizes 
and kills one of the sleeping warriors. Then he advances towards Beowulf. 
A fierce and desperate hand-to-hand struggle ensues. No arms are used, both 
combatants trusting to strength and hand-grip. Beowulf tears GrendeFs 
shoulder from its socket, and the monster retreats to his den, howling and 
yelling with agony and fury. The wound is fatal. 

The next morning, at early dawn, warriors in numbers flock to the hall 
Heorot, to hear the news. Joy is boundless. Glee runs high. Hrothgar and 
his retainers are lavish of gratitude and of gifts. 

G renders mother, however, comes the next night to avenge his death. She 
is furious and raging. While Beowulf is sleeping in a room somewhat apart 

x Preface. 

from the quarters of the other warriors, she seizes one of Hrothgat*s favorite 
counsellors, and carries him off and devours him. Beowulf is called. Deter- 
mined to leave Heorot entirely purified, he arms himself, and goes down to look 
for the female monster. After traveling through the waters many hours, he 
meets her near the sea-bottom. She drags him to her den. There he sees 
Grendel lying dead. After a desperate and almost fatal struggle with the 
woman, he slays her, and swims upward in triumph, taking with him Gren- 
ders head. 

Joy is renewed at Heorot. Congratulations crowd upon the victor. 
Hrothgar literally pours treasures into the lap of Beowulf ; and it is agreed 
among the vassals of the king that Beowulf will be their next liege lord. 

Beowulf leaves Dane-land. Hrothgar weeps and laments at his departure. 

When the hero arrives in his own land, Higelac treats him as a distin- 
guished guest. He is the hero of the hour. 

Beowulf subsequently becomes king of his own people, the Geats. After he 
has been ruling for fifty years, his own neighborhood is wofully harried by a 
fire-spewing dragon. Beowulf determines to kill him. In the ensuing struggle 
both Beowulf and the dragon are slain. The grief of the Geats is inexpres- 
sible. They determine, however, to leave nothing undone to honor the memory 
of their lord. A great funeral-pyre is built, and his body is burnt. Then a 
memorial-barrow is made, visible from a great distance, that sailors afar may 
be constantly reminded of the prowess of the national hero of Geatland. 

The poem closes with a glowing tribute to his bravery, his gentleness, his 
goodness of heart, and his generosity. 

It is the devout desire of this translator to hasten the day when the story 
of Beowulf shall be as familiar to English-speaking peoples as that of the Iliad. 
Beowulf is our first great epic. It is an epitomized history of the life of the 
Teutonic races. It brings vividly before us our forefathers of pre-Alfredian 
eras, in their love of war, of sea, and of adventure. 

My special thanks are due to Professors Francis A. March and James A. 
Harrison, for advice, sympathy, and assistance, 

J. L. HALL. 


B. = Bugge. C. = Cosijn. Gr.= Grein. Grdvtg. = Grundtvig. H.= Heyne. H. and 
S.= Harrison and Sharp. H.-So. = Heyne-Socin. K.= Kemble. Kl. = Kluge. M. = 
Mullenhoff. R. = Rieger. S. = Sievers. Sw. = Sweet, t. B. = ten Brink. Th. = Thorpe. 
W. = Wulcker. 


Arnold, Thomas. Beowulf. A heroic poem of the eighth century. London, 1876. 
With English translation. Prose. 

Botkine, L. Beowulf. Epopee Anglo-Saxonne. Havre, 1877. First French transla- 
tion. Passages occasionally omitted. 

Conybeare, J. J. Illustrations of Anglo-Saxon Poetry. London, 1826. Full Latin 
translation, and some passages translated into English blank-verse. 

Ettmiiller, L. Beowulf, stabreimend ubersetzt. Zurich, 1840. 

Garnett, J. M. Beowulf: an Anglo-Saxon Poem, and the Fight at Finnsburg. Boston, 
1882. An accurate line-for-line translation, using alliteration occasionally, and sometimes 
assuming a metrical cadence. 

Grein, C. W. M. Dichtungen der Angelsachsen, stabreimend ubersetzt. 2 Bde. 
Gottingen, 1857-59. 

Grion, Giusto. Beovulf, poema epico anglo-sasson* del VII. secolo, tradotto e illus- 
trato. Lucca, 1883. First Italian translation. 

Grundtvig, If. F. S. Bjowulfs Drape. Copenhagen, 1820. 
Heyne, M. A translation in iambic measures. Paderborn, 1863. 

Kemble, J. M. The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Traveller's Song, and the 
Battle of Finnsburg. London, 1833. The second edition contains a prose translation of 

Leo, H. Ueber Beowulf. Halle, 1839. Translations of extracts. 

xii Bibliography of Translations. 

Lumsden, H. W. Beowulf, translated into modern rhymes. London, 1881. Ballad 
measures. Passages occasionally omitted. 

Sandras, G. S. De carminibus Caedmoni adjudicates. Paris, 1859. An extract from 
Beowulf, with Latin translation. 

Schaldmose, F. Beowulf og Scopes Widsith, to Angelsaxiske Digte. Copenhagen, 

Simrock, K. Beowulf. Uebersetzt und erlautert. Stuttgart und Augsburg, 1859. 
Alliterative measures. 

Thorkelin, G. J. De Danorum rebus gestis secul. III. et IV. poema Danicum dia- 
lecto Anglosaxonica. Havniae, 1815. Latin translation. 

Thorpe, B. The Anglo-Saxon Poems of Beowulf, the Scop or Gleeman's Tale, and 
the Fight at Finnsburg. Oxford, 1855. English translation in short lines, generally con- 
taining two stresses. 

Wackerbarth, A. D. Beowulf, translated into English verse. London, 1849. 

Wickberg, R. Beowulf, en fornengelek hjeltedikt, ofersatt Westewik. First Swed- 
ish translation. 

von Wolzogen, H. Beowulf, in alliterative measures. Leipzig. 

Zinsser, G. Der Kampf Beowulfs mit Grendel. Jahresbericht of the Realschule at 
Forbach, 1881. 


[The figures refer to the divisions of the poem in which the respective names occur. The Urge figures 

to fitts; the small, to lines in the fitts.] 

JElfhere. A kinsman of Wiglaf. 36 3. 

JEschere. Confidential friend of King Hrothgar. Elder brother of Yrmenlaf. Killed by 
Grendel. 21 3; 3089. 

Beanstan. Father of Breca. 9 26. 

Beowulf. Son of Scyld, the founder of the dynasty of Scyldings. Father of Healfdenc, 
and grandfather of Hrothgar. 1 18; 2 1. 

Beowulf. The hero of the poem. Sprung from the stock of Geats, son of Ecgtheow. 
Brought up by his maternal grandfather Hrethel, and figuring in manhood as a 
devoted liegeman of his uncle Higelac. A hero from his youth. Has the strength 
of thirty men. Engages in a swimming-match with Breca. Goes to the help of 
Hrothgar against the monster Grendel. Vanquishes Grendel and his mother. 
Afterwards becomes king of the Geats. Late in life attempts to kill a fire-spewing 
dragon, and is slain. Is buried with great honors. His memorial mound. 626; 
72; 79; 93; 98; 12 28; 12 43; 23 1, etc. 

Breca. - Beowulfs opponent in the famous swimming-match. 98; 9 19; 921; 922. 

Brondings. A people ruled by Breca. 9 23. 

Brosinga mene. A famous collar once owned by the Brosings. 19 7. 

Cain. Progenitor of Grendel and other monsters. 2 66; 20 11. 

Daeghrefn. A warrior of the Hugs, killed by Beowulf. 35 40. 

Danes. Subjects of Scyld and his descendants, and hence often called Scyldings. Other 
names for them are Victory-Scyldings, Honor-Scyldings, Armor-Danes, Bright-Danes, 
East-Danes, West-Danes, North-Danes, South-Danes, Ingwins, Hrethmen. 1 1; 
2 1; 32; 5 14; 7 1, etc. 

Ecglaf . Father of Unferth, who taunts Beowulf. - 9 1. 

Ecgtheow. Father of Beowulf, the hero of the poem. A widely-known Waegmunding 
warrior. Marries Hrethel's daughter. After slaying Heatholaf, a Wylfing, he flees 
his country. 73; 56; 84. 

Ecgwela. A king of the Dane* before Scyld. 25 0. 

xiv Glossary of Proper Names. 

Elan. Sister of Hrothgar, and probably wife of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes. 2 10i 

Eagle Cape. A promontory in Geat-land, under which took place BeowulPs last en- 
counter. 41 87. 

Eadgils. Son of Ohthere and brother of Eanmund. 34 2. 

Eanmund. Son of Ohthere and brother of Eadgils. The reference to these brothers is 
vague, and variously understood. Heyne supposes as follows: Raising a revolt 
against their father, they are obliged to leave Sweden. They go to the land of the 
Geats; with what intention, is not known, but probably to conquer and plunder. 
The Geatish king, Heardred, is slain by one of the brothers, probably Eanmund. 
36 10; 31 54 to 31 60; 33 66 to 34 6. 

Bofor. A Geatish hero who slays Ongentheow in war, and is rewarded by Hygelac with 
the hand of his only daughter. 41 18; 41 48. 

Eormenric. A Gothic king, from whom Kama took away the famous Brosinga mene. 

Eomaer. Son of Ofia and Thrytho, king and queen of the Angles. 28 69. 

Finn. King of the North-Frisians and the Jutes. Marries Hildeburg. At his court takes 
place the horrible slaughter in which the Danish general, Hnsef, fell. Later on, Finn 
himself is slain by Danish warriors. 17 18; 17 30; 17 44; 18 4; 18 23. 

Fin-land. The country to which Beowulf was driven by the currents in his swimming- 
match. 10 22. 

Fitela. Son and nephew of King Sigemund, whose praises are sung in XIV. 14 42; 14 53. 

Folcwalda. Father of Finn. 17 38. 

Franks. Introduced occasionally in referring to the death of Higelac. 19 19; 4021; 

Frisians. A part of them are ruled by Finn. Some of them were engaged in the struggle 
in which Higelac was slain. 17 20; 17 42; 17 52; 40 21. 

Freaware. Daughter of King Hrothgar. Married to Ingeld, a Heathobard prince. 
2960; 3032. 

Froda. King of the Heathobards, and father of Ingeld. 29 62. 

Garmund. Father of Offa. 28 71. 

Geats, Geatmen. The race to which the hero of the poem belongs. Also called Weder- 
Geats, or Weders, War-Geats, Sea-Geats. They are ruled by Hrethel, Hsethcyn, 
Higelac, and Beowulf. 4 7; 7 4; 10 45; 11 8; 27 14; 28 8. 

Gepids. Named in connection with the Danes and Swedes. 35 34. 

Grendel. A monster of the race of Cain. Dwells in the fens and moors. Is furiously 
envious when he hears sounds of joy in Hrothgar's palace. Causes the king untold 
agony for years. Is finally conquered by Beowulf, and dies of his wound. His hand 
and arm are hung up in Hrothgar's hall Heorot. His head is cut off by Beowulf 
when he goes down to fight with GrendePs mother. 2 50; 3 1; 3 13; 8 19; 11 17* 
122; 1327; 153. 

Gnthlaf . A Dane of Hnaefs party. 18 24. 

Half-Danes. Branch of the Danes to which Hnaef belonged. 17 19. 

Glossary of Proper Names. xv 

Halga. Surnamed the Good. Younger brother of Hrothgar. 29. 

Hama. Takes the Brosinga mene from Eormenric. 19 7. 

Haereth. Father of Higelac's queen, Hygd. 28 39; 29 18. 

Hathcyn. Son of Hrethel and brother of Higelac. Kills his brother Herebeald acci- 
dentally. Is slain at Ravenswood, fighting against Ongentheow. 34 48; 35 28; 

Helmings. The race to which Queen Wealhtheow belonged. 10 63. 

Heming. A kinsman of Garmund, perhaps nephew. 28 54; 28 70. 

Hengest. A Danish leader. Takes command on the fall of Hnaef. 17 33; 17 41. 

Herebeald. Eldest son of Hrethel, the Geatish king, and brother of Higelac. Killed by 
his younger brother Haethcyn. 34 43; 34 47. 

Heremod. A Danish king of a dynasty before the Scylding line. Was a source of great 
sorrow to his people. 14 64 ; 25 69. 

Hereric. Referred to as uncle of Heardred, but otherwise unknown. 31 60. 

Hetwars. Another name for the Franks. 33 51. 

Healf dene. Grandson of Scyld and father of Hrothgar. Ruled the Danes long and well. 

25; 41; 8 14. 

Heardred. Son of Higelac and Hygd, king and queen of the Geats. Succeeds his father, 

with Beowulf as regent. Is slain by the sons of Ohthere. 31 56; 33 63; 33 75. 
Heathobards. Race of Lombards, of which Froda is king. After Froda falls in battle 

with the Danes, Ingeld, his son, marries Hrothgar's daughter, Freaware, in order to 

heal the feud. 30 1 ; 306. 

Heatholaf. A Wylfing warrior slain by Beowulf s father. 8 5. 
Heathor ernes. The people on whose shores Breca is cast by the waves during his contest 

with Beowulf. 9 21. 
Heorogar. Elder brother of Hrothgar, and surnamed ' Weoroda Raeswa,' Prince of the 

Troopers. 29; 8 12. 
Hereward. Son of the above. 31 17. 
Heort, Heorot. The great mead-hall which King ^Hrothgar builds. It is invaded by 

Grendel for twelve years. Finally cleansed by Beowulf, the Geat. It is called 

Heort on account of the hart-antlers which decorate it. 2 25; 3 32; 3 52. 
Hildeburg. Wife of Finn, daughter of Hoce, and related to Hnaef, probably his sister. 

1721; 1834. 

Hnaef. Leader of a branch of the Danes called Half-Danes. Killed in the struggle at 

Finn's castle. 17 19; 17 61. 
Hondscio. One of Beowulf's companions. Killed by Grendel just before Beowulf grappled 

with that monster. 30 43. 

Hoce. Father of Hildeburg and probably of Hnaef. 17 26. 

Hrethel. King of the Geats, father of Higelac, and grandfather of Beowulf. 7 4; 34 39. 
Hrethla. Once used for Hrethel. 7 82. 
Hrethmen. Another name for the Danes. 7 73. 
Hrethric. Son of Hrothgar. 18 65; 27 19. 

xvi Glossary of Proper Names. 

Hreosna-beorh. A promontory in Geat-land, near which Ohthere's sons made plundering 

raids. 35 18. 
Hrothgar. The Danish king who built the hall Heort, but was long unable to enjoy it on 

account of Grendel's persecutions. Marries Wealhtheow, a Helming lady. Has 

two sons and a daughter. Is a typical Teutonic king, lavish of gifts. A devoted 

liegelord, as his lamentations over slain liegemen prove. Also very appreciative of 

kindness, as is shown by his loving gratitude to Beowulf. 29; 2 12; 4 1; 8 10; 

15 1; etc., etc. 

Hrothmund. Son of Hrothgar. 18 65. 
Hrothulf . Probably a son of Halga, younger brother of Hrothgar. Certainly on terms of 

close intimacy in Hrothgar's palace. 16 26; 18 57. 
Hnmting. Unferth's sword, lent to Beowulf. 22 71; 25 9. 
Hugs. A race in alliance with the Franks and Frisians at the time of Higelac's fall. 

Hun. A Frisian warrior, probably general of the Hetwars. Gives Hengest a beautiful 

sword. 18 19. 

Hunferth. Sometimes used for Unferth. 
Hygelac, Higelac. King of the Geats, uncle and liegelord of Beowulf, the hero of the 

poem. His second wife is the lovely Hygd, daughter of Haereth. The son of their 

union is Heardred. Is slain in a war with the Hugs, Franks, and Frisians combined. 

Beowulf is regent, and afterwards king of the Geats. 46; 54; 2834; 299; 

2921; 3156. 
Hygd. Wife of Higelac, and daughter of Haereth. There are some indications that she 

married Beowulf after she became a widow. 28 37. 
Ingeld. Son of the Heathobard king, Froda. Marries Hrothgar's daughter, Freaware, 

in order to reconcile the two peoples. 29 62; 30 32. 
Ing wins. Another name for the Danes. 16 52; 20 69. 
Jutes. Name sometimes applied to Finn's people. 17 22; 17 38; 18 17. 
Lafing. Name of a famous sword presented to Hengest by Hun. 18 19. 
Merewing. A Frankish king, probably engaged in the war in which Higelac was slain. 


Naegling. Beowulf s sword. 36 76. 
Offa. King of the Angles, and son of Garmund. Marries the terrible Thrytho who is so 

strongly contrasted with Hygd. 28 59; 28 66. 
Ohthere. Son of Ongentheow, king of the Swedes. He is father of Eanmund and 

Eadgils. 40 35; 4039. 
Onela. Brother of Ohthere. 36 15 ; 40 39. 
Ongentheow. King of Sweden, of the Scylfing dynasty. Married, perhaps, Elan, daughter 

of Healfdene. 35 26; 41 16. 
Oslaf . A Dane of Hnaf s party. 18 24. 

Ravenswood. The forest near which Haethcyn was slain. 40 31; 40 41. 
Scefing. Applied (1 4) to Scyld, and meaning 'son of Scef.' 

Glossary of Proper Names. xvii 

Scyld. Founder of the dynasty to which Hrothgar, his father, and grandfather belonged. 
He dies, and his body is put on a vessel, and set adrift. He goes from Dane- 
land just as he had come to it in a bark. 1 4; 1 19; 1 27. 

Scyldings. The descendants of Scyld. They are also called Honor-Scyldings, Victory- 
Scyldings, War-Scyldings, etc. (See ' Danes,' above.) 2 1; 7 1; 8 1. 

Scylfings. A Swedish royal line to which Wiglaf belonged. 36 2. 

Sigemund. Son of Wsels, and uncle and iither of Fitela. His struggle with a dragon is 
related in connection with Beowulf's deeds of prowess. 14 38; 14 47. 

Swerting. Grandfather of Higelac, and father of Hrethel. 19 11. 

Swedes. People of Sweden, ruled by the Scylfings. 35 13. 

Thrytho. Wife of Offa, king of the Angles. Known for her fierce and unwomanly dispo- 
sition. She is introduced as a contrast to the gentle Hygd, queen of Higelac. 
2842; 2856. 

Unferth. Son of Ecglaf, and seemingly a confidential courtier of Hrothgar. Taunts 
Beowulf for having taken part in the swimming-match. Lends Beowulf his sword 
when he goes to look for Grendel's mother. In the MS. sometimes written Hun- 
ferth.<)\\ 1841. 

Waels. Father of Sigemund. 14 60. 

Waegmunding. A name occasionally applied to Wiglaf and Beowulf, and perhaps derived 
from a common ancestor, Waegmund. 36 6; 38 61. 

Weders. Another name for Geats or Wedergeats. 

Wayland. A fabulous smith mentioned in this poem and in other old Teutonic literature. 


Wondels. The people of Wulfgar, Hrothgar's messenger and retainer. (Perhaps = Van- 
dals.) 6 30. 
Wealhtheow. Wife of Hrothgar. Her queenly courtesy is well shown in th poem. 


Weohstan, or Wihstan. A Waegmunding, and father of Wiglaf. 36 1. 

Whale's Ness. A prominent promontory, on which BeowulPs mound was built. 
38 62; 42 78. 

Wiglaf. Son of Wihstan, and related to Beowulf. He remains faithful to Beowulf in the 
fatal struggle with the fire-drake. Would rather die than leave his lord in his dire 
emergency. 36 1; 36 3; 36 28. 

Wonred. Father of Wulf and Eofor. 41 20; 41 26. 

Wulf. Son of Wonred. Engaged in the battle between Higelac's and Ongentheow's 
forces, and had a hand-to-hand fight with Ongentheow himself. Ongentheow dis- 
ables him, and is thereupon skin by Eofor. 41 19; 41 29. 

Wulfgar. Lord of the Wendels, and retainer of Hrothgar. 6 18; 6 30. 

Wylfings. A people to whom belonged Heatholaf, who was slain by Ecgtheow. 86; 8 16. 

Yrmenlaf. Younger brother of ^Eschere, the hero whose death grieved Hrothgar so 
deeply. 214. 



ATHELING. Prince, nobleman. 

BAIRN. Son, child. 

BARROW. Mound, rounded hill, funeral- 


BEAKER. Cup, drinking-vessel. 

BEGEAR. Prepare. 

BIGHT. Bay, sea. 

BILL. Sword. 

Boss. Ornamental projection. 

BRACTEATE. A round ornament on a neck- 

BRAND. Sword. 

BURN. Stream. 

BURNIE. Armor. 

CARLE. Man, hero. 

EARL. Nobleman, any brave man. 

EKE. Also. 

EMPRISE. Enterprise, undertaking. 

ERST. Formerly. 

ERST-WORTHY. Worthy for a long time 

FAIN. Glad. 

FERRY. Bear, carry. 

FEY. Fated, doomed. 

FLOAT. Vessel, ship. 

FOIN. To lunge (Shaks.). 


GREWSOME. Cruel, fierce. 

HEFT. Handle, hilt; used by synecdoche 
for * sword.' 

HELM. Helmet, protector. 

HENCHMAN. Retainer, vassal. 

HIGHT. Am (was) named. 

HOLM. Ocean, curved surface of the sea. 

HIMSEEMED. (It) seemed to him. 

LIEF. Dear, valued. 

MERE. Sea; in compounds, 'mere- ways, 1 

' mere-currents,' etc. 
MICKLE. Much. 
NATHLESS. Nevertheless. 
NAZE. Edge (nose). 
NESS. Edge. 
NICKER. Sea-beast. 
QUIT, QUITE. Requite. 
RATHE. Quickly. 
REAVE. Bereave, deprive. 
SETTLE. Seat, bench. 
SKINKER. One who pours. 
SOOTHLY. Truly. 
SWINGE. Stroke, blow. 
THROUGHLY. Thoroughly. 
TOLD. Counted. 
UNCANNY. Ill-featured, grizzly. 
UNNETHE. Difficult. 
WAR-SPEED. Success in war. 
WEB. Tapestry (that which is ' woven '). 
WEEDED. Clad (cf. widow's weeds). 
WEEN. Suppose, imagine. 
WEIRD. Fate, Providence. 
WHILOM. At times, formerly, often. 
WIELDER. Ruler. Often used of God, 

also in compounds, as ' Wielder of Glory,* 

' Wielder of Worship.' 
WIGHT. Creature. 
WOLD. Plane, extended surface. 
WOT. Knows. 
YOUNKER. Youth. 




Lo ! the Spear-Danes' glory through splendid achievements 
The folk-kings' former fame we have heard of, 
How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle. 
Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers 
5 From many a people their mead-benches tore. 
Since first he found him friendless and wretched, 
The earl had had terror : comfort he got for it, 
Waxed 'neath the welkin, world-honor gained, 
Till all his neighbors o'er sea were compelled to 

10 Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute : 
An excellent atheling ! After was borne him 
A son and heir, young in his dwelling, 
Whom God- Father sent to solace the people. 
He had marked the misery malice had caused them, 

15 l That reaved of their rulers they wretched had erstwhile 2 
Long been afflicted. The Lord, in requital, 
Wielder of Glory, with world-honor blessed him. 
Famed was Beowulf, far spread the glory 
Of Scyld's great son in the lands of the Danemen. 

1 For the 'baet' of verse 15, Sievers suggests *ba' (= which). If this be 
accepted, the sentence ' He had . . . afflicted ' will read : He (i.e. God) had 
perceived the malice-caused sorrow which they, lordless, had formerly long 

2 For ' aider-lease ' (15) Gr. suggested ' aldor-ceare ' : He perceived their 
distress, that they formerly had suffered life-sorrow a long while. 


The famous race of 

Scyld, their mighty 
king, in honor of 
whom they are 
often called Scyld- 
ings. He is the 
of Hrothgar, so 
prominent in the 

A son is born to 
him, who receives 
the name of 
Beowulf a name 
afterwards made so 
famous by the hero 
of the poem. 

The ideal Teutonic 
king lavishes gifts 
on his vassals. 

Scyld dies at the 
hour appointed by 

By his own re- 
quest, his body is 
laid on a vessel 
and wafted sea- 

He leaves Dane- 
land on the breast 
of a bark. 


So the carle that is young, by kindnesses rendered 
The friends of his father, with fees in abundance 
Must be able to earn that when age approacheth 
Eager companions aid him requitingly, 
When war assaults him serve him as liegemen : 

25 By praise-worthy actions must honor be got 

'Mong all of the races. At the hour that was fated 
Scyld then departed to the All- Father's keeping 
Warlike to wend him ; away then they bare him 
To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades, 

30 As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings 
Word-sway wielded, and the well-loved land-prince 
Long did rule them. 1 The ring-stemmed vessel, 
Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor, 
Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing ; 

35 The beloved leader laid they down there, 
Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel, 
The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels, 
Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over, 
Was placed near at hand then ; and heard I not ever 

40 That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly 
With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle, 
Bills and burnies ; on his bosom sparkled 
Many a jewel that with him must travel 
On the flush of the flood afar on the current. 

45 And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly, 
Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him 
Who when first he was born outward did send him 
Lone on the main, the merest of infants : 
And a gold- fashioned standard they stretched under heaven 

1 A very difficult passage. 'Ahte' (31) has no object. H. supplies *ge- 
weald' from the context; and our translation is based upon this assumption, 
though it is far from satisfactory. Kl. suggests ' laendagas ' for lange ' : And 
the beloved land-prince enjoyed (had} his transitory days (i.e. lived). B. sug- 
gests a dislocation; but this is a dangerous doctrine, pushed rather far by that 
eminent scholar. 


5 High o'er his head, let the holm-currents bear him, 
Seaward consigned him : sad was their spirit, 
Their mood very mournful. Men are not able 
Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside, 1 
Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied. 

No one knows 
whither the boat 



In the boroughs then Beowulf, bairn of the Scyldings, 

Beloved land-prince, for long-lasting season 

Was famed mid the folk (his father departed, 

The prince from his dwelling), till afterward sprang 
5 Great-minded Healfdene ; the Danes in his lifetime 

He graciously governed, grim-mooded, aged. 

Four bairns of his body born in succession 

Woke in the world, war-troopers' leader 

Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga the good ; 
10 Heard I that Elan was Ongentheow's consort, 

The well-beloved bedmate of the War-Scylfing leader. 

Then glory in battle to Hrothgar was given, 

Waxing of war-fame, that willingly kinsmen 

Obeyed his bidding, till the boys grew to manhood, 
15 A numerous band. \It burned in his spirit 

To urge his folk to, found a great building, 

A mead-hall grander than men of the era 

Ever had heard of, and in it to share 

With young and old all of the blessings 
20 The Lord had allowed him, save life and retainers. 

Then the work I find afar was assigned 

1 The reading of the H.-So. text has been quite closely followed ; but some 
eminent scholars read ' sele-raedenne ' for ' sele-wedende.' If that be adopted, 
the passage will read : Men cannot tell us, indeed, the order of Fate, etc. 
' Sele-raedende ' has two things to support it: (i) v. 1347; (2) it affords a 
parallel to ' men ' in v. 50. 

Beowulf succeeds 
his father Scy Id. 

Healfdene's birth. 

He has three sons 
one of them, 
Hrothgar and a 
daughter named 
Elan. Hrothgar 
becomes a mighty 

He is eager to 
build a great hall 
in which he may 
feast his retainers 


The hall is com- 
pleted, and is 
called Heort, or 

The monster Gren- 
del is madly en- 
vious of the Dane- 
men's joy. 35 

[The course of the 
story is interrupted 
by a short refer- 
ence to some old 40 
account of the 
creation.] X 

The glee of the 
warriors is over- 
cast by a horrible 

To many races in middle-earth's regions, 

To adorn the great folk-hall. In due time it happened 

Early 'mong men, that 'twas finished entirely, 
25 The greatest of hall-buildings ; Heorot he named it ^ 

Who wide-reaching word-sway wielded 'mong earlmen. 

His promise he brake not, rings he lavished, 

Treasure at banquet. Towered the hall up 

High and horn-crested, huge between antlers : 
30 It battle-waves bided, the blasting fire-demon ; 

Ere long then from hottest hatred must sword-wrath 

Arise for a woman's husband and father. 

Then the mighty war-spirit ! endured for a season, 

Bore it bitterly, he who bided in darkness, 

That light-hearted laughter loud in the building 

Greeted him daily ; there was dulcet harp-music, 

Clear song of the singer. He said that was able 

To tell from of old earthmen's beginnings, 

That Father Almighty earth had created, 

The winsome wold that the water encircleth, 

Set exultingly the sun's and the moon's beams 

To lavish their lustre on land-folk and races, 

And earth He embellished in all her regions 

With limbs and leaves ; life He bestowed too 
45 On all the kindreds that live under heaven. 

So blessed with abundance, brimming with joyance, 

The warriors abided, till a certain one gan to 

Dog them with deeds of direfullest malice, 

A foe in the hall-building : this horrible stranger 2 
50 Was Grendel entitled, the march-stepper famous 

Who 3 dwelt in the moor-fens, the marsh and the fastness ; 

The wan-mooded being abode for a season 

1 R. and t. B. prefer ' ellor-gsest ' to 'ellen-gaest' (86) : Then ike stranger 
from afar endured, etc. 

2 Some authorities would translate 4 demon 1 instead of ' stranger.' 

* Some authorities arrange differently, and render : Who dwelt in the moor 
fens, the marsh and the fastness, the land of the giant-race. 

Beowulf. 5 

In the land of the giants, when the Lord and Creator 
Had banned him and branded. For that bitter murder, 

55 The killing of Abel, all-ruling Father 

The kindred of Cain crushed with His vengeance ; Cain is referred to 

In the feud He rejoiced not, but far away drove him GrTnddflnd^f 

From kindred and kind, that crime to atone for, monsters in gen- 

Meter of Justice. Thence ill-favored creatures, 

60 Elves and giants, monsters of ocean, 

Came into being, and the giants that longtime 
Grappled with God ; He gave them requital. 


When the sun was sunken, he set out to visit Gremki attacks the 

The lofty hall-building, how the Ring-Danes had used h 8leeping heroes< 

For beds and benches when the banquet was over. 

Then he found there reposing many a noble 
5 Asleep after supper ; sorrow the heroes, 1 

Misery knew not. The monster of evil 

Greedy and cruel tarried but little, 

Fell and frantic, and forced from their slumbers He drags off thirty 

Thirty of thanemen ; thence he departed T3? ^ 

10 Leaping and laughing, his lair to return to, 

With surfeit of slaughter sallying homeward. 

In the dusk of the dawning, as the day was just breaking, 

Was Grendel's prowess revealed to the warriors : 

Then, his meal-taking finished, a moan was uplifted, A cry of agony 

15 Morning-cry mighty. The man-ruler famous, ^idTtolribie 

The long- worthy atheling, sat very woful, deed is fully real. 

Suffered great sorrow, sighed for his liegemen, 

1 The translation is based on 'weras,' adopted by H.-So. K. and Th. 
read ' wera ' and, arranging differently, render 119(2) -120: They knew not 
.arrow, the -wretchedness of man, aught of misfortune. For ' unhoelo ' (120) 
R. suggests unfaelo.' : The uncanny creature, greedy andcrue^ etc. 


The monster re- 
turns the next 

King Hrothgar's 
agony and sus- 
pense last twelve 

When they had seen the track of the hateful pursuer, 

The spirit accursed : too crushing that sorrow, 
ao Too loathsome and lasting. Not longer he tarried, 

But one night after continued his slaughter 

Shameless and shocking, shrinking but little 

From malice and murder ; they mastered him fully. 

He was easy to find then who otherwhere looked for 
25 A pleasanter place of repose in the lodges, 

A bed in the bowers. Then was brought to his notice 

Told him truly by token apparent 

The hall-thane's hatred : he held himself after 

Further and faster who the foeman did baffle. 
30 1 So ruled he and strongly strove against justice 

Lone against all men, till empty uptowered 

The choicest of houses. Long was the season : 

Twelve-winters' time torture suffered 

The friend of the Scyldings, every affliction, 
35 Endless agony ; hence it after 2 became 

Certainly known to the children of men 

Sadly in measures, that long against Hrothgar 

Grendel struggled : his grudges he cherished, 

Murderous malice, many a winter, 
40 Strife unremitting, and peacefully wished he 

3 Life-woe to lift from no liegeman at all of 

The men of the Dane- folk, for money to settle, / 

No counsellor needed count for a moment 

1 S. rearranges and translates : So he ruled and struggled unjustly, one against 
all, till the noblest of buildings stood useless {it was a long while} twelve years' 
time : the friend of the Scyldings suffered distress, every woe, great sorrows, etc. 

2 For ' sySftan,' B. suggests ' sarcwidum ' : Hence in mournful words it be- 
came well known, etc. Various other words beginning with 4 s' have been 

8 The H.-So. glossary is very inconsistent in referring to this passage. 
'Sibbe' (154), which H.-So. regards as an instr., B. takes as accus., obj. of 
'wolde.' Putting a comma after Deniga, he renders: He did not desire 
peace with any of the Danes, nor did he wish to remove their life-woe, nor to 
uttlefor money. 

Beowulf. 7 

On handsome amends at the hands of the murderer ; 
45 The monster of evil fiercely did harass, Grendei u unre- 

The ill-planning death-shade, both elder and younger, 

Trapping and tricking them. He trod every night then 

The mist-covered moor-fens ; men do not know where 

Witches and wizards wander and ramble. 

So the foe of mankind many of evils 

Grievous injuries, often accomplished, 

Horrible hermit ; Heort he frequented, 

Gem-bedecked palace, when night-shades had fallen 

(Since God did oppose him, not the throne could he touch, 1 God a**" 1 " th 
55 The light- flashing jewel, love of Him knew not). 

'Twas a fearful affliction to the friend of the Scyldings 

Soul-crushing sorrow. Not seldom in private The king and his 

Sat the king in his council ; conference held they council deliberate 

in vain. 

What the braves should determine 'gainst terrors unlooked for. 
k> At the shrines of their idols often they promised ev inv kc th 

Gifts and offerings, earnestly prayed they 

The devil from hell would help them to lighten 

Their people's oppression. Such practice they used then, 

Hope of the heathen ; hell they remembered 
6$ In innermost spirit, God they knew not, 

Judge of their actions, All-wielding Ruler, TI * e God they 

No praise could they give the Guardian of Heaven, 

The Wielder of Glory. Woe will be his who 

Through furious hatred his spirit shall drive to 
70 The clutch of the fire, no comfort shall look for, 

Wax no wiser ; well for the man who, 

Living his life-days, his Lord may face 

And find defence in his Father's embrace ! 

1 Of this difficult passage the following interpretations among others are 
given : (i) Though Grendei has frequented Heorot as a demon, he could not 
become ruler of the Danes, on account of his hostility to God. (2) Hrothgar 
was much grieved that Grendei had not appeared before his throne to receive 
presents. (3) He was not permitted to devastate the hall, on account of the 
Creator; i.e. God wished to make his visit fatal to him. Ne . . . wisse (169) 
W. renders : Nor had he any desire to do so ; ' his ' being obj. gen. = danach. 



Hrothgar sees no 
way of escape from 
the persecutions of 

Beowulf, the Geat, 
hero of the poem, 
hears of Hrothgar's 
sorrow, and re- 
solves to go to his 

With fourteen care- 
fully chosen com- 
panions, he sets out 
for Dane-land. 


So Healfdene's kinsman constantly mused on 
'His long-lasting sorrow ; the battle-thane clever 
Was not anywise able evils to 'scape from : 
Too crushing the sorrow that came to the people, 
Loathsome and lasting the life-grinding torture, 
Greatest of night-woes. So Higelac's liegeman, 
Good amid Geatmen, of Grendel' s achievements 
Heard in his home : 1 of heroes then living 
He was stoutest and strongest, sturdy and noble. 

10 He bade them prepare him a bark that was trusty ; 
He said he the war-king would seek o'er the ocean, 
The folk-leader noble, since he needed retainers. 
For the perilous project prudent companions 
Chided him little, though loving him dearly ; 

15 They egged the brave atheling, augured him glory. 
The excellent knight from the folk of the Geatmen 
Had liegemen selected, likest to prove them 
Trustworthy warriors ; with fourteen companions 
The vessel he looked for ; a liegeman then showed them, 

20 A sea-crafty man, the bounds of the country. 
Fast the days fleeted ; the float was a-water, 
The craft by the cliff. Clomb to the prow then 
Well-equipped warriors : the wave-currents twisted 
The sea on the sand ; soldiers then carried 

25 On the breast of the vessel bright-shining jewels, 
Handsome war-armor ; heroes outshoved then, 
Warmen the wood-ship, on its wished-for adventure. 

1 'From ham' (194) is much disputed. One rendering is: Beowulf, being 
away from home, heard of Hrothgar's troubles, etc. Another, that adopted by 
S. and endorsed in the H.-So. notes, is : B. heard from his neighborhood (neigh- 
bors), i.e. in his home, etc. A third is: B., being at home, heard this as 
occurring away from home. The H.-So. glossary and notes conflict. 


The foamy-necked floater fanned by the breeze, 
Likest a bird, glided the waters, 

30 Till twenty and four hours thereafter 

The twist-stemmed vessel had traveled such distance 
That the sailing-men saw the sloping embankments, 
The sea-cliffs gleaming, precipitous mountains, 
Nesses enormous : they were nearing the limits 

35 At the end of the ocean. 1 Up thence quickly 
The men of the Weders clomb to the mainland, 
Fastened their vessel (battle-weeds rattled, 
War-burnies clattered) ; the Wielder they thanked 
That the ways o'er the waters had waxen so gentle. 

40 Then well from the cliff-edge the guard of the Scyldings 
Who the sea-cliffs should see to, saw o'er the gangway 
Brave ones bearing beauteous targets, 
Armor all ready ; anxiously thought he, 
Musing and wondering what men were approaching. 

45 High on his horse then Hrothgar's retainer 
Turned him to coastward, mightily brandished 
His lance in his hands, questioned with boldness : 
" Who are ye men here, mail-covered warriors 
Clad in your corslets, come thus a-driving 

50 A high-riding ship o'er the shoals of the waters, 

'And hither 'neath helmets have hied o'er the ocean? 

1 'Eoletes' (224) is marked with a (?) by H.-So.: our rendering simply 
follows his conjecture. Other conjectures as to 'eolet* are: (i) voyage; 
(2) toil, labor ; (3) hasty journey. 

a The lacuna of the MS. at this point has been supplied by various conjec- 
tures. The reading adopted by H.So. has been rendered in the above translation. 
W., like H.-So. makes ' ic ' the beginning of a new sentence ; but, for ' helmas 
baeron,' he reads ' hringed-stefnan.' This has the advantage of giving a 
parallel to 'brontne ceol* instead of a kenning for 'go.' B. puts the (?) 
after ' holmas,' and begins a new sentence at the middle of the line. Trans- 
late : What warriors are ye, clad in armor, who have thus come bringing the 
foaming vessel over the water-way, hither over the seas ? For some time on 
the wall I have been coast-guard, etc. S. endorses most of what B. says, but 
leaves out on the wall' in the last sentence. If W.'s 'hringed-stefnan' be 
accepted, change line 51 above to, A ring-stemmed vessel hither oversea? 

The vessel sails 
like a bird. 

In twenty-four 
hours they reach 
the shores of 
Hrothgar's domin. 

They are hailed by 
the Danish coast- 

His challenge. 

io Beowulf. 

I have been strand-guard, standing as warden, 
Lest enemies ever anywise ravage 
Danish dominions with army of war-ships. 

55 More boldly never have warriors ventured 
Hither to come ; of kinsmen's approval, 
Word-leave of warriors, I ween that ye surely 
He is struck by Nothing have known. Never a greater one 

Of earls o'er the earth have / had a sight of 

60 Than is one of your number, a hero in armor ; 
No low-ranking fellow 1 adorned with his weapons, 
But launching them little, unless looks are deceiving, 
And striking appearance. Ere ye pass on your journey 
As treacherous spies to the land of the Scyldings 

65 And farther fare, I fully must know now 

What race ye belong to. Ye far-away dwellers, 
Sea-faring sailors, my simple opinion 
Hear ye and hearken : haste is most fitting 
Plainly to tell me what place ye are come from." 




Beowulf courte- , The chief of the strangers rendered him answer, 
War-troopers' leader, and word-treasure opened : 

We are Geats. " We are sprung from the lineage of the people of Geatland, 

And Higelac's hearth-friends. To heroes unnumbered 

My father Ecg- 5 My father was known, a noble head- warrior 
Ecgtheow titled ; many a winter 
He lived with the people, ere he passed on his journey, 
Old from his dwelling ; each of the counsellors 
Widely mid world-folk well remembers him. 

Our intentions Io \y e kindly of spirit, the lord of thy people, 

towards King ' . 

Hrothgarareofthe The son of King Healfdenc, have come here to visit, 

i t , 

1 ' Seld-guma ' (249) is variously rendered : (i) housecarle; (2) home-stayer, 
(3) common man. Dr. H. Wood suggests a man-at-arms in another's house- 


Folk-troop's defender : be free in thy counsels ! 
To the noble one bear we a weighty commission, 
The helm of the Danemen ; we shall hide, I ween, 

5 Naught of our message. Thou know'st if it happen, 
As we soothly heard say, that some savage despoiler, 
Some hidden pursuer, on nights that are murky 
By deeds very direful 'mid the Danemen exhibits 
Hatred unheard of, horrid destruction 

ao And the falling of dead. From feelings least selfish 
I am able to render counsel to Hrothgar, 
How he, wise and worthy, may worst the destroyer, 
If the anguish of sorrow should ever be lessened, 1 
Comfort come to Jiim, and care-waves grow cooler, 

25 Or ever hereafter he agony suffer 

And troublous distress, while towereth upward 
The handsomest of houses high on the summit." 
Bestriding his stallion, the strand-watchman answered, 
The doughty retainer : " The difference surely 

30 Twixt words and works, the warlike shield-bearer 
Who judgeth wisely well shall determine. 
This band, I hear, beareth no malice 
To the prince of the Scyldings. Pass ye then onward 
With weapons and armor. I shall lead you in person ; 

35 To my war- trusty vassals command I shall issue 
To keep from all injury your excellent vessel, 
Your fresh-tarred craft, 'gainst every opposer 
Close by the sea-shore, till the curved-necked bark shall 
Waft back again the well-beloved hero 

40 O'er the way of the water to Weder dominions. 
To warrior so great 'twill be granted sure 
In the storm of strife to stand secure." 
Onward they fared then (the vessel lay quiet, 
The broad-bosomed bark was bound by its cable, 

1 'Edwendan' (280) B. takes to be the subs, 'edwenden 1 (cf. 1775); and 
'bisigu' he takes as gen. sing., limiting 'edwenden': If reparation for 
torrows is ever to come. This is supported by t. B. 


Is it true that a 
monster is slaying 
Danish heroes? 

I can help your 
king to free himself 
from this horrible 

The coast-guard 
reminds Beowulf 
that it is easier to 
say than to do* 

I am satisfied of 
your good inten- 
tions, and shall lead 
you to the palace. 
Your boat shall be 
well cared for dur- 
ing your stay here. 

He again compli- 
ments Beowulf. 




The land is per- 
haps rolling. 

Heorot flashes on 
their view. 



~f$ coast-gvard, 

having discharged 
tiis duty, bills them 
Sod-sped. 60 

Firmly at anchor) ; the boar-signs glistened 1 

Bright on the visors vivid with gilding, 

Blaze-hardened, brilliant ; the boar acted warden. 

The heroes hastened, hurried the liegemen, 

Descended together, till they saw the great palace, 

The well- fashioned wassail-hall wondrous and gleaming : 

'Mid world-folk and kindreds that was widest reputed 

Of halls under heaven which the hero abode in ; 

Its lustre enlightened lands without number. 

Then the battle-brave hero showed them the glittering 

Court of the bold ones, that they easily thither 

Might fare on their journey ; the aforementioned warrior 

Turning his courser, quoth as he left them : 

" Tis time I were faring ; Father Almighty 

Grant you His grace, and give you to journey 

Safe on your mission ! To the sea I will get me 

'Gainst hostile warriors as warden to stand." 

They set their 
arms and armor 
against the wall. 



The highway glistened with many-hued pebble, 
A by-path led the liegemen together. 
2 Firm and hand-locked the war-burnie glistened, 
The ring-sword radiant rang 'mid the armor 
5 As the party was approaching the palace together 

In warlike equipments. 'Gainst the wall of the building 
Their wide-fashioned war-shields they weary did set then, 

1 Combining the emendations of B. and t. B., we may read : The boar- 
images glistened . . . brilliant, protected the life of the war-mooded man. They 
read ' ferh-wearde ' (305) and 'guSmddgum men' (306). 

2 Instead of the punctuation given by H.-So., S. proposed to insert a comma 
after 'scir' (322), and to take ' hring-i'ren ' as meaning 'ring-mail' and as 
parallel with ' gu$-byrne.' The passage would then read: The firm and 
hand-locked war-burnie shone, bright ring-mail, rang 'mid the armor, etc. 




Battle-shields sturdy ; benchward they turned then ; 

Their battle-sarks rattled, the gear of the heroes ; 

The lances stood up then, all in a cluster, 

The arms of the seamen, ashen-shafts mounted 

With edges of iron : the armor-clad troopers 

Were decked with weapons. Then a proud-mooded hero 

Asked of the champions questions of lineage : 

" From what borders bear ye your battle-shields plated, 

Gilded and gleaming, your gray-colored burnies, 

Helmets with visors and heap of war-lances? 

To Hrothgar the king I am servant and liegeman. 

'Mong folk from far-lands found I have never 

ao Men so many of mien more courageous. 
I ween that from valor, nowise as outlaws, 
But from greatness of soul ye sought for King Hrothgar." 
Then the strength-famous earlman answer rendered, 
The proud-mooded Wederchief replied to his question,- 

25 Hardy 'neath helmet : " Higelac's mates are we ; 
Beowulf hight I. To the bairn of Healfdene, 
The famous folk-leader, I freely will tell 
To thy prince my commission, if pleasantly hearing 
He'll grant we may greet him so gracious to all men." 

30 Wulfgar replied then (he was prince of the Wendels, 
His boldness of spirit was known unto many, 
His prowess and prudence) : " The prince of the Scyldings, 
The friend-lord of Danemen, I will ask of thy journey, 
The giver of rings, as thou urgest me do it, 

35 The folk-chief famous, and inform thee early 

What answer the good one mindeth to render me." 
He turned then hurriedly where Hrothgar was sitting, 
1 Old and hoary, his earlmen attending him ; 
The strength- famous went till he stood at the shoulder 

40 Of the lord of the Danemen, of courteous thanemen 
The custom he minded. Wulfgar addressed then 
His friendly liegelord : " Folk of the Geatmen 

1 Gr. and others translate ' unbar ' by bald ' : old and bald. 

A Danish hero 
asks them whence 
and why they are 

He expresses no 
little admiration 
for the strangers. 

Beowulf replies. 

We are Higelac's 
table-companion s , 
and bear an impor- 
tant commission to 
your prince. 

Wulfgar, the 
thane, says that 
he will go and ask 
Hrothgar whether 
he will see the 


He thereupon 
urges his liegelord 
to receive the visit- 
ors courteously. 

Hrothgar, too, is 
struck with Beo- 
wulf s appearance. 

O'er the way of the waters are wafted hither, 

Faring from far-lands : the foremost in rank 
45 The battle-champions Beowulf title. 

They make this petition : with thee, O my chieftain, 

To be granted a conference ; O gracious King Hrothgar, 

Friendly answer refuse not to give them ! 

In war-trappings weeded worthy they seem 
50 Of earls to be honored ; sure the atheling is doughty 

Who headed the heroes hitherward coming." 

Hrothgar remem- 
bers Beowulf as a 
youth, and also 
remembers his 

Beowulf is re- 
ported to have the 
strength of thirty 

God hath sent him 
-to our rescue. 


Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings : 

" I remember this man as the merest of striplings. 

His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled, 

Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his 

One only daughter ; his battle-brave son 

Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend. 

Seafaring sailors asserted it then, 

Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen l carried 

As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men's grapple 

10 Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle. 
The holy Creator usward sent him, 
To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render 
'Gainst Grendel's grimness gracious assistance : 
I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage. 

15 Hasten to bid them hither to speed them, 2 
To see assembled this circle of kinsmen ; 
Tell them expressly they're welcome in sooth to 
The men of the Danes." To the door of the building 

1 Some render ' gif-sceattas ' by ' tribute.' ' Geata ' B. and Th. emended 4.0 
'Geatum.' If this be accepted, change '</the Geatmen' to 'to the Geatmen.' 

2 If t. B.'s emendation of w. 386, 387 be accepted, the two lines, ' Hasten 
. . . kinsmen ' will read : Hasten thou, bid the throng of kinsmen go into the 
hall together. 

Beowulf. 15 

Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted : Wuifgr invites the 

ao " My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you, tranjers in. 

The East- Danes' atheling, that your origin knows he, 

And o'er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither, 

Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter 

Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets, 
25 To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle- boards, 

Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring." 

The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman, 

An excellent thane-group ; some there did await them, 

And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded. 
30 Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them, 

'Neath Heorot's roof; the high-minded went then 

Sturdy 'neath helmet till he stood in the building. 

Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten, 

His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman) : 
35 " Hail thou, Hrothgar ! I am Higelac's kinsman Beowulf salute* 

And vassal forsooth ; many a wonder Setpra edfto 

I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel, boast of his youth 

In far-off fatherland I fully did know of: 

Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth, 
40 Excellent edifice, empty and useless 

To all the earlmen after evenlight's glimmer 

'Neath heaven's bright hues hath hidden its glory. 

This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them, 

Carles very clever, to come and assist thee 4 
45 Folk-leader Hrothgar ; fully they knew of 

The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me Hl fi ht *** ** 

When I came from the contest, when covered with gore 

Foes I escaped from, where five l I had bound, 

1 For 420 () and 421 (a), B. suggests: par ic (on) fifelgeban fSdc 
eotena cyn = -where I in the ocean destroyed the eoten-race. t. B. accepts B.'i 
" brilliant " ' fifelgeban,' omits ' on,' emends ' cyn ' to ' him,' arranging : par ic 
fifelgeban ySde, eotena ham = where I desolated the ocean, the home of tht 
eotens. This would be better but for changing 'cyn' to 'him.' I suggest: 
paer ic flfelgeband (cf. nhd. Bande) ytSde, eotena cyn = where I conquered the 
monster band, the race of the eotens. This makes no change except to read 
for 'fife? 


He intends to fight 
Grcndel unaided. 

Since the monster 
uses no weapons, 

I, too, shall disdain 
to use any. 

Should he crush 
me, he will eat my 
companions as he 
has eaten thy 

The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying 
The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows, 
The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered) 
Enemies ravaged ; alone now with Grendel 
I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil, 
The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore 

55 Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain, 
Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition : 
Not to refuse me, defender of warriors, 
Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee, 
That / may unaided, my earlmen assisting me, 

60 This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot. 
I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature 
From veriest rashness recks not for weapons ; 
I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious, 
My liegelord beloved, lenient of spirit, 

65 To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target, 
A shield to the onset ; only with hand-grip 
The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then, 
Foeman with foeman ; he fain must rely on 
The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of. 
I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle, 
To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk, 
Boldly to swallow 1 them, as of yore he did often 
The best of the Hrethmen ! Thou needest not trouble 
A head-watch to give me ; 2 he will have me dripping 

1 'Unforhte ' (444) is much disputed. H.-So. wavers between adj. and ad* 
Gr. and B. take it as an adv. modifying etan : Will eat the Geats fearlessly. -* 
Kl. considers this reading absurd, and proposes ' anforhte ' = timid. Under- 
standing ' unforhte ' as an adj. has this advantage, viz. that it gives a parallel 
to ' Geatena Ie6de ' : but to take it as an adv. is more natural. Furthermore, to 
call the Geats brave ' might, at this point, seem like an implied thrust at the 
Danes, so long helpless; while to call his own men ' timid ' would be befouling 
his own nest. 

2 For 'head-watch,' cf. H.-So. notes and cf. v. 2910. Th. translates: Thou 
wilt not need my head to hide (i.e., thou wilt have no occasion to bury me, as 
Grendel will devour me whole). Simrock imagines a kind of dead- watch. 


75 And dreary with gore, if death overtake me, 1 

Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me, 
The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity, 
Marking the moor-fens ; no more wilt thou need then 
Find me my food. 2 If I fall in the battle, 

80 Send to Higelac the armor that serveth 

To shield my bosom, the best of equipments, 

Richest of ring-mails ; 'tis the relic of Hrethla, 

The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go ! " 

In case of my de- 
feat, thou wilt not 
have the trouble of 
burying me. 

Should I fall, send 
my armor to my 
lord, King Higelac. 

Weird is 


Hrothgar discoursed, helm of the Scyldings : 
" To defend our folk and to furnish assistance, 8 
Thou soughtest us hither, good friend Beowulf. 
The fiercest of feuds thy father engaged in, 
5 Heatholaf killed he in hand-to-hand conflict 

'Mid Wilfingish warriors ; then the Wederish people 
For fear of a feud were forced to disown him. 
Thence flying he fled to the folk of the South-Danes, 

Dr. H. Wood suggests : Thou wilt not have to bury so much as my head (for 
Grendel will be a thorough undertaker), grim humor. 

1 S. proposes a colon after 'nime'S' (1. 447). This would make no essen- 
tial change in the translation. 

2 Owing to the vagueness of ' feorme ' (451), this passage is variously trans- 
lated. In our translation, H.-So.'s glossary has been quite closely followed. 
This agrees substantially with B.'s translation (P. and B. XII. 87). R. trans- 
lates: Thou needst not take care longer as to the consumption of my dead 
body. * Lfc ' is also a crux here, as it may mean living body or dead body. 

8 B. and S. reject the reading given in H.-So., and suggested by Grtvg. B. 
suggests for 457-458 : 

waere-ryhtum bu, wine min Beowulf, 
and for ar-stafum usic sohtest. 

This means: From the obligations of clientage, my friend Beowulf, and for 
assistance thou hast sought us. This gives coherence to Hrothgar's opening 
remarks in VIII., and also introduces a new motive for Beowulfs coming to 
Hrothgar's aid. 

Hrothgar re- 

Reminiscences of 
BeowulPs father, 



Hrothgar recounts 
to Beowulf the 
horrors of Grendel's 
persecutions. 2 o 


My thanes have 2 , 
made many boasts, 
but have not exe- 
cuted them. 

Sit down to the 

feast, and give us 


A bench is made 

ready for Beowulf 

and his party. 


The race of the Scyldings, o'er the roll of the waters ; 

I had lately begun then to govern the Danemen, 

The hoard-seat of heroes held in my youth, 

Rich in its jewels : dead was Heregar, 

My kinsman and elder had earth-joys forsaken, 

Healfdene his bairn. He was better than I am ! 

That feud thereafter for a fee I compounded ; 

O'er the weltering waters to the Wilfings I sent 

Ornaments old ; oaths did he swear me. 

It pains me in spirit to any to tell it, 

What grief in Heorot Grendel hath caused me, 

What horror unlooked-for, by hatred unceasing, 

Waned is my war-band, wasted my hall-troop ; 

Weird hath offcast them to the clutches of Grendel. 

God can easily hinder the scather 

From deeds so direful. Oft drunken with beer 

O'er the ale-vessel promised warriors in armor 

They would willingly wait on the wassailing-benches 

A grapple with Grendel, with grimmest of edges. 

Then this mead-hall at morning with murder was reeking, 

The building was bloody at breaking of daylight, 

The bench-deals all flooded, dripping and bloodied, 

The folk-hall was gory : I had fewer retainers, 

Dear-beloved warriors, whom death had laid hold of. 

Sit at the feast now, thy intents unto heroes, 1 

Thy victor-fame show, as thy spirit doth urge thee ! " 

For the men of the Geats then together assembled, 

In the beer-hall blithesome a bench was made ready ; 

There warlike in spirit they went to be seated, 

Proud and exultant. A liegeman did service, 

1 Sit now at the feast, and disclose thy purposes to the victorious heroes, as 
thy spirit urges. Kl. reaches the above translation by erasing the comma 
after 'meoto' and reading ' sige-hre'Ssecgum.' There are other and bolder 
emendations and suggestions. Of these the boldest is to regard ' meoto ' as a 
verb (imperative), and read ' on sael ' : Think upon gay ety, etc. All the render- 
ings are unsatisfactory, the one given in our translation involving a zeugma. 


Who a beaker embellished bore with decorum, 
40 And gleaming-drink poured. The gleeman sang whilom 
Hearty in Heorot ; there was heroes' rejoicing, 
A numerous war- band of Weders and Danemen. 

The gleeman sings 

The heroes all re- 
joke together. 



Unferth spoke up, Ecglaf his son, 
Who sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings, 
Opened the jousting (the journey 1 of Beowulf, 
Sea-farer doughty, gave sorrow to Unferth 
5 And greatest chagrin, too, for granted he never 
That any man else on earth should attain to, 
Gain under heaven, more glory than he) : 
" Art thou that Beowulf with Breca did struggle, 
On the wide sea-currents at swimming contended, 

10 Where to humor your pride the ocean ye tried, 
From vainest vaunting adventured your bodies 
In care of the waters ? And no one was able 
Nor lief nor loth one, in the least to dissuade you 
Your difficult voyage ; then ye ventured a-swimming, 

15 Where your arms outstretching the streams ye did cover, 
The mere-ways measured, mixing and stirring them, 
Glided the ocean ; angry the waves were, 
With the weltering of winter. In the water's possession, 
Ye toiled for a seven-night ; he at swimming outdid thee, 

20 In strength excelled thee. Then early at morning 

On the Heathoremes' shore the holm-currents tossed him, 
Sought he thenceward the home of his fathers, 
Beloved of his liegemen, the land of the Brondings, 
The peace-castle pleasant, where a people he wielded, 

1 It has been plausibly suggested that ' sf'S ' (in 501 and in 353) means 
arrival.' If so, translate the bracket: (the arrival of Beowulf, the brave 
seafarer, was a source of great chagrin to Unferth, etc.}. 

Unferth, a thane 
of Hrothgar, is 
jealous of Beowulf, 
and undertakes to 
twit him. 

Did you take part 
in a swimming- 
match with Breca? 

'Twas mere folly 
that actuated you 
both to risk your 
lives on the ocean. 


Breca outdid you 

Much more will 
Grendel outdo you, 
if you vie with him 
in prowess. -jo 

Beowulf retaliates. 

O friend Unferth, 
you are fuddled 
with beer, and can- 
not talk coherently. 35 

We simply kept an 
engagement made 
in early life. 4 

He could not excel 

me, and I would 

not excel him. 45 

After five days the 
currents separated 


A horrible sea- 
beast attacked me, 
but I slew him. 



25 Had borough and jewels. The pledge that he made thee 
The son of Beanstan hath soothly accomplished. 
Then I ween thou wilt find thee less fortunate issue, 
Though ever triumphant in onset of battle, 
A grim grappling, if Grendel thou darest 
For the space of a night near-by to wait for ! " 
Beowulf answered, offspring of Ecgtheow : 
" My good friend Unferth, sure freely and wildly, 
Thou fuddled with beer of Breca hast spoken, 
Hast told of his journey ! A fact I allege it, 
That greater strength in the waters I had then, 
Ills in the ocean, than any man else had. 
We made agreement as the merest of striplings 
Promised each other (both of us then were 
Younkers in years) that we yet would adventure 
Out on the ocean ; it all we accomplished. 
While swimming the sea-floods, sword-blade unscafcbarded 
Boldly we brandished, our bodies expected 
To shield from the sharks. He sure was unable 
To swim on the waters further than I could, 
More swift on the waves, nor would I from him go. 
Then we two companions stayed in the ocean 
Five nights together, till the currents did part us, 
The weltering waters, weathers the bleakest, 
And nethermost night, and the north-wind whistled 
Fierce in our faces ; fell were the billows. 
The mere fishes' mood was mightily ruffled : 
And there against foemen my firm-knotted corslet, 
Hand-jointed, hardy, help did afford me ; 
My battle-sark braided, brilliantly gilded, 

55 Lay on my bosom. To the bottom then dragged me, 
A hateful fiend-scather, seized me and held me, 
Grim in his grapple : 'twas granted me, nathless, 
To pierce the monster with the point of my weapon, 
My obedient blade ; battle offcarried 

60 The mighty mere-creature by means of my hand-blow. 

Beowulf. 21 



" So ill-meaning enemies often did cause me 

Sorrow the sorest. I served them, in quittance, 

With my dear-loved sword, as in sooth it was fitting ; M Y dear w r < 1 

They missed the pleasure of feasting abundantly, 
5 Ill-doers evil, of eating my body, 

Of surrounding the banquet deep in the ocean ; v/ 

But wounded with edges early at morning 

They were stretched a-high on the strand of the ocean, 

Put to sleep with the sword, that sea-going travelers * ?* <>P to the 

10 No longer thereafter were hindered from sailing monster* 

The foam-dashing currents. Came a light from the east, 

God's beautiful beacon ; the billows subsided, 

That well I could see the nesses projecting, 

The blustering crags. Weird often saveth Fortune helps tht 

15 The undoomed hero if doughty his valor ! 

But me did it fortune * to fell with my weapon 

Nine of the nickers. Of night-struggle harder 

'Neath dome of the heaven heard I but rarely, 

Nor of wight more woful in the waves of the ocean ; 
to Yet I 'scaped with my life the grip of the monsters, 

Weary from travel. Then the waters bare me After that escape I 

To the land of the Finns, the flood with the current, 

The weltering waves. Not a word hath been told me i have never heard 

Of deeds so daring done by thee, Unferth, 
25 And of sword- terror none ; never hath Breca 

At the play of the battle, nor either of you two, 

Feat so fearless performed with weapons 

Glinting and gleaming 

1 The repetition of 'hwaeflere' (574 and 578) is regarded by some scholars 
as a defect. B. suggests ' swa fcer ' for the first : So there it befell me, etc. 
Another suggestion is to change the second 4 hwaeftere ' into ' swa Vxt ' : So 
there I escaped with my life, etc. 


You arc a slayer of 
brothers, and will 
suffer damnation, 
wise as you may 


Had your acts been 
as brave as your 
words, Grendel had 
not ravaged your 
land so long. 


The monster is not 
afraid of the Danes, 

but he will soon 
learn to dread the 
Geats. 45 

On the second day, 
any warrior may 
go unmolested to 
the mead-banquet. 50 

Hrothgar's spirits 
are revived. 

The old king trusts 
The heroes are 


Queen Wealh- 
theow plays the 

She offers the cup 
to her husband 



I utter no boasting ; 

Though with cold-blooded cruelty thou killedst thy brothers, 

Thy nearest of kin ; thou needs must in hell get 

Direful damnation, though doughty thy wisdom. 

I tell thee in earnest, offspring of Ecglaf, 

Never had Grendel such numberless horrors, 

The direful demon, done to thy liegelord, 

Harrying in Heorot, if thy heart were as sturdy, 

Thy mood as ferocious as thou dost describe them. 

He hath found out fully that the fierce-burning hatred, 

The edge-battle eager, of all of your kindred, 

Of the Victory- Scyldings, need little dismay him : 

Oaths he exacteth, not any he spares 

Of the folk of the Danemen, but fighteth with pleasure, 

Killeth and feasteth, no contest expecteth 

From Spear-Danish people. But the prowess and valor 

Of the earls of the Geatmen early shall venture 

To give him a grapple. He shall go who is able 

Bravely to banquet, when the bright-light of morning 

Which the second day bringeth, the sun in its ether-robes, 

O'er children of men shines from the southward ! " 

Then the gray- haired, war- famed giver of treasure 

Was blithesome and joyous, the Bright- Danish ruler 

Expected assistance ; the people's protector 

Heard from Beowulf his bold resolution. 

There was laughter of heroes ; loud was the clatter, 

The words were winsome. Wealhtheow advanced then, 

Consort of Hrothgar, of courtesy mindful, 

Gold-decked saluted the men in the building, 

And the freeborn woman the beaker presented 

To the lord of the kingdom, first of the East-Danes, 

Bade him be blithesome when beer was a-flowing, 

Lief to his liegemen ; he lustily tasted 

Of banquet and beaker, battle-famed ruler. 

The Helmingish lady then graciously circled 

'Mid all the liegemen lesser and greater : 


65 Treasure-cups tendered, till time was afforded 
That the decorous-mooded, diademed folk-queen 
Might bear to Beowtrlf the bumper o'errunning ; 
She greeted the Geat-prince, God she did thank, 
Most wise in her words, that her wish was accomplished, 

70 That in any of earlmen she ever should look for 
Solace in sorrow. He accepted the beaker, 
Battle-bold warrior, at Wealhtheow's giving, 
Then equipped for combat quoth he in measures, 
Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow : 

75 " I purposed in spirit when I mounted the ocean, 
When I boarded my boat with a band of my liegemen, 
I would work to the fullest the will of your people 
Or in foe's-clutches fastened fall in the battle. 
Deeds I shall do of daring and prowess, 

80 Or the last of my life-days live in this mead-hall." 
These words to the lady were welcome and pleasing, 
The boast of the Geatman ; with gold trappings broidered 
Went the freeborn folk-queen her fond-lord to sit by. 
Then again as of yore was heard in the building 

85 Courtly discussion, conquerors' shouting, 

Heroes were happy, till Healfdene's son would 

Go to his slumber to seek for refreshing ; 

For the horrid hell-monster in the hall-building knew he 

A fight was determined, 1 since the light of the sun they 

90 No longer could see, and lowering darkness 
O'er all had descended, and dark under heaven 
Shadowy shapes came shying around them. 
The liegemen all rose then. One saluted the other, 
Hrothgar Beowulf, in rhythmical measures, 

95 Wishing him well, and, the wassail-hall giving 
To his care and keeping, quoth he departing : 


She gives presents 
to the heroes. 

Then she offers the 
cup to Beowulf, 
thanking God that 
aid has come. 

Beowulf states to 
the queen the ob- 
ject of his visit. 

I determined to do 

Glee is high. 

Hrothgar retires, 
leaving Beowulf in 
charge of the hall. 

1 Kl. suggests a period after 'determined.' This would give the passage 
as follows : Since they no longer could see the light of the sun, and lowering 
darkness was down over all, dire under the heavens shadowy beings came going 
around them. 


" Not to any one else have I ever entrusted, 
But thee and thee only, the hall of the Danemen, 
Since high I could heave my hand and my buckler. 
ioo Take thou in charge now the noblest of houses ; 
Be mindful of honor, exhibiting prowess, 
Watch 'gainst the foeman ! Thou shalt want no enjoyments, 
Survive thou safely adventure so glorious ! " 

Hrothgar retires. 

God has provided 
a watch for the 

Beowulf is self- 


He prepares for 


Beowulf boasts of 
his ability to cope 
with Grendel. 

We will fight with 
nature's weapons 



Then Hrothgar departed, his earl-throng attending him, 
Folk-lord of Scyldings, forth from the building ; 
The war-chieftain wished then Wealhtheow to look for, 
The queen for a bedmate. To keep away Grendel 
5 The Glory of Kings had given a hall-watch, 

As men heard recounted : for the king of the Danemen 
He did special service, gave the giant a watcher : 
And the prince of the Geatmen implicitly trusted 
His warlike strength and the Wielder's protection. 

10 His armor of iron off him he did then, 

His helmet from his head, to his henchman committed 
His chased-handled chain- sword, choicest of weapons, 
And bade him bide with his battle-equipments. 
The good one then uttered words of defiance, 

15 Beowulf Geatman, ere his bed he upmounted : 
" I hold me no meaner in matters of prowess, 
In warlike achievements, than Grendel does himself; 
Hence I seek not with sword-edge to sooth him to slumber, 
Of life to bereave him, though well I am able. 

20 No battle-skill * has he, that blows he should strike me, 
To shatter my shield, though sure he is mighty 

1 Gr. understood ' g6dra ' as meaning ' advantages in battle.' This render- 
ing H.-So. rejects. The latter takes the passage as meaning that Grendel, 
though mighty and formidable, has no skill in the art of war. 

Beowulf. 25 

In strife and destruction ; but struggling by night we 

Shall do without edges, dare he to look for 

Weaponless warfare, and wise-mooded Father 
25 The glory apportion, God ever-holy, 

On which hand soever to him seemeth proper." God may decide 

Then the brave-mooded hero bent to his slumber, 

The pillow received the cheek of the noble ; 

And many a martial mere-thane attending The Geatish war- 

30 Sank to his slumber. Seemed it unlikely riofl Iie down ' 

That ever thereafter any should hope to They thought it 

Be happy at home, hero-friends visit J ^** 

Or the lordly troop-castle where he lived from his childhood ; see their homes 

They had heard how slaughter had snatched from the wine-hall, agam * 
35 Had recently ravished, of the race of the Scyldings 

Too many by far. But the Lord to them granted But God raised up 

The weaving of war-speed, to Wederish heroes 

Aid and comfort, that every opponent 

By one man's war- might they worsted and vanquished, 
40 By the might of himself; the truth is established God rules the 

That God Almighty hath governed for ages 

Kindreds and nations. A night very lurid 

The trav'ler-at-twilight came tramping and striding. Grendei comes to 

The warriors were sleeping who should watch the horned-building, 
45 One only excepted. 'Mid earthmen 'twas 'stablished, P nl x one warrior 

Th' implacable foeman was powerless to hurl them 

To the land of shadows, if the Lord were unwilling ; 

But serving as warder, in terror to foemen, 

He angrily bided the issue of battle. 1 

1 B. in his masterly articles on Beowulf (P. and B. XII.) rejects the division 
usually made at this point. ' pa ' (711), usually rendered ' then,' he translates 
' when,' and connects its clause with the foregoing sentence. These changes 
he makes to reduce the number of 'c6mV as principal verbs. (Cf. 703, 711, 
721.) With all deference to this acute scholar, I must say that it seems to me 
that the poet is exhausting his resources to bring out clearly the supreme event 
on which the whole subsequent action turns. First, he (Grendei) came in 
Vie wan night ; second, he came from the moor ; third, he came to the halL 
Time, place from which, place to which, are all given. 



Grendel comes 
from the fens. 

He goes towards e 
the joyous build- 

This was not his 
first visit there. 

His horrid fingers 
tear the doo- open. 


He strides furi- 
ously into the hall. 

He exults over his 
supposed prey. 

Fate has decreed 
that he shall devour 
no more heroes. 
Beowulf suffers 
from suspense. 




'Neath the cloudy cliffs came from the moor then 

Grendel going, God's anger bare he. 

The monster intended some one of earthmen 

In the hall-building grand to entrap and make way with ; 

He went under welkin where well he knew of 

The wine-joyous building, brilliant with plating, 

Gold-hall of earthmen. Not the earliest occasion 

He the home and manor of Hrothgar had sought : 

Ne'er found he in life-days later nor earlier 

Hardier hero, hall- thanes * more sturdy ! 

Then came to the building the warrior marching, 

Bereft of his joyance. The door quickly opened 

On fire-hinges fastened, when his fingers had touched it ; 

The fell one had flung then his fury so bitter 

Open the entrance. Early thereafter 

The foeman trod the shining hall-pavement, 

Strode he angrily ; from the eyes of him glimmered 

A lustre unlovely likest to fire. 

He beheld in the hall the heroes in numbers, 

A circle of kinsmen sleeping together, 

A throng of thanemen : then his thoughts were exultant, 

He minded to sunder from each of the thanemen 

The life from his body, horrible demon, 

Ere morning came, since fate had allowed him 

The prospect of plenty. Providence willed not 

To permit him any more of men under heaven 

To eat in the night-time. Higelac's kinsman 

Great sorrow endured how the dire-mooded creature 

1 B. and t. B. emend so as to make lines 9 and 10 read : Never in his life, 
earlier or later, had he, the hell-thane, found a braver hero. They argue 
that Beowulf's companions had done nothing to merit such encomiums as the 
usual readings allow them. 


In unlooked-for assaults were likely to bear him. 
30 No thought had the monster of deferring the matter, 

But on earliest occasion he quickly laid hold of 

A soldier asleep, suddenly tore him, 

Bit his bone-prison, the blood drank in currents, 

Swallowed in mouthfuls : he soon had the dead man's 
35 Feet and hands, too, eaten entirely. 

Nearer he strode then, the stout-hearted warrior 

Snatched as he slumbered, seizing with hand-grip, 

Forward the foeman foined with his hand ; 

Caught he quickly the cunning deviser, 
40 On his elbow he rested. This early discovered 

The master of malice, that in middle-earth's regions, 

'Neath the whole of the heavens, no hand-grapple greater 

In any man else had he ever encountered : 

Fearful in spirit, faint- mooded waxed he, 
45 Not off could betake him ; death he was pondering, 

Would fly to his covert, seek the devils' assembly : 

His calling no more was the same he had followed 

Long in his lifetime. The liege-kinsman worthy 

Of Higelac minded his speech of the evening, 
50 Stood he up straight and stoutly did seize him. 

His fingers crackled ; the giant was outward, 

The earl stepped farther. The famous one minded 

To flee away farther, if he found an occasion, 

And off and away, avoiding delay, 
55 To fly to the fen-moors ; he fully was ware of 

The strength of his grapple in the grip of the foeman. 

Twas an ill-taken journey that the injury-bringing, 

Harrying harmer to Heorot wandered : 
^ The palace re-echoed ; to all of the Danemen, 
5o Dwellers in castles, to each of the bold ones, 

Earlmen, was terror. Angry they both were, 

Archwarders raging. 1 Rattled the building ; 

1 For 'retfe ren-weardas' (771), t. B. suggests '16*6, renhearde.' Trans- 
Ate : TTuy were both angry, raging and mighty. 

Grendel immedi- 
ately seizes a 
sleeping warrior, 
and devours him. 

Beowulf and Grer> 
del grapple. 

The monster is 
mazed at Beo- 
wulf s strength. 

He is anxious to 

Beowulf recalls his 
boast of the even- 
ing, and deter- 
mines to fulfil it. 

Twas a luckiest 
day for Grendel. 

The hall groans. 



G rendel's cries ter- 
rify the Danes. 

Twos a marvellous wonder that the wine-hall withstood thea 
The bold-in-battle, bent not to earthward, 

65 Excellent earth-hall ; but within and without it 
Was fastened so firmly in fetters of iron, 
By the art of the armorer. Off from the sill there 
Bent mead-benches many, as men have informed me, 
Adorned with gold-work, where the grim ones did struggle. 

70 The Scylding wise men weened ne'er before 

That by might and main-strength a man under heaven 
Might break it in pieces, bone-decked, resplendent, 
Crush it by cunning, unless clutch of the fire 
In smoke should consume it. The sound mounted upward 

75 Novel enough ; on the North Danes fastened 
A terror of anguish, on all of the men there 
Who heard from the wall the weeping and plaining, 
The song of defeat from the foeman of heaven, 
Heard him hymns of horror howl, and his sorrow 

80 Hell-bound bewailing. He held him too firmly 

Who was strongest of main-strength of men of that era* 

Beowulf has no 
idea of letting 
Grendel live. 

No weapon would 
harm Grendel ; he 
bore a charmed 


For no cause whatever would the earlmen's defender 
Leave in life-joys the loathsome newcomer, 
He deemed his existence utterly useless 
To men under heaven. Many a noble 
Of Beowulf brandished his battle-sword old, 
Would guard the life of his lord and protector, 
The far-famous chieftain, if able to do so ; 
i While waging the warfare, this wist they but little, 
Brave battle-thanes, while his body intending */ 
To slit into slivers, and seeking his spirit : ^ 
That the relentless foeman nor finest of weapons 
JOf all on the earth, nor any of war-bills 


Was willing to injure ; but weapons of victory 
Swords and suchlike he had sworn to dispense with. 

25 His death at that time must prove to be wretched, 
And the far-away spirit widely should journey 
Into enemies' power. This plainly he saw then 
Who with mirth * of mood malice no little 
Had wrought in the past on the race of the earthmen 

to (To God he was hostile), that his body would fail him, 
But Higelac's hardy henchman and kinsman 
Held him by the hand ; hateful to other 
Was each one if living. A body-wound suffered 
The direful demon, damage incurable 

*5 Was seen on his shoulder, his sinews were shivered, 
His body did burst. To Beowulf was given 
Glory in battle ; Grendel from thenceward 
Must flee and hide him in the fen-cliffs and marshes, 
Sick unto death, his dwelling must look for 

30 Unwinsome and woful ; he wist the more fully 
The end of his earthly existence was nearing, 
His life-days' limits. At last for the Danemen, 
When the slaughter was over, their wish was accomplished. 
The comer-from-far-land had cleansed then of evil, 

35 Wise and valiant, the war-hall of Hrothgar, 

Saved it from violence. He joyed in the night-work, 
In repute for prowess ; the prince of the Geatmen 
For the East- Danish people his boast had accomplished, 
Bettered their burdensome bale-sorrows fully, 

40 The craft-begot evil they erstwhile had suffered 

And were forced to endure from crushing oppression, 
Their manifold misery. Twas a manifest token, 
When the hero-in-battle the hand suspended, 
The arm and the shoulder (there was all of the claw 

45 Of Grendel together) 'neath great-stretching hall-roof. 

1 It has been proposed to translate ' myrfie ' by with sorrow ; but there 
eems no authority for such a rendering. To the present translator, the phrase 
*m6des myrfle ' seems a inert padding for gladly; Le., he who gladly 
Harassed mankind. 

Grendel is sorely 

His body bursts. 

The monster flees 
away to hide in 

Beowulf suspends 
G rendel's hand and 
arm in Heorot. 


At early dawn, 
warriors from far 
and near come to- 
gether to hear of 
the night's adven- 

Few warriors la* 

merited Grendel's 

Grendel's blood 
dyes the waters. 

Beowulf is the hero 
of the hour. 

He is regarded as a 
probable successor 
to Hrothgar. 

But no word is 
uttered to derogate 
from the old king 


In the mist of the morning many a warrior 
Stood round the gift-hall, as the story is told me : 
Folk-princes fared then from far and from near 
Through long-stretching journeys to look at the wonder, 

5 The footprints of the foeman. Few of the warriors 
Who gazed on the foot-tracks of the inglorious creature 
His parting from life pained very deeply, 
How, weary in spirit, off from those regions 
In combats conquered he carried his traces, 

10 Fated and flying, to the flood of the nickers. 
There in bloody billows bubbled the currents, 
The angry eddy was everywhere mingled 
And seething with gore, welling with sword- blood ; * 
He death-doomed had hid him, when reaved of his joyance 

15 He laid down his life in the lair he had fled to, 
His heathenish spirit, where hell did receive him. 
Thence the friends from of old backward turned them, 
And many a younker from merry adventure, 
Striding their stallions, stout from the seaward, 

ao Heroes on horses. There were heard very often 
Beowulf s praises ; many often asserted 
That neither south nor north, in the circuit of waters, 
O'er outstretching earth-plain, none other was better 
'Mid bearers of war-shields, more worthy to govern, 

25 'Neath the arch of the ether. Not any, however, 

'Gainst the friend-lord muttered, mocking-words uttered 

Of Hrothgar the gracious (a good king he). 

Oft the famed ones permitted their fallow-skinned horses 

1 S. emends, suggesting ' deop ' for ' de"og,' and removing semicolon after 
'weol.' The two half-lines 'welling ... hid him' would then read: Tht 
bloody deep welled with sword-gore. B. accepts ' deop ' for ' de"og,' but reads 
' dla&faeges ' : The deep boiled with the sword-gore of the death-doomed one. 


To run in rivalry, racing and chasing, 
30 Where the fieldways appeared to them fair and inviting, 

Known for their excellence ; oft a thane of the folk-lord, 1 

* A man of celebrity, mindful of rhythms, 

Who ancient traditions treasured in memory, 

New word-groups found properly bound : 
35 The bard after 'gan then Beowulf s venture 

Wisely to tell of, and words that were clever 

To utter skilfully, earnestly speaking, 

Everything told he that he heard as to Sigmund's 

Mighty achievements, many things hidden, 
40 The strife of the Waelsing, the wide-going ventures 

The children of men knew of but little, 

The feud and the fury, but Fitela with him, 

When suchlike matters he minded to speak of, 

Uncle to nephew, as in every contention 
45 Each to other was ever devoted : 

A numerous host of the race of the scathers 

They had slain with the sword-edge. To Sigmund accrued then 

No little of glory, when his life-days were over, 

Since he sturdy in struggle had destroyed the great dragon, 
50 The hoard-treasure's keeper ; 'neath the hoar-grayish stone he, 

The son of the atheling, unaided adventured 

The perilous project ; not present was Fitela, 

Yet the fortune befell him of forcing his weapon 

Through the marvellous dragon, that it stood in the wall, 
55 Well-honored weapon ; the worm was yslaughtered. 

The great one had gained then by his glorious achievement 

To reap from the ring-hoard richest enjoyment, 

1 Another and quite different rendering of this passage is as follows : Oft 
i liegeman of the king, a fame-covered man mindful of songs, who very many 
indent traditions remembered (he found other word-groups accurately bound 
together) began afterward to tell of Beowulf s adventure, skilfully to narrate 
it, etc. 

8 Might ' guma gilp-hladen ' mean ' a man laden with boasts of the deeds 
of others'? 

The gleeman sings 
the deeds of heroes. 

He sings in alliter- 
ative measures of 
BeowulPs prowess. 

Also of Sigemund, 
who had slain a 
great fire-drake. 


Sigemund was 
widely famed. 

Heremod, an un- 
fortunate Danish 
king, is introduced 5 
by way of contrast. 

Unlike Sigemund 
and Beowulf, Here- 
mod was a burden 
to his people. 70 

Beowulf is an 
honor to his race. 

The story is re- go 

As best it did please him : his vessel he loaded, 
Shining ornaments on the ship's bosom carried, 

60 Kinsman of Wsels : the drake in heat melted. 
He was farthest famed of fugitive pilgrims, 
Mid wide-scattered world- folk, for works of great prowess, 
War-troopers' shelter : hence waxed he in honor. 1 
Afterward Heremod's hero-strength failed him, 
His vigor and valor. 'Mid venomous haters 
To the hands of foemen he was foully delivered, 
Offdriven early. Agony-billows 

Oppressed him too long, to his people he became then, 
To all the athelings, an ever-great burden ; 
And the daring one's journey in days of yore 
Many wise men were wont to deplore, 
Such as hoped he would bring them help in their sorrow, 
That the son of their ruler should rise into power, 
Holding the headship held by his fathers, 

75 Should govern the people, the gold-hoard and borough, 
The kingdom of heroes, the realm of the Scyldings. 
He to all men became then far more beloved, 
Higelac's kinsman, to kindreds and races, 
To his friends much dearer ; him malice assaulted. 
Oft running and racing on roadsters they measured 
The dun-colored highways. Then the light of the morning 
Was hurried and hastened. Went henchmen in numbers 
To the beautiful building, bold ones in spirit, 
To look at the wonder ; the liegelord himself then 

85 From his wife-bower wending, warden of treasures, 
Glorious trod with troopers unnumbered, 
Famed for his virtues, and with him the queen-wife 
Measured the mead-ways, with maidens attending. 

1 t. B. accepts B.'s he" bges aron bah ' as given by H.-So., but puts a comma 
after ' bah,' and takes ' siflflan ' as introducing a dependent clause : He throve 
in honor since HeremocTs strength . . . had decreased. 


Beowulf. 33 



Hrothgar discoursed (to the hall-building went he, 
He stood by the pillar, 1 saw the steep-rising hall-roof 
Gleaming with gold-gems, and Grendel his hand there) : 
" For the sight we behold now, thanks to the Wielder Hrothgar gives 

5 Early be offered ! Much evil I bided, 

Snaring from Grendel : 2 God can e'er 'complish 

Wonder on wonder, Wielder of Glory ! 

But lately I reckoned ne'er under heaven * had P vcn U P M 

~ e A . e f hope, when this 

Comfort to gam me for any of sorrows, bravc u egem an 

10 While the handsomest of houses horrid with bloodstain came to our aid. 

Gory uptowered ; grief had offfrightened 3 

Each of the wise ones who weened not that ever 

The folk-troop's defences 'gainst foes they should strengthen, 

'Gainst sprites and monsters. Through the might of the Wielder 
15 A doughty retainer hath a deed now accomplished 

Which erstwhile we all with our excellent wisdom 

Failed to perform. May affirm very truly if his mother yet 

What woman soever in all of the nations Ei* G* for 

Gave birth to the child, if yet she surviveth, this son. 

20 That the long-ruling Lord was lavish to herward 
In the birth of the bairn. Now, Beowulf dear, 
Most excellent hero, I'll love thee in spirit Hereafter, Beo- 

... - i j it i e j wulf. thou shall be 

As bairn of my body ; bear well henceforward my ^ 

The relationship new. No lack shall befall thee 
5 Of earth-joys any I ever can give thee. 
Full often for lesser service I've given 

1 B. and t. B. read ' stable,' and translate stood on the floor. 

2 For ' snaring from Grendel,' ' sorrows at Grendel's bands ' has been sug- 
gested. This gives a parallel to ' laftes.' ' Grynna ' may well be gen. pi. of 
'gyrn,' by a scribal slip. 

8 The H.-So. punctuation has been followed; but B. has been followed in 
understanding ' gehwylcne ' as object of ' wfd-scofen (haefde).' Gr. construes 
wea' as nom. abs. 


Thou hast won im- 
mortal distinction. 

Beowulf replies: 
I was most happy 
to render thee this 

I could not keep 
the monster from 
escaping, as God 
did not will that I 

He left his hand 
and arm behind. 

God will give him 
his deserts. 

Unferth has noth- 
ing more to say, 
for Beowulf s ac- 
tions speak louder 
than words. 


Hero less hardy hoard-treasure precious, 

To a weaker in war-strife. By works of distinction 

Thou hast gained for thyself now that thy glory shall flourish 

30 Forever and ever. The All- Ruler quite thee 

With good from His hand as He hitherto did thee 1 " 
Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow's offspring : 
" That labor of glory most gladly achieved we, 
The combat accomplished, unquailing we ventured 

35 The enemy's grapple ; I would grant it much rather 
Thou wert able to look at the creature in person, 
Faint unto falling, the foe in his trappings ! 
On murder-bed quickly I minded to bind him, 
With firm-holding fetters, that forced by my grapple 

40 Low he should lie in life-and-death struggle 
'Less his body escape ; I was wholly unable, 
Since God did not will it, to keep him from going, 
Not held him that firmly, hated opposer ; 
Too swift was the foeman. Yet safety regarding 

45 He suffered his hand behind him to linger, 
His arm and shoulder, to act as watcher ; 
No shadow of solace the woe-begone creature 
Found him there nathless : the hated destroyer 
Liveth no longer, lashed for his evils, 

50 But sorrow hath seized him, in snare-meshes hath him 
Close in its clutches, keepeth him writhing 
In baleful bonds : there banished for evil 
The man shall wait for the mighty tribunal, 
How the God of glory shall give him his earnings." 

55 Then the soldier kept silent, son of old Ecglaf, 
From boasting and bragging of battle-achievements, 
Since the princes beheld there the hand that depended 
'Neath the lofty hall-timbers by the might of the nobleman, 
Each one before him, the enemy's fingers ; 

60 Each finger-nail strong steel most resembled, 
The heathen one's hand-spur, the hero-in-battle's 
Claw most uncanny ; quoth they agreeing, 



That not any excellent edges of brave ones 
Was willing to touch him, the terrible creature's 
* 5 Battle-hand bloody to bear away from him. 

No sword will 

harm the monster. 



Then straight was ordered that Heorot inside * 
With hands be embellished : a host of them gathered, 
Of men and women, who the wassailing-building 
The guest-hall begeared. Gold-flashing sparkled 
5 Webs on the walls then, of wonders a many 
To each of the heroes that look on such objects. 
The beautiful building was broken to pieces 
Which all within with irons was fastened, 
Its hinges torn off : only the roof was 

10 Whole and uninjured when the horrible creature 
Outlawed for evil off had betaken him, 
Hopeless of living. 'Tis hard to avoid it 
(Whoever will do it !) ; but he doubtless must come to 1 
The place awaiting, as Wyrd hath appointed, 

15 Soul-bearers, earth-dwellers, earls under heaven, 
Where bound on its bed his body shall slumber 
When feasting is finished. Full was the time then 
That the son of Healfdene went to the building ; 

1 Kl. suggests ' hroden ' for ' haten,' and renders : Then quickly was 
Heorot adorned within, with hands bedecked. B. suggests ' gefraetwon ' in- 
stead of ' gefraetwod,' and renders : Then was it commanded to adorn Heorot 
within quickly with hands. The former has the advantage of affording a 
parallel to ' gefraetwod ' : both have the disadvantage of altering the text. 

2 The passage 1005-1009 seems to be hopeless. One difficult point is to 
find a subject for 'gesacan.' Some say 'he'; others supply 'each,' i.e., every 
soul-bearer . . . must gain the inevitable place. The genitives in this case are 
partitive. If ' he ' be subj., the genitives are dependent on ' gearwe ' (= pre- 
pared). The 'he' itself is disputed, some referring it to Grendel; but B. 
takes it as involved in the parenthesis. 

Heorot is adorned 
with hands. 

The hall is defaced 

[A vague passage 
of five verses.] 

Hrothgar goes to 
the banquet. 

nephew, Hrothulf, 
is present. 

Hrothgar lavishes 
gifts upon Beowulf. 



Four handsomer 
gifts were never 


Hrothgar com- 
mands that eight 
finely caparisoned 
steeds be brought ,,- 
to Beowulf. 



The excellent atheling would eat of the banquet. 

Ne'er heard I that people with hero-band larger 

Bare them better tow'rds their bracelet-bestower. 

The laden-with-glory stooped to the bench then 

(Their kinsmen-companions in plenty were joyful, 

Many a cupful quaffing complaisantly) , 

Doughty of spirit in the high-tow'ring palace, 

Hrothgar and Hrothulf. Heorotthen inside 

Was filled with friendly ones ; falsehood and treachery 

The Folk-Scyldings now nowise did practise. 

Then the offspring of Healfdene offered to Beowulf 

A golden standard, as reward for the victory, 

A banner embossed, burnie and helmet ; 

Many men saw then a song-famous weapon 

Borne 'fore the hero. Beowulf drank of 

The cup in the building ; that treasure-bestowing 

He needed not blush for in battle-men's presence. 

Ne'er heard I that many men on the ale-bench 

In friendlier fashion to their fellows presented 

Four bright jewels with gold- work embellished. 

'Round the roof of the helmet a head-guarder outside 

Braided with wires, with bosses was furnished, 

That swords-for-the-battle fight-hardened might fail 

Boldly to harm him, when the hero proceeded 

Forth against foemen. The defender of earls then 

Commanded that eight steeds with bridles 

Gold-plated, gleaming, be guided to hallward, 

Inside the building ; on one of them stood then 

An art-broidered saddle embellished with jewels ; 

Twas the sovereign's seat, when the son of King Healfdene 

Was pleased to take part in the play of the edges ; 

The famous one's valor ne'er failed at the front when 

Slain ones were bowing. And to Beowulf granted 

The prince of the Ingwins, power over both, 

O'er war-steeds and weapons ; bade him well to enjoy them. 

In so manly a manner the mighty-famed chieftain, 



55 Hoard-ward of heroes, with horses and jewels 
War-storms requited, that none e'er condemneth 
Who willeth to tell truth with full justice. 


And the atheling of earlmen to each of the heroes 
Who the ways of the waters went with Beowulf, 
A costly gift-token gave on the mead-bench, 
Offered an heirloom, and ordered that that man 
5 With gold should be paid for, whom Grendel had erstwhile 
Wickedly slaughtered, as he more of them had done 
Had far-seeing God and the mood of the hero 
The fate not averted : the Father then governed 
All of the. earth-dwellers, as He ever is doing ; 

10 Hence insight for all men is everywhere fittest, 
Forethought of spirit ! much he shall suffer 
Of lief and of loathsome who long in this present 
Useth the world in this woful existence. 
There was music and merriment mingling together 

15 Touching Healfdene's leader ; the joy-wood was fingered, 
Measures recited, when the singer of Hrothgar 
On mead-bench should mention the merry hall-joyance 
Of the kinsmen of Finn, when onset surprised them : 
"The Half-Danish hero, Hnaef of the Scyldings, 

10 On the field of the Frisians was fated to perish. 
Sure Hildeburg needed not mention approving 
The faith of the Jute men : though blameless entirely, 
When shields were shivered she was shorn of her darlings, 
Of bairns and brothers : they bent to their fate 

35 With war-spear wounded ; woe was that woman. 

Not causeless lamented the daughter of Hoce 

The decree of the Wielder when morning-light came and 

She was able 'neath heaven to behold the destruction 

Each of Beowulfi 
companions re- 
ceives a costly gift. 

The warrior killed 
by Grendel is to be 
paid for in gold. 

Hrothgar' i scop 
recalls events in 
the reign of his 
lord's father. 

Hnaef, the Danish 
general, is treach- 
erously attacked 
while staying at 
Finn's castle. 

Queen Hildeburg 
is not only wife of 
Finn, but a kins- 
woman of the mur- 
dered rinacf. 

Finn's force is al- 
most exterminated. 

Hengest succeeds 
Hnsef as Danish 

Compact between 
the Frisians and the 

Equality of gifts 
agreed on. 

No one shall refer 
to old grudges. 

Danish warriors 
are burned on a 


Of brothers and bairns, where the brightest of earth-joys 

30 She had hitherto had : all the henchmen of Finn 
War had offtaken, save a handful remaining, 
That he nowise was able "to offer resistance * 
To the onset of Hengest in the parley of battle, 
Nor the wretched remnant to rescue in war from 

35 The earl of the atheling ; but they offered conditions, 
Another great building to fully make ready, 
A hall and a high-seat, that half they might rule with 
The sons of the Jutemen, and that Folcwalda's son would 
Day after day the Danemen honor 

40 When gifts were giving, and grant of his ring- store 
To Hengest's earl-troop ever so freely, 
Of his gold-plated jewels, as he encouraged the Frisians 
On the bench of the beer-hall. On both sides they swore then 
A fast-binding compact ; Finn unto Hengest 

45 With no thought of revoking vowed then most solemnly 
The woe-begone remnant well to take charge of, 
His Witan advising ; the agreement should no one 
By words or works weaken and shatter, 
By artifice ever injure its value, 

50 Though reaved of their ruler their ring-giver's slayer 
They followed as vassals, Fate so requiring : 
Then if one of the Frisians the quarrel should speak of 
In tones that were taunting, terrible edges 
Should cut in requital. Accomplished the oath was, 

55 And treasure of gold from the hoard was uplifted. 
The best of the Scylding braves was then fully 
Prepared for the pile ; at the pyre was seen clearly 
The blood-gory burnie, the boar with his gilding, 
The iron-hard swine, athelings many 

60 Fatally wounded ; no few had been slaughtered. 
Hildeburg bade then, at the burning of Hnsef, 

1 For 1084, R. suggests ' wiht Hengeste wi$ gefeohtan.' K. suggests ' wi*S 
Hengeste wiht gefeohtan.' Neither emendation would make any essential 
change in the translation. 

Beowulf. 39 

The bairn of her bosom to bear to the fire, 
That his body be burned and borne to the pyre. 
The woe-stricken woman wept on his shoulder, 1 

65 In measures lamented ; upmounted the hero.* 
The greatest of dead-fires curled to the welkin, 
On the hilTs-front crackled ; heads were a-melting, 
Wound-doors bursting, while the blood was a-coursing 
From body-bite fierce. The fire devoured them, 

70 Greediest of spirits, whom war had offcarried 

From both of the peoples ; their bravest were fallen. 


" Then the warriors departed to go to their dwellings, The survivors go 

to Fricsland, t) 
home of Finn. 

Reaved of their friends, Friesland to visit, to Friesland the 

Their homes and high-city. Hengest continued 
Biding with Finn the blood-tainted winter, Hengest remains 

5 Wholly unsundered ; of fatherland thought he 
Though unable to drive the ring-stemmed vessel 

1 The separation of adjective and noun by a phrase (cf. v. 1118) being very 
unusual, some scholars have put ' earme on eaxle ' with the foregoing lines, 
inserting a semicolon after ' eaxle.' In this case ' on eaxe ' (i.e., on the ashes, 
cinders) is sometimes read, and this affords a parallel to ' on bael.' Let us hope 
that a satisfactory rendering shall yet be reached without resorting to any tamper- 
ing with the text, such as Lichtenheld proposed : ' earme ides on eaxle gnornode.' 

8 For ' gtSS-rinc,' ' gtift-re'c,' battle-smoke, has been suggested. 

* For 1130 (i) R. and Gr. suggest 'elne unflitme' as 1098 (i) reads. The 
latter verse is undisputed; and, for the former, ' elne ' would be as possible as 
1 ealles,' and ' unflitme ' is well supported. Accepting ' elne unflitme ' for both, 
I would suggest 'very peaceably* for both places: (i) Finn to Hengest very 
peaceably vowed with oaths, etc. (2) Hengest then still the slaughter-stained 
winter remained there with Finn very peaceably. The two passages become 
thus correlatives, the second a sequel of the first. ' Elne,' in the sense of very 
(swfSe), needs no argument; and ' unflitme ' (from ' flftan ') can, it seems to 
me, be more plausibly rendered 'peaceful,' 'peaceable,' than ' contestable,' or 

He devises 
schemes of ven- 

revenge Hnzf's 
slaughter. 2 5 

Finn is slain. 

The jewels of Finn, 
and his queen are 
carried away by 
the Danes. 

The lay is con- 
cluded, and the 
main story is re- 

Skinkers carry 
round the beaker. 


O'er the ways of the waters ; the wave-deeps were tossing, 

Fought with the wind ; winter in ice-bonds 

Closed up the currents, till there came to the dwelling 

A year in its course, as yet it revolveth, 

If season propitious one alway regardeth, 

World-cheering weathers. Then winter was gone, 

Earth's bosom was lovely ; the exile would get him, 

The guest from the palace ; on grewsomest vengeance 

He brooded more eager than on oversea journeys, 

Whe'r onset-of-anger he were able to 'complish, 

The bairns of the Jutemen therein to remember. 

Nowise refused he the duties of liegeman 

When Hun of the Frisians the battle-sword Lafing, 

Fairest of falchions^friendly did give him : 

Its edges were famous in folk-talk of Jutland. 

And savage sword-fury seized in its clutches 

Bold-mooded Finn where he bode in his palace, 

When the grewsome grapple Guthlaf and Oslaf 

Had mournfully mentioned, the mere- journey over, 

For sorrows half-blamed him ; the flickering spirit 

Could not bide in his bosom. Then the building was covered ' 

With corpses of foemen, and Finn too was slaughtered, 

The king with his comrades, and the queen made a prisoner. 

The troops of the Scyldings bore to their vessels 

All that the land-king had in his palace, 

Such trinkets and treasures they took as, on searching, 

At Finn's they could find. They ferried to Daneland 

The excellent woman on oversea journey, 

Led her to their land-folk." The lay was concluded, 

The gleeman's recital. Shouts again rose then, 

Bench-glee resounded, bearers then offered 

Wine from wonder-vats. Wealhtheo advanced then 

Going 'neath gold-crown, where the good ones were seated 

1 Some scholars have proposed ' roden ' ; the line would then read : Then 
the building was reddened, etc., instead of ' covered.' The ' h ' may have been 
carried over from the three alliterating ' h's.' 



40 Uncle and nephew ; their peace was yet mutual, 
True each to the other. And Unferth the spokesman 
Sat at the feet of the lord of the Scyldings : 
Each trusted his spirit that his mood was courageous, 
Though at fight he had failed in faith to his kinsmen. 

45 Said the queen of the Scyldings : " My lord and protector, 
Treasure-bestower, take thou this beaker ; 
Joyance attend thee, gold-friend of heroes, 
And greet thou the Geatmen with gracious responses ! 
So ought one to do. Be kind to the Geatmen, 

50 In gifts not niggardly ; anear and afar now 

Peace thou enjoyest. Report hath informed me 
Thou'lt have for a bairn the battle-brave hero. 
Now is Heorot cleansed, ring- palace gleaming; 
Give while thou mayest many rewards, 

55 And bequeath to thy kinsmen kingdom and people, 
On wending thy way to the Wielder's splendor. 
I know good Hrothulf, that the noble young troopers 
He'll care for and honor, lord of the Scyldings, 
If earth-joys thou endest earlier than he doth ; 

60 I reckon that recompense he'll render with kindness 
Our offspring and issue, if that all he remember, 
What favors of yore, when he yet was an infant, 
We awarded to him for his worship and pleasure." 
Then she turned by the bench where her sons were carousing, 

(5 Hrethric and Hrothmund, and the heroes' offspring, 
The war-youth together ; there the good one was sitting 
Twixt the brothers twain, Beowulf Geatman. 


Queen Wealh- 
theow greets 
Hrothgar, as he 
sits beside Hroth- 
ulf, his nephew. 

Be generous to 
the Geats. 

Have as much joy 
as possible in thy 
hall, once more 

1 know that HrotK 
ulf will prove faith 
ful if h* survive 

Beowulf is sitting 
by the two royal 


A beaker was borne him, and bidding to quaff it 
Graciously given, and gold that was twisted 
Pleasantly proffered, a pair of arm -jewels, 

More gifts a of- 
fered Beowulf. 


A famous necklace 
is referred to, in 
comparison with 
the gems presented 
to Beowulf. 

Queen Wcalh- 
theow magnifies 
BeowulPs achieve- 

Rings and corslet, of collars the greatest 

I've heard of 'neath heaven. Of heroes not any 

More splendid from jewels have I heard 'neath the welkin, 

Since Kama off bore the Brosingmen's necklace, 

The bracteates and jewels, from the bright-shining city, 1 

Eormenric's cunning craftiness fled from, 
10 Chose gain everlasting. Geatish Higelac, 

Grandson of Swerting, last had this jewel 

When tramping 'neath banner the treasure he guarded, 

The field-spoil defended ; Fate offcarried him 

When for deeds of daring he endured tribulation, 
15 Hate from the Frisians ; the ornaments bare he 

O'er the cup of the currents, costly gem-treasures, 

Mighty folk-leader, he fell 'neath his target ; 

The 2 corpse of the king then came into charge of 

The race of the Frankmen, the mail-shirt and collar : 
so Warmen less noble plundered the fallen, 

When the fight was finished ; the folk of the Geatmen 

The field of the dead held in possession. 

The choicest of mead-halls with cheering resounded. 

Wealhtheo discoursed, the war-troop addressed she : 
25 " This collar enjoy thou, Beowulf worthy, 

Young man, in safety, and use thou this armor, 

Gems of the people, and prosper thou fully, 

Show thyself sturdy and be to these liegemen 

Mild with instruction ! I'll mind thy requital. 
30 Thou hast brought it to pass that far and near 

Forever and ever earthmen shall honor thee, 

Even so widely as ocean surroundeth 

The blustering bluffs. Be, while thou livest, 

1 C. suggests a semicolon after ' city,' with ' he ' as supplied subject of 
'fled 'and 'chose.' 

2 For ' feorh ' S. suggests ' feoh ' : ' corpse ' in the translation would then 
be changed to * possessions] ' belongings? This is a better reading than one 
joining, in such intimate syntactical relations, things so unlike as ' corpse ' and 

Beowulf. 43 

A wealth-blessed atheling. I wish thee most truly 
35 Jewels and treasure. Be kind to my son, thou May gifts new 

Living in joyance ! Here each of the nobles 

Is true unto other, gentle in spirit, 

Loyal to leader. The liegemen are peaceful, 

The war-troops ready : well-drunken heroes, 1 
40 Do as I bid ye." Then she went to the settle. 

There was choicest of banquets, wine drank the heroes : 

Weird they knew not, destiny cruel, They little know 

As to many an earlman early it happened, store^'the^T 

When evening had come and Hrothgar had parted 
15 Off to his manor, the mighty to slumber. 

Warriors unnumbered warded the building 

As erst they did often : the ale-settle bared they, 

'Twas covered all over with beds and pillows. 

Doomed unto death, down to his slumber A doomed thane is 

5 o Bowed then a beer-thane. Their battle- shields placed they, thcre whh them ' 

Bright-shining targets, up by their heads then ; 

O'er the atheling on ale-bench 'twas easy to see there 

Battle-high helmet, burnie of ring-mail, 

And mighty war-spear. Twas the wont of that people They were 

55 To constantly keep them equipped for the battle, 8 ready for battle * 

At home or marching in either condition 

At seasons just such as necessity ordered 

As best for their ruler ; that people was worthy. 

1 S. suggests ' wine-joyous heroes? ' warriors elated with wine? 

2 I believe this translation brings out the meaning of the poet, without 
departing seriously from the H.-So. text. 'Oft' frequently means 'constantly,' 
* continually,' not always 'often.' Why 'an (on) wfg gearwe ' should be 
written ' anwig-gearwe ' (= ready for single combat), I cannot see. 'Gearwe' 
occurs quite frequently with 'on'; cf. B. mo (ready for the Pyre), El. 222 
(ready for the glad journey}. Moreover, what has the idea of single combat 
to do with B. 1247 ff-? Tne P oet is gi vin g an inventory of the arms and 
armor which they lay aside on retiring, and he closes his narration by saying 
that they were always prepared for battle both at home and on the march. 



Grendel's mother 
is known to be 
thirsting for re- 

[Grendel's progen- 
itor, Cain, is again 
referred to.] 

The poet again 
magnifies Beo- 
wulf s valor. 

Grendel's mother 
comes to avenge 
her son. 



They sank then to slumber. With sorrow one paid for 

His evening repose, as often betid them 

While Grendel was holding * the gold-bedecked palace, 

Ill-deeds performing, till his end overtook him, 

Death for his sins. Twas seen very clearly, 

Known unto earth-folk, that still an avenger 

Outlived the loathed one, long since the sorrow 

Caused by the struggle ; the mother of Grendel, 

Devil-shaped woman, her woe ever minded, 

Who was held to inhabit the horrible waters, 

The cold-flowing currents, after Cain had become a 

Slayer-with-edges to his one only brother, 

The son of his sire ; he set out then banished, 

Marked as a murderer, man-joys avoiding, 

15 Lived in the desert. Thence demons unnumbered 
Fate-sent awoke ; one of them Grendel, 
Sword-cursed, hateful, who at Heorot met with 
A man that was watching, waiting the struggle, 
Where a horrid one held him with hand-grapple sturdy ; 

20 Nathless he minded the might of his body, 
The glorious gift God had allowed him, 
And folk-ruling Father's favor relied on, 
His help and His comfort : so he conquered the foeman, 
The hell-spirit humbled : he unhappy departed then, 

25 Reaved of his joyance, journeying to death-haunts, 
Foeman of man. His mother moreover 
Eager and gloomy was anxious to go on 
Her mournful mission, mindful of vengeance 
For the death of her son. She came then to Heorot 

1 Several eminent authorities either read or emend the MS. so as to make 
this verse read, While Grendel -was wasting the gold-bedecked palace. So 2O 16 
below : ravaged the desert. 

Beowulf. 45 

30 Where the Armor- Dane earlmen all through the building 

Were lying in slumber. Soon there became then 

Return J to the nobles, when the mother of Grendel 

Entered the folk-hall ; the fear was less grievous 

By even so much as the vigor of maidens, 
35 War-strength of women, by warrior is reckoned, 

When well-carved weapon, worked with the hammer, 

Blade very bloody, brave with its edges, 

Strikes down the boar-sign that stands on the helmet. 

Then the hard-edged weapon was heaved in the building, 2 
40 The brand o'er the benches, broad-lindens many 

Hand-fast were lifted ; for helmet he recked not, 

For armor-net broad, whom terror laid hold of. 

She went then hastily, outward would get her 

Her life for to save, when some one did spy her ; 

45 Soon she had grappled one of the athelings She seizes a favor- 

Fast and firmly, when fenward she hied her ; 

That one to Hrothgar was liefest of heroes 

In rank of retainer where waters encircle, 

A mighty shield-warrior, whom she murdered at slumber, 
50 A broadly- famed battle-knight. Beowulf was absent, 

But another apartment was erstwhile devoted Beowulf was asleep 

To the glory-decked Geatman when gold was distributed. 

There was hubbub in Heorot. The hand that was famous 

She grasped in its gore ; 3 grief was renewed then 

1 For *s6na' (1281), t. B. suggests 'sara,' limiting ' edhwyrft.' Read then: 
Return of sorrows to the nobles, etc. This emendation supplies the syntactical 
gap after 'edhwyrft.' 

8 Some authorities follow Grein's lexicon in treating 'heard-ecg' as an adj. 
limiting 'sweord': H.-So. renders it as a subst. (So v. 1491.) The sense of 
the translation would be the same. 

8 B. suggests 'under hr6f genam' (v. 1303). This emendation, as well as 
an emendation with ( ?) to v. 739, he offers, because ' under ' baffles him in 
both passages. All we need is to take ' under ' in its secondary meaning of 
' in,' which, though not given by Grein, occurs in the literature. Cf. Chron. 
876 (March's A.-S. Gram. 355) and Oro. Amaz. I. 10, where ' under '= w 
the midst of. Cf. modern Eng. ' in such circumstances,' which interchange* 
in good usage with ' under such circumstances.' 




Beowulf is sent g 

He comes at 
Hrothgar's sum- 

Beowulf inquires 
how Hrothgar had 
enjoyed his night's 7* 

In homes and houses : 'twas no happy arrangement 

In both of the quarters to barter and purchase 

With lives of their friends. Then the well-aged ruler, 

The gray-headed war-thane, was woful in spirit, 

When his long-trusted liegeman lifeless he knew of, 

His dearest one gone. Quick from a room was 

Beowulf brought, brave and triumphant. 

As day was dawning in the dusk of the morning, 

Went then that earlman, champion noble, 

Came with comrades, where the clever one bided 

Whether God all gracious would grant him a respite 

After the woe he had suffered. The war-worthy hero 

With a troop of retainers trod then the pavement 

(The hall-building groaned), till he greeted the wise one, 

The earl of the Ingwins ; * asked if the night had 

Fully refreshed him, as fain he would have it. 



Hrothgar laments 
the death of /Es- 
chere, his shoulder- 

He was my ideal 


Hrothgar rejoined, helm of the Scyldings : 
" Ask not of joyance ! Grief is renewed to 
The folk of the Danemen. Dead is ^Eschere, 
Yrmenlaf s brother, older than he, 

5 My true-hearted counsellor, trusty adviser, 
Shoulder-companion, when fighting in battle 
Our heads we protected, when troopers were clashing, 
And heroes were dashing ; such an earl should be ever, 
An erst- worthy atheling, as ^Eschere proved him. 

10 The flickering death-spirit became in Heorot 

His hand-to-hand murderer ; I can not tell whither 
The cruel one turned in the carcass exulting, 

1 For ' ne'od-laftu ' (1321) C. suggests ' nead-laflum,' and translates: asked 
whether the night had been pleasant to him after crushing-hostility. 


Beowulf. 47 

By cramming discovered. 1 The quarrel she wreaked then, 

That last night igone Grendel thou killedst 
15 In grewsomest manner, with grim-holding clutches, 

Since too long he had lessened my liege-troop and wasted 

My folk-men so foully. He fell in the battle 

With forfeit of life, and another has followed, 

A mighty crime-worker, her kinsman avenging, 
ao And henceforth hath 'stablished her hatred unyielding, 1 

As it well may appear to many a liegeman, 
v Who mourneth in spirit the treasure- bestower, 

Her heavy heart-sorrow ; the hand is now lifeless 

Which * availed you in every wish that you cherished. 
S Land-people heard I, liegemen, this saying, * * h *** y 

Dwellers in halls, they had seen very often JJ^ tJ^ncanny 

A pair of such mighty march-striding creatures, monsters who lived 

Far-dwelling spirits, holding the moorlands : 

One of them wore, as well they might notice, 
30 The image of woman, the other one wretched 

In guise of a man wandered in exile, 

Except he was huger than any of earthmen ; 

Earth-dwelling people entitled him Grendel 

In days of yore : they know not their father, 
35 Whe'r ill-going spirits any were borne him 

Ever before. They guard the wolf-coverts, T**I inh bit * 

T j . ... -11 most desolate and 

Lands inaccessible, wind-beaten nesses, horrible places. 

Fearfullest fen-deeps, where a flood from the mountains 
'Neath mists of the nesses netherward rattles, 
40 The stream under earth : not far is it henceward 

Measured by mile-lengths that the mere-water standeth, 
Which forests hang over, with frost-whiting covered, 4 

1 For 'gefraegnod' (1334), K. and t. B. suggest 'gefagnod,' rendering 
rejoicing in her fill! This gives a parallel to ' aese wlanc ' (1333). 

2 The line ' And . . . yielding,' B. renders : And she has performed a deed 
of blood-vengeance whose effect is far-reaching. 

*'Se)>e' (1345) is an instance of masc. rel. with fern, antecedent. So 
r. 1888, where ' se H ' refers to 'yldo.' 

4 For ' hrfmge ' in the H.-So. edition, Gr. and others read ' hrfnde ' 
( hrfnende), and translate : which rustling forests overhang. 


Even the hounded 
deer will not seek 
refuge in these un- 
canny regions. 

To thee only can I 
look for assistance. 

A firm-rooted forest, the floods overshadow. 

There ever at night one an ill-meaning portent 
45 A fire-flood may see ; 'mong children of men 

None liveth so wise that wot of the bottom ; 

Though harassed by hounds the heath-stepper seek for, 

Fly to the forest, firm-antlered he-deer, 

Spurred from afar, his spirit he yieldeth, 
50 His life on the shore, ere in he will venture 

To cover his head. Uncanny the place is : 

Thence upward ascendeth the surging of waters, 

Wan to the welkin, when the wind is stirring 

The weathers unpleasing, till the air groweth gloomy, 
55 And the heavens lower. Now is help to be gotten 

From thee and thee only ! The abode thou know'st not, 

The dangerous place where thou'rt able to meet with 

The sin-laden hero : seek if thou darest ! 

For the feud I will fully fee thee with money, 
60 With old-time treasure, as erstwhile I did thee, 

With well-twisted jewels, if away thou shalt get thee." 

Beowulf exhorts 
the old king to 
arouse himself for 



Beowulf answered, Ecgtheow's son : 

" Grieve not, O wise one ! for each it is better, 

His friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him ; 

Each of us must the end-day abide of 

His earthly existence ; who is able accomplish 

Glory ere death ! To battle-thane noble 

Lifeless lying, 'tis at last most fitting. 

Arise, O king, quick let us hasten 

To look at the footprint of the kinsman of Grendel ! 

I promise thee this now : to his place he'll escape not, 

To embrace of the earth, nor to mountainous forest, 

Nor to depths of the ocean, wherever he wanders. 



Practice thou now patient endurance 

Of each of thy sorrows, as I hope for thee soothly ! " 
15 Then up sprang the old one, the All-Wielder thanked he, 

Ruler Almighty, that the man had outspoken. 

Then for Hrothgar a war-horse was decked with a bridle, 

Curly-maned courser. The clever folk-leader 

Stately proceeded : stepped then an earl-troop 
20 Of linden-wood bearers. Her footprints were seen then 

Widely in wood-paths, her way o'er the bottoms, 

Where she faraway fared o'er fen-country murky, 

Bore away breathless the best of retainers 

Who pondered with Hrothgar the welfare of country. 
25 The son of the athelings then went o'er the stony, 

Declivitous cliffs, the close-covered passes, 

Narrow passages, paths unfrequented, 

Nesses abrupt, nicker-haunts many ; 

One of a few of wise-mooded heroes, 
30 He onward advanced to view the surroundings, 

Till he found unawares woods of the mountain 

O'er hoar-stones hanging, holt-wood unjoyful ; 

The water stood under, welling and gory. 

Twas irksome in spirit to all of the Danemen, 
35 Friends of the Scyldings, to many a liegeman 

Sad to be suffered, a sorrow unlittle 

To each of the earlmen, when to ^schere's head they 

Came on the cliff. The current was seething 

With blood and with gore (the troopers gazed on it). 
40 The horn anon sang the battle -song ready. 

The troop were all seated ; they saw 'long the water then 

Many a serpent, mere-dragons wondrous 

Trying the waters, nickers a-lying 

On the cliffs of the nesses, which at noonday full often 
45 Go on the sea-deeps their sorrowful journey, 

Wild-beasts and wormkind ; away then they hastened 

Hot-mooded, hateful, they heard the great clamor, 

The war-trumpet winding. One did the Geat-prince 

Hrothgar rouses 
himself. HU horse 
is brought. 

They start on the 
track of the female 


The sight of 
./Eschere's head 
causes them great 

The water is filled 
with serpents and 

One of them is 
killed by Beowulf. 


The dead beast is a 
poor swimmer. 

Beowulf prepares 
for a struggle with 
the monster. 

He has Unferth's 
sword in his hand. 

Unferth has little 
use for swords. 


Sunder from earth-joys, with arrow from bowstring, 
50 From his sea-struggle tore him, that the trusty war-missile 

Pierced to his vitals ; he proved in the currents 

Less doughty at swimming whom death had offcarried. 

Soon in the waters the wonderful swimmer 

Was straitened most sorely with sword-pointed boar-spears, 
55 Pressed in the battle and pulled to the cliff-edge ; 

The liegemen then looked on the loath-fashioned stranger. 

Beowulf donned then his battle-equipments, 

Cared little for life ; inlaid and most ample, 

The hand-woven corslet which could cover his body, 
60 Must the wave-deeps explore, that war might be powerless 

To harm the great hero, and the hating one's grasp might 

Not peril his safety ; his head was protected 

.By the light-flashing helmet that should mix with the bot- 

Trying the eddies, treasure- emblazoned, 
65 Encircled with jewels, as in seasons long past 

The weapon-smith worked it, wondrously made it, 

With swine-bodies fashioned it, that thenceforward no longer 

Brand might bite it, and battle-sword hurt it. 

And that was not least of helpers in prowess 
70 That Hrothgar's spokesman had lent him when straitened ; 

And the hiked hand-sword was Hrunting entitled, 

Old and most excellent 'mong all of the treasures ; 

Its blade was of iron, blotted with poison, 

Hardened with gore ; it failed not in battle 
75 Any hero under heaven in hand who it brandished, 

Who ventured to take the terrible journeys, 

The battle-field sought ; not the earliest occasion 

That deeds of daring 'twas destined to 'complish. 

Ecglaf s kinsman minded not soothly, 
80 Exulting in strength, what erst he had spoken 

Drunken with wine, when the weapon he lent to 

A sword-hero bolder ; himself did not venture 

'Neath the strife of the currents his life to endanger, 


To fame-deeds perform ; there he forfeited glory, 
85 Repute for his strength. Not so with the other 

When he clad in his corslet had equipped him for battle. 


Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow's son : 
" Recall now, oh, famous kinsman of Healfdene, 
Prince very prudent, now to part I am ready, 
Gold-friend of earlmen, what erst we agreed on, 
5 Should I lay down my life in lending thee assistance, 

When my earth-joys were over, thou wouldst evermore serve me 
In stead of a father ; my faithful thanemen, 
My trusty retainers, protect thou and care for, 
Fall I in battle : and, Hrothgar beloved, 

10 Send unto Higelac the high- valued jewels 

Thou to me hast allotted./ The lord of the Geatmen 
May perceive from the gold, the Hrethling may see it 
When he looks on the jewels, that a gem-giver found I 
Good over-measure, enjoyed him while able. 

15 And the ancient heirloom Unferth permit thou, 
The famed one to have, the heavy-sword splendid * 
The hard-edged weapon ; with Hrunting to aid me, 
I shall gain me glory, or grim-death shall take me." 
|u | ^ The atheling of Geatmen uttered these words and 

20 Heroic did hasten, not any rejoinder 

Was willing to wait for ; the wave-current swallowed 
The doughty-in-battle. Then a day's-length elapsed ere 
He was able to see the sea at its bottom. 
Early she found then who fifty of winters 

25 The course of the currents kept in her fury, 
Grisly and greedy, that the grim one's dominion 

1 Kl. emends ' wael-sweord.' The half-line would then read, ' the battle- 
sword splendid.' For 'heard-ecg' in next half-vene, see note to 20,, above. 

Beowulf makes a 
parting speech to 

If I (all, act as a 
kind liegelord to 
my thanes, 

and send Higelac 
the jewels thou 
hast given me. 

I should like my 
king to know how 
generous a lord I 
found thee to be. 

Beowulf is eager 
for the fray. 

He is a whole day 
reaching the bot- 
tom of the sea. 

Grendel's mother 
knows that some 
one has reached 
her domains. 

She grabs him, 
and bears him to 
her den. 

Sea-monsters bite 
and strike htm. 

Beowulf attacks 
the mother of 

The sword will not 

The hero throws 
down all weapons, 
and again trusts 
to his hand-grip. 


Some one of men from above was exploring. 
Forth did she grab them,, grappled the warrior 
With horrible clutches ; yet no sooner she injured 

30 His body unscathed : the burnie out-guarded, 

That she proved but powerless to pierce through the armor, 
The limb-mail locked, with loath-grabbing fingers. 
The sea-wolf bare then, when bottomward came she, 
The ring-prince homeward, that he after was powerless 

35 (He had daring to do it.) to deal with his weapons, 
But many a mere-beast tormented him swimming, 
Flood-beasts no few with fierce-biting tusks did 
Break through his burnie, the brave one pursued they. 
The earl then discovered he was down in some cavern 

40 Where no water whatever anywise harmed him, 

And the clutch of the current could come not anear him, 
Since the roofed-hall prevented ; brightness a-gleaming 
Fire-light he saw, flashing resplendent. 
The good one saw then the sea-bottom's monster, 

45 The mighty mere-woman ; he made a great onset 
With weapon-of-battle, his hand not desisted 
From striking, that war-blade struck on her head then 
A battle-song greedy. The stranger perceived then 
The sword would not bite, her life would not injure, 

50 But the falchion failed the folk-prince when straitened : 
Erst had it often onsets encountered, 
Oft cloven the helmet, the fated one's armor : 
'Twas the first time that ever the excellent jewel 
Had failed of its fame. Firm-mooded after, 

55 Not heedless of valor, but mindful of glory, 

Was Higelac's kinsman ; the hero-chief angry ^ 
Cast then his carved-sword covered with jewels 
That it lay on the earth, hard and steel-pointed ; 
He hoped in his strength, his hand-grapple sturdy. 

60 So any must act whenever he thinketh 
To gain him in battle glory unending, 
And is reckless of living. The lord of the War-Geats 



(He shrank not from battle) seized by the shoulder l 
The mother of Grendel ; then mighty in struggle 

65 Swung he his enemy, since his anger was kindled, 
That she fell to the floor. With furious grapple 
She gave him requital 2 early thereafter, 
And stretched out to grab him ; the strongest of warriors 
Faint-mooded stumbled, till he fell in his traces, 

70 Foot-going champion. Then she sat on the hall-guest 

... i i i i i /i i 

And wielded her war-knife wide-bladed, flashing, 

For her son would take vengeance, her one only bairn. 

His breast-armor woven bode on his shoulder ; 

It guarded his life, the entrance defended 
75 'Gainst sword-point and edges. Ecgtheow's son there 

Had fatally journeyed, champion of Geatmen, 

In the arms of the ocean, had the armor not given, 

Close-woven corslet, comfort and succor, 

And had God most holy not awarded the victory, 
80 All-knowing Lord ; easily did heaven's 

Ruler most righteous arrange it with justice ; * 

Uprose he erect ready for battle. 

Beowulf fall*. 

* monster sits 

on him with drawn 


Hu annor * ve 
. . 

^ Tanged for 

his escape. 


Then he saw mid the war- gems a weapon of victory, 
An ancient giant-sword, of edges a-doughty, 
Glory of warriors : of weapons 'twas choicest, 
Only 'twas larger than any man else was 

1 Sw., R., and t. B. suggest 'feaxe' for 'eaxle' (1538) and render: Seiud 
by the hair. 

a If 'hand-lean' be accepted (as the MS. has it), the line will read: She 
hand-reward gave him early thereafter. 

8 Sw. and S. change H.-So.'s semicolon (v. 1557) to a comma, and trans* 
late : The Ruler of Heaven arranged it in justice easily ', after he arose 

Beowulf grasps 

54 Beowulf. 

5 Able to bear to the battle-encounter, 
The good and splendid work of the giants. 
He grasped then the sword-hilt, knight of the Scyldings, 
Bold and battle-grim, brandished his ring-sword, 
Hopeless of living, hotly he smote her, 
xo That the fiend-woman's neck firmly it grappled, 
*nd fells the female Broke through her bone-joints, the bill fully pierced her 
Fate-cursed body, she fell to the ground then : 
The hand-sword was bloody, the hero exulted.// 
The brand was brilliant, brightly it glimmered, 
15 Just as from heaven gemlike shine th 

The torch of the firmament. He glanced 'long the building, 
And turned by the wall then, Higelac's vassal 
Raging and wrathful raised his battle- sword 
Strong by the handle. The edge was not useless 
20 To the hero-in-battle, but he speedily wished to 
Give Grendel requital for the many assaults he 
Had worked on the West-Danes not once, but often, 
When he slew in slumber the subjects of Hrothgar, 
Swallowed down fifteen sleeping retainers 
25 Of the folk of the Danemen, and fully as many 
Carried away, a horrible prey. 
JHte gave him requital, grim-raging champion, 
Beowulf sees the When he saw on his rest-place weary of conflict 

body of Grendel, ^ j , , . /.,./- , 

and cuts off his Grendel lying, of life-joys bereaved, 

head. 3 o As the battle at Heorot erstwhile had scathed him ; 

His body far bounded, a blow when he suffered, 
Death having seized him, sword-smiting heavy, 
And he cut off his head then. Early this noticed 
The clever carles who as comrades of Hrothgar 

The waters are 35 Q^e^ on the sea-deeps, that the surging wave-currents 
Were mightily mingled, the mere-flood was gory : 
Of the good one the gray-haired together held converse, 

Beowulf is given The hoary of head, that they hoped not to see again _ 

The atheling ever, that exulting in victory 
40 He'd return there to visit the distinguished folk-ruler : 

Beowulf. 55 

Then many concluded the mere-wolf had killed him. 1 

The (ninth hourjcame then. From the ness-edge departed 

The bold-mooded Scyldings ; the gold-friend of heroes 

Homeward betook him. The strangers sat down then 
t5 Soul- sick, sorrowful, the sea- waves regarding : 

They wished and yet weened not their well-loved friend-lord 

To see any more. The sword-blade began then, T 1 * giant-swoid 

The blood having touched it, contracting and shriveling 

With battle-icicles ; 'twas a wonderful marvel 
50 That it melted entirely, likest to ice when 

The Father unbindeth the bond of the frost and 

Unwindeth the wave-bands, He who wieldeth dominion 

Of times and of tides : a truthzfirm Creator. 

Nor took he of jewels more in the dwelling, 
55 Lord of the Weders, though they lay all around him, 

Than the head and the handle handsome with jewels ; 

1 ' pses monige gewearfl ' (1599) and ' hafaft J>aes geworden ' (2027). In a 
paper published some years ago in one of the Johns Hopkins University 
circulars, I tried to throw upon these two long-doubtful passages some light 
derived from a study of like passages in Alfred's prose. The impersonal verb 
' geweortJan,' with an accus. of the person, and a bat-clause is used several 
times with the meaning 'agree.' See Orosius (Sweet's ed.) 1787; 204,4; 
2o8 M ; 210,5; 28o 20 . In the two Beowulf passages, the J>set-clause is antici- 
pated by ' f>aes,' which is clearly a gen. of the thing agreed on. 

The first passage (v. 1599 (b)-i6oo) I translate literally : Then many 
agreed upon this (namely}, that the sea-wolf had killed him. 

The second passage (v. 2025 (b)-2O27): She is promised . . . ; to this the 
friend of the Scyldings has agreed, etc. By emending 'is' instead of 'wses' 
(2025), the tenses will be brought into perfect harmony. 

In v. 1997 ff. this same idiom occurs, and was noticed in B.'s great 
article on Beowulf, which appeared about the time I published my reading 
of 1599 and 2027. Translate 1997 then: Wouldst let the South-Danes them- 
selves decide about their struggle with GrendeU Here ' Sti'5-Dene ' is accus. 
of person, and ' gtifte ' is gen. of thing agreed on. 

With such collateral support as that afforded by B. (P. and B. XII. 97), I 
have no hesitation in departing from H.-So., my usual guide. 

The idiom above treated runs through A.-S., Old Saxon, and other Teutonic 
languages, and should be noticed in the lexicons. 


" The hero swims 
back to the realms 
.of day. 

The brand early melted, burnt was the weapon : * 
So hot was the blood, the strange-spirit poisonous 
That in it did perish. He early swam off then 

60 Who had bided in combat the carnage of haters, 

Went up through the ocean ; the eddies were cleansed, 
The spacious expanses, when the spirit from farland 
His life put aside and this short-lived existence. 
The seamen's defender came swimming to land then 

65 Doughty of spirit, rejoiced in his sea-gift, 

The bulky burden which he bore in his keeping. 
The excellent vassals advanced then to meet him, 
To God they were grateful, were glad in their chieftain, 
That to see him safe and sound was granted them. 

70 From the high-minded hero, then, helmet and burnie 
Were speedily loosened : the ocean was putrid, 
The water 'neath welkin weltered with gore. 
Forth did they fare, then, their footsteps retracing, 
Merry and mirthful, measured the earth-way, 
\Ve 75 The highway familiar : men very daring 2 

Bare then the head from the sea-cliff, burdening 

Each of the earlmen, excellent-valiant. 

Four of them had to carry with labor 

The head of Grendel to the high towering gold-hall 

80 Upstuck on the spear, till fourteen most-valiant 
And battle-brave Geatmen came there going 
Straight to the palace : the prince of the people 
Measured the mead-ways, their mood-brave companion. 
The atheling of earlmen entered the building, 

85 Deed-valiant man, adorned with distinction, 

Doughty shield-warrior, to address King Hrothgar : 

It takes four men 
to carry Grendel's 
head on a spear. 

1 ' Broden-mael ' is regarded by most scholars as meaning a damaskeened 
sword. Translate : The damaskeened sword burned up. Cf. 25 16 and note. 

2 ' Cyning-balde ' (1635) is the much-disputed reading of K. and Th. To 
render this, " nobly bold," " excellently bold," have been suggested. B. would 
read ' cyning-holde ' (cf. 290), and render: Men well-disposed towards tht 
king carried the head, etc. * Cynebealde,' says t. B., endorsing G& 

Beowulf. 57 

Then hung by the hair, the head of Grendel 
Was borne to the building, where beer-thanes were drinking, 
Loth before earlmen and eke 'fore the lady : 
90 The warriors beheld then a wonderful sight. 



Beowulf spake, offspring of Ecgtheow : Bowuif relates his 

" Lo ! we blithely have brought thee, bairn of Healfdene, last " ploit> 

Prince of the Scyldings, these presents from ocean 

Which thine eye looketh on, for an emblem of glory. 
5 I came off alive from this, narrowly 'scaping : 

In war 'neath the water the work with great pains I 

Performed, and the fight had been finished quite nearly, 

Had God not defended me. I failed in the battle 

Aught to accomplish, aided by Hrunting, 
10 Though that weapon was worthy, but the Wielder of earth-folk 

Gave me willingly to see on the wall a ^ was fighting 

Heavy old hand-sword hanging in splendor 

(He guided most often the lorn and the friendless), 

That I swung as a weapon. The wards of the house then 
15 I killed in the conflict (when occasion was given me). 

Then the battle-sword burned, the brand that was lifted, 1 

As the blood-current sprang, hottest of war-sweats ; 

Seizing the hilt, from my foes I offbore it ; 

I avenged as I ought to their acts of malignity, 
20 The murder of Danemen. I then make thee this promise, 

Thou'lt be able in Heorot careless to slumber Heorot u freed 

With thy throng of heroes and the thanes of thy people from monsterE - 

Every and each, of greater and lesser, 

And thou needest not fear for them from the selfsame direction 
25 As thou formerly fearedst, oh, folk-lord of Scyldings, 

1 Or rather, perhaps, ' the inlaid, or damaskeened weapon' Cf. 24^, and 

The famous sword 
is presented to 


Hrothgar looks 
closely at the old 


It had belonged to 
a race hateful to 


Hrothgar praises 



Heremod's career 
is again contrasted , 
with Beowulf s. 


End-day for earlmen." To the age-hoary man then, 

The gray-haired chieftain, the gold-fashioned sword-hilt, 

Old-work of giants, was thereupon given ; 

Since the fall of the fiends, it fell to the keeping . 

Of the wielder of Danemen, the wonder-smith's labor, v 

And the bad-mooded being abandoned this world then, 

Opponent of God, victim of murder, 

And also his mother ; it went to the keeping 

Of the best of the world-kings, where waters encircle, 

Who the scot divided in Scylding dominion. 

Hrothgar discoursed, the hilt he regarded, 

The ancient heirloom where an old-time contention's 

Beginning was graven : the gurgling currents, 

The flood slew thereafter the race of the giants, 

They had proved themselves daring : that people was loth to 

The Lord everlasting, through lash of the billows 

The Father gave them final requital. 

So in letters of rune on the clasp of the handle 

Gleaming and golden, 'twas graven exactly, 

Set forth and said, whom that sword had been made for, 

Finest of irons, who first it was wrought for, 

Wreathed at its handle and gleaming with serpents. 

The wise one then said (silent they all were) 

Son of old Healfdene : " He may say unrefuted 

Who performs 'mid the folk-men fairness and truth 

(The hoary old ruler remembers the past), 

That better by birth is this bairn of the nobles ! 

Thy fame is extended through far-away countries, 

Good friend Beowulf, o'er all of the races, 

Thou holdest all firmly, hero-like strength with 

Prudence of spirit. I'll prove myself grateful 

As before we agreed on ; thou granted for long shalt 

Become a great comfort to kinsmen and comrades, 

A help unto heroes. Heremod became not 

Such to the Scyldings, successors of Ecgwela ; 

He grew not to please them, but grievous destruction, 

Beowulf. 59 

And diresome death-woes to Danemen attracted ; 

He slew in anger his table-companions, 

Trustworthy counsellors, till he turned off lonely 
65 From world-joys away, wide-famous ruler : 

Though high-ruling heaven in hero-strength raised him, 

In might exalted him, o'er men of all nations 

Made him supreme, yet a murderous spirit 

Grew in his bosom : he gave then no ring-gems 
70 To the Danes after custom ; endured he unjoyful A wretched failure 

Standing the straits from strife that was raging, 

Longsome folk-sorrow. Learn then from this, 

Lay hold of virtue ! Though laden with winters, 

I have sung thee these measures. Tis a marvel to tell it, 
75 How all-ruling God from greatness of spirit Hrothgar moral- 

Giveth wisdom to children of men, 

Manor and earlship : all things He ruleth. 

He often permitteth the mood- thought of man of 

The illustrious lineage to lean to possessions, 
80 Allows him earthly delights at his manor, 

A high-burg of heroes to hold in his keeping, 

Maketh portions of earth-folk hear him, 

And a wide-reaching kingdom so that, wisdom failing him, 

He himself is unable to reckon its boundaries ; 
85 He liveth in luxury, little debars him, 

Nor sickness nor age, no treaohery-sorrow 

Becloudeth his spirit, conflict nowhere, 

No sword-hate, appeareth, but all of the world doth 

Wend as he wisheth ; the worse he knoweth not, 
90 Till arrant arrogance inward pervading, 

Waxeth and springeth, when the warder is sleeping, 

The guard of the soul : with sorrows encompassed, 

Too sound is his slumber, the slayer is near him, 

Who with bow and arrow aimeth in malice. 




A wounded spirit " Then bruised in his bosom he with bitter-toothed missib 
Is hurt 'neath his helmet : from harmful pollution 
He is powerless to shield him by the wonderful mandates 
Of the loath-cursed spirit ; what too long he hath holden 
5 Him seemeth too small, savage he hoardeth, 
Nor boastfully giveth gold-plated rings, 1 
The fate of the future flouts and forgetteth 
Since God had erst given him greatness no little, 
Wielder of Glory. His end-day anear, 

10 It afterward happens that the bodily-dwelling 
Fleetingly fadeth, falls into ruins ; 
Another lays hold who doleth the ornaments, 
The nobleman's jewels, nothing lamenting, 
Heedeth no terror. Oh, Beowulf dear, 

15 Best of the heroes, from bale-strife defend thee, 
And choose thee the better, counsels eternal ; 
Beware of arrogance, world-famous champion ! 
But a little- while lasts thy life-vigor's fulness ; 
'Twill after hap early, that illness or sword-edge 

20 Shall part thee from strength, or the grasp of the fire, 
Or the wave of the current, or clutch of the edges, 
Or flight of the war-spear, or age with its horrors, 
Or thine eyes' bright flashing shall fade into darkness : 
Twill happen full early, excellent hero, 

25 That death shall subdue thee. So the Danes a half-century 
I held under heaven, helped them in struggles 
'Gainst many a race in middle-earth's regions, 
With ash-wood and edges, that enemies none 
On earth molested me. Lo ! offsetting change, now, 

1 K. says 'proudly givetk? Gr. says, ' And gives no gold-plated rings, in 
order to incite the recipient to boastfulness? B. suggests 'gyld' for 'gylp/ 
and renders: And gives no beaten rings for reward. 

Be not over proud : 
life is fleeting, and 
its strength soon 
wasteth away. 

Hrothgar gives an 
account of his 


30 Came to my manor, grief after joyance, 

When Grendel became my constant visitor, 

Inveterate hater : I from that malice 

Continually travailed with trouble no little. 

Thanks be to God that I gained in my lifetime, 
35 To the Lord everlasting, to look on the gory 

Head with mine eyes, after long-lasting sorrow ! 

Go to the bench now, battle-adorned 

Joy in the feasting : of jewels in common 

We'll meet with many when morning appeareth." 
40 The Geatman was gladsome, ganged he immediately 

To go to the bench, as the clever one bade him. 

Then again as before were the famous-for-prowess, 

Hall-inhabiters, handsomely banqueted, 

Feasted anew. The night-veil fell then 
45 Dark o'er the warriors. The courtiers rose then ; 

The gray-haired was anxious to go to his slumbers, 

The hoary old Scylding. Hankered the Geatman, 

The champion doughty, greatly, to rest him : 

An earlman early outward did lead him, 
50 Fagged from his faring, from far-country springing, 

Who for etiquette's sake all of a liegeman's 

Needs regarded, such as seamen at that time 

Were bound en to feel. The big-hearted rested-, 

The building uptowered, spacious and gilded, 
55 The guest within slumbered, till the sable-clad raven 

Blithely foreboded the beacon of heaven. 

Then the bright-shining sun o'er the bottoms came going ; 

The warriors hastened, the heads of the peoples 

Were ready to go again to their peoples, 
60 The high-mooded farer would faraway thenceward 

Look for his vessel. The valiant one bade then, 2 

1 If S.'s emendation be accepted, v. 57 will read : Then came the light, 
foing bright after darkness : the warriors, etc. 

8 As the passage stands in H.-So., Unferth presents Beowulf with the sword 
H run ting, and B. thanks him for the gift. If, however, the suggestions of Grdtvg. 


Sorrow after joy. 

Beowulf is fogged, , 
and seeks rest. 

The Gats prepare 
to leave Dane-land. 


Unferth asks Beo- 
wulf to accept his 
sword as a gift. 
Beowulf thanks 


Offspring of Ecglaf, off to bear Hrunting, 

To take his weapon, his well-beloved iron ; 

He him thanked for the gift, saying good he accounted 

65 The war-friend and mighty, nor chid he with words then 
The blade of the brand : 'twas a brave-mooded hero. 
When the warriors were ready, arrayed in their trappings, 
The atheling dear to the Danemen advanced then 
On to the dais, where the other was sitting, 

70 Grim-mooded hero, greeted King Hrothgar. 


BeowuiPs farewell. Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow's offspring : 

" We men of the water wish to declare now 
Fared from far-lands, we're firmly determined 
To seek King Higelac. Here have we fitly 

5 Been welcomed and feasted, as heart would desire it ; 
Good was the greeting. If greater affection 
I am anywise able ever on earth to 
Gain at thy hands, ruler of heroes, 
Than yet I have done, I shall quickly be ready 

10 For combat and conflict. O'er the course of the waters 
Learn I that neighbors alarm thee with terror, 
As haters did whilom, I hither will bring thee 
For help unto heroes henchmen by thousands. 
I know as to Higelac, the lord of the Geatmen, 

15 Though young in years, he yet will permit me, 
By words and by works, ward of the people, 
Fully to furnish thee forces and bear thee 
My lance to relieve thee, if liegemen shall fail thee, 
And help of my hand-strength ; if Hrethric be treating, 

and M. be accepted, the passage will read : Then the brave one (i.e. Beowulf) 
commanded that Hrunting be borne to the son of Ecglaf (Unferth), bade him 
take his sword, his dear weapon ; he (B?) thanked him (U^ for the loan, etc. 

I shall be ever 
ready to aid thee. 

My liegelord will 
encourage me in 
aiding thee. 


10 Bairn of the king, at the court of the Geatmen, 
He thereat may find him friends in abundance : 
Faraway countries he were better to seek for 
Who trusts in himself." Hrothgar discoursed then, 
Making rejoinder : " These words thou hast uttered 

as All-knowing God hath given thy spirit ! 
Ne'er heard I an earlman thus early in life 
More clever in speaking : thou'rt cautious of spirit, 
Mighty of muscle, in mouth-answers prudent. 
I count on the hope that, happen it ever 

30 That missile shall rob thee of Hrethel's descendant, 
Edge-horrid battle, and illness or weapon 
Deprive thee of prince, of people's protector, 
And life thou yet holdest, the Sea-Geats will never 
Find a more fitting folk-lord to choose them, 

35 Gem-ward of heroes, than thou mightest prove thee, 
If the kingdom of kinsmen thou carest to govern. 
Thy mood-spirit likes me the longer the better, 
Beowulf dear : thou hast brought it to pass that 
To both these peoples peace shall be common, 

40 To Geat-folk and Danemen, the strife be suspended, 
The secret assailings they suffered in yore-days ; 
And also that jewels be shared while I govern 
The wide-stretching kingdom, and that many shall visit 
Others o'er the ocean with excellent gift-gems : 

45 The ring-adorned bark shall bring o'er the currents 
Presents and love-gifts. This people I know 
Tow'rd foeman and friend firmly established, 1 
After ancient etiquette everywise blameless." 
Then the warden of earlmen gave him still farther, 

50 Kinsman of Healfdene, a dozen of jewels, 
Bade him safely seek with the presents 
His well-beloved people, early returning. 

1 For 'geworhte/ the crux of this passage, B. proposes 'geJxShte,' rendering: 
/ knew this people with firm thought every way blameless towards foe and 

O Beowulf, thou 
art wise beyond 
thy years. 

Should Higelac 
die, the Geats 
could find no bettet 
successor than 
thou wouldst make. 

Thou hast healed 
the ancient breach 
between our races 

Parting gifts. 



Hrothgar kisses 
Beowulf, and 

The old king is 
deeply grieved to 
part with his bene- 

Giving liberally is 
the true proof of 

Then the noble-born king kissed the distinguished, 
Dear-loved liegeman, the Dane-prince saluted him, 

55 And clasped his neck ; tears from him fell, 

From the gray-headed man : he two things expected, 
Aged and reverend, but rather the second, 
1 That bold in council they'd meet thereafter. 
The man was so dear that he failed to suppress the 

60 Emotions that moved him, but in mood-fetters fastened 
The long-famous hero longeth in secret 
Deep in his spirit for the dear-beloved man 
Though not a blood-kinsman. Beowulf thenceward, 
Gold-splendid warrior, walked o'er the meadows 

65 Exulting in treasure : the sea-going vessel 
Riding at anchor awaited its owner. 

As they pressed on their way then, the present of Hrothgar 
Was frequently referred to : a folk-king indeed that 
Everyway blameless, till age did debar him 

70 The joys of his might, which hath many oft injured. 

The coast-guard 


Then the band of very valiant retainers 
Came to the current ; they were clad all in armor, 
In link-woven buraies. The land-warder noticed 
The return of the earlmen, as he erstwhile had seen them ; 
5 Nowise with insult he greeted the strangers 

From the naze of the cliff, but rode on to meet them ; 
Said the bright-armored visitors 2 vesselward traveled 

1 S. and B. emend so as to negative the verb ' meet.' " Why should 
Hrothgar weep if he expects to meet Beowulf again?" both these scholars 
ask. But the weeping is mentioned before the expectations ' : the tears may 
have been due to many emotions, especially gratitude, struggling for expression. 

a For 'scawan' (1896), 'scaftan' has been proposed. Accepting this, we 
may render : He said the bright-armored warriors were going to their vessel, 
welcome, etc. (Cf. 1804.) 

Beowulf. 65 

Welcome to Weders. The wide- bosomed craft then 

Lay on the sand, laden with armor, 
10 With horses and jewels, the ring-stemmed sailer : 

The mast uptowered o'er the treasure of Hrothgar. 

To the boat- ward a gold-bound brand he presented, Beowulf gives the 

That he was afterwards honored on the ale-bench more highly * 

As the heirloom's owner. 1 Set he out on his vessel, 
15 To drive on the deep, Dane-country left he. 

Along by the mast then a sea-garment fluttered, 

A rope-fastened sail. The sea-boat resounded, 

The wind o'er the waters the wave-floater nowise 

Kept from its journey ; the sea-goer traveled, 
20 The foamy-necked floated forth o'er the currents, 

The well-fashioned vessel o'er the ways of the ocean, 

Till they came within sight of the cliffs of the Geatmen, The Geau 

The well-known headlands. The wave-goer hastened 

Driven by breezes, stood on the shore. 
25 Prompt at the ocean, the port- ward was ready, "n* port-warden u 

Who long in the past outlooked in the distance, 2 ^. 1(> 

At water's-edge waiting well-loved heroes ; 

He bound to the bank then the broad-bosomed vessel 

Fast in its fetters, lest the force of the waters 
30 Should be able to injure the ocean-wood winsome. 

Bade he up then take the treasure of princes, 

Plate-gold and fretwork ; not far was it thence 

To go off in search of the giver of jewels : 

1 R. suggests, ' Gewat him on naca,' and renders : The vessel set out, to 
drive on the sea, the Dane-country left. 'On' bears the alliteration; cf. 'on 
hafu' (2524). This has some advantages over the H.-So. reading; viz. 
(i) It adds nothing to the text; (2) it makes 'naca 1 the subject, and thus 
brings the passage into keeping with the context, where the poet has ex- 
hausted his vocabulary in detailing the actions of the vessel. B.'s emenda- 
tion (cf. P. and B. XII. 97) is violent. 

3 B. translates : Who for a long time, ready at the coast, had looked out into 
the distance eagerly for the dear men. This changes the syntax of 'le"ofra 


Hygd, the noble 
queen of Higelac, 
lavish of gifts. 

Offa's consort, 
Thrytho, is con- 
trasted with Hygd. 

She is a terror to 
all save her hus- 


Hrethel's son Higelac at home there remaineth, 1 

35 Himself with his comrades close to the sea-coast. 
The building was splendid, the king heroic, 
Great in his hall, Hygd very young was, 
Fine-mooded, clever, though few were the winters 
That the daughter of Haereth had dwelt in the borough ; 

40 But she nowise was cringing nor niggard of presents, 
Of ornaments rare, to the race of the Geatmen. 
Thrytho nursed anger, excellent 2 folk-queen, 
Hot-burning hatred : no hero whatever 
'Mong household companions, her husband exceptec} 

45 Dared to adventure to look at the woman 

With eyes in the daytime ; 3 but he knew that death-chain* 
Hand-wreathed were wrought him : early thereafter, 
When the hand-strife was over, edges were ready, 
That fierce-raging sword-point had to force a decision, 

50 Murder-bale show. Such no womanly custom 
For a lady to practise, though lovely her person, 
That a weaver-of-peace, on pretence of anger 
A beloved liegeman of life should deprive. 
Soothly this hindered Heming's kinsman ; 

55 Other ale-drinking earlmen asserted 

That fearful folk-sorrows fewer she wrought them, 
Treacherous doings, since first she was given 
Adorned with gold to the war-hero youthful, 
For her origin honored, when Offa's great palace 

60 O'er the fallow flood by her father's instructions 

She sought on her journey, where she afterwards fully, 
Famed for her virtue, her fate on the king's-seat 

1 For 'wunaft' (v. 1924) several eminent critics suggest 'wunade' (= re- 
mained). This makes the passage much clearer. 

2 Why should such a woman be described as an ' excellent ' queen? C. 
suggests ' fre'cnu ' = dangerous, bold. 

8 For an daeges ' various readings have been offered. If ' and-e"ges ' be 
accepted, the sentence will read : No hero . . . dared look upon her, eye to eye. 
If an-daeges ' be adopted, translate : Dared look upon her the whole day. 

Beowulf. 67 

Enjoyed in her lifetime, love did she hold with 
The ruler of heroes, the best, it is told me, 

65 Of all of the earthmen that oceans encompass, 
Of earl-kindreds endless ; hence Offa was famous 
Far and widely, by gifts and by battles, 
Spear-valiant hero ; the home of his fathers 
He governed with wisdom, whence Eomaer did issue 

70 For help unto heroes, Heming's kinsman, 
Grandson of Garmund, great in encounters. 



Then the brave one departed, his band along with him, 

Seeking the sea-shore, the sea-marches treading, Beowulf and Ms 

The wide-stretching shores. The world-candle glimmered, 

The sun from the southward ; they proceeded then onward, 
5 Early arriving where they heard that the troop-lord, 

Ongentheow's slayer, excellent, youthful 

Folk-prince and warrior was distributing jewels, 

Close in his castle. The coming of Beowulf 

Was announced in a message quickly to Higelac, 
10 That the folk-troop's defender forth to the palace 

The linden-companion alive was advancing, 

Secure from the combat courtward a-going. 

The building was early inward made ready 

For the foot-going guests as the good one had ordered. 
15 He sat by the man then who had lived through the struggle, Beowulf sits by his 

Kinsman by kinsman, when the king of the people 

Had in lordly language saluted the dear one, 

In words that were formal. The daughter of Haereth Q ue n Hygd . 

Coursed through the building, carrying mead-cups : ' 

1 ' Meodu-scencum ' ( 1981 ) some would render with mead-pour ers! Trans- 
late then : The daughter of Hcereth went through the building accompanied by 


Higelac is greatly 
interested in Beo- 
wulf s adventures. 

Give an account of 
thy adventures, 
Beowulf dear. 

My suspense has 
been great. 

Beowulf narrates 
his adventures. 

Grendel's kindred 45 
have no cause to 

Hrothgar received 
me very cordially. 


20 She loved the retainers, tendered the beakers 
To the high-minded Geatmen. Higelac 'gan then 
Pleasantly plying his companion with questions 
In the high-towering palace. A curious interest 
Tormented his spirit, what meaning to see in 
The Sea-Geats' adventures : " Beowulf worthy, 
How throve your journeying, when thou thoughtest suddenly 
Far o'er the salt-streams to seek an encounter, 
A battle at Heorot ? Hast bettered for Hrothgar, 
The famous folk-leader, his far-published sorrows 

30 Any at all ? In agony-billows 

I mused upon torture, distrusted the journey 

Of the beloved liegeman ; I long time did pray thee 

By no means to seek out the murderous spirit, 

To suffer the South-Danes themselves to decide on 1 

35 Grappling with Grendel. To God I am thankful 
To be suffered to see thee safe from thy journey." 
Beowulf answered, bairn of old Ecgtheow : 
" 'Tis hidden by no means, Higelac chieftain, 
From many of men, the meeting so famous, 

40 What mournful moments of me and of Grendel 

Were passed in the place where he pressing affliction 
On the Victory-Scyldings scathefully brought, 
Anguish forever ; that all I avenged, 
So that any under heaven of the kinsmen of Grendel 
Needeth not boast of that cry-in-the-morning, 
Who longest liveth of the loth-going kindred, 2 
Encompassed by moorland. I came in my journey 
To the royal ring-hall, Hrothgar to greet there : 
Soon did the famous scion of Healfdene, 

50 When he understood fully the spirit that led me, 
Assign me a seat with the son of his bosom. 

1 See my note to 1599, supra, and B. in P. and B. XII. 97. 

2 For 'fenne,' supplied by Grdtvg., B. suggests 'facne' (cf. Jul. 350). 
Accepting this, translate: Who longest lives of the hated race, steeped in 


The troop was in joyance ; mead-glee greater 

'Neath arch of the ether not ever beheld I 

'Mid hall-building holders. The highly-famed queen, 

55 Peace-tie of peoples, oft passed through the building, 
Cheered the young troopers ; she oft tendered a hero 
A beautiful ring-band, ere she went to her sitting. 
Oft the daughter of Hrothgar in view of the courtiers 
To the earls at the end the ale-vessel carried, 

60 Whom Freaware I heard then hall-sitters title, 
When nail-adorned jewels she gave to the heroes : 
Gold-bedecked, youthful, to the glad son of Froda 
Her faith has been plighted ; the friend of the Scyldings, 
The guard of the kingdom, hath given his sanction, 1 

65 And counts it a vantage, for a part of the quarrels, 
A portion of hatred, to pay with the woman. 
* Somewhere not rarely, when the ruler has fallen, 
The life- taking lance relaxeth its fury 
For a brief breathing-spell, though the bride be charming ! 

The queen also 
showed us no little 

Hrothgar's lovely 

She is betrothed to 
Ingeld, in order to 
unite the Danes 

and Heathobards. 



" It well may discomfit the prince of the Heathobards 
And each of the thanemen of earls that attend him, 

1 See note to v. 1599 above. 

* This is perhaps the least understood sentence in the poem, almost every 
word being open to dispute, (i) The ' n6 ' of our text is an emendation, and 
is rejected by many scholars. (2) 'Seldan' is by some taken as an adv. 
(= seldom), and by others as a noun (=page, companion}. (3) ' Le\>d- 
hryre,' some render 'fall of the people '; others, 'fall of the prince.' (4) ' BugeS,' 
most scholars regard as the intrans. verb meaning ' bend} 'rest 1 ; but one 
great scholar has translated it 'shall kill. 1 (5) 'Hwaer,' very recently, has 
been attacked, 'waere' being suggested. (6) As a corollary to the above, 
the same critic proposes to drop oft ' out of the text. t. B. suggests : Oft 
seldan waere after leodhryre : ly"tle hwfle bongar bdgefl, )>eah se"o bryd duge 
= often has a treaty been (thus) struck, after a prince had fallen : (but only) 
a short time is the spear (then) wont to rest, however excellent the bride may be. 

jo Beowulf. 

When he goes to the building escorting the woman, 

That a noble-born Daneman the knights should be feasting : 

5 There gleam on his person the leavings of elders 
Hard and ring-bright, Heathobards' treasure, 
While they wielded their arms, till they misled to the battle 
Their own dear lives and beloved companions. 
He saith at the banquet who the collar beholdeth, 

10 An ancient ash-warrior who earlmen's destruction 
Clearly recalleth (cruel his spirit), 
Sadly beginneth sounding the youthful 
Thane-champion's spirit through the thoughts of his bosom, 
War-grief to waken, and this word-answer speaketh : 

Ingeld is stirred up t ^ r t t J 1QU a ^J e m y f r i en( J tO knOW when thou SCCSt it 
to break the truce. ' , 

The brand which thy father bare to the conflict 

In his latest adventure, 'neath visor of helmet, 

The dearly-loved iron, where Danemen did slay him, 

And brave-mooded Scyldings, on the fall of the heroes, 

ao (When vengeance was sleeping) the slaughter-place wielded ? 
E'en now some man of the murderer's progeny 
Exulting in ornaments enters the building, 
Boasts of his blood-shedding, offbeareth the jewel 
Which thou shouldst wholly hold in possession ! ' 

25 So he urgeth and mindeth on every occasion 
With woe-bringing words, till waxeth the season 
When the woman's thane for the works of his father, 
The bill having bitten, blood-gory sleepeth, 
Fated to perish ; the other one thenceward 
i -.: 30 'Scapeth alive, the land knoweth thoroughly. 1 

Then the oaths of the earlmen on each side are broken, 
When rancors unresting are raging in Ingeld 
And his wife-love waxeth less warm after sorrow. 
So the Heathobards' favor not faithful I reckon, 

35 Their part in the treaty not true to the Danemen, 
Their friendship not fast. I further shall tell thee 

1 For Mifigende' (2063), a mere conjecture, 'wfgende' has been suggested. 
The line would then read : Escapeth by fighting, knows the land thoroughly. 


More about Grendel, that thou fully mayst hear, 

Ornament-giver, what afterward came from 

The hand-rush of heroes. When heaven's bright jewel 

40 O'er earthfields had glided, the stranger came raging, 
The horrible night-fiend, us for to visit, 
Where wholly unharmed the hall we were guarding. 
To Hondscio happened a hopeless contention, 
Death to the doomed one, dead he fell foremost, 

45 Girded war-champion ; to him Grendel became then, 
To the vassal distinguished, a tooth-weaponed murderer, 
The well-beloved henchman's body all swallowed. 
Not the earlier off empty of hand did 
The bloody-toothed murderer, mindful of evils, 

50 Wish to escape from the gold-giver's palace, 
But sturdy of strength he strove to outdo me, 
Hand-ready grappled. A glove was suspended 
Spacious and wondrous, in art-fetters fastened, 
Which was fashioned entirely by touch of the craftman 

55 From the dragon's skin by the devil's devices : 
He down in its depths would do me unsadly 
One among many, deed-doer raging, 
Though sinless he saw me ; not so could it happen 
When I in my anger upright did stand. 

60 'Tis too long to recount how requital I furnished 
For every evil to the earlmen's destroyer ; 
Twas there, my prince, that I proudly distinguished 
Thy land with my labors. He left and retreated, 
He lived his life a little while longer : 

65 Yet his right-hand guarded his footstep in Heorot, 
And sad-mooded thence to the sea-bottom fell he, 
Mournful in mind. For the might-rush of battle 
The friend of the Scyldings, with gold that was plated, 
With ornaments many, much requited me, 

70 When daylight had dawned, and down to the banquet 
We had sat us together. There was chanting and joyance 
The age-stricken Scylding asked many questions 

Having nude these 
preliminary state- 
ments, I will now 
tell thee of Gren- 
del, the monster. 

Hondscio fell first 

I reflected honor 
upon my people. 

King Hrothgar 
lavished gifts upon- 


The old king is 
sad over the loss 
of his youthful 

Grendel's mother. 

^Eschcre falls a 
prey to her ven- 

She suffered not 
his body to be 
burned, but ate it. 

I sought the crea- 
ture in her den, 


And of old-times related ; oft light-ringing harp-strings, 
Joy-telling wood, were touched by the brave one ; 

75 Now he uttered measures, mourning and truthful, 
Then the large-hearted land-king a legend of wonder 
Truthfully told us. Now troubled with years 
The age-hoary warrior afterward began to 
Mourn for the might that marked him in youth-days ; 

80 His breast within boiled, when burdened with winters 
Much he remembered. From morning till night then 
We joyed us therein as etiquette suffered, 
Till the second night season came unto earth-folk. 
Then early thereafter, the mother of Grendel 

85 Was ready for vengeance, wretched she journeyed ; 
Her son had death ravished, the wrath of the Geatmen. 
The horrible woman avenged her offspring, 
And with mighty mainstrength murdered a hero. 
There the spirit of ^Eschere, aged adviser, 

90 Was ready to vanish ; nor when morn had lightened 
Were they anywise suffered to consume him with fire, 
Folk of the Danemen, the death-weakened hero, 
Nor the beloved liegeman to lay on the pyre ; 
She the corpse had offcarried in the clutch of the foeman* 

95 'Neath mountain-brook's flood. To Hrothgar 'twas saddest 
Of pains that ever had preyed on the chieftain ; 
By the life of thee the land-prince then me 2 
Besought very sadly, in sea-currents' eddies 
To display my prowess, to peril my safety, 

ioo Might-deeds accomplish ; much did he promise. 
I found then the famous flood-current's cruel, 
Horrible depth-warder. A while unto us two 

1 For ' faettmum,' Gr.'s conjecture, B. proposes * faerunga.' These three 
half- verses would then read : She bore off the corpse of her foe suddenly under 
the mountain-torrent. 

2 The phrase ' Hne lyfe ' (2132) was long rendered ' with thy {presupposed) 
permission! The verse would read : The land-prince then sadly besought me t 
with thy {presupposed} permission, etc. 



Hand was in common ; the currents were seething 
With gore that was clotted, and Grendel's fierce mother's 
105 Head I offhacked in the hall at the bottom 

With huge -reaching sword- edge, hardly I wrested 
My life from her clutches ; not doomed was I then, 
But the warden of earlmen afterward gave me 
Jewels in quantity, kinsman of Healfdene. 

and hewed her 
head off. 

Jewels we freely 
bestowed upon me. 



" So the beloved land-prince lived in decorum ; 

I had missed no rewards, no meeds of my prowess, 

But he gave me jewels, regarding my wishes, 

Healfdene his bairn ; I'll bring them to thee, then, 
5 Atheling of earlmen, offer them gladly. 

And still unto thee is all my affection : ! 

But few of my folk-kin find I surviving 

But thee, dear Higelac ! " Bade he in then to carry * 

The boar-image, banner, battle-high helmet, 
10 Iron-gray armor, the excellent weapon, 

In song-measures said : " This suit-for-the-battle 

Hrothgar presented me, bade me expressly, 

Wise-mooded atheling, thereafter to tell thee s 

The whole of its history, said King Heregar owned it, 
15 Dane-prince for long : yet he wished not to give then 

1 This verse B. renders, ' Now serve I again thee alone as my gracious king? 

a For 'eafor' (2153), Kl. suggests 'ealdor.' Translate then: Bade the 
prince then to bear in the banner, battle-high helmet, etc. On the other hand, 
W. takes ' eafor heafodsegn ' as a compound, meaning ' helmet ' : He bade them 
bear in the helmet, battle-high helm, gray armor, etc. 

* The H.-So. rendering (aerest = history, origin ; * eft ' for ' est '), though 
liable to objection, is perhaps the best offered. That I should very early tell 
thee of his favor, kindness' sounds well; but 'his' is badly placed to limit 
'est.' Perhaps, 'eft' with verbs of saying may have the force of Lat. prefix 
're,' and the H.-So. reading mean, 'that I should its origin rehearse to thee.' 

All my gifts I lay 
at thy feet. 

This armor I have 
belonged of yore to 



Higelac loves his 
nephew Beowulf. 

2 5 

Beowulf gives 
Hygd the necklace 
that Wealhtheow 
had given him. 

Beowulf is famous. 


He is requited for 
the slights suffered 
in earlier days. 


Higelac over- 
whelms the con- 
queror with gifts. 



The mail to his son, though dearly he loved him, 

Here ward the hardy. Hold all in joyance ! " 

I heard that there followed hard on the jewels 

Two braces of stallions of striking resemblance, 

Dappled and yellow ; he granted him usance 

Of horses and treasures. So a kinsman should bear him, 

No web of treachery weave for another, 

Nor by cunning craftiness cause the destruction 

Of trusty companion. Most precious to Higelac, 

The bold one in battle, was the bairn of his sister, 

And each unto other mindful of favors. 

I am told that to Hygd he proffered the necklace, 

Wonder-gem rare that Wealhtheow gave him, 

The troop-leader's daughter, a trio of horses 

Slender and saddle-bright ; soon did the jewel 

Embellish her bosom, when the beer-feast was over. 

So Ecgtheow's bairn brave did prove him, 

War-famous man, by deeds that were valiant, 

He lived in honor, beloved companions 

Slew not carousing ; his mood was not cruel, 

But by hand-strength hugest of heroes then living 

The brave one retained the bountiful gift that 

The Lord had allowed him. Long was he wretched, 

So that sons of the Geatmen accounted him worthless, 

And the lord of the liegemen loth was to do him 

Mickle of honor, when mead-cups were passing; 

They fully believed him idle and sluggish, 

An indolent atheling : to the honor-blest man there 

Came requital for the cuts he had suffered. 

The folk-troop's defender bade fetch to the building 

The heirloom of Hrethel, embellished with gold, 

So the brave one enjoined it ; there was jewel no richer 

In the form of a weapon 'mong Geats of that era ; 

In Beowulf s keeping he placed it and gave him 

Seven of thousands, manor and lordship. 

Common to both was land 'mong the people, 

Beowulf. 75 

Estate and inherited rights and possessions, 
To the second one specially spacious dominions, 
To the one who was better. It afterward happened 
55 In days that followed, befell the battle-thanes, 

After Higelac's death, and when Heardred was murdered Aftcr Heardr*d'* 

_-.. , - - , . death, Beowulf be- 

With weapons of warfare 'neath well-covered targets, ^^^ king . 

When valiant battlemen in victor-band sought him, 

War-Scylfing heroes harassed the nephew 
60 Of Hereric in battle. To Beowulf s keeping 

Turned there in time extensive dominions : 

He fittingly ruled them a fifty of winters H rules the G**U 

(He a man-ruler wise was, manor-ward old) till fifty years. 

A certain one 'gan, on gloom-darkening nights, a 
65 Dragon, to govern, who guarded a treasure, The fire-drake. 

A high-rising stone-cliff, on heath that was grayish : 

A path 'neath it lay, unknown unto mortals. 

Some one of earthmen entered the mountain, 

The heathenish hoard laid hold of with ardor ; 






























He sought of himself who sorely did harm him, 
But, for need very pressing, the servant of one of 
The sons of the heroes hate-blows evaded, 
Seeking for shelter and the sin-driven warrior 
Took refuge within there. He early looked in it, 



The hoard. 

The ring-giver be- 
wails the loss of 

***** wne n the onset surprised him, 

10 He a gem-vessel saw there : many of suchlike 
Ancient ornaments in the earth-cave were lying, 
As in days of yore some one of men of 
Illustrious lineage, as a legacy monstrous, 
There had secreted them, careful and thoughtful, 

15 Dear- valued jewels. Death had offsnatched them, 
In the days of the past, and the one man moreover 
Of the flower of the folk who fared there the longest, 
Was fain to defer it, friend-mourning warder, 
A little longer to be left in enjoyment 

20 Of long- lasting treasure. 1 A barrow all-ready 
Stood on the plain the stream-currents nigh to, 
New by the ness-edge, unnethe of approaching : 
The keeper of rings carried within a 
""-* Ponderous deal of the treasure of nobles, 

25 Of gold that was beaten, briefly he spake then : 3 
" Hold thou, O Earth, now heroes no more may, 
The earnings of earlmen. Lo ! erst in thy bosom 
Worthy men won them ; war-death hath ravished, 
Perilous life-bale, all my warriors, 

30 Liegemen beloved, who this life have forsaken, 
Who hall-pleasures saw. No sword-bearer have I, 
And no one to burnish the gold-plated vessel, 
The high-valued beaker : my heroes are vanished. 
The hardy helmet behung with gilding 

35 Shall be reaved of its riches : the ring-cleansers slumber 
Who were charged to have ready visors-for-battle, 
And the burnie that bided in battle-encounter 

1 For 'long-gestre"ona,' B. suggests ' laengestreona,' and renders, Of fleeting 
treasures. S. accepts H.'s ' long-gestreona, but renders, The treasure long 
in accumulating. 

2 For ' hard-fyrdne ' (2246), B. first suggested ' hard-fyndne,' rendering-. 
A heap of treasures . . . so great that its equal would be hard tojind. The same 
scholar suggests later ' hord-wynne dsel ' = A deal of treasure-joy. 

8 Some read 'fee-word' (2247), and render: Banning words uttered- 

Beowulf. 77 

O'er breaking of war-shields the bite of the edges 

Moulds with the hero. The ring-twisted armor, 
40 Its lord being lifeless, no longer may journey 

Hanging by heroes ; harp-joy is vanished, 

The rapture of glee-wood, no excellent falcon 

Swoops through the building, no swift-footed charger 

Grindeth the gravel. A grievous destruction 
45 No few of the world-folk widely hath scattered ! " 

So, woful of spirit one after all 

Lamented mournfully, moaning in sadness 

By day and by night, till death with its billows 

Dashed on his spirit. Then the ancient dusk-scather The fire-dragon. 

50 Found the great treasure standing all open, 

He who flaming and fiery flies to the barrows, 

Naked war-dragon, nightly escapeth 

Encompassed with fire ; men under heaven 

Widely beheld him. Tis said that he looks for 1 
55 The hoard in the earth, where old he is guarding 

The heathenish treasure ; he'll be nowise the better. 

So three-hundred winters the waster of peoples c dr ag n m **** 

Held upon earth that excellent hoard-hall, 

Till the forementioned earlman angered him bitterly : 
60 The beat-plated beaker he bare to his chieftain 

And fullest remission for all his remissness 

Begged of his liegelord. Then the hoard 2 was discovered, 

The treasure was taken, his petition was granted 

The lorn-mooded liegeman. His lord regarded The hcro panders 

65 The old-work of earth-folk 'twas the earliest occasion. 

When the dragon awoke, the strife was renewed there ; 

He snuffed 'long the stone then, stout-hearted found he 

1 An earlier reading of H.'s gave the following meaning to this passage : 
He is said to inhabit a mound under the earth, where he, etc. The translation 
in the text is more authentic. 

2 The repetition of ' hord ' in this passage has led some scholars to suggest 
new readings to avoid the second * hord.' This, however, is not under the 
main stress, and, it seems to me, might easily be accepted. 


The dragon per- 
ceives that some 
one has disturbed 
his treasure. 

The dragon is in- 

The footprint of foeman ; too far had he gone 
With cunning craftiness close to the head of 

70 The fire-spewing dragon. So undoomed he may 'scape from 
Anguish and exile with ease who possesseth 
The favor of Heaven. The hoard-warden eagerly 
Searched o'er the ground then, would meet with the person 
That caused him sorrow while in slumber reclining : 

75 -Gleaming and wild he oft went round the cavern, 
All of it outward ; not any of earthmen 
Was seen iri that desert. 1 Yet he joyed in the battle, 
Rejoiced in the conflict : oft he turned to the barrow, 
Sought for the gem-cup ; 2 this he soon perceived then 

80 That some man or other had discovered the gold, 

The famous folk-treasure. Not fain did the hoard-ward 
Wait until evening ; then the ward of the barrow 
Was angry in spirit, the loathed one wished to 
Pay for the dear-valued drink-cup with fire. 

85 Then the day was done as the dragon would have it, 
He no longer would wait on the wall, but departed 
Fire-impelled, flaming. Fearful the start was 
To earls in the land, as it early thereafter 
To their giver-of-gold was grievously ended. 

The dragon spits 


The stranger began then to vomit forth fire, 
To burn the great manor ; the blaze then glimmered 
For anguish to earlmen, not anything living 

1 The reading of H.-So. is well defended in the notes to that volume. B. 
emends and renders : Nor was there any man in that desert who rejoiced in 
conflict, in battle-work. That is, the hoard-ward could not find any one who 
had disturbed his slumbers, for no warrior was there, t. B.'s emendation 
would give substantially the same translation. 

a 'Sinc-faet' (2301): this word both here and in v. 2232, t. B. renders 
1 treasure.' 

Beowulf. 79 

Was the hateful air-goer willing to leave there. 
5 The war of the worm widely was noticed, 

The feud of the foeman afar and anear, 

How the enemy injured the earls of the Geatmen, 

Harried with hatred : back he hied to the treasure, 

To the well-hidden cavern ere the coming of daylight. 
10 He had circled with fire the folk of those regions, 

With brand and burning ; in the barrow he trusted, 

In the wall and his war-might : the weening deceived him. 

Then straight was the horror to Beowulf published, Beowulf hears of 

Early forsooth, that his own native homestead, 1 
15 The best of buildings, was burning and melting, 

Gift-seat of Geatmen. Twas a grief to the spirit 

Of the good-mooded hero, the greatest of sorrows : 

The wise one weened then that wielding his kingdom He fears that 

'Gainst the ancient commandments, he had bitterly angered 
ao The Lord everlasting : with lorn meditations crime. 

His bosom welled inward, as was nowise his custom. 

The fire-spewing dragon fully had wasted 

The fastness of warriors, the water-land outward, 

The manor with fire. The folk-ruling hero, 
35 Prince of the Weders, was planning to wreak him. 

The warmen's defender bade them to make him, 

Earlmen's atheling, an excellent war-shield 

Wholly of iron : fully he knew then H order* an iron 

That wood from the forest was helpless to aid him, for*hi! *Zdb 

Shield against fire. The long-worthy ruler useless. 

Must live the last of his limited earth-days, 

Of life in the world and the worm along with him, 

Though he long had been holding hoard-wealth in plenty. 

Then the ring-prince disdained to seek with a war-band, H determines to 

35 With army extensive, the air-going ranger ; 

He felt no fear of the foeman's assaults and 

He counted for little the might of the dragon, 

1 'Ham' (2326), the suggestion of B. is accepted by t. B. and other 



Beowulf s early 
triumphs referred 
to. 40 

Higelac's death 




Heardred's lack of 
capacity to rule. 


Beowulf s tact and 
delicacy recalled. 


Reference is here 
made to a visit 
which Beowulf re- 
ceives from Ean- 
mund and Eadgils, 
why they come is 
not known. 7 


His power and prowess : for previously dared he 

A heap of hostility, hazarded dangers, 

War-thane, when Hrothgar's palace he cleansed, 

Conquering combatant, clutched in the battle 

The kinsmen of Grendel, of kindred detested. 1 

Twas of hand-fights not least where Higelac was slaughtered, 

When the king of the Geatmen with clashings of battle, 

Friend-lord of folks in Frisian dominions, 

Offspring of Hrethrel perished through sword-drink, 

With battle-swords beaten ; thence Beowulf came then 

On self-help relying, swam through the waters ; 

He bare on his arm, lone-going, thirty 

Outfits of armor, when the ocean he mounted. 

The Hetwars by no means had need to be boastful 

Of their fighting afoot, who forward to meet him 

Carried their war-shields : not many returned from 

The brave-mooded battle-knight back to their homesteads. 

Ecgtheow's bairn o'er the bight-courses swam then, 

Lone-goer lorn to his land-folk returning, 

Where Hygd to him tendered treasure and kingdom, 

Rings and dominion : her son she not trusted, 

To be able to keep the kingdom devised him 

'Gainst alien races, on the death of King Higelac. 

Yet the sad ones succeeded not in persuading the atheling 

In any way ever, to act as a suzerain 

To Heardred, or promise to govern the kingdom ; 

Yet with friendly counsel in the folk he sustained him, 

Gracious, with honor, till he grew to be older, 

Wielded the Weders. Wide-fleeing outlaws, 

Ohthere's sons, sought him o'er the waters : 

They had stirred a revolt 'gainst the helm of the Scylfings, 

The best of the sea-kings, who in Swedish dominions 

Distributed treasure, distinguished folk-leader. 

1 For 'laftan cynnes' (2355), t. B. suggests 'laftan cynne,' apposition to 
' maegum.' From syntactical and other considerations, this is a most excellent 

Beowulf. 8l 

Twos the end of his earth-days ; injury fatal * 
By swing of the sword he received as a greeting, 
Offspring of Higelac ; Ongentheow's bairn 
Later departed to visit his homestead, 
75 When Heardred was dead ; let Beowulf rule them, 
Govern the Geatmen : good was that folk-king. 


He planned requital for the folk-leader's ruin 
In days thereafter, to Eadgils the wretched 
Becoming an enemy. Ohthere's son then 
Went with a war-troop o'er the wide- stretching currents 
5 With warriors and weapons : with woe-journeys cold he 
After avenged him, the king's life he took. 

So he came off uninjured from all of his battles, Beowulf has been 

Perilous fights, offspring of Ecgtheow, 
From his deeds of daring, till that day most momentous 
10 When he fate-driven fared to fight with the dragon. 

With eleven companions the prince of the Geatmen With eleven 

Went lowering with fury to look at the fire-drake : 

Inquiring he'd found how the feud had arisen, 

Hate to his heroes ; the highly-famed gem-vessel 
15 Was brought to his keeping through the hand of th' informer. 

That in the throng was thirteenth of heroes, A *""* k*^ th 

That caused the beginning of conflict so bitter, 

Captive and wretched, must sad-mooded thenceward 

Point out the place : he passed then unwillingly ver y ictami y . 

20 To the spot where he knew of the notable cavern, 

The cave under earth, not far from the ocean, 

The anger of eddies, which inward was full of 

Jewels and wires : a warden uncanny, 

1 Gr. read 'on feornae ' (2386), rendering: He there at the banquet o fatal 
wound received by blows of the sword. 


Beowulf s retro- 

Hrethel took me 
when I was seven. 

He treated me as 
a son. 

One of the brothers 
accidentally kills 

No fee could com- 
pound for such a 
calamity. 5 

[A parallel case 
is supposed.] 


Warrior weaponed, wardered the treasure, 
25 Old under earth ; no easy possession 

For any of earth-folk access to get to. 

Then the battle-brave atheling sat on the naze-edge, 

While the gold-friend of Geatmen gracious saluted 

His fireside-companions : woe was his spirit, 
30 Death-boding, wav'ring ; Weird very near him, 

Who must seize the old hero, his soul-treasure look for, 

Dragging aloof his life from his body : 

Not flesh-hidden long was the folk-leader's spirit. 

Beowulf spake, Ecgtheow's son : 
35 " I survived in my youth-days many a conflict, 

Hours of onset : that all I remember. 

I was seven -winters old when the jewel-prince took me, 

High-lord of heroes, at the hands of my father, 

Hrethel the hero-king had me in keeping, 
40 Gave me treasure and feasting, our kinship remembered ; 

Not ever was I any less dear to him 

Knight in the boroughs, than the bairns of his household, 

Herebald and Hsethcyn and Higelac mine. 

To the eldest unjustly by acts of a kinsman 
45 Was murder-bed strewn, since him Haethcyn from horn-bow 

His sheltering chieftain shot with an arrow, 

Erred in his aim and injured his kinsman, 

One brother the other, with blood-sprinkled spear : 

Twas a feeless fight, finished in malice, 

Sad to his spirit ; the folk-prince however 

Had to part from existence with vengeance untaken. 

So to hoar-headed hero 'tis heavily crushing * 

1 'Gomelum ceorle'(2445). H. takes these words as referring to Hrethel; 
but the translator here departs from his editor by understanding the poet to 
refer to a hypothetical old man, introduced as an illustration of a father's 

Hrethrel had certainly never seen a son of his ride on the gallows to feed 
the crows. 

The passage beginning ' swa bi*5 geomorlic ' seems to be an effort to reach 

Beowulf. 83 

To live to see his son as he rideth 

Young on the gallows : then measures he chanteth, 
55 A song of sorrow, when his son is hanging 

For the raven's delight, and aged and hoary 

He is unable to offer any assistance. 

Every morning his offspring's departure 

Is constant recalled : he cares not to wait for 
60 The birth of an heir in his borough-enclosures, 

Since that one through death-pain the deeds hath experienced. 

He heart-grieved beholds in the house of his son the 

Wine 1 building wasted, the wind-lodging places 

Reaved of their roaring ; the riders are sleeping, 
65 The knights in the grave ; there's no sound of the harp- wood, 

Joy in the yards, as of yore were familiar. 



" He seeks then his chamber, singeth a woe-song 
One for the other ; all too extensive 

Seemed homesteads and plains. So the helm of the Weders 
Mindful of Herebald heart-sorrow carried, Hrethei gneves 

5 Stirred with emotion, nowise was able 

To wreak his ruin on the ruthless destroyer : 

He was unable to follow the warrior with hatred, 

With deeds that were direful, though dear he not held him. 

a full simile, ' as ... so.' ' As it is mournful for an old man, etc. ... so the 
defence of the Weders (2463) bore heart-sorrow, etc.' The verses 2451 to 
2463$ would be parenthetical, the poet's feelings being so strong as to inter- 
rupt the simile. The punctuation of the fourth edition would be better a 
comma after 'galgan' (2447). The translation may be indicated as follows: 
(Jusf) as it is sad for an old man to see his son ride young on the gallows when 
he himself is tittering mournful measures, a sorrowful song, while his son hangs 
for a comfort to the raven, and he, old and infirm, cannot render him any 
help (he is constantly reminded, etc., 2451-2463) so the defence of the 
Weders, etc. 

8 4 

Strife between 
Swedes and Geats. 

Haethcyn's fall at 

2 5 

I requited him for 30 
the jewels he gave 


Beowulf refers to 
his having slain 



Then pressed by the pang this pain occasioned him, 

10 He gave up glee, God-light elected ; 

He left to his sons, as the man that is rich does, 
His land and fortress, when from life he departed. 
Then was crime and hostility 'twixt Swedes and Geatmen, 
O'er wide-stretching water warring was mutual, 

15 Burdensome hatred, when Hrethel had perished, 
And Ongentheow's offspring were active and valiant, 
Wished not to hold to peace oversea, but 
Round Hreosna-beorh often accomplished 
Crudest massacre. This my kinsman avenged, 

20 The feud and fury, as 'tis found on inquiry, 

Though one of them paid it with forfeit of life-joys, 
With price that was hard : the struggle became then 
Fatal to Haethcyn, lord of the Geatmen. 
Then I heard that at morning one brother the other 
With edges of irons egged on to murder, 
Where Ongentheow maketh onset on Eofor : 
The helmet crashed, the hoary-haired Scylfing 
Sword-smitten fell, his hand then remembered 
Feud-hate sufficient, refused not the death-blow. 
The gems that he gave me, with jewel-bright sword I 
'Quited in contest, as occasion was offered : 
Land he allowed me, life-joy at homestead, 
Manor to live on. Little he needed 
From Gepids or Danes or in Sweden to look for 
Trooper less true, with treasure to buy him ; 
'Mong foot-soldiers ever in front I would hie me, 
Alone in the vanguard, and evermore gladly 
Warfare shall wage, while this weapon endureth 
That late and early often did serve me 

40 When I proved before heroes the slayer of Dseghrefn, 
Knight of the Hugmen : he by no means was suffered 
To the king of the Frisians to carry the jewels, 
The breast-decoration ; but the banner-possessor 
Bowed in the battle, brave-mooded atheling. 


45 No weapon was slayer, but war-grapple broke then 
The surge of his spirit, his body destroying. 
Now shall weapon's edge make war for the treasure, 
And hand and firm-sword." Beowulf spake then, 
Boast-words uttered the latest occasion : 

50 " I braved in my youth-days battles unnumbered ; 
Still am I willing the struggle to look for, 
Fame-deeds perform, folk-warden prudent, 
If the hateful despoiler forth from his cavern 
Seeketh me out ! " Each of the heroes, 

55 Helm-bearers sturdy, he thereupon greeted 
Beloved co-liegemen his last salutation : 
" No brand would I bear, no blade for the dragon, 
Wist I a way my word-boast to 'complish * 
Else with the monster, as with Grendel I did it ; 

60 But fire in the battle hot I expect there, 

Furious flame-burning : so I fixed on my body 
Target and war- mail. The ward of the barrow * 
I'll not flee from a foot-length, the foeman uncanny. 
At the wall 'twill befall us as Fate decreeth, 

65 Each one's Creator. I am eager in spirit, 

With the winged war-hero to away with all boasting. 
Bide on the barrow with burnies protected, 
Earls in armor, which of us two may better 
Bear his disaster, when the battle is over. 

70 Tis no matter of yours, and man cannot do it, 
But me and me only, to measure his strength with 
The monster of malice, might-deeds to 'complish. 
I with prowess shall gain the gold, or the battle, 

He boasts of his 
youthful prowess, 
and declares him- 
self still fearless. 

His last saluta- 

Let Fate decide 
between us* 

Wait ye here till 
the battle is over. 

lf The clause 2^20(2^-2^22(1), rendered by 'Wist I ... monster,' Gr., 
followed by S., translates substantially as follows : If I knew how else I might 
combat the boastful defiance of the monster. The translation turns upon 
' wrSgripan/ a word not understood. 

2 B. emends and translates: I will not flee the space of a foot from the guard 
of the barrow, but there shall be to us a fight at the wall, as Fate decrees, each 
one's Creator. 



The place of strife 
is described. 

Beowulf calls out 
under the stone 

The terrible en- 

Beowulf brandishes 
his sword, 

and stands against 
his shield. 

The dragon coils 

Direful death- woe will drag off your ruler ! " 
75 The mighty champion rose by his shield then, 

Brave under helmet, in battle-mail went he 

'Neath steep-rising stone-cliffs, the strength he relied on 

Of one man alone : no work for a coward. 

Then he saw by the wall who a great many battles 
80 Had lived through, most worthy, when foot-troops collided, 

Stone-arches standing, stout-hearted champion, 

Saw a brook from the barrow bubbling out thenceward : 

The flood of the fountain was fuming with war-flame : 

Not nigh to the hoard, for season the briefest 
85 Could he brave, without burning, the abyss that was yawning > 

The drake was so fiery. The prince of the Weders 

Caused then that words came from his bosom, 

So fierce was his fury ; the firm-hearted shouted : 

His battle-clear voice came in resounding 
90 'Neath the gray-colored stone. Stirred was his hatred, 

The hoard-ward distinguished the speech of a man ; 

Time was no longer to look out for friendship. 

The breath of the monster issued forth first, 

Vapory war-sweat, out of the stone-cave : 
95 The earth re-echoed. The earl 'neath the barrow 

Lifted his shield, lord of the Geatmen, 

Tow'rd the terrible stranger : the ring-twisted creature's 

Heart was then ready to seek for a struggle. 

The excellent battle-king first brandished his weapon, 
ioo The ancient heirloom, of edges unblunted, 1 

To the death-planners twain was terror from other. 

The lord of the troopers intrepidly stood then 

'Gainst his high-rising shield, when the dragon coiled him 

Quickly together : in corslet he bided. 

1 The translation of this passage is based on ' unslaw' (2565), accepted by 
H.-So., in lieu of the long-standing ' ung!6aw.' The former is taken as an 
adj. limiting 'sweord'; the latter as an adj. c. ' gtifl-cyning ' : The good -war- 
king, rash with edges, brandished his sword, his old relic. The latter gives a 
more rhetorical Anglo-Saxon (poetical) sentence. 

Beowulf. 87 

105 He went then in blazes, bended and striding, 

Hasting him forward. His life and body 

The targe well protected, for time-period shorter 

Than wish demanded for the well-renowned leader, 

Where he then for the first day was forced to be victor, 
no Famous in battle, as Fate had not willed it. 

The lord of the Geatmen uplifted his hand then, 

Smiting the fire-drake with sword that was precious, 

That bright on the bone the blade-edge did weaken, 

Bit more feebly than his folk-leader needed, 
115 Burdened with bale-griefs. Then the barrow-protector, 

When the sword-blow had fallen, was fierce in his spirit, The dragon rages. 

Flinging his fires, flamings of battle 

Gleamed then afar : the gold-friend of Weders 

Boasted no conquests, his battle-sword failed him Beowuifs sword 

120 Naked in conflict, as by no means it ought to, 

Long-trusty weapon. Twas no slight undertaking 

That Ecgtheow's famous offspring would leave 

The drake-cavern's bottom ; he must live in some region 

Other than this, by the will of the dragon, 
125 As each one of earthmen existence must forfeit. 

Twas early thereafter the excellent warriors 

Met with each other. Anew and afresh The combat u 

The hoard-ward took heart (gasps heaved then his bosom) : rcnewcd - 

Sorrow he suffered encircled with fire The great hero is 

130 Who the people erst governed. His companions by no means J^" 01 

Were banded about him, bairns of the princes, 

With valorous spirit, but they sped to the forest, Hi* comrades fleei 

Seeking for safety. The soul-deeps of one were 

Ruffled by care : kin-love can never Blood is thicker 

135 Aught in him waver who well doth consider. than watcr ' 



Wiglaf i 

true the ideal 

Teutonic liege- 

Wiglaf recalls 
Beowulf s gener- 


This is Wiglaf s 
first battle as liege- 
man of Beowulf. 2 5 

Wiglaf appeals to 
the pride of the 



The son of Weohstan was Wiglaf entitled, 

Shield-warrior precious, prince of the Scylfings, 

JElf here's kinsman : he saw his dear liegelord 

Enduring the heat 'neath helmet and visor. 

Then he minded the holding that erst he had given him, 

The Waegmunding warriors' wealth-blessed homestead, 

Each of the folk-rights his father had wielded ; 

He was hot for the battle, his hand seized the target, 

The yellow-bark shield, he unsheathed his old weapon, 

Which was known among earthmen as the relic of Eanmund, 

Ohthere's offspring, whom, exiled and friendless, 

Weohstan did slay with sword-edge in battle, 

And carried his kinsman the clear-shining helmet, 

The ring-made burnie, the old giant-weapon 

That Onela gave him, his boon-fellow's armor, 

Ready war-trappings : he the feud did not mention, 

Though he'd fatally smitten the son of his brother. 

Many a half-year held he the treasures, 

The bill and the burnie, till his bairn became able, 

Like his father before him, fame-deeds to 'complish ; 

Then he gave him 'mong Geatmen a goodly array of 

Weeds for his warfare ; he went from life then 

Old on his journey. 'Twas the earliest time then 

That the youthful champion might charge in the battle 

Aiding his liegelord ; his spirit was dauntless. 

Nor did kinsman's bequest quail at the battle : 

This the dragon discovered on their coming together. 

Wiglaf uttered many a right-saying, 

Said to his fellows, sad was his spirit : 

" I remember the time when, tasting the mead-cup, 

We promised in the hall the lord of us all 


Who gave us these ring- treasures, that this battle- equipment, 

Swords and helmets, we'd certainly quite him, 

Should need of such aid ever befall him : 
35 In the war-band he chose us for this journey spontaneously, 

Stirred us to glory and gave me these jewels, 

Since he held and esteemed us trust-worthy spearmen, 

Hardy helm-bearers, though this hero-achievement 

Our lord intended alone to accomplish, 
40 Ward of his people, for most of achievements, 

Doings audacious, he did among earth-folk. 

The day is now come when the ruler of earthmen 

Needeth the vigor of valiant heroes : 

Let us wend us towards him, the war-prince to succor, 
45 While the heat yet rageth, horrible fire-fight. 

God wot in me, 'tis mickle the liefer 

The blaze should embrace my body and eat it 

With my treasure-bestower. Meseemeth not proper 

To bear our battle -shields back to our country, 
50 'Less first we are able to fell and destroy the 

Long-hating foeman, to defend the life of 

The prince of the Weders. Well do I know 'tisn't 

Earned by his exploits, he only of Geatmen 

Sorrow should suffer, sink in the battle : 
55 Brand and helmet to us both shall be common, 

1 Shield-cover, burnie." Through the bale-smoke he stalked 

Went under helmet to the help of his chieftain, 

Briefly discoursing : " Beowulf dear, 

Perform thou all fully, as thou formerly saidst, 
60 In thy youthful years, that while yet thou livedst 

How we have for- 
feited our liege- 
lord's confidence! 

Our lord is in sore 
need of us. 

I would rather die 
than go home with 
out my suzerain. 

Surely he does 
not deserve to die 

Wiglaf reminds 
Beowulf of his 
youthful boasts. 

1 The passage ' Brand . . . burnie? is much disputed. In the first place, 
some eminent critics assume a gap of at least two half-verses. ' Urum ' (2660), 
being a peculiar form, has been much discussed. ' Byrdu-scrdd ' is also a crux. 
B. suggests ' bywdu-scrtid ' = splendid vestments. Nor is ' bam ' accepted by all, 
' beon ' being suggested. Whatever the individual words, the passage must 
mean, " I intend to share with him my equipments of defence." 


The monster ad- 
vances on them. 

Beowulf strikes at 
the dragon. 

His sword fails 

The dragon ad- 
vances on Beowulf 

Thou wouldst let thine honor not ever be lessened. 
Thy life thou shalt save, mighty in actions, 
Atheling undaunted, with all of thy vigor ; 
I'll give thee assistance." The dragon came raging, 

65 Wild-mooded stranger, when these words had been uttered 
('Twas the second occasion), seeking his enemies, 
Men that were hated, with hot-gleaming fire-waves ; 
With blaze-billows burned the board to its edges : 
The fight-armor failed then to furnish assistance 

70 To the youthful spear-hero : but the young-aged stripling 
Quickly advanced 'neath his kinsman's war-target, 
Since his own had been ground in the grip of the fire. 
Then the warrior- king was careful of glory, 
He soundly smote with sword-for-the-battle, 

75 That it stood in the head by hatred ydriven ; 
Naegling was shivered, the old and iron-made 
Brand of Beowulf in battle deceived him. 
'Twas denied him that edges of irons were able 
To help in the battle ; the hand was too mighty 

80 * Which every weapon, as I heard on inquiry, 

Outstruck in its stroke, when to struggle he carried 
The wonderful war-sword : it waxed him no better. 
Then the people-despoiler third of his onsets 
Fierce-raging fire-drake, of feud-hate was mindful, 

85 Charged on the strong one, when chance was afforded, 
Heated and war-grim, seized on his neck 
With teeth that were bitter ; he bloody did wax with 
Soul-gore seething ; sword-blood in waves boiled. 

1 B. would render : Which, as I heard, excelled in stroke every sword thai 
he carried to the strife, even the strongest (jsword}. For *)>onne' he reads 
*|>one,' rel. pr. 

Beowulf. 91 


Then I heard that at need of the king of the people wigiaf defends 

The upstanding earlman exhibited prowess, 

Vigor and courage, as suited his nature ; 

1 He his head did not guard, but the high-minded liegeman's 

Hand was consumed, when he succored his kinsman, 

So he struck the strife-bringing strange-comer lower, 

Earl- thane in armor, that in went the weapon 

Gleaming and plated, that 'gan then the fire f 

Later to lessen. The liegelord himself then Beowulf draws 

Retained his consciousness, brandished his war-knife, 

Battle-sharp, bitter, that he bare on his armor : 

The Weder-lord cut the worm in the middle. and <= uts *' 

They had felled the enemy (life drove out then 8 

Puissant prowess) , the pair had destroyed him, 

Land-chiefs related : so a liegeman should prove him, 

A thaneman when needed. To the prince 'twas the last of 

His era of conquest by his own great achievements, 

1 B. renders : He ( W^) did not regard his (the dragon's) head (since 
Beowulf had struck it without effect), but struck the dragon a little lower down. 
One crux is to find out whose head is meant; another is to bring out the 
antithesis between ' head ' and ' hand.' 

2 ' pat )>0et fyr ' (2702), S. emends to ' J>a fcet fyr ' = when the fire began to 
grow less intense afterward. This emendation relieves the passage of a 
plethora of conjunctive \>eefs. 

8 For 'gefyldan' (2707), S. proposes 'gefylde.' The passage would read: 
He felled the foe (life drove out strength}, and they then both had destroyed hint, 
chieftains related. This gives Beowulf the credit of having felled the dragon; 
then they combine to annihilate him. For 'ellen* (2707), Kl. suggests 
*e(a)llne.' The reading ' life drove out strength 1 is very unsatisfactory and 
very peculiar. I would suggest as follows : Adopt S.'s emendation, remove 
H.'s parenthesis, read ' ferh-ellen wraec,' and translate : He felled the foe, 
drove out his life-strength (that is, made him hors de combat} , and then they 
both, etc. 


Beowulf s wound 
swells and burns. 

He sits down ex- 

Wiglaf bathes his 
lord's head. 



Beowulf regrets 
that he has no son. 

I can rejoice in a 
well-spent life. 


Bring me the 
hoard, Wiglaf, that 
my dying eyes may 5 
be refreshed by a 
sight of it. 

The latest of world- deeds. The wound then began 

Which the earth-dwelling dragon erstwhile had wrought hiro 

To burn and to swell. He soon then discovered 

That bitterest bale-woe in his bosom was raging, 

Poison within. The atheling advanced then, 

That along by the wall, he prudent of spirit 

Might sit on a settle ; he saw the giant-work, 

How arches of stone strengthened with pillars 

The earth-hall eternal inward supported. 

Then the long-worthy liegeman laved with his hand the 

Far-famous chieftain, gory from sword- edge, 

Refreshing the face of his friend-lord and ruler, 

Sated with battle, unbinding his helmet. 

Beowulf answered, of his injury spake he, 

His wound that was fatal (he was fully aware 

He had lived his allotted life-days enjoying 

The pleasures of earth ; then past was entirely 

His measure of days, death very near) : 

" My son I would give now my battle- equipments, 

Had any of heirs been after me granted, 

Along of my body. This people I governed 

Fifty of winters : no king 'mong my neighbors 

Dared to encounter me with comrades-in-battle, 

Try me with terror. The time to me ordered 

I bided at home, mine own kept fitly, 

Sought me no snares, swore me not many 

Oaths in injustice. Joy over all this 

I'm able to have, though ill with my death-wounds ; 

Hence the Ruler of Earthmen need not charge me 

With the killing of kinsmen, when cometh my life out 

Forth from my body. Fare thou with haste now 

To behold the hoard 'neath the hoar-grayish stone, 

Well-loved Wiglaf, now the worm is a-lying, 

Sore-wounded sleepeth, disseized of his treasure. 

Go thou in haste that treasures of old I, 

Gold-wealth may gaze on, together see lying 


Beowulf. 93 

The ether-bright jewels, be easier able, 
55 Having the heap of hoard-gems, to yield my 

Life and the land-folk whom long I have governed." 



Then heard I that Wihstan's son very quickly, wi^af fulfils his 

These words being uttered, heeded his liegelord lord ' s behcst ' 

Wounded and war-sick, went in his armor, 

His well-woven ring-mail, 'neath the roof of the barrow. 
5 Then the trusty retainer treasure-gems many 

Victorious saw, when the seat he came near to, The dragon's den. 

Gold-treasure sparkling spread on the bottom, 

Wonder on the wall, and the worm-creature's cavern, 

The ancient dawn-flier's, vessels a-standing, 
10 Cups of the ancients of cleansers bereaved, 

Robbed of their ornaments : there were helmets in numbers, 

Old and rust-eaten, arm-bracelets many, 

Artfully woven. Wealth can easily, 

Gold on the sea-bottom, turn into vanity * 
15 Each one of earthmen, arm him who pleaseth ! 

And he saw there lying an all-golden banner 

High o'er the hoard, of hand-wonders greatest, 

Linked with lacets : a light from it sparkled, 

That the floor of the cavern he was able to look on, 
20 To examine the jewels. Sight of the dragon TO* dP> n u no 


1 The word ' oferhigian ' (2767) being vague and little understood, two 
quite distinct translations of this passage have arisen. One takes ' oferhigian ' 
as meaning ' to exceed,' and, inserting ' hord ' after ' gehwone,' renders : The 
treasure may easily, the gold in the ground, exceed in value every hoard of 
man, hide it who will. The other takes ' oferhigian ' as meaning ' to render 
arrogant,' and, giving the sentence a moralizing tone, renders substantially aft 
in the body of this work. (Cf. 28 lt et seq.) 



Wiglaf bears the 
hoard away. 

Beowulf is rejoiced 
to see the jewels. 

He desires to be 
held in memory by 
his people. 

Not any was offered, but edge offcarried him. 

Then I heard that the hero the hoard-treasure plundered. 

The giant-work ancient reaved in the cavern, 

Bare on his bosom the beakers and platters, 

25 As himself would fain have it, and took off the standard, 
The brightest of beacons ; 1 the bill had erst injured 
(Its edge was of iron), the old-ruler's weapon, 
Him who long had watched as ward of the jewels, 
Who fire-terror carried hot for the treasure, 

30 Rolling in battle, in middlemost darkness, 

Till murdered he perished. The messenger hastened, 
Not loth to return, hurried by jewels : 
Curiosity urged him if, excellent-mooded, 
Alive he should find the lord of the Weders 

35 Mortally wounded, at the place where he left him. 
'Mid the jewels he found then the famous old chieftain, 
His liegelord beloved, at his life's-end gory : 
He thereupon 'gan to lave him with water, 
Till the point of his word pierced his breast-hoard. 

40 Beowulf spake (the gold-gems he noticed), 

The old one in sorrow : " For the jewels I look on 
Thanks do I utter for all to the Ruler, 
Wielder of Worship, with words of devotion, 
The Lord everlasting, that He let me such treasures 

45 Gain for my people ere death overtook me. 
Since I've bartered the aged life to me granted 
For treasure of jewels, attend ye henceforward 
The wants of the war-thanes ; I can wait here no longer. 
The battle-famed bid ye to build them a grave-hill, 

50 Bright when I'm burned, at the brim-current's limit ; 
As a memory-mark to the men I have governed, 

1 The passage beginning here is very much disputed. ' The bill of the old 
lord' is by some regarded as Beowulf s sword; by others, as that of the 
ancient possessor of the hoard. ' JEr gesc6d ' (2778), translated in this work 
as verb and adverb, is by some regarded as a compound participial adj. 
sheathed in brass. 

Beowulf. 95 

Aloft it shall tower on Whale's- Ness uprising, 

That earls of the ocean hereafter may call it 

BeowulPs barrow, those who barks ever-dashing 
55 From a distance shall drive o'er the darkness of waters." 

The bold-mooded troop-lord took from his neck then The hero's last 

The ring that was golden, gave to his liegeman, 

The youthful war-hero, his gold-flashing helmet, 

His collar and war-mail, bade him well to enjoy them : 
60 " Thou art latest left of the line of our kindred, ** k*' word - 

Of Waegmunding people : Weird hath offcarried 

All of my kinsmen to the Creator's glory, 

Earls in their vigor : I shall after them fare." 

Twas the aged liegelord's last-spoken word in 
65 His musings of spirit, ere he mounted the fire, 

The battle-waves burning : from his bosom departed 

His soul to seek the sainted ones' glory. 



It had wofully chanced then the youthful retainer wigiaf is sorely 

To behold on earth the most ardent-beloved Sh*^ 1 * 

At his life-days' limit, lying there helpless. warlike. 

The slayer too lay there, of life all bereaved, 
Horrible earth-drake, harassed with sorrow : 

The round-twisted monster was permitted no longer ?** dragon has 

To govern the ring-hoards, but edges of war-swords hoard*" 

Mightily seized him, battle-sharp, sturdy 
Leavings of hammers, that still from his wounds 
The flier-from-farland fell to the earth 
Hard by his hoard-house, hopped he at midnight 
Not e'er through the air, nor exulting in jewels 
Suffered them to see him : but he sank then to earthward 
Through the hero-chiefs handwork. I heard sure it throve 

9 6 

Few warriors 
dared to face the 

The cowardly 
thanes come out 
of the thicket. 

They are ashamed 
of their desertion. 

Wiglaf is ready to 
excoriate them. 

He begins to taunt 


15 But few in the land of liegemen of valor, 

Though of every achievement bold he had proved him p 
To run 'gainst the breath of the venomous scather, 
Or the hall of the treasure to trouble with hand-blows, 
If he watching had found the ward of the hoard-hall 

ao On the barrow abiding. Beowulf s part of 
The treasure of jewels was paid for with death; 
Each of the twain had attained to the end of 
Life so unlasting. Not long was the time till 
The tardy-at-battle returned from the thicket, 

25 The timid truce- breakers ten all together, 
Who durst not before play with the lances 
In the prince of the people's pressing emergency ; 
But blushing with shame, with shields they betook them, 
With arms and armor where the old one was lying : 

30 They gazed upon Wiglaf. He was sitting exhausted, 
Foot-going fighter, not far from the shoulders 
Of the lord of the people, would rouse him with water ; 
No whit did it help him ; though he hoped for it keenly, 
He was able on earth not at all in the leader 

35 Life to retain, and nowise to alter 

The will of the Wielder; the World-Ruler's power 1 
Would govern the actions of each one of heroes, 
As yet He is doing. From the young one forthwith then 
Could grim-worded greeting be got for him quickly 

40 Whose courage had failed him. Wiglaf discoursed then, 
Weohstan his son, sad-mooded hero, 
Looked on the hated : " He who soothness will utter 
Can say that the liegelord who gave you the jewels, 
The ornament-armor wherein ye are standing, 

45 When on ale-bench often he offered to hall-men 
Helmet and burnie, the prince to his liegemen, 
As best upon earth he was able to find him, 

1 For ' daedum rsedan ' (2859) B. suggests ' deaft araedan,' and renders : Tht 
might (or judgment} of God would determine death for every man, as he still 



That he wildly wasted his war-gear undoubtedly 

When battle o'ertook him. 1 The troop-king no need had 

50 To glory in comrades ; yet God permitted him, 
Victory-Wielder, with weapon unaided 
Himself to avenge, when vigor was needed. 
I life-protection but little was able 
To give him in battle, and I 'gan, notwithstanding, 

55 Helping my kinsman (my strength overtaxing) : 
He waxed the weaker when with weapon I smote on 
My mortal opponent, the fire less strongly 
Flamed from his bosom. Too few of protectors 
Came round the king at the critical moment. 

60 Now must ornament-taking and weapon-bestowing, 
Home-joyance all, cease for your kindred, 
Food for the people ; each of your warriors 
Must needs be bereaved of rights that he holdeth 
In landed possessions, when faraway nobles 

65 Shall learn of your leaving your lord so basely, 
The dastardly deed. Death is more pleasant 
To every earlman than infamous life is ! " 

Surely our lord 
wasted his armor 
on poltroons. 

He, however, got 
along without you. 

With some aid, I 
could have saved 
our liegelord. 

Gift-giving is over 
with your people: 
the ring-lord is 

What is life with 
out honor? 


Then he charged that the battle be announced at the hedge 
Up o'er the cliff-edge, where the earl-troopers bided 
The whole of the morning, mood-wretched sat them, 
Bearers of battle-shields, both things expecting, 
5 The end of his lifetime and the coming again of 
The liegelord beloved. Little reserved he 
Of news that was known, who the ness-cliff did travel, 
But he truly discoursed to all that could hear him : 

1 Some critics, H. himself in earlier editions, put the clause, ' When . . . 
him ' (A.-S. 'pa ... beget') with the following sentence; that is, they make it 
dependent upon 'porfte' (2875) instead of upon 'forwurpe' (2873). 

Wiglaf sends die 
news of Beowulf's 
death to liegemen 
near by. 

9 8 

The messenger 

Wiglaf sits by our ,. 
dead lord. 

Our lord's death 
will lead to 
attacks from our 
old foes. 

Higelac's death 

2 5 

Haethcyn's fall 
referred to. 


" Now the free-giving friend-lord of the folk of the Weders, 
10 The folk-prince of Geatmen, is fast in his death-bed, 
By the deeds of the dragon in death-bed abideth ; 
Along with him lieth his life-taking foeman 
Slain with knife-wounds : he was wholly unable 
To injure at all the ill-planning monster 
With bite of his sword-edge. Wiglaf is sitting, 
Offspring of Wihstan, up over Beowulf, 
Earl o'er another whose end-day hath reached him, 
Head-watch holdeth o'er heroes unliving, 1 
For friend and for foeman. The folk now expecteth 
A season of strife when the death of the folk-king 
To Frankmen and Frisians in far-lands is published. 
The war-hatred waxed warm 'gainst the Hugmen, 
When Higelac came with an army of vessels 
Faring to Friesland, where the Frankmen in battle 
Humbled him and bravely with overmight 'complished 
That the mail-clad warrior must sink in the battle, 
Fell 'mid his folk-troop : no fret-gems presented 
The atheling to earlmen ; aye was denied us 
Merewing's mercy. The men of the Swedelands 
30 For truce or for truth trust I but little ; 

But widely 'twas known that near Ravenswood Ongentheow 
Sundered Haethcyn the Hrethling from life-joys, 
When for pride overweening the War-Scylfings first did 
Seek the Geatmen with savage intentions. 
35 Early did Ohthere's age-laden father, 
Old and terrible, give blow in requital, 
Killing the sea-king, the queen-mother rescued, 
The old one his consort deprived of her gold, 
Onela's mother and Ohthere's also, 

1 ' Hige-m$um ' (2910) is glossed by H. as dat. plu. (= for the dead). S. 
proposes ' hige-mefte,' nom. sing, limiting Wiglaf; i.e. W. t mood-weary, holds 
head-watch o'er friend and foe. B. suggests taking the word as dat. inst. 
plu. of an abstract noun in -' u.' The translation would be substantially the 
same as S.'s. 

Beowulf. 99 

40 And then followed the feud-nursing foemen till hardly, 

Reared of their ruler, they Ravenswood entered. 

Then with vast-numbered forces he assaulted the remnant, 

Weary with wounds, woe often promised 

The livelong night to the sad-hearted war-troop : 
45 Said he at morning would kill them with edges of weapons, 

Some on the gallows for glee to the fowls. 

Aid came after to the anxious-in-spirit 

At dawn of the day, after Higelac's bugle 

And trumpet-sound heard they, when the good one proceeded 
50 And faring followed the flower of the troopers. 


" The blood-stained trace of Swedes and Geatmen, The messenger 

The death-rush of warmen, widely was noticed, continues and 

refers to the feuds 

How the folks with each other feud did awaken. of Swedes and 

The worthy one went then 1 with well-beloved comrades, G*U. 

5 Old and dejected to go to the fastness, 
Ongentheo earl upward then turned him ; 
Of Higelac's battle he'd heard on inquiry, 
The exultant one's prowess, despaired of resistance, 
With earls of the ocean to be able to struggle, 
10 'Gainst sea-going sailors to save the hoard -treasure, 
His wife and his children ; he fled after thenceward 
Old 'neath the earth-wall. Then was offered pursuance 
To the braves of the Swedemen, the banner 2 to Higelac. 

1 For ' g6da,' which seems a surprising epithet for a Geat to apply to the 
"terrible" Ongentheow, B. suggests 'gomela.' The passage would then 
stand : ' The old one went then? etc. 

2 For segn Higelace,' K., Th., and B. propose 'segn Higelaces,' meaning: 
Higelac's banner followed the Swedes (in pursuit}. S. suggests 'ssecc Hige- 
laces,' and renders: Higelac's pursuit. The H.-So. reading, as translated in 
our text, means that the banner of the enemy was captured and brought to 
Higelac as a trophy. 

ioo Beowulf. 

Wulf wounds 

Ongentheow gives 
a stout blow in 
return. 2 5 

Eofor smites On- 
gentheow fiercely. 

Ongentheow is 

Eofor takes the 
old king's war-gear 
to Higelac. 

Higelac rewards 
the brothers. 

They fared then forth o'er the field-of-protection, 

15 When the Hrethling heroes hedgeward had thronged them. 
Then with edges of irons was Ongentheow driven, 
The gray-haired to tarry, that the troop-ruler had to 
Suffer the power solely of Eofor : 
Wulf then wildly with weapon assaulted him, 

20 Wonred his son, that for swinge of the edges 
The blood from his body burst out in currents, 
Forth 'neath his hair. He feared not however, 
Gray-headed Scylfing, but speedily quited 
The wasting wound-stroke with worse exchange, 
When the king of the thane-troop thither did turn him : 
The wise-mooded son of Wonred was powerless 
To give a return-blow to the age-hoary man, 
But his head-shielding helmet first hewed he to pieces, 
That flecked with gore perforce he did totter, 

30 Fell to the earth ; not fey was he yet then, 

But up did he spring though an edge-wound had reached him. 
Then Higelac's vassal, valiant and dauntless, 
When his brother lay dead, made his broad-bladed weapon, 
Giant-sword ancient, defence of the giants, 

35 Bound o'er the shield-wall ; the folk-prince succumbed then, 
Shepherd of people, was pierced to the vitals. 
There were many attendants who bound up his kinsman, 
Carried him quickly when occasion was granted 
That the place of the slain they were suffered to manage. 

40 This pending, one hero plundered the other, 
His armor of iron from Ongentheow ravished, 
His hard-sword hilted and helmet together ; 
The old one's equipments he carried to Higelac. 
He the jewels received, and rewards 'mid the troopers 

45 Graciously promised, and so did accomplish : 
The king of the Weders requited the war-rush, 
Hrethel's descendant, when home he repaired him, 
To Eofor and Wulf with wide-lavished treasures, 
To each of them granted a hundred of thousands 



50 In land and rings wrought out of wire : 
None upon mid -earth needed to twit him * 
With the gifts he gave them, when glory they conquered ; 
And to Eofor then gave he his one only daughter, 
The honor of home, as an earnest of favor. 

55 That's the feud and hatred as ween I 'twill happen 
The anger of earthmen, that earls of the Swedemen 
Will visit on us, when they hear that our leader 
Lifeless is lying, he who longtime protected 
His hoard and kingdom 'gainst hating assailers, 

60 Who on the fall of the heroes defended of yore 
The deed-mighty Scyldings, 2 did for the troopers 
What best did avail them, and further moreover 
Hero-deeds 'complished. Now is haste most fitting, 
That the lord of liegemen we look upon yonder, 

65 And that one carry on journey to death-pyre 
Who ring-presents gave us. Not aught of it all 
Shall melt with the brave one there's a mass of bright jewels, 
Gold beyond measure, grewsomely purchased 
And ending it all ornament- rings too 

70 Bought with his life ; these fire shall devour, 
Flame shall cover, no earlman shall wear 
A jewel- memento, nor beautiful virgin 
Have on her neck rings to adorn her, 
But wretched in spirit bereaved of gold-gems 

75 She shall oft with others be exiled and banished, 
Since the leader of liegemen hath laughter forsaken, 

1 The rendering given in this translation represents the king as being gen- 
erous beyond the possibility of reproach ; but some authorities construe ' him ' 
(2996) as plu., and understand the passage to mean that no one reproached 
the two brothers with having received more reward than they were entitled to. 

8 The name ' Scyldingas ' here (3006) has caused much discussion, and given 
rise to several theories, the most important of which are as follows: (i) After 
the downfall of Hrothgar's family, Beowulf was king of the Danes, or Scyld- 
ings. (2) For 'Scyldingas' read 4 Scylfingas ' that is, after killing Eadgils, 
the Scylfing prince, Beowulf conquered his land, and held it in subjection. 
(3) M. considers 3006 a thoughtless repetition of 2053. (Cf. H.-So.) 

His gifts were be- 
yond cavil. 

To Eofor he also 
gives his only 
daughter in mar- 

It is time for us to 
pay the last mark; 
of respect to our 



The warriors go 
sadly to look at 
Beowulf s lifeless 

They also see the 

The hoard was 
under a magic 

Mirth and merriment. Hence many a war-spear 
Cold from the morning shall be clutched in the fingers, 
Heaved in the hand, no harp-music's sound shall 

80 Waken the warriors, but the wan-coated raven 
Fain over fey ones freely shall gabble, 
Shall say to the eagle how he sped in the eating, 
When, the wolf his companion, he plundered the slain." 
So the high-minded hero was rehearsing these stories 

85 Loathsome to hear ; he lied as to few of 

Weirds and of words. All the war-troop arose then, 
'Neath the Eagle's Cape sadly betook them, 
Weeping and woful, the wonder to look at. 
They saw on the sand then soulless a-lying, 

90 His slaughter-bed holding, him who rings had given them 
In days that were done ; then the death-bringing moment 
1 Was come to the good one, that the king very warlike, 
\Wielder of Weders, with wonder-death perished. 
First they beheld there a creature more wondrous, 

95 The worm on the field, in front of them lying, 
The foeman before them : the fire-spewing dragon, 
Ghostly and grisly guest in his terrors, 
Was scorched in the fire ; as he lay there he measured 
Fifty of feet ; came forth in the night-time * 

ioo To rejoice in the air, thereafter departing 

To visit his den ; he in death was then fastened, 
He would joy in no other earth-hollowed caverns. 
There stood round about him beakers and vessels, 
Dishes were lying and dear-valued weapons, 

105 With iron-rust eaten, as in earth's mighty bosom 
A thousand of winters there they had rested : 
That mighty bequest then with magic was guarded, 
Gold of the ancients, that earlman not any 
The ring-hall could touch, save Ruling-God only, 

1 B. takes 'nihtes' and 'hwflum' (3045) as separate adverbial cases, and 
renders : Joy in the air had he of yore by night, etc. He thinks that the idea of 
vanished time ought to be expressed. 

Beowulf. 103 

no Sooth-king of Vict'ries gave whom He wished to 

1 (He is earth-folk's protector) to open the treasure, God alone could 

_,, . , , ,. give access to it. 

E en to such among mortals as seemed to Him proper. 


Then 'twas seen that the journey prospered him little 
Who wrongly within had the ornaments hidden 2 
Down 'neath the wall. The warden erst slaughtered 
Some few of the folk-troop : the feud then thereafter 

5 Was hotly avenged. 'Tis a wonder where, 8 

When the strength-famous trooper has attained to the end of 
Life-days allotted, then no longer the man may 
Remain with his kinsmen where mead-cups are flowing. 
So to Beowulf happened when the ward of the barrow, 

10 Assaults, he sought for : himself had no knowledge 
How his leaving this life was likely to happen. 
So to doomsday, famous folk-leaders down did 
Call it with curses who 'complished it there 

1 The parenthesis is by some emended so as to read: (l) (He (i.e. God) 
is the hope of men); (2) (he is the hope of heroes). Gr.'s reading has no 
parenthesis, but says : . . . could touch, unless God himself, true king of victo- 
ries, gave to whom he would to open the treasure, the secret place of enchanters, 
etc. The last is rejected on many grounds. 

a For ' gehydde,' B. suggests ' gehyftde ' : the passage would stand as above 
except the change of ' hidden ' (v. 2) to ' plundered.' The reference, how- 
ever, would be to the thief, not to the dragon. 

* The passage ' Wundur . . . bdan ' (3063-3066), M. took to be a question 
asking whether it was strange that a man should die when his appointed time 
had come. B. sees a corruption, and makes emendations introducing the 
idea that a brave man should not die from sickness or from old age, but should 
find death in the performance of some deed of daring. S. sees an indirect 
question introduced by ' hwar ' and dependent upon ' wundur ' : A secret is it 
when the hero is to die, etc. Why may the two clauses not be parallel, and 
the whole passage an Old English cry of ' How wonderful is death ! ' ? S.'s 
is the best yet offered, if ' wundor ' means ' mystery. ' 


Wiglaf addresses 
his comrades. 

He tells them of 
Beowulf s last 

Beowulf s dying 


That that man should be ever of ill-deeds convicted, 

15 Confined in foul-places, fastened in hell-bonds, 

Punished with plagues, who this place should e'er ravage. 1 
He cared not for gold : rather the Wielder's 
Favor preferred he first to get sight of. 2 
Wiglaf discoursed then, Wihstan his son : 

20 " Oft many an earlman on one man's account must 
Sorrow endure, as to us it hath happened. 
The liegelord beloved we could little prevail on, 
Kingdom's keeper, counsel to follow, 
Not to go to the guardian of the gold-hoard, but let him 

25 Lie where he long was, live in his dwelling 
Till the end of the world. Met we a destiny 
Hard to endure : the hoard has been looked at, 
Been gained very grimly ; too grievous the fate that* 
The prince of the people pricked to come thither. 

30 /was therein and all of it looked at, 

The building's equipments, since access was given me, 
Not kindly at all entrance permitted 
Within under earth-wall. Hastily seized I 
And held in my hands a huge-weighing burden 

35 Of hoard-treasures costly, hither out bare them 
To my liegelord beloved : life was yet in him, 
And consciousness also ; the old one discoursed then 
Much and mournfully, commanded to greet you, 
Bade that remembering the deeds of your friend-lord 

40 Ye build on the fire-hill of corpses a lofty 
Burial-barrow, broad and far-famous, 

As 'mid world-dwelling warriors he was widely most honored 
While he reveled in riches. Let us rouse us and hasten 

1 For 'strude' in H.-So., S. suggests 'stride.' This would require 'ravage' 
(v. 1 6) to be changed to tread.' 

2 'He cared . . . sight of (17, 18), S. emends so as to read as follows: 
He (Beowulf) had not before seen the favor of the avaricious possessor. 

8 B. renders : That which drew the king thither (i.e. the treasure) wat 
granted us, but in such a way that it overcomes us. 



Again to see and seek for the treasure, 

45 The wonder 'neath wall. The way I will show you, 
That close ye may look at ring-gems sufficient 
And gold in abundance. Let the bier with promptness 
Fully be fashioned, when forth we shall come, 
And lift we our lord, then, where long he shall tarry, 

50 Well-beloved warrior, 'neath the Wielder's protection." 
Then the son of Wihstan bade orders be given, 
Mood-valiant man, to many of heroes, 
Holders of homesteads, that they hither from far, 
1 Leaders of liegemen, should look for the good one 

55 With wood for his pyre : " The flame shall now swallow 
(The wan fire shall wax *) the warriors' leader 
Who the rain of the iron often abided, 
When, sturdily hurled, the storm of the arrows 
Leapt o'er linden-wall, the lance rendered service, 

60 Furnished with feathers followed the arrow." 

Now the wise-mooded son of Wihstan did summon 
The best of the braves from the band of the ruler 
Seven together; 'neath the enemy's roof he 
Went with the seven ; one of the heroes 

65 Who fared at the front, a fire-blazing torch-light 
Bare in his hand. No lot then decided 
Who that hoard should havoc, when hero-earls saw it 
Lying in the cavern uncared-for entirely, 
Rusting to ruin : they rued then but little 

70 That they hastily hence hauled out the treasure, 
The dear- valued jewels ; the dragon eke pushed they, 
The worm o'er the wall, let the wave-currents take him, 

Wiglaf charge, 
them to build a 

He takes seven 
thanes, and enters 
the den. 

They push the 
dragon over the 

1 Folc-agende ' (31 14) B. takes as dat. sing, with ' g6dum,' and refers it to 
Beowulf; that is, Should bring fi re-wood to the place -where the good folk-ruler 

2 C. proposes to take ' weaxan ' = L. ' vescor, 1 and translate devour. This 
gives a parallel to ' fretan ' above. The parenthesis would be discarded and 
the passage read : Now shall the fire consume^ the wan-flam* devour, the 
prince of warriors, etc. 


The hoard is laid 
on a wain. 



The waters enwind the ward of the treasures. 
There wounden gold on a wain was uploaded, 
A mass unmeasured, the men-leader off then, 
The hero hoary, to Whale's-Ness was carried. 


Bowuif s pyre. The folk of the Geatmen got him then ready 

A pile on the earth strong for the burning, 
Behung with helmets, hero-knights' targets, 
And bright-shining burnies, as he begged they should have them; 
5 Then wailing war-heroes their world-famous chieftain, 
Their liegelord beloved, laid in the middle. 

The funeral-flame. Soldiers began then to make on the barrow 

The largest of dead-fires : dark o'er the vapor 
The smoke-cloud ascended, the sad-roaring fire, 
10 Mingled with weeping (the wind-roar subsided) 
Till the building of bone it had broken to pieces, 
Hot in the heart. Heavy in spirit 
They mood-sad lamented the men-leader's ruin ; 
And mournful measures the much-grieving widow 

* * * * * * * 

The Weders carry 
out their lord's last 

The men of the Weders made accordingly 

A hill on the height, high and extensive, 

Of sea-going sailors to be seen from a distance, 

And the brave one's beacon built where the fire was,. 

In ten-days' space, with a wall surrounded it, 

As wisest of world- folk could most worthily plan it- 

They placed in the barrow rings and jewels, 

Beowulf. 107 

All such ornaments as erst in the treasure Rings and gems 

War-rnooded men had won in possession : banw " 

30 The earnings of earlmen to earth they entrusted, 

The gold to the dust, where yet it remaineth 

As useless to mortals as in foregoing eras. 

'Round the dead- mound rode then the doughty-in-battle, 

Bairns of all twelve of the chiefs of the people, 
35 More would they mourn, lament for their ruler, Tb^y m <"m for 

. . ...... their lord, and sing 

Speak in measure, mention him with pleasure, 

Weighed his worth, and his warlike achievements 

Mightily commended, as 'tis meet one praise his 

Liegelord in words and love him in spirit, 
40 When forth from his body he fares to destruction. 

So lamented mourning the men of the Geats, 

Fond-loving vassals, the fall of their lord, 

Said he was kindest of kings under heaven, An ideal king. 

Gentlest of men, most winning of manner, 
45 Friendliest to folk-troops and fondest of honor. 


SEVERAL discrepancies and other oversights have been noticed in the H.-So. 
glossary. Of these a good part were avoided by Harrison and Sharp, the 
American editors of Beowulf, in their last edition, 1888. The rest will, I 
hope, be noticed in their fourth edition. As, however, this book may fall into 
the hands of some who have no copy of the American edition, it seems best 
to notice all the principal oversights of the German editors. 

From ham (194). Notes and glossary conflict ; the latter not having been altered 
to suit the conclusions accepted in the former. 

>aer gelyfan sceal dryhtnes d<5me (440). Under 'd6m' H. says 'the might of 
the Lord'; while under 'gelyfan' he says 'the judgment of the Lord.' 

Eal benc>elu (486). Under 'benc-^ehi' H. says nom.plu.; while under 'eal' he 
says nom. sing. 

Heatho-raemas (519). Under 'aetberan' H. translates ' to the Heathoremes ' ; while 
under Heatho-raemas ' he says Heathonemas reaches Breca in the swimming-match with 
Beowulf.' Harrison and Sharp (3d edition, 1888) avoid the discrepancy. 

Fah ffeond-scaffa (554). Under ' feond-scafla ' H. says 'a gleaming sea-monster'; 
under ' fan ' he says ' hostile.' 

Onfeng hraffe inwit->ancum (749). Under 'onf6V H. says 'he received the 
maliciously-disposed one '; under ' inwit-)>anc ' he says ' he grasped? etc. 

Niff-wundor s6on (1366). Under ' nffi-wundor ' H. calls this word itself nom. sing.; 
under ' seon ' he translates it as accus. sing., understanding ' man ' as subject of ' se'on.' H. 
and S. (3d edition) make the correction. 

Forgeaf hilde-bille (1521). H., under the second word, calls it instr. dat; while 
under ' forgifan ' he makes it the dat. of indir. obj. H. and S. (3d edition) make the change. 

Brad and brtin-ecg (1547). Under 'brad' H. says 'das breite Huftmesser mit 
bronzener Klinge '; under ' brdn-ecg ' he says ' ihr breites Hfiftmesser mit blitzender Klinge. v 


no Addenda. 

Yffelfce (1557). Under this word H. makes it modify ast6d.' If this be right, the 
punctuation of the fifth edition is wrong. See H. and S., appendix. 

Selran ges6htc (1840). Under seV and 'gesecan' H. caUs these two words accus. 
plu. ; but this is clearly an error, as both are nom. plu., pred. nom. H. and S. correct under 

Wiff sylftae (1978). Under wi3* and 'gesittan' H. says 'wiftrmear, by'; under 
'self he says 'opposite.' 

J6ow (2225) is omitted from the glossary. 

For dugutfum (2502). Under 'duguft' H. translates this phrase, 'in Tiichtigkeit'; 
under ' for,' by ' vor der edlen Kriegerschaar.' 

Jaer (2574). Under 'wealdan' H. translates \><zr by 'wo'; under 'm6tan,' by 'da.' 
H. and S. suggest 'if in both passages. 

Wunde (2726). Under 'wund' H. says 'dative,' and under ' wael-bleate ' he says 
' accus.' It is without doubt accus., parallel with ' benne.' 

Strengum gebaeded (3118). Under 'strengo' H. says ' Strengum ' = mit Macht; 
under ' gebseded ' he translates ' von den Sehnen.' H. and S. correct this discrepancy by 
rejecting the second reading. 

Bronda be lafe (3162). A recent emendation. The fourth edition had 'bronda 
betost.' In the fifth edition the editor neglects to change the glossary to suit the new 
emendation. See ' bewyrcan.' 



Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon * H25 
epic poem, tr.