List of translations and artistic depictions of Beowulf

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Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem of anonymous authorship. Its creation dates to between the 8th[1] and the 11th century, the only surviving manuscript dating to circa 1010.[2] At 3182 lines, it is notable for its length. It has risen to national epic status in England.[3]

Beowulf has been adapted a number of times in cinema, on the stage, and in books. In 2003, the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies published Marijane Osborn's annotated list of over 300 translations and adaptations.[4]

Poet John Dryden’s categories of translation have influenced how scholars discuss variation between translations and adaptations.[5] In the Preface to Ovid’s Epistles (1680) Dryden proposed three different types of translation:

metaphrase [...] or turning an author word for word, and line by line, from one language into another’; ‘paraphrase [...] or translation with latitude, where the author is kept in view by the translator so as never to be lost, but his words are not so strictly followed as his sense, and that, too, is admitted to be amplified but not altered’; and ‘imitation [...] where the translator – if he has not lost that name – assumes the liberty not only to vary from the words and sense, but to forsake them both as he sees occasion; and taking only some general hints from the original, to run division on the ground-work, as he pleases.[5]

The works listed below may fall in to one or more of these categories.

Cinema and television adaptations and references[edit]


Verse translations and adaptations[edit]

Novels and short stories[edit]

Graphic novels and comics[edit]

M J Weller's Beowulf Cartoon, (Writers Forum/Visual Associations, 2004)


  • Grendel: A song by Marillion is the B side to their first single, "Market Square Heroes" (1982). The recorded version of the song is 17:40 long, while the live versions regularly ran to over 20 minutes.[31]
  • The Lament for Beowulf: (1925), op. 25, by American composer Howard Hanson (1896–1981). Large-scale work for chorus and orchestra. Translation by W. Morris and A. Wyatt.[32]
  • Beowulf: Scyld's Burial (2009), by composer Ezequiel Viñao. For SATB and percussion quartet. Translation by E. Viñao.[33]
  • Beowulf: (2010) by historyteachers Set to 99 Luftballoons by Nena
  • Beowulf: A Suite for Ancient Instruments (2000) by American composer John Craton (b. 1953). A multi-movement work depicting the life and exploits of Beowulf, scored for ancient instruments. The composer also created a version for modern orchestra in 2005.[34]
  • "Hey Beowulf": A comedic rendition of the tale, performed at Peninsula High in 2007. It was written and performed by Barry Kramer, Alex Brown, Mickey Simon and Jon Jafari.
David Woodard appears as both Beowulf and Grendel in the stage production Exploding Beowulf (Berlin, 2010)

Opera and theatre[edit]

  • 2017: Beowulf, A one-person musical adaptation by Chris Thorpe, produced for the Unicorn Theatre, London, with all roles played by Debbie Korley.[35]
  • 2017: Beowulf: Lord of the Bros. A comedy rock musical written by Matt Deitchman and Jed Feder, retelling the story in the context of a college apartment. Premiered at North Carolina State University in November 2017.
  • 2016: Beowulf. An adaptation for chamber opera. Libretto and music by Hannah Lash. Commissioned by Guerilla Opera and premiered in May 2016.
  • 2016: Beowulf: A Metal Opera, a heavy metal opera written and recorded by Colorado Heavy Metal Artist Trevor Lane
  • 2010: Exploding Beowulf, a musical stage drama by Momus and David Woodard. Text by Woodard and Momus, music by Momus.
  • 2008: Beowulf - A Thousand Years of Baggage: a SongPlay by Banana Bag & Bodice. Text by Jason Craig, Music by Dave Malloy[36]
  • 2007: Beowulf: The Heart Off Guard Theatre Company produced a musical adaptation for children of the Beowulf story at the Edinburgh Fringe. Directed by Guy Jones with a score by Michael Betteridge.[37]
  • 2006: Grendel: an opera composed by Elliot Goldenthal, directed by Julie Taymor, and commissioned by Los Angeles Opera; it was given its world premiere at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on June 8, 2006, with bass Eric Owens starring in the title role.[38][39]
  • 2005: Beowulf: rock opera composed by Lenny Picket, lyrics by Lenny Pickett and Lindsey Turner, produced October–November 2005 by the Irish Repertory Theatre, directed by Charlotte Moore[40]
  • 1993. Beowulf, op. 17, chamber opera (or dramatic cantata) in one act for a chorus of young voices, light soprano, light tenor and baritone soli, by Richard Lambert.[41]
  • 1984: Beowulf: adapted for live performance by the founding members of Theatre in the Ground.[42]
  • 1974: Beowulf: A Musical Epic: a rock opera by Victor Davies (music) and Betty Jane Wylie (libretto), with Chad Allen as Beowulf.[43][44]


Board games[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • Beowulf: Viking Warrior:[46] action adventure game based on the original story, by 4HEAD Studios; cancelled after Ubisoft announced Beowulf: The Game
  • Beowulf: The Game:[47] action adventure game based on the 2007 film, developed by Ubisoft coming for PC, PS3, Xbox 360 and PSP.
  • Grendel's Cave[48]: a MUD role playing fantasy game based on the original story.
  • Beowulf (romanized on official sites as "Beowolf") is a character in Fire Emblem:Seisen no Keifu, he is portrayed as a mercenary interested only in money.[49]
  • Beowulf appears as a washed up wrestler in Skullgirls as a DLC character. His backstory shares a similarities to the real Beowulf in that he was in a wrestling match to the death with a giant named Grendel and after defeating him, Grendel's mother tried to take down Beowulf also to fail.[50]
  • beowulf also appear in the spin-off RTS Game Age of Mythology


  1. ^ Tolkien, J.R.R. (1958). Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics. London: Oxford University Press. p. 127.
  2. ^ Kiernan, Kevin S. (1997). Beowulf and the Beowulf Manuscript. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08412-8.
  3. ^ The Question of genre in bylini and Beowulf by Shannon Meyerhoff, 2006.
  4. ^ Osborn, Marijane (2003). "Annotated List of Beowulf Translations". Arizona Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.
  5. ^ a b University of Paris III: Sorbonne Nouvelle. "John Dryden, 'The Preface to Ovid's Epistles'". Theoretical Texts on Translation | Textes théoriques en traduction.
  6. ^ Walter Quinn (2007-11-23). "Beowulf' movie takes poetic license -- and then some -- from the original text". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Archived from the original on 2007-12-02. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  7. ^ Duane Dudek (2007-11-16). "The Real Beowulf". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on 2007-11-21. Retrieved 2007-11-27.
  8. ^ John V. Fleming (2007-11-29). "Good Grief, Grendel". The New Republic. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  9. ^ Treharne, Elaine (2002). Old and Middle English: An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 159–195.
  10. ^ "The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2011". Stephen Spender Trust.
  11. ^ "Summer Selections: Translation Choice". PBS Bulletin Summer 2013.
  12. ^ A Beowulf Handbook - Google Books. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  13. ^ Alexander, Michael (2003-02-27) [1973]. Beowulf: a verse translation (2003 ed.). London: Penguin. p. xxiv. ISBN 978-0-14-044931-0. Retrieved 2010-05-18.
  14. ^ "Whose Song Is Sung". 2000-10-01. Archived from the original on 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  15. ^ "Books : Fragile Things". Montreal Mirror. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  16. ^ "Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo". LoveReading4Kids. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
  17. ^ Kay, Jennifer (16 July 2018). "Review: 'The Mere Wife' explores 'Beowulf' in the suburbs". Washington Post. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  18. ^ "Dr. K's Guide to British Literature". 2007-08-27. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  19. ^ "Toon Zone - Comics - Animaniacs - Issue #49". 1999-04-14. Archived from the original on 2007-11-30. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Beowulf: a graphic novel - at". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  22. ^ "Beowulf 01 by David Hutchison". WOWIO. Archived from the original on 2009-03-01. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  23. ^ [1] Archived 2013-07-30 at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ "Beowulf: The Graphic Novel |". 2007-02-27. Archived from the original on 2009-03-09. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  25. ^ "View Data". 2010-03-12. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  26. ^ [2] Archived October 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Kid Beowulf". Kid Beowulf. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  28. ^ [3]
  29. ^ "Bob the Angry Flower: Rothgar". Stephen Notley. 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
  30. ^
  31. ^ "MARILLION lyrics - Grendel". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  32. ^ "The lament for Beowulf, op. 25, for chorus of mixed voices and orchestra. Text from the Anglo-Saxon epic, (Musical score, 1925) []". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ Marcus, Rafaella (12 October 2017). "Beowulf review at the Unicorn Theatre, London". The Stage.
  36. ^ "beowulf". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  37. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2008-12-30.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  38. ^ Gardner, John. "Grendel". NPR article. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  39. ^ Mangan, Timothy (June 9, 2006). "Opera: 'Grendel' is a monster of a show". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on September 6, 2008.
  40. ^ "BEOWULF: The Rock Opera at Irish Repertory Theatre October 7 - November 27, 2005/09/06". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  41. ^ [4][dead link]
  42. ^
  43. ^ Henk Aertsen, “Beowulf”, in A Dictionary of Medieval Heroes: Characters in Medieval Narrative Traditions and Their Afterlife in Literature, Theatre and the Visual Arts, edited by Willem P. Gerritsen and Anthony G. Van Melle translated from the Dutch by Tanis Guest, 54–59 (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2000). ISBN 0-85115-780-7. P. 59.
  44. ^ "Beowulf". Victor Davies. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  45. ^ Beowulf: The Legend Archived December 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, official page at Fantasy Flight Games.
  46. ^ Geddes, Ryan (2007-11-15). "Beowulf Game Canceled - PlayStation 3 News at IGN". Archived from the original on 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  47. ^ "Beowulf - Available Now on DVD and HD DVD". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  48. ^ Beowulf. "Grendel's Cave Home". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  49. ^ "ファイアーエムブレムミュージアム −キャラクター紹介−". Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  50. ^ "Beowulf « Skullgirls 2nd Encore". Retrieved 2016-12-16.

External links[edit]