Beowulf Study Guide

What is a literary character that embodies the values of his/her culture? Epic Hero
Who, most likely, wrote Beowulf? (based on what is known about literature during the middle ages) A monk
What is the name for an Anglo-Saxon entertainer who performed songs of heroes? scops
What does Beowulf gain from the battle with the dragon? treasure, glory, and fame
In lines 462-464 the narrator remarks, “So fame comes to the men who mean to win it and care about nothing else!” This occurs during which of Beowulf’s battles? Beowulf’s battle with Grendel’s mother
In lines 184-186, which character says, “A soldier should know the difference between words / And deeds, and keep that knowledge clear / In his brain.” The soldier from the dales who Beowulf first meets
In the Biblical allusion in line s19-29, which biblical figure is Grendel compared to/descended from? Cain
What do we know about the religion of the person who wrote Beowulf? They practiced mainly Christian beliefs with some pagan influences
What language was Beowulf written in? The vernacular of the region and time period
Why did Beowulf set out to fight Grendel? For glory and fame
Why can’t Grendel destroy Hrothgar’s throne or harm the king? Hrothgar is protected by God because he is the king
Who stole the cup from the dragon? A runaway slave who sought recompense with his master by offering the cup
Where did the dragon’s treasure come from? It came from a precursor dynasty that had long since died out
What weapons does Beowulf use against the dragon? chainmail shirt, sword, and shield
Who says the following quote (lines 883-884): “we swore / That these swords and armor were each for us all!” Wiglaf
What does Beowulf tell the Geats to do, to show that they remember him? Name a tower after him
What is a shroud? length of cloth or an enveloping garment in which a dead person is wrapped for burial
What is a comitatus? Name for an anglo-saxon kinship group
During the middle ages, where were literary texts created and preserved? In the churches and monasteries
The price paid to a tribe as reparation for killing one of its warriors is called what? WarGuild
Author of Beowulf Seamus Heaney
Shield Great king of the ancient Danes and founder of the royal line
Why does the book begin with shields death? to give background on the Danes
Hrothgar He is the King of the Danes at the time of Grendel’s assaults. He builds the hall Heorot as a tribute to his people and his reign.
Grendel A demon descended from Cain, Grendel preys on Hrothgar’s warriors in the king’s mead-hall, Heorot. Because his ruthless and miserable existence is part of the retribution exacted by God for Cain’s murder of Abel, Grendel fits solidly within the ethos of vengeance that governs the world of the poem.
Beowulf Nephew of the Geatish king Hygelac and greatest hero of the world
unferth A Danish warrior who is jealous of Beowulf, Unferth is unable or unwilling to fight Grendel, thus proving himself inferior to Beowulf.
How does Beowulf plan on fighting Grendel? unarmed
What does Grendel leave behind when Beowulf attacks? his arm
Where does Grendel go after Beowulf attacks? Back to his swap land terrified
Why does the scop recite the story of Sigemund? He was a great hero who slayed a dragon just like Beowulf taking down Grendel.
What does Wealhtheow have to say to Beowulf? She wants Beowulf to act as a friend to her children when she dies and make sure they are treated well.
Who attacks the second time at the mead-hall? grendels mother seaking revenge
What does Grendel’s mother take when she heads back to the swap land? Grendels arm
What does Unferth lend Beowulf going into the battle with Grendel’s mother? The great and seasoned sword hrunting
What saves Beowulf when he is dragged to Grendel’s mothers court? He grabs the sword on the wall used for fighting off giants
Why do the Danes return home and leave Beowulf? They see blood rise to the top of the water and lose hope
What is Beowulf given for his great success? 12 treasures
king heremod An evil king of legend. The scop, or bard, at Heorot discusses King Heremod as a figure who contrasts greatly with Beowulf.

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