How can I distinguish between Beowulf the hero and Beowulf the poem?

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Beowulf is the name of the Scandinavian hero and the Old English epic poem about him.

The poem, considered to be one of the most important works of Old English literature, is a fictional story written in Old English (also known as Anglo-Saxon). With over 1,300 lines, the manuscript was written about 1,000 AD with no known authorship. The poem is a part of the Nowell Codex, named for the first owner of the manuscript Laurence Nowell. In the manuscript, there is no title above the poem. So it has become known as Beowulf, named after the protagonist. The Codex contains other poems, and is currently located in the British Library.

Beowulf the character is the hero of the Geats. He comes to the aid of Hrothgar, king of the Danes. Beowulf slays monster Grendel by tearing off his arm. The Grendel's mother attacks as an act of vengeance. Beowulf is a great warrior and slays her as well. Rewarded for his victories, Beowulf returns home. He rules as King of the Geats for fifty years, until a dragon attacks. He is able to slay the dragon with the help of fellow warrior Wiglaf, but not before the dragon bites Beowulf in the neck. Beowulf dies from the dragon's poison, and he is mourned and remembered as a hero. His subjects worry what life will be like without him.

The poem Beowulf tells the story of the character Beowulf. It focuses on his three great battles: with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon. While it covers much of his life, the poem does not tell us everything about Beowulf. It is not quite a biography, as we do not follow him beginning at birth. Some themes in the poem include fate, religion, and the warrior's code of honor. The character is religious, as he gives credits to the gods for his victories. Beowulf is an honorable character who strives to protect and serve.

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