The Historical Elements in Beowulf
|What purpose do the historical references and stories serve in the
larger epic of Beowulf? Are they integrated in some way with the rest of
the story, or are they simply "added" materials? Look over the following
and decide what purpose each serves:
- lines 1-69: The Danish heritage of Hrothgar -- Shield Sheafson, Beow,
- lines 298-312: The former feud between Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow,
and Hrothgar's people, which Hrothgar settled by paying wergild.
- lines 702-746: Sigemund's rule and slaying of the dragon versus
Heremod's weak rule.
- lines 827-829, 954-958: The future upsurption of the throne from
Hrothgar's sons, Hrethric and Hrothmund, by Hrothulf. Also Hygelac's (Beowulf's lord's)
future fall before the Frisians.
- lines 866-950: Finn & Hengest (The Finnsburg Episode), esp. Hengest's vengeance
taken on Finn.
- lines 1414-1446: The heritage of the sword versus. the bloodthrist of
- lines 1615-1645: Queen Hygd versus. Queen Modthryth and Offa's
marriage to and reform on Modthryth.
- lines 1850-1855: The history of the Geats leading to Beowulf's rule.
- lines 1981-2017: Hygelac's death.
- lines 2038-2068: Herebeald's accidental slaying by his brother
Haethcyn, and their father Hrethel's resulting death in bed
- lines 2069-2090: The resulting battles that break out when Hrethel
dies. Haethcyn falls in battle before Ongentheow's men.
- lines 2442-2522: The Battle at Ravenswood: Ongentheow slays Haethcyn.
Eofor and Wulf slay Ongentheow. They are rewarded by Hygelac.