Grendel is a huge monster, who is defeated by Beowulf. He is described as human-like but with long fingers with metal spikes instead of fingernails and an evil light glaring out of his eyes. Grendel takes over the mead-hall, built by Hrothgar. Every night Grendel kills Hrothgar's thanes. When Beowulf arrives, he is so strong that he defeats Grendel and takes his arm as a trophy.
The name of the great hero, "Beowulf," corresponds to a Beow or Beaw in West Saxon genealogy. He is seen as the divine helper of man in his struggle with the evil. He is Geat. Beowulf is the son of Ecgtheow, nephew of Hygelac, later, king of the Geats.
We are given a glimpse of Hrothgar's wise character when he delivers the speech on pride to Beowulf. Hrothgar, who is the old king of Danes, warns Beowulf about the perils that could befall him, which have nothing to do with the physical battles fought with one's enemy but arise from internal struggles against evil. From the way the speech is delivered, the reader can tell that Hrothgar is speaking out of his experience and the knowledge that comes with age. His generosity is also on display when he judiciously shares his treasure with Beowulf, an appropriate reward for Beowulf's deeds.
Among the Anglo-Saxon tribes, members of the killer's kin group contributed to pay money, to the kin of the victim. Kinsmen contributed according to the distance of the relationship to the murderer; the sum was divided among the victim's kin on the same basis. source
A place where Anglo-Saxon warriors gathered to talk and celebrate their victories or defeats. Heorot is a mead-hall, built by Hrothgar. It is described as a big hall with a golden roof. source
An alcoholic liquor made of fermented honey and water,
often flavored with spices, mead was an essential part of Anglo-Saxon warriors'
lives. After a battle, warriors gathered together in a mead-hall, drank mead and
celebrated their victory. source
An Anglo-Saxon lord had many names. One of the names for a lord is a "Ring-giver". If one of lord's thanes distinguished in a battle, his lord can give him a gift in a form of a golden ring or other armor or
ScopWandering poet or bard, who chants melodic poems, usually with a harp. Click HERE for full definition of the word "scop."
ThaneA brief definition of a thane is a warrior who fights for his lord in exchange for a land and gifts. For more information, please, read a short essay dedicated to an anonymous thane. [click]