Beowulf is the hero of a great English poem which is so old – at least a thousand years – that the story is a mixture of real and make-believe happenings. So it has been with the folk legends of all people. Each story-teller, or minstrel, singing the poem in the hall of a king or a noble warrior, used to add to it. Finally it was written down in the form we now know. The story tells how Beowulf sailed from Sweden to Denmark to rid the Danish kingdom of a frightful monster.
The monster named Grendel for twelve years had been forcing its way into the king’s hall and killing people. Beowulf wrestled Grendel and tore an arm off the monster. He followed Grendel’s bloody trail to a deep pool. Beowulf dived to the bottom of the pool, and killed Grendel’s mother, a terrible water demon. The Danish king rewarded the great hero and Beowulf returned to his homeland and was honored as the noblest man in the kingdom. Finally he became king. He ruled for fifty years, and the people were prosperous.
But one day the country was terrorized by a fiery dragon who lived in a burial-mound containing a treasure The aged Beow ulf commanded his men to stay a certain distance away from the mound. Beowulf stood near the entrance to the mound, from which a boiling stream was pouring, and shouted defiance at the dragon. The beast rushed out, breathing flames, and his appearance was so dreadful that the other warriors fled- all except one young soldier named Wiglaf. Beowulf was wounded in the struggle, and would have been killed, but Wiglaf disobeyed the order to remain at a distance, and came to his aid. Together with Wiglaf, Beowulf killed the dragon and gained the treasure of the mound. But Beowulf knew he was about to die of his wounds, and so he named Wiglaf his successor.
Beowulf ordered the people to burn his body after his death. His people built a big pile of wood and on it placed Beowulf’s body with his armor and the treasure of the mound. When it had burned to ashes they made a great heap of stones over it on a high cliff to be a mark for sailors at sea