Glossary of Terms !!


Aeschere: Loyal advisor to Hrothgar. He is killed by Grendel's mother.


Beowulf:  a Geatish warrior who travels to Danish lands to fight Grendel, Grendel’s mother. He later defends his own lands against a fire-breathing dragon. He has enormous strength and courage and is an affluent speaker.


Grendel: Descendent of Cain, a monstrous creature who terrorizes Hrothgar's kingdom for twelve years.


Grendel's Mother: mother of Grendel, kills Aeschere to vindicate sons death.

Heorot:   Golden hall built by Hrothgar, lord of the Danes.

Hrothgar: King of the Danes


Hrunting: the name of Unferth’s sword which he lends to Beowulf to fight Grendel’s Mother.


Mead: An alcoholic liquor made by fermenting a mixture of honey and water, favorite and preferred drink of medieval warriors.


Mead Hall: Social gathering for thanes and warriors where they drank mead (see above).


Scops: The Anglo-Saxon word for poet, the scop was the one who told the stories of previous warriors in the main hall..  See an in-depth definition.



Unferth: Unferth is a Danish warrior who has killed his brothers; however, he is still regarded with high esteem in Heorot. Unferth is jealous of Beowulf and his many accomplishments. He later loans Beowulf his sword, Hrunting, to fight Grendel’s mother which shows his inferiority as a warrior because he is giving his sword to a better warrior.


Wealhtheow:  is the Queen of the Danes. She is Hrothgar’s wife and is seen as She is a peaceweaver and cupbearer.



Other Terms used throughout Beowulf worth knowing:



Comitatus: Warrior code between the lord and his thanes in which the lord provides for his thanes in return for loyalty and protection. In most cases  thanes will give their life for their King in war and in battle.



Scyld Scefing: is a legendary Danish king and founder of the Danish lineage. He who was found abandoned when he was small and later became king of the Danish people. He was known to many as a “good king” because he conquers other tribes and makes them pay tribute to him.


Wyrd: is an Anglo Saxon word meaning fate.The Anglo-Saxons believed that fate pre-determined everything that would happen to a person.


Wergild: means “man payment.” It was a system in which a monetary value was placed on a person’s life.

It was used as the legal system of many Germanic tribes, including the Anglo-Saxons.  See an in-depth definition.


Wiglaf:  a Geatish warrior who is the only one who helps Beowulf in the fight against the dragon. He exemplifies the heroic code by

fighting alongside Beowulf while the other warriors run away. In addition to observing the heroic code, Wiglaf also demonstrates loyalty and support for his lord. He displays comitatus.