The Quiz




You were asked to test your knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon classic, which means forget the film versions;  they may be entertaining but are miles off the radar chart for adherence to text.

If you want to have a go before seeing the answers click here  


1.   Beowulf was most likely written in...

a. the 8th century
b. the 1500s
c. 300 BC
d. no one has the foggiest

2Beowulf text. . . . and it was written by . . .

a. a Danish King
b. a West Murcian
c. a Viking of unknown origin
d. no one has the foggiest
(scholars agree on a West Murcian, but since there is no definitive proof, we have accepted “d” as well)

3.  Beowulf was the son of...

a. Scyld
b. Eadgils
c. Healfdene
d. Ecgtheow

4. . . . and he was a...

a. Jute
b. Fisian
c. Geat
d. Git

5. Beowulf and crew sailed a “foam-necked boat” over rough, cold waters to aid Hrothgar, and were met by a coastal guard who said...

a. Follow me
b. Bugger off
c. Answer two questions and if you get them right, you may come ashore
d. First declare your faith in the Lord

6.  Grendel was...

a. bred from his monster mother and a human
b. an archangel of fire and brimstone
c. the offspring of Satan
d. the kin of Cain 

7.  On Grendel’s first raid on Hrothgar’s mead-hall, he...

a. spit fire and left
b. seized 30 thanes
c. ate 7 Geats
d. drank all the mead and nearly died of a hangover

8.  Heorot is the name of ...

a. Grendel’s mother
b. Beowulf’s king in his native land
c. the mead-hall
d. Beowulf’s ship

9.Ward Grendel The jealous Unferth chides Beowulf for supposedly losing...

a. a three-day wrestling match
b. a week-long swimming contest
c. a fight with a female sea monster
d. a battle with the Heatho-Bards

10.  . . . to which Beowulf responds...

a. au contraire, drunken Dane
b. you can’t win ’em all
c. So?
d. the opponent used illegal substances for endurance so it didn’t count

11. When Grendel first attacked the mead-hall after Beowulf’s arrival, he ate one thane, then ...

a. set fire to the hall and fled
b. sensed danger and flew off
c. nearly killed Beowulf, then disappeared
d. fought Beowulf who mortally wounded him

12.  Beowulf manages to...

a. cut out Grendel’s tongue.
b. plunge a sword in his heart
c. wrench off his hand
d. engage in dialogue

13.  Hrothgar’s wife, Wealhtheow, honors Beowulf by giving him a “mail-shirt” and...

a. a goblet
b. a ring
c. a kiss
d. a night in her boudoir

14. Grendel’s mum seeks revenge for the loss of her son, flies to the hall, and eats ...

a. Wealhtheow
b. Hrothgar
c. Yrmenlaf
d. Aeschere

15.  Beowulf tracks down the “sea-wolf” in her watery dwelling and . . .

a. slays her with a sword he finds there
b. slays her with a sword Unferth gave him
c. says he slays her but actually has sex with her
d. loses all interest by the time he gets there

16. Beowulf returns to the mead-hall with the hilt of a sword and...

a. loads of other treasure
b. the hair of Grendel’s mother
c. Grendel’s head
d. some take-away for the hoards of hungry thanes

17.  After Beowulf returns to his native land, we learn that they always thought he was...

a. dead from battle
b. off ruling in distant lands
c. an arrogant twat
d. a pussy

18.  Beowulf went on to rule the “broad kingdom” for 50 years, until a hateful dragon...

a. got ticked that some lowly thane stole a goblet of his
b. decided to seek vengeance for his mate Grendel
c. woke up from a hundred years of sleep
d. felt like raising hell

19.  Beowulf fought the dragon, resulting in... Beowulf poster

a. a victory for the dragon
b. another victory for Beowulf
c. a bloody draw - both bit the dust

20.  Beowulf’s men abandoned him except for the loyal ...

a. Hygelac
b. Wiglaf
c. Ongentheow
d. Engelberthumperdinck 

21. The 2007 film version, scripted by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, differs greatly from the original text.  Which of the following DOES adhere to the original:

a. Grendel’s mother was an Angelina Jolie-like seductress
b. Hrothgar was a drunken lout
c. Christian references appear
d. humans are basically the cause of all the evil
e. Hrothgar gives Beowulf his wife
f.  Beowulf’s loyal thane will probably fall to temptation like his forebears

22. In the 1999 film version, Beowulf is set in . . .

a. a post-apocalyptic future
b. the present day
c. a parallel universe
d. the Middle-Ages

23. And in the 2005 film Beowulf and Grendel, the hero and his gods are giving way to the new invader who is...

a. Christ
b. the Pope
c. Allah
d. right-wing conservatives

24.  John Malkovich played which character in one of the films?


25.  In 2005 which theater group attempted a musical version of Beowulf, replete with puppets, prompting one critic to say:  “This ‘Beowulf’ is not sure whether it wants to be an opera, children's theater or the next ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. . . But even [hoarse voices] could be overlooked if anything were happening onstage, beyond a group of strapping men in leathery-looking faux medieval garb strutting around, singing ‘We are the Danes’ until a Chewbacca-like Grendel predictably appears to fell them.”

the Irish Repertory Theater