Beowulf Terms

epic a long narrative poem written in an elevated style; it presents characters of high position in a series of adventures important to a race or nation.
scop anglo-saxon bard or minstrel who tells the story
caesura break in the middle of the line
alliteration repetition of original sound. Found numerously throughout the epic.
assonance repetition of vowel sounds
consonance repetition of consonant sounds
litotes kind of understatement that asserts an idea by giving the negative of its opposite
metaphor comparison made without using like or as
appositive a word or phrase that renames a nearby noun or pronoun
epithet a descriptive nickname
kenning A metaphoric compound employed in Anglo-Saxon literature in which the name of a thing is replaced by one of its functions or qualities. e.g “word hoard”
patronymic calling someone by their patriarchal lineage.
Beowulf protagonist, fights Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon
Hygelac Beowulf’s Uncle, ruler of Geatland
Wiglaf Beowulf’s one loyal soldier in the fight against the dragon also a relative of Beowulf and he is the successor to the throne
Hrothgar King of the Danes
Unferth a thane, advising King Hrothgar, he has a flyting with Beowulf.
Grendel demon that terrorizes mead-hall
Grendel’s mother fought Beowulf in the mere (/underwater lair)
Naegling Beowulf’s sword
Geats Beowulf’s kinsmen
Danes Hrothgar’s kinsmen
wyrd old Anglo-Saxon term for fate
flyting a formal exchange of insults
Hrunting the sword given to Beowulf by Unferth that proves useless in the fight in the underwater lair
elegy a poem that laments a death or loss
comitatus a group of well born men attached to a king or leader in a bond of mutual loyalty.
Mead-hall a place of safety, warmth, and community in the Anglo-Saxon world
Mead an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey
dragon the last challenge faced by Beowulf, who dies fighting it. Guards a large treasure-hoard
swords Beowulf has trouble with them as they always break, presumably because he is too strong
Heorot The great mead-hall of the Danes
barrow an Anglo-Saxon burial mound
lyric Caedmon’s hymn style
Elegiac Style of “The Wanderer”
sutton hoo Ship found in England- similar to the one on page 5
head of GrendalHilt of sword two thing Beowulf brings back from grendal’s lair

You Might Also Like