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45 Beowulf Quotes From The Ancient Epic Poem

Read through these insightful Beowulf quotes and scroll to the bottom and share which quote was your favorite.

Beowulf is an Old English epic poem (comprising 3,182 alliterative lines) written in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend.

It is an ancient work, likely over a thousand years old.

Scholars can’t agree on the exact date, placing it anywhere between 975 and 1025.

The poet is also unknown, and scholars simply refer to the author as the “Beowulf poet.”

The poem has been translated into many languages, and even adapted into a movie with some powerhouse actors, like Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie.

These Beowulf quotes come from both the film and various translations.

The story is set in pagan Scandinavia in the 6th century.

Beowulf, played by Ray Winstone in the movie, is a hero of the Geats.

He comes to the aid of Hrothgar (Hopkins), the king of the Danes.

The King’s mead hall in Heorot has been attacked by the monster Grendel, whom Beowulf slays.

The battle doesn’t end there, though, as Grendel’s mother (Jolie) attacks, seeking vengeance for her son.

However, Beowulf kills her too, and is then named King of the Geats upon his return home.

Keep reading through these Beowulf quotes to find out how the hero’s story ends, and what makes this poem unique.

Beowulf quotes from the movie spoken by King Hrothgar and Beowulf

1. “She’s not my curse, not anymore.” ― King Hrothgar, Anthony Hopkins

2. “I am Ripper… Tearer… Slasher… Gouger. I am the Teeth in the Darkness, the Talons in the Night. Mine is strength… and lust… and power! I AM BEOWULF!” ― Beowulf, Ray Winstone

3. “They say you have a monster here. They say your lands are cursed. I am Beowulf and I’m here to kill your monster.”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

4. “If we die… it will be for GLORY, not gold.”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

5. “The time of heroes is dead: the Christ god has killed it, leaving nothing but weeping martyrs and fear and shame.”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

6. “Grendel is dead. That’s all that matters to me. He can bother me no more.” ― King Hrothgar, Anthony Hopkins

7. “With her dead and cold in the bog, is it not enough to return one monster’s head?”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

8. “Would you like to hear the story of my struggle against this monstrous hag?”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

9. “She’s no hag, Beowulf. We both know that. But answer me, did you kill her?” ― King Hrothgar, Anthony Hopkins

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10. “Would I have been able to escape her, had I not?” ― Beowulf, Ray Winstone

11. “The sea is my mother! She would never take me back to her murky womb!”  Beowulf, Ray Winstone

Beowulf quotes from the movie from the other characters

12. “There have been many a brave soldier come to taste my husband’s mead.” ― Wealtheow, Robin Wright

13. “Are you the one they call Beowulf? The Bee-Wolf. The bear. Such a strong man you are with the strength of a king. The king you will one day become.” ― Grendel’s Mother, Angelina Jolie

14. “As long as you hold me in your heart… and this golden horn remains in my keeping… You will forever be King. Forever strong, might… and all-powerful. This I promise. This… I swear…” ― Grendel’s Mother, Angelina Jolie

15. “Bards sing of Hrothgar’s shame from the frozen north to the shores of Vinland.” ― Wiglaf, Brendan Gleeson

16. “There’s no shame to be accursed by demons.” ― Soldier

17. “He was the bravest of us. He was the Prince of all warriors. His name will live forever.” ― Wiglaf, Brendan Gleeson

18. “Your legend is known from the high seas and the snow barriers to the Great Island Kingdom – you are the Monster Slayer.” ― Wiglaf, Brendan Gleeson

19. “Do you want me to go in with you?” ― Wiglaf, Brendan Gleeson

20. “One needs glamor to become a king. A man like you could own the greatest tale ever sung. Your story would live on when everything now alive is dust. Beowulf… It has been a long time since a man has come to visit me.” ― Grendel’s Mother, Angelina Jolie

21. “I see you brought me treasure.” ― Grendel’s Mother, Angelina Jolie

Beowulf quotes about death and mourning from various translations

22. “It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.” ― Beowulf

23. “For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can

win glory before death.” ― Beowulf

24. “I shall gain glory or die.” ― Beowulf

25. “Let whoever can win glory before death.” ― Beowulf

26. “And so he mourned as he moved about the world, deserted and alone, lamenting his unhappiness day and night, until death’s flood brimmed up in his heart.” ― Beowulf

27. “Each of us must accept the end of life here in this world—so we must work while we can to earn fame before death.” ― Beowulf

28. “Yet those grieving people could in no way prevail upon that noble hero, in any of his assemblies, that he would become the lord over Heardred, or choose to hold a position of kingly power.” ― Beowulf

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29. “In the time I was given, I lived in my own land, ruling my people well, never turning to treachery, or swearing to oaths contrary to right. In this I take comfort and joy when now I am stricken with death-dealing wounds.” ― Beowulf

Beowulf quotes about swords and warriors

30. “When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark.” ― Beowulf

31. “And a young prince must be prudent like that, giving freely while his father lives so that afterwards, in an age when fighting starts, steadfast companions will stand by him and hold the line.” ― Beowulf

32. “Meanwhile, the sword began to wilt into gory icicles, to slather and thaw. It was a wonderful thing, the way it all melted as ice melts when the Father eases the fetters off the frost and unravels the water-ropes. He who wields power over time and tide: He is the true Lord.” ― Beowulf

33. “No, we two in dark of night shall forego the sword, if he dares to seek war without weapon, and then may wise God, the holy Lord, judge which side will succeed, which one will win glory, as to him seems right.” ― Beowulf

34. “That was a true trophy which the battle-brave Beowulf set down before them, under the hall-roof—the hand, arm, and shoulder, with Grendel’s claw, all connected together.” ― Beowulf

35. “Then Beowulf spoke—on him, the armor shone, the mail-shirt linked by the skills of the smith: Hail to you, Hrothgar! I am Hygelac’s kinsman and devoted thane; already in youth, I have done many glorious deeds…” ― Beowulf

36. “The champion for the Danes, in a dreadful fury, despairing of life, seized the hilt of the sword, swung its great blade, and angrily struck so that it dug deep in the neck of the monster, breaking the bone-rings, slicing all the way through her body doomed by fate, and she fell dead on the floor. The sword sweat blood, while the warrior rejoiced.” ― Beowulf

37. “Then battle-brave Beowulf ordered that Hrunting Be brought to Unferth, for him to take back that sword, the beloved blade, and thanked him for that gift.” ― Beowulf

38. “Instead, in the morning, mangled and sleeping the sleep of the sword, they slopped and floated like the ocean’s leavings.” ― Beowulf

Powerful Beowulf quotes from different translations of the epic poem

39. “That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell.” ― Beowulf

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40. “In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.” ― Beowulf

41. “Fate goes ever as fate must.” ― Beowulf

42. “Over the waves, with the wind behind her and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird until her curved prow had covered the distance…” ― Beowulf

43. “Sometimes at pagan shrines they vowed offerings to idols, swore oaths that the killer of souls might come to their aid and save the people. That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell.” ― Beowulf

44. “Behaviour that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere.” ― Beowulf

45. “Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done.” ― Beowulf

Beowulf rules Geatland (Götaland in modern Sweden) as king for fifty years.

Then one day he battles a dragon, and wins, but is mortally wounded in the battle.

Beowulf’s last words were “After they burn my body, tell my warriors to build a great burial mound on the cliffs that stick out into the sea.

The sailors steering their ships on the gloomy waters will see it and call it Beowulf’s Barrow, and my people will remember me.

You are the last of our family, Wiglaf.

All the others fell when Fate decided they must.

Now I must follow them.”

His attendants cremate his body and do just that.

Because of the possibility that Beowulf was orally translated, and translated so many times, the themes of the original poem are harder to identify.

If it was told orally earlier on the timeline, during pagan times, then the paganism is central and the Christian elements were later additions.

Conversely, if the poem was originally written later on the timeline, by a Christian, then the pagan elements could be for added flair.

The poem itself is not written like a modern day poem.

There is not much use of rhyme, and there are no fixed number of beats or syllables.

Instead, the verse is alliterative, meaning that each line is in two halves (separated by a caesura), and linked by stressed syllables with similar sounds.

There is also no proven source for the poem, although it does seem similar to some Norse stories, Homer’s Odyssey, and several books from the bible.

Have you seen the movie?

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Danielle Dahl, Lead Contributor
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