The Beowulf poem is an amazing Anglo-Saxon story about a brave hero named Beowulf who battles three savage monsters. The poem is a heroic epic that is more than 3,000 lines long, with the story taking place in 6th century Scandinavia (you can download a free copy of the Beowulf PDF by clicking the button below (this copy was translated by Ernest Kirtlan and it has very helpful footnotes and appendixes included in the book).
It isn’t known who the author of the Beowulf Poem is with scholars simply calling him the Beowulf poet. It is thought that the poem was composed in the 7th century, and it is one of the most important works of old English literature. There’s only one remaining manuscript of Beowulf left, dated to the early 11th century, and it is kept in the British Museum.
Beowulf Poem Summary
(Spoiler Alert – Skip To The End For The Free Beowulf Poem Download)
The Beowulf poem is divided into two parts. The first part of the story begins in Scandinavia, or modern-day Denmark, where King Hrothgar’s kingdom is being terrorized by a monster called Grendel who is cruel, violent and vicious. King Hrothgar is a good and wise king but unfortunately, he is too old to fight the monster. After living in fear for 12 years, Beowulf, the son of Ecgtheow, comes to King Hrothgar’s aid as a way of repaying him for saving his father’s life in earlier years. Beowulf is young, strong and brave and he faces Grendel without any weapons. He manages to kill Grendal and there is great rejoicing in the kingdom.
However, the next day Grendel’s mother, only known as the swamp-hag, attacks the kingdom wanting to avenge the death of her son. She kills one of Hrothgar’s best warriors and leaves. Beowulf follows her to her lair where he fights her. When he finally manages to kill her he sees that Grendel’s corpse is in the cavern. He cuts off the head and takes it back as a trophy for the King who richly rewards him.
Beowulf then returns to his home and his family and becomes King of Geatland where he rules wisely and peacefully over his Kingdom for 50 years.
The second part of the poem tells the story of a fire-breathing dragon who becomes incredibly angry after a man steals treasure from his lair. The dragon goes on a rampage and destroys everything and everyone in its path. Beowulf goes into battle with the Dragon knowing that he most likely won’t survive. The battle is long and brutal and his men are terrified and many of them flee into the forest out of fear.
Only one brave man by the name of Wiglaf vows to stay and fight with Beowulf and together they manage to kill the Dragon. Beowulf however is severely injured in the fight and he dies soon after the battle naming Wiglaf as his successor. There is a great funeral and Beowulf’s body is cremated on a Funeral Pyre.
Unfortunately, there aren’t really any Beowulf movie adaptations that remain completely faithful to the original Beowulf poem. Of the movies done so far, there are three that are interesting adaptations to consider watching.
Beowulf | 2007
This adaptation was directed by Robert Zemeckis and it is a live-action motion capture animation movie starring an impressive cast including Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, and Angelina Jolie to mention a few. Although the movie was praised for its animation and visual effects it didn’t do very well at the box office. Also, it took a lot of liberties in the storyline… a lot!
Beowulf and Grendel | 2005
While this adaptation also strays from the original Beowulf poem it does feel more like I would imagine a Beowulf film should feel. It tries to expand on Grendal’s backstory trying to explain why Grendal attacked King Hrothgar’s kingdom in the first place. It stars Gerhald Butler as Beowulf and Ingvar Eggert Sigurosson as Grendel. Although the scenery is magnificent (it was filmed in Iceland), the film itself only went on to receive average reviews.
The 13th Warrior
Many people say that this Beowulf poem adaptation is probably the best to date. The movie is actually based on a book called Eaters of the Dead, which was written by Michael Crichton in 1976. He based his book on two sources. The first was Beowulf and the other was the true story of Ahmad Ibn Fahdlan. Ahmad Ibn Fahdlan was an Arab explorer who traveled to the land of the Vikings in the 10th century and is one of the main references to Viking culture today.
In the 13th Warrior, we get to see the metaphoric representations of all three monsters which Beowulf faces in the poem. The story is told through the eyes of an Arab traveler who has been exiled from his home.
Beowulf Poem PDF Free Download
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Is The Beowulf PDF Free To Download?
Yes, it is! The Beowulf poem was written in around the 7th century so it is in the public domain. You are therefore welcome to download and read it for free. We hope you enjoy it!
The Beowulf poem is a true masterpiece and a treasured part of English literature. It is definitely worth exploring especially if you enjoy Viking culture and history.
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