Homer's Odyssey recounts the story of the return of Odysseus from the Trojan war. Although the story of Odysseus himself is fictional, the Trojan war actually was a real conflict that occurred in approximately 1200 BC. Stories about the conflict between the Mycenaean Greeks and the Trojans were handed down orally for several centuries, finally achieving their present form and being written down in approximately the eighth century BC. The Odyssey was written down in an archaic form of classical Greek known as Homeric Greek.
Beowulf describes events that took place in Scandinavia in the late fifth century AD, approximately 1700 years after the Trojan War and approximately 1200 miles to the northwest. The sole surviving manuscript of Beowulf dates to approximately 1000 AD. It is written in Old English.
Both poems are heroic tales, recounting the adventures of great warriors seen as worthy role models by their respective cultures.