Now *Hrothgar was renowned in battle and generosity; he builds a great mead-hall covered with gold, *Heorot, in honour of the prosperity of his rule, and to celebrate gift giving.
But a creature heard the reveling, the music, and the happiness of the hall.
This creature from the moor-land was *Grendel, descended from *Cain--one of the giant race who had survived God's flood.
Old English Text - Chapter I
Ða wæs on burgum Beowulf Scyldinga, leof leodcyning, longe þrage
55 folcum gefræge (fæder ellor hwearf, aldor of earde), oþþæt him eft onwoc heah Healfdene; heold þenden lifde, gamol ond guðreouw, glæde Scyldingas. ðæm feower bearn forð gerimed
60 in worold wocun, weoroda ræswan, Heorogar ond Hroðgar ond Halga til; hyrde ic þæt wæs Onelan cwen, Heaðoscilfingas healsgebedda. þa wæs Hroðgare heresped gyfen,
65 wiges weorðmynd, þæt him his winemagas georne hyrdon, oðð þæt seo geogoð geweox, magodriht micel. Him on mod bearn þæt healreced hatan wolde, medoærn micel, men gewyrcean
70 þonne yldo bearn æfre gefrunon, ond þær on innan eall gedælan geongum ond ealdum, swylc him god sealde, buton folcscare ond feorum gumena. ða ic wide gefrægn weorc gebannan
75 manigre mægþe geond þisne middangeard, folcstede frætwan. Him on fyrste gelomp, ædre mid yldum, þæt hit wearð ealgearo, healærna mæst; scop him Heort naman se þe his wordes geweald wide hæfde.
80 He beot ne aleh, beagas dælde, sinc æt symle. Sele hlifade, heah ond horngeap, heaðowylma bad, laðan liges; ne wæs hit lenge þa gen þæt se ecghete aþumsweorum
85 æfter wælniðe wæcnan scolde. ða se ellengæst earfoðlice þrage geþolode, se þe in þystrum bad, þæt he dogora gehwam dream gehyrde hludne in healle; þær wæs hearpan sweg,
90 swutol sang scopes. Sægde se þe cuþe frumsceaft fira feorran reccan, cwæð þæt se ælmihtiga eorðan worhte, wlitebeorhtne wang, swa wæter bebugeð, gesette sigehreþig sunnan ond monan
95 leoman to leohte landbuendum ond gefrætwade foldan sceatas leomum ond leafum, lif eac gesceop cynna gehwylcum þara ðe cwice hwyrfaþ. Swa ða drihtguman dreamum lifdon
100 eadiglice, oððæt an ongan fyrene fremman feond on helle. Wæs se grimma gæst Grendel haten, mære mearcstapa, se þe moras heold, fen ond fæsten; fifelcynnes eard
105 wonsæli wer weardode hwile, siþðan him scyppend forscrifen hæfde in Caines cynne. þone cwealm gewræc ece drihten, þæs þe he Abel slog; ne gefeah he þære fæhðe, ac he hine feor forwræc,
110 metod for þy mane, mancynne fram. þanon untydras ealle onwocon, eotenas ond ylfe ond orcneas, swylce gigantas, þa wið gode wunnon lange þrage; he him ðæs lean forgeald.
NOW Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
1 That is, "The Hart," or "Stag," so called from decorations in the gables that resembled the antlers of a deer. This hall has been carefully described in a pamphlet by Heyne. The building was rectangular, with opposite doors -- mainly west and east -- and a hearth in the middle of the single room. A row of pillars down each side, at some distance from the walls, made a space which was raised a little above the main floor, and was furnished with two rows of seats. On one side, usually south, was the high-seat midway between the doors. Opposite this, on the other raised space, was another seat of honor. At the banquet soon to be described, Hrothgar sat in the south or chief high-seat, and Beowulf oppo- site to him. The scene for a flying (see below, v.499) was thus very effectively set. Planks on trestles -- the "board" of later English litera- ture -- formed the tables just in front of the long rows of seats, and were taken away after banquets, when the retainers were ready to stretch them- selves out for sleep on the benches.