Beowulf Character List

Aeschere Hrothgar’s friend and counsellor who was killed by Grendel’s mother, in order to lure Beowulf into fighting her.
Beow The second king listed in the genealogy of Danish rulers with which the poem begins. Beow is the son of Shield Sheafson and father of Halfdane. The narrator presents Beow as a gift from God to a people in need of a leader.
Beowulf he protagonist of the epic, Beowulf is a Geatish hero who fights the monster Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a fire-breathing dragon. Beowulf’s boasts and encounters reveal him to be the strongest, ablest warrior around. In his youth, he personifies all of the best values of the heroic culture. In his old age, he proves a wise and effective ruler.
Breca A royal member of the Brondings, he and Beowulf engaged in a swimming contest against each other as adolescents, which Unferth claims Beowulf lost.
Dragon Guarding a treasure-trove in Geatland, he is angered when a fugitive steals a single gold-plated flagon. His raids throughout the countryside lead to a battle with Beowulf, the king’s last.
Ecgtheow Beowulf’s father, Hygelac’s brother-in-law, and Hrothgar’s friend. Ecgtheow is dead by the time the story begins, but he lives on through the noble reputation that he made for himself during his life and in his dutiful son’s remembrances.
Eofer Ongentheow, king of the Swedes, killed Wulf in battle; in return, Wulf’s brother Eofor killed Ongentheow. As a result, the Swedes still hold a grudge against the Geats, and war is sure to erupt once again.
Finn In the story of the Fight at Finnsburg, Finn is a Frisian king who marries the Danish princess
Freawaru Freawaru, Hrothgar’s daughter, is married to Ingeld the Heathobard, an attempt to create peace between two tribes through a marital alliance.
Grendel A descendant of the biblical Cain, the enormous ogre despises mankind’s joy. He menaces Hrothgar and the Danes for 12 years before facing Beowulf in battle.
Grendel’s Mother Although not as powerful as her son, she is a formidable foe. She and her son live in a cave beneath a swampy lake (or mere) where she battles Beowulf.
Halfdane The father of Hrothgar, Heorogar, Halga, and an unnamed daughter who married a king of the Swedes, Halfdane succeeded Beow as ruler of the Danes.
Heardred …Heardred is the only son of King Hygelac and Queen Hygd. Eventually, Heardred is killed in battle, leaving his cousin Beowulf to become king of the Geats.
Hengest The Dane who becomes king after Hnaef is killed fighting the Frisians in the Fight at Finnsburg.
Herebald Herebeald is the son of King Hrethel and the brother of Hygelac. In a tragic accident, Haethcyn (another brother) accidentally kills Herebeald. As a result, King Hrethel retires from public life and eventually dies.
Heorot Hrothgar’s mead-hall is more like a palace, symbolizing his and the Scyldings’ success. Grendel sees it as a symbol of mankind’s joy and delights in raiding and capturing it nightly.
Heremod An evil king who fails to fulfill the responsibilities of a lord to his people. He represents Beowulf’s opposite.
Hnaef The king of the Danes in the story of the Fight at Finnsburg. Hildeburh is his sister.
Hildeburh Her story in recounted during the second feast for Beowulf at Heorot. She is an ancient Danish princess who was married into the Frisian royalty. Her brother and her son were both killed in a war with the Frisians at Finnesburh.
Hrethel King before Hygelac. He died of grief after his son Haethcyn accidentally kills his brother Hearebeald.
Hrothgar Hrothgar is the king of the Spear-Danes when Beowulf arrives in their land, ready to fight the demon Grendel. Many years earlier, Hrothgar paid money to the Wulfings to resolve a blood feud they had with Ecgtheow, Beowulf’s father. As a result, Beowulf feels some loyalty toward Hrothgar.
Hrothful He is Hrothgar’s nephew. Wealhtheow calls upon him to protect her young sons if it should ever be necessary to do so.
Hrunting Unferth gives this sword to Beowulf to use in killing Grendel’s mother. It is unable to cut her, however, so Beowulf discards it. Later he returns it to Unferth with his thanks
Hygd Hygd is the wife of Hygelac and Queen of the Geats.
Hygelac Hygelac, the king of the Geats, is Beowulf’s lord. Late in the epic, we also learn that Hygelac was Beowulf’s foster-brother when they were children, and that Beowulf is his nephew.
Modthryth A former queen who was known for her extreme violence and was feared throughout the land. After her marriage, she was “tamed”. She serves as a foil to Hygd (Hygelac’s queen).
Ongentheow Ongentheow was king of the Swedes who was killed in battle by Eofor. Because of this, the Swedes still have a score to settle with the Geats and another war seems inevitable.
Shield Sheafson Shield Sheafson is the founder of the tribe of the Spear-Danes, a great warrior who manages to establish a little dynasty. Shield Sheafson’s funeral is one of the first scenes in Beowulf, reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance, for a Scandinavian warrior, of establishing a name for himself during life so that he can be celebrated after death.
Sigemund He is an ancient Germanic hero whose story is recounted after the fight with Grendel. He was known as the famous dragon slayer
Unferth Unferth is presented as a lesser man, a foil for the near-perfect Beowulf. The bitterness of Unferth’s chiding of Beowulf about his swimming match with Breca clearly reflects his jealousy of the attention that Beowulf receives. Later, Unferth’s gift of his sword for Beowulf’s fight against Grendel’s mother heals Unferth’s breach of hospitality.
Wealtheow Queen of the Spear-Danes and wife of King Hrothgar, appears briefly in Beowulf as the mistress of Heorot Hall. One of Wealhtheow’s most important duties is the ceremonial carrying of a goblet of mead around to the warriors during the feast, helping to establish a tone of brotherly affection between the Geats and Danes.
Wiglaf When all of Beowulf’s other thanes, or lords, abandon him, Wiglaf remains loyally with his king, encouraging and supporting him. It is only with Wiglaf’s help that Beowulf is able to defeat the dragon.As Beowulf is dying, he gives his golden necklace, called a torque, to Wiglaf, probably symbolizing the transfer of power from the dying king to his chosen successor.
Wulfgar He is one of Hrothgar’s faithful thanes. As the watchman for the Danes, he is the first to greet Beowulf and his thanes to the land of the Danes. He also deems the Geat visitors as people worthy enough to meet with Hrothgar.

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