Beowulf is the conventional title of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature. It survives in a single manuscript known as the Nowell Codex. Its composition by an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet is dated between the 8th and the early 11th century.
In the poem, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, battles three antagonists: Grendel, who has been attacking the resident warriors of the mead hall of Hrošgar, the king of the Danes; Grendel's mother; and an unnamed dragon. The last battle takes place later in life, Beowulf now being king of the Geats. In the final battle, Beowulf is fatally wounded. After his death his retainers bury him in a tumulus in Geatland.
The main protagonist, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes (Germanic tribe), whose great hall, Heorot, is plagued by the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills both Grendel and Grendel's mother, the latter with a magical sword.
Later in his life, Beowulf is himself king of the Geats, and finds his realm terrorized by a dragon whose treasure had been stolen from his hoard in a burial mound. He attacks the dragon with the help of his thegns, but they do not succeed. Beowulf decides to follow the dragon into its lair, at Earnanęs, but only his young Swedish relative Wiglaf dares join him. Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded. He is buried in a tumulus by the sea.
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