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date: 29 September 2022

Beowulf 

Source:
The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity
Author(s):
Helen Foxhall ForbesHelen Foxhall Forbes

The longest surviving poem in *Anglo-Saxon (3,182 lines), though it recounts heroic deeds which occurred in Scandinavia, among the Geats, the Swedes, and the Danes. The first part of the poem narrates how the hero, Beowulf, saves King Hrothgar and the Danes by defeating Grendel, a monster descended from Cain (lines 1–2199); the second part describes how Beowulf, now much older and King of the Geats, fought and killed a fire-breathing dragon, but died in doing so (lines 2200–3182). The poem’s date is uncertain: dates ranging from the later 7th century to the early 11th have been suggested. The only surviving manuscript copy (in London, BL, Cotton Vitellius A. xv) was written by two scribes, probably in the late 10th or early 11th century; on the other hand, some of the poem’s events or figures (such as the Geatish King ... ...

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