The legend of Beowulf, sung by many bards for hundreds and hundreds of years, has its origins in the ancient times of the world before the Deluge. Brought in Britain by the Germanic tribes of those tumultuous Angles warriors, this epic poem told the readers all the deeds of bravery done by Beowulf, the courageous prince of Goths. Very probable, this masterful piece of literature was composed around AD 700. It was re-discovered several centuries later, at the beginning of the 18th century, in Sir Robert Bruce Cotton’s library.

The content of Beowulf, of Celtic origin, was Christianized by the efforts of some worthy Irish monks who re-written to emphasize all the deeds and virtues in full harmony with the Gospel of the eternal King, Jesus Christ. Without diminishing its narrative power, they transformed the legend of Beowulf in a sort of apology of all those virtues which are mandatory in any fight against the dark spirits represented by all those monsters faced by the hero.

Fascinated by the legend of Beowulf both as a scholar and as a passionate lover and reader of ancient stories, J.R.R. Tolkien dedicated to it a brilliant conference entitled “The Monster and Its Critics” (1936). More than that, he borrowed from Beowulf some themes and motives. Two of the best known of them are the theft of a piece from the treasure guarded by a dragon and the consummation of a sword which kills or injures a deadly spirit.


  • Author: Anonymous
  • Original title: Beowulf
  • Original language: Old English
  • Genre: Epic poem
  • Date of creation: ~ 700
  • Publication year: 1815
  • Public: Adults, teenagers

Beowulf (Translated and commented by J.R.R. Tolkien)