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Beowulf and the Song of Roland 374-378
The epic poem Beowulf begins with the funeral of Shild Shefing, a legendary Danish king. Hrothgar is the king of the Danes at the time of the poem. His land is plagued by the monster Grendel, who sneaks into his hall, Herot, nightly and eats several of his men. Beowulf, the Geatish warrior, hears of Hrothgar’s troubles and travels with a group of men to help Hrothgar defeat the monster. Thus, in the first 256 lines of the poem, we hear about an excellent king and his exploits, a weak king and his troubles, and a young fearless warrior. How do these passages suggest the themes of doom and fate (Old English, “wyrd”)? What does this story tell us about the people who wrote this and passed this story down?