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The Legend of Beowulf (1) : The oldest surviving heroic legend in English begins with a wild creature of the fens that hunts men for prey.
The Legend of Beowulf
Part one

Based on an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, dating from about the 8th century.

‘Beowulf’ is the oldest surviving epic in English. Set in Scandinavia, it tells of a hero who pays off a debt of honour, by helping a family friend to rid his neighbourhood of a wretched but deadly enemy.

MANY ages ago Scyld, the great King of the Danes, died. His body was committed to the sea in a great funeral ship, and the Danes did not expect to see his like again.

Among his descendants, however, was Hrothgar, a beloved leader who gathered noble men about him in his great mead-hall.

Brave warriors though they were, one enemy had the measure of them, and that was Grendel, a wretched descendant of Cain, who for twelve years had raided their hall, a place of courtesy and music, and brutally slain Hrothgar’s men one-by-one.

When Beowulf of the Geats heard it, his heart was stirred (for Hrothgar had once aided his father). He set sail at once, and pledged his assistance to Hrothgar.

One night, Grendel crept in from the sodden marshes where he had his home, and began his customary attack. But this time Beowulf leapt up, and so fierce was his grip that the creature’s shoulder was wrenched from its place.

Based on an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, dating from about the 8th century.

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Picture: © Jonathan Billinger, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
‘Beowulf’ is set in Denmark, but the English epic probably originated in East Anglia. This is the interior of a reconstructed Anglo-Saxon hall in West Stow, Suffolk, an area heavily populated by people of Danish descent in the 9th century.

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