Lines 1-370 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. Why is Hrothgar’s lineage given?

2. Why is Grendel’s lineage given?

3. What is Herot?

4. Why did Hrothgar build Herot?

5. Why did Herot lay empty for 12 years?

6. Why did Grendel attack Herot?

7. Why hasn’t Hrothgar rid Herot of Grendel?

8. Why does Beowulf come to Denmark?

9. Why does the sentry personally lead Beowulf and his men to Herot after hearing their reason for coming to Denmark?

10. Why does Wulfgar, the herald, urge Hrothgar to see Beowulf?

1. Hrothgar’s lineage is given to establish that he is a king. It also serves to ready the audience for the kind of poem it enjoys—one dealing with royalty, myths, or history.

2. Grendel’s lineage is given because the audience of the poem belongs to a culture shifting from paganism to Christianity. While the monster is a pagan symbol, he is descended from Cain—a fallen Biblical character—and lives “down in the darkness,” a metaphor for Hell. He is a bridge between paganism and Christianity and also holds out the promise of a battle between good and evil in the poem.

3. Herot is the sumptuously-built meadhall ordered by the Danish king, Hrothgar. It is a beautiful, huge, towering place with hammered gold gables.

4. Hrothgar ordered Herot built as a meadhall for his brave warriors in which they would live, hold their feasts, and receive their rewards from him.

5. Herot has lain empty for the past 12 years because the first night the Danish soldiers slept there Grendel attacked, killing 30 of them. The attacks continued until the soldiers realized the only way to avoid dying at Grendel’s will was to avoid Herot.

6. Grendel was awakened by the noise and commotion caused by the building of Herot. Then he was annoyed by the noise of the soldiers living and feasting there. His initial attack was caused by these factors. Thereafter, he simply liked how easy it was to kill the soldiers as they slept.

7. Since the soldiers quickly realized the only way to avoid being killed by Grendel was to avoid Herot, Hrothgar had no soldiers willing to go there. Without the soldiers, he had no way of ridding Herot of Grendel.

8. The tale of Grendel’s victory and Hrothgar’s misery spread, even across the sea to Geatland. Beowulf, feeling he is a brave and skilled soldier, brings a band of 14 of the bravest Geat warriors to kill Grendel for Hrothgar and rid Herot of its emptiness and misery.

9. The sentry is impressed by Beowulf’s openly approaching the Danish shore and the weapons the Geats carry. Once Beowulf says they have come to kill Grendel, the sentry cannot be helpful enough, even if it means personally taking them to Herot, weapons and all.

10. Wulfgar, the herald, urges Hrothgar to see Beowulf because the band’s weapons and armor suggest they are a prosperous lot; Beowulf is a mighty warrior, possibly one who could rid them of Grendel.

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Lines 371–835 Questions and Answers