Swords, Shields, and Bards: Beowulf and the Warrior’s Code


I. England in the Dark and Middle Ages

  1. Dark, Middle, or Medieval?
  2. The End of the Roman Empire
  3. Germanic Tribes and the Origins of the English Language
  4. Vikings and Invaders
  5. The Last of the Saxons


II. The Language and the Text

  1. The Text and the Manuscript: c. 800AD
  2. Alliterative Verse: Stressed Meter
  3. The Return of the Bard: The Scop
  4. Caedmon (658-680?) and Christianity
  5. “The Wife’s Lament”


III. Hrothgar’s Hall and Beowulf’s Arrival in Heorot

  1. The History of Heorot
  2. Grendel’s Reign of Terror
  3. Beowulf’s Arrival
  4. Hrothgar’s Hall
  5. Kinship and Ring-giving
  6. Bragging Rights


IV. The Battle with Grendel

  1. Hand-To-Hand Combat
  2. The Monster’s Hide
  3. Sigemund’s Story
  4. The Fight in Finn’s Hall


V.     The Battle with Grendel’s Mother

  1. Aeschere’s Death 
  2. The Heroic Code
  3. The Monster’s Lair
  4. The Melting Sword
  5. The Monster’s Head


VI. The Battle with the Dragon

  1. Fifty Years of Rule
  2. “Somebody Now Forgotten”
  3. Beowulf’s Hall Burned
  4. Stories of Feuds with the Swedes
  5. A Final Boast, and a Final Battle


VI. The Funeral

  1. Wiglaf’s Speech
  2. More Blood Feuds
  3. The End of an Era