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protagonist of the epic; Geatish hero who fights the monster Grendel, Grendel's mother, and a fire-breathing dragon; personifies all of the best values of the heroic culture
king of the Danes; enjoys military success and prosperity until Grendel terrorizes his realm; father figure to Beowulf and a model for the kind of king that Beowulf becomes
legendary Danish king from whom Hrothgar is descended; inaugurates a long line of Danish rulers and embodies the Danish tribe's highest values of heroism and leadership
Danish warrior jealous of Beowulf; unable or unwilling to fight Grendel, thus proving himself inferior to Beowulf
young kinsman and retainer of Beowulf; helps fight against the dragon while all of the other warriors run away; adheres to the heroic code, proving himself a suitable successor to Beowulf
Beowulf's father, Hygelac's brother-in-law, and Hrothgar's friend; lives on through the noble reputation that he made for himself during his life and in his dutiful son's remembrances
figure from Norse mythology, famous for slaying a dragon; foreshadows Beowulf's encounter with the dragon
the mead-hall built by the Danish King Hrothgar, to house his men, and show off his victories and fame
collar or necklace that Wealhtheow gives Beowulf as symbol of the bond of loyalty between her people and Beowulf
desire to be much talked of, both during one's life and after death; the desire for immortality through one's name, one's works, one's deeds
vanity of pride
emerging counter-ideal associated with Christianity; re-evaluation of virtue no longer as strength and valor but instead as moral awareness
fate, the strong sense of doom; replaced or complemented by Christian belief that all things happen for a reason according to God
"man-price"; a legally fixed compensation for murdering someone; token of a civilized person; stops endless blood-feuding
a kind of metaphor, not unlike the Homeric epithet; compound of two nouns, used as a poetic substitute for a common word
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