From the archive
The poem Beowulf is contained in the Nowell Codex. As noted in lines 105–114 and lines 1260–1267 of Beowulf, Grendel and his mother are described as descendants of the Biblical Cain. Beowulf leaves Geatland in order to find and destroy Grendel, who has been attacking the mead hall Heorot, killing and eating anyone he finds there. Grendel attacks the hall after having been disturbed by the noise of the drunken revellers. One cryptic scene in which Grendel sits in the abandoned hall unable to approach the throne hints that his motives may be greed or revenge. After a long battle, Beowulf mortally wounds Grendel by ripping his arm off. Grendel dies in his cave under the swamp. There, Beowulf later engages in a fierce battle with Grendel’s mother, over whom he triumphs. Following her death, Beowulf finds Grendel’s corpse and removes his head, which he keeps as a trophy. Beowulf then returns to the surface and to his men at the “ninth hour” (l. 1600, “nōn”, about 3pm). He returns to Heorot, where he is given many gifts by an even more grateful Hroðgar.