mythical son of Edgetho, Higlac's nephew and follower, and later king of the Geats.
A demon descended from Cain. He preys on Hrothgar's warriors in the king's mead-hall, Herot. Because his ruthless and miserable existence is part of the retribution exacted by God for Cain's murder of Abel, he fits solidly within the ethos of vengeance that governs the world of the poem.
A demon even more monstrous than Grendel. She seeks revenge on Hrothgar's men for the death of her son. Beowulf journeys to her magical, creature-filled lair beneath the swamp in order to defeat her.
The king of the Danes. He enjoys military success and prosperity until Grendel comes to terrorize his realm. He is a wise and aged ruler, and he represents a different kind of leadership from that exhibited by the youthful warrior Beowulf. He is a father figure to Beowulf and a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes.
A Danish warrior who is jealous of Beowulf. He is unable or unwilling to fight Grendel, thus proving himself inferior to Beowulf.
Beowulf's uncle, king of the Geats, and husband of Hygd. He heartily welcomes Beowulf upon his return from Denmark.
Beowulf's father, Higlac's brother-in-law, and Hrothgar's friend. He is dead by the time the story begins, but he lives on through the noble reputation that he made for himself and in his dutiful son's remembrances.
The Geatish king who took Beowulf in as a ward after the death of Beowulf's father. He is Beowulf's grandfather.
An ancient, powerful serpent that guards a horde of treasure. Beowulf fights it in the third and final part of the epic.
A young kinsman and retainer of Beowulf. He is also Beowuf's cousin. He helps Beowulf in the fight against the dragon after the other warriors run away. He adheres to the heroic code, thereby proving himself a suitable successor to Beowulf.
a Frisian king, marrief to Hnaf's sister.
Unferth's ancient sword
a West German people, resident near the Rhine and the Meuse rivers.
a people from southern Sweden, conquered by the Swedish kingdom in about the 6th century AD.