Beowulf was perhaps composed during the 9th century A. D. by someone whose name is not known. It is the earliest and the greatest epic or heroic poem.
Short Summary of Beowulf:
This epic poem describes the hero Beowulf marching with his fourteen warriors and arrive at the place of Heorot where he finds that he king of Heorot Hrothgar terrified by a monster called Grendel. Beowulf manages to kill Grendel and his monster-mother at his abode beneath a lake. After that he returns to his country and becomes the king there and rules his kingdom for fifty years. He dies of the wounds he got once during the combat fought with a dragon.
The Specialty of the Poem:
This epic poem has the magnificent ending. It describes the selfless heroism of Beowulf, anguish of his people, the memorial knoll on the low cliff, which would route every returning mariner to guide a straight course to harbor in the memory of his dead hero.
Myth and Meaning of the Poem:
The time when this poem Beowulf composed, there existed several northern legends of Beowa, a half-divine hero, and the monster called Grendel. Some consider the later as a bear and some interpret it as the malaria of the marsh lands.
As for the symbolic interpretation, some consider these myths as Beowulf’s successive fights with the three dragons as: 1. the overcoming of the threat of the sea, which was trodden by the dykes, 2. the conquering of the sea by sailing upon it, 3. the conflict with the hostile forces of nature defeated by man’s will and perseverance.
Really speaking, Beowulf is the epic portraying the picture of a brave man’s death.