Culture and Recreation


Why is Beowulf considered an important work?

Beowulf, the earliest manuscript of which dates to about A.D. 1000, is the oldest surviving epic poem in English or any other European vernacular. It was written in Old English (the language of the Anglo-Saxons in England; used c. A.D. 500–1100); its author is unknown. Categorized as a folk-epic, Beowulf tells the story of a Scandinavian warrior hero who, on behalf of the Danish king, fights and kills the fearsome monster Grendel, then slays the monster’s mother, and finally engages a fire-breathing dragon in mortal combat. Because of its combination of Christian and pagan themes, scholars believe the epic may have been written as early as 700 or 750.


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