Roberta Frank (Afterword), Burton Raffel (Introduction, Translator) Beowulf is the earliest extant poem in a modern European language- reflecting a feudal, newly Christian world of heroes and monsters, blood and victory, life and death. Its beauty, power, and artistry have kept it alive for more than thirteen centuries.
The main protagonist, whose name is Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, comes to the aid of Hroðgar, the king of the Danes, whose great hall, Heorot is plagued by the monster Grendel. Beowulf kills both Grendel and Grendel's mother, the latter with the help of a magical sword, which he uses when his own sword Hrunting is rendered powerless.
Later in his life, Beowulf is himself king of the Geats, and finds his realm terrorized by a dragon whose treasure had been stolen from his hoard in a burial mound. He attacked the dragon with his thegns, but they did not succeed. Beowulf decided to follow the dragon into its lair, at Earnanæs, but only his young Swedish relative Wiglaf dared join him. Beowulf finally slays the dragon, but is mortally wounded. He is buried in a barrow by the sea.