Beowulf and Grendel (book)

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For the 2005 film, see Beowulf & Grendel.
Beowulf & Grendel: The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend
Author John Grigsby
Country England
Language English
Genre Non-fiction
Publisher Watkins (Sterling Publishers, distributor)
Publication date
2005 (reprint 2006)
ISBN 978-1-84293-153-0
OCLC 61177107

In Beowulf & Grendel: The Truth Behind England's Oldest Legend (2005), John Grigsby interprets Beowulf as "the recounting in poetic form of a religious conflict between two pagan cults in Denmark around AD 500" (p. 5). Grigsby argues that the poem reflects the violent ending of the native fertility religion of Nerthus. As summarized in the course of a film review in The Independent:

"Grigsby sees the work as a poetic account of forceful suppression of an older fertility cult, with human sacrifice central to its religion, in 5th-century England, and its replacement by an incoming warrior cult. Grendel stands for a vibrant English pagan religion as rich and complex as that of the early Celts. Grendel's mother represents the outgoing fertility goddess in whose sacred Danish lakes, Tacitus recorded, human victims were drowned."[1]


  1. ^ Vallely, Paul (10 November 2007). "Beowulf: A hero for our times". The Independent. Retrieved 10 August 2013.