Study Help Famous Quotes from Beowulf


Here are examples of some of the most famous quotes from Beowulf. These will help you gain a deeper understanding of this great epic poem. Beowulf was written in Britain but is set in Scandinavia, and is known only from a single manuscript which dates from close to AD 1000. It is the oldest surviving epic poem in British literature.

"His father's warrior were wound round his heart/ With golden rings, bound to their prince/ By his father's treasure. So young men build/ The future, wisely open-handed in peace,/ Protected in war; so warriors earn/ Their fame, and wealth is shaped with a sword." Page 24

"Nor have I ever seen,/ Out of all the men on earth, one greater/ Than has come with you; no commoner carries/ Such weapons, unless his appearance, and his beauty,/ Are both lies." Page 31

"recalling/ The Almighty making of the earth, shaping/ These beautiful plains marked off by oceans,/ Then proudly setting the sun and moon/ To glow across the land and light it;/ . . . made quick with life, with each/ Of the nations who now move on its face." Page 26

"Till the monster stirred, that demon, that fiend/Grendel who haunted the moors, the wild/Marshes, and made his home in a hell./Not hell but hell on earth. He was spawned in that slime/Of Cain, murderous creatures banished/ By God, punished forever for the crime/ Of Abel's death." Page 26

"Twelve winters of grief for Hrothgar, king/ Of the Danes, sorrow heaped at his door/ By hell-forged hands, His misery leaped/ The seas, was told and sung in all/ Men's ears" Page 28

"Grendel's hatred began,/ . . . the monster relished his savage war/ On the Danes, keeping the bloody feud/ Alive, seeking no peace, offering/ No truce, accepting no settlement, no price/ In gold or land, and paying the living/ For one crime only with another. No one/ Waited for reparation from his plundering claws:/ That shadow of death hunted in the darkness,/ Stalked Hrothgar's warriors." Page 28

"They arrived with their mail shirts/ Glittering, silver-shining links/ Clanking an iron song as they came./ Sea-weary still, they set their broad,/ Battle-hardened shields in rows/ Along the wall , then stretched themselves/ On Herot's benches. Their armor rang;/ Their ash-wood spears stood in a line,/ Gray-tipped and straight: the Geats' war-gear/ Were honored weapons." Page 33

"They have seen my strength for themselves,/ Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,/ Dripping with my enemies' blood. I drove/ Five great giants into chains, chased/ All of that race from the earth. I swam/ In the blackness of night, hunting monsters/ Out of the ocean, and killing them one/ By one; death was my errand and the fate/ They had earned. Now Grendel and I are called/ Together, and I've come." Page 36

"'And if death does take me, send the hammered/ Mail of my armor to Higlac, return/ The inheritance I had from Hrethel, and he/ From Wayland. Fate will unwind as it must!'" Page 37

"Beowulf, you've come to us in friendship, and because/ Of the reception your father found at court./ Edgetho had begun a bitter feud,/ Killing Hathlaf, a Wulfing warrior: /Your father's countrymen were afraid of war,/ If he returned to his home, and they turned him away." Page 37

"How many times have my men, . . . / sworn to stay after dark/ And stem that horror with a sweep of their swords./ And then, in the morning, this mead-hall glittering/ With new light would be drenched with blood, the benches/ Stained red, the floors, all wet from that fiend's/ Savage assault-and my soldiers would be fewer/ Still death taking more and more." Page 38

"Hanging high/ From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was/ the monster's/ Arm, claw, and shoulder and all." Page 49

"Wear these bright jewels, belovèd Beowulf;/ Enjoy them, . . . oh fortunate young/ Warrior; grow richer, let your fame and your strength/ Go hand in hand; and lend these two boys/ Your wise and gentle heart! I'll remember your/ Kindness. Your glory is too great to forget/ . . . Spread your blessèd protection/ Across my son, and my king's son!" Pages 61-62

"She'd brooded on her loss, misery had brewed/ In her heart, that female horror, Grendel's/ Mother, living in the murky cold lake/ Assigned her since Cain had killed his only/ Brother, slain his father's son/ With an angry sword." Page 63

"like ice when the world's/ Eternal Lord loosens invisible/ Fetters and unwinds icicles and frost/ As only He can, He who rules/ Time and seasons, He who is truly/ God." Page 73

"She and that ripening soldier will be married/ . . . Hoping that his quarrel with the Hathobards can be settled/ By a woman. He's wrong: how man wars/ Have been put to rest in a prince's bed?/ Few. A bride can bring a little/ Peace, make spears silent for a time,/ But not long." Page 86

"counting off/ the hours till the Almighty's candle went out,/ And evening came, and wild with anger/ It could fly burning across the land, killing/ And destroying with its breath. Then the sun was gone,/ And its heart was glad; glowing with rage/ . . . impatient to repay/ Its enemies. The people suffered." Page 95

"My days/ have gone as fate willed, . . . / As I knew how, swearing no unholy oaths,/ Seeking no lying wars. I can leave/ This life happy; I can die, here,/ Knowing the Lord of all life has never/ Watched me wash my sword in blood/ Born of my own family." Page 108

"The old man's mouth was silent, spoke/ No more, had said as much as it could;/ He would sleep in the fire, soon. His soul/ Left his flesh, flew to glory." pg. 110