Beowulf Battle Scene performed by Benjamin Bagby

Benjamin Bagby’s Beowulf recitation uses voice, gestures, and Anglo-saxon harp to bring the ancient epic poem to life. This short clip of the Beowulf battle scene from the DVD of Bagby’s performance features high tension as the hero waits for Grendel to attack the hall after a feast.

Beowulf is an Old English epic poem in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend. Its 3,182 alliterative lines form one of the most important and most often translated works of Old English literature. The manuscript was written sometime between 975 and 1025.

What is the story of Beowulf?

The story is set in 6th century Scandinavia, and features Beowulf, a hero of the Geats. He comes to the aid of Hrothgar, king of the Danes, whose mead hall in Heorot has been under attack by the monster Grendel. Beowulf vanquishes the monster, but Grendel’s mother then attacks the hall and must be defeated.

Beowulf returns home to Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) and is crowned king of the Geats. Fifty years later, Beowulf is called once again into battle with a dragon, but is mortally wounded. After his death, his people provide a warrior’s funeral for their beloved leader, memorializing him with

“A hill on the height, high and extensive,
Of sea-going sailors to be seen from a distance,
And the brave one’s beacon . . .”

You will study Beowulf in Module 4.1 of Excellence in Literature (English 4), British Literature.

EIL 4.1 Beowulf Context


More context at Bagby’s site below.

Other British Literature (E4) videos