Here you will find an index of proper names found in "The Saga of Beowulf," including a short description of key events and character traits pertaining to their roles within the story as adapted, as well as pronunciation guides where this seemed helpful. In addition, both literary and historical notes are included for all characters found in external documents. In the case of persons whose roles deviate in significant ways from the original "Beowulf" poem, the salient points are mentioned for reference; in depth critical discussions can be found in the Author's Afterword. For further information regarding these characters as found in the historical manuscripts, please see the Beowulf Research section of the Archives.
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Ægnir [ag-near] - Rune-Seer and Healer of Beowulf’s clan. A tribal priest-sage, he acted as an intermediary between the Norsemen and their Gods, utilizing such means as Rune-Stones for the purpose of divination and occasional amusement.
Ældric [eld-rik] - Far-father of Ægnir.
Æschere [ash-air] - Danish warrior, elder brother of Yrmenlaf. In the poem, he was slain by the Troll-Hag and his severed head found at the mere, but here this was altered to increase the tension inherent in Unferth’s ultimate treachery.
Æsír - The younger branch of Nordic Gods, foremost of which were Odin, Thor, and Loki. They were primarily war-gods, worshipped by warriors and Kings.
Antigoon - Giant dwelling near the river Scaldis that had long ago cut off the right hands of those who could not pay the toll to cross his river, until the same was done to him.
Arabella - Wife of Jan the Frisian fisherman, mother of Jordanes, raped and slain by Hygelac.
Arni - Son of Hildegard and brother of Emily, taken by Grendel.
Attila - Leader of the Hunnic Empire, and one of the fiercest enemies of Rome.
Baldur - Æsír God of Light, son of Odin and Frigg, immune to harm from all things save mistletoe. Called the “Bright One” for his good advice, which many sought.
Beanstan - Father of Breca and founder of the Bronding clan.
Beor [bay-oar] - Danish King, father of Healfdene. It is said he slept with a Witch.
Beowulf [bay-o-wolf] - Hero of the Geats, son of Edgtheow and Hælena, grandson of Hrethel on his mother’s side, nephew of Hygelac, and cousin to both Heardred and Wiglaf. His name means “Bear-Wolf” or “Bee-Wolf” (i.e. a bear, a lover of honey). There is no historical evidence for his existence.
Bjorn - Swedish warrior who beats Weohstan at skull bowling, to his detriment. Son of Bornhold, the famous skull bowler.
Bodivar - Banner-Bearer of Beowulf’s war-band. A task seldom held for long, as you were ever at the battle-leader’s side, where most of the arrows went, and where the enemy strived to be, regardless of what lay in between. He had a fondness for lineage and heraldry.
Brabo - Roman soldier legends dubs the slayer of the giant Antigoon.
Bragi - Æsír God of Poetry and Wisdom, Bard and Herald of Valhalla. Also the name of a Geat Guardsman who drinks too much.
Breca [bre-ka] - Prince of the Bronding clan, rival of Beowulf in the swimming contest. He is mentioned in the Old English poem Widsith as that clan’s chief.
Broon - One of the Danish warriors found among the dead in Grendel’s lair.
Brunhild - Geatish wife of Guttorm, mother to Garmund. She was one of many wives and widows that looked to Hrolf for comfort in their husband’s absence.
Childebert (496-558) - King of Paris, and middle son of Clovis and Clotilde.
Childeric (437-481) - King of the Salian Franks, son of Merovech and father of Clovis.
Claire - Sister of Beaumont Abbey, into whose care Sibyl was placed.
Clodomer (495-524) - King of Orléans, eldest of the sons of Clovis and Clotilde.
Clotair (497-561) - King of Soissons, and the youngest son of Clovis and Clotilde.
Clotilde (475-545) - Queen of Franks, wife of Clovis, and mother to Clodomer, Childebert, and Clotair.
Clovis (466-511) - Merovingian King of the Saline Franks. An important historical figure, he conquered and unified the Hugas and Hetware clans of Frisian Gaul, but upon his death the Frankish Kingdom was divided among his four sons.
Dægrefn [day-raif-en] - Commander of Theodebert's war troop in Frisia, champion and standard-bearer of the Hugas tribe of Franks. He took the Brosing neck-ring from the fallen Hygelac, but was slain by Beowulf before he could take it to the Frisian King (Folcwalda). His name means “Day Raven”.
Deor [day-oar] - Danish warhorse given to Beowulf in reward for his service. The name means “brave” or “courageous,” and comes from the poem of that name.
Eadgils [ed-jils] - Prince and later King of Swedes, youngest son of Othere. He is known as Athils in three Old Norse sagas, and his is one of the three barrow mounds excavated at Old Upsala. Historically, he probably lived c.510-575.
Eanmund [een-mund] - Swedish Prince, eldest son of Othere, brother of Eadgils. Though first in line of succession, he never became a King of Swede-Land, and consequently, didn’t get a barrow mound of his own at Upsala as his brother did.
Edda - Wife of Swerting, mother of Sonja, and Great-Grandmother of Beowulf.
Edglaf [edge-laugh] - Father of Unferth and Ulrik. He exiled his son Unferth after Ulrik’s death.
Edgtheow [edge-thay-o] - Father of Beowulf. He was given the hand of Hrethel's only daughter Hælena, though the poem is silent as to why. Here, he is said to have saved King Hrethel’s life in battle by slaying the Swedish King Oní, thereby beginning the Swede-Geat blood-feud. His name means “Sword-Servant.” Called the Crimson Warrior of the North for both his hair color and his prowess on the battlefield, as well as for the red-iron sword he bore.
Edgwela [edge-whale-uh] - Danish King of the distant past, before the coming of Scyld, father of the sons slain by Heremod.
Einar [eye-nar] - Son of Eyvind Iron-Smith, maker of chain-mail armor in his father’s shop.
Elan - Queen of the Swedes, wife of Ongentheow. Her name is not actually given in the poem, but is derived from a seemingly corrupt passage. In the poem, she is captured by the Geats at Ravenswood, but later rescued by Ongentheow.
Emily - Young daughter of Hildegard. She befriended Beowulf upon his arrival in Denmark, but was later taken captive by the Troll-Hag.
Eofor [yo-for] - Tiller-man of Beowulf’s crew, son of Wonred and younger brother of Hrolf. His only mention in the poem is as the slayer of Ongentheow, a feat for which he was given the hand of Hygelac’s unnamed daughter as a bride-prize. First Lieutenant under Hrolf during the reign of Heardred.
Eormanric [yor-mun-rik] - Ancient Ostro-Gothan Tyrant-King slain by Hama the Dane, who took the Brosing neck-ring from him. He is mentioned both in Deor and Widsith. A far-father of Ingeld’s tribe of Heathobardan Ostro-Goths.
Erik - Son of Haldar and brother of Hæreth. Called Hereric in the poem, his name has been simplified here for ease of pronunciation and recognition, though it was customary at this time to alliterate sons’ names with their father’s.
Eyvind [eye-vind] - Iron-Smith in Geatburg, father of Einar. He was the foremost smith among the Geats until both he and his son undertook the ill-fated Frisian expedition, after which Svein took over his shop.
Faolin [fay-oh-lan] - Son of Finn and Hildeburh named in the Fight at Finnsburg, a fragmentary poem, part of which exists in Beowulf. He was slain in that battle by his own father. His name means “little wolf.”
Fenrir - Giant Wolf who bit off Tyr’s hand, imprisoned by the Gods in the Underworld until the coming of judgment at Ragnarök.
Finn - King of the Frisians in the Finnsburg fragment. Husband to Hildeburh of the Half-Danes, he treacherously attacked and slew her brother Hnæf, as well as their own son Faolin. He was slain in turn by Hengest. His name means “finder.”
Fitela - Son of Sigemund by his own sister Signy. Said to be a great hero in his own right.
Fleetfoot - Swedish steed that bore Osmund into battle on the Trollhight. The Anglo-Saxon name would be Fleotigfot, but this was just a bit too cumbersome, so the modern English name is used instead.
Folcwalda - King of the Frisians, a member of the Frankish league under Theodoric.
Freawaru [fray-a-wa-roo] - Daughter of Hrothgar and Wealtheow, betrothed to Ingeld to settle the Danish-Heathobard blood-feud. In the poem she had only been promised to Ingeld at the time of Beowulf’s visit to Denmark, and their doomed bonding only prophesied, although with valid historical evidence.
Freya - Vænír Goddess of Fertility, Love and Beauty. She obtained the Brosing neck-ring from the Fire-Dwarves by sleeping with four of them at once, and later fell in love with Othere and helped him win the throne of Swede-Land.
Freyr [fray-ur] - Vænír God of fertility and fruitfulness, protector of warriors in battle.
Frigg - Æsír Queen, wife of Odin, and mother of Hödur, Baldur and Bragi.
Fritha - First wife of Hygelac, mother of Heardred and Thryth. She was raped and killed by Ongentheow while under the protection of Beowulf.
Froda - King of the Heathobard tribe of Ostro-Goths (c.495-499) and father of Ingeld. He slew Healfdene, beginning the Danish-Heathobard feud, and was in turn slain by Hrothgar, for which Ingeld seeks revenge. The Froda-Ingeld story is also related in Saxo’s Historia Danica, and is mentioned in Widsith.
Garmund - Geatish son of Guttorm and Brunhild who dies at Eofor’s feet during the Battle of the Trollhight.
Gerta - Gottard’s daughter, one of Edgtheow’s early conquests.
Godfrey - Friar of the Benedictine Order who takes Sibyl to the Beaumont Abbey, after implanting her with his own seed, unbeknownst to her.
Gorn - Scout among the Geats that went to Frisia.
Gottard - Father of Gerta, husband of Hediwig.
Grendel - Ogre that terrorized the Danes at Heorot for twelve years before the arrival of Beowulf. Offspring of Griselda and the Danish King Hrothgar.
Gripnír [grip-near] - Danish warrior found among the dead in Grendel’s lair.
Griselda - Troll-Hag mother of the Ogre Grendel.
Groot - Son of Günter. A Danish farmer, he hid out and raised his children in a distant valley after his wife was slain by Grendel.
Günter [goon-tur] - Danish wood-crafter, father of Groot. He was slain at Heorot.
Guttorm [goot-torm] - Butcher of the Geats, husband to Brunhild and father of Garmund. He accused Hrolf of bedding his wife while he was away, forcing Hrolf to undergo a trial by ordeal to prove his guilt or innocence.
Hælena [hal-lay-na] - Only daughter of the Geat King Hrethel, sister to Hygelac, wife of Edgtheow, and mother of Beowulf. She is only mentioned in passing in the poem, but her name is not given and she plays no active part in it.
Hæreth [hair-eth] - Queen of the Geats. She is named Hygd in the poem, while Hæreth there is her father’s name. It is altered here to give her a more feminine and regal-sounding name. In the poem, she is said to have been “very young” when she wed Hygelac, and to have passed “few winters” in his hall; yet Hygelac has a daughter old enough to marry and a son who becomes the King. Thus, Hæreth cannot have been their mother (though this is never said), and on this basis, she is believed to be Hygelac’s second wife. It is thought by scholars that she is the “Geatish woman” who sings Beowulf’s funeral lament, and because her hair is bound (a customary sign of marriage), she may have been his wife.
Hæthcyn [hath-kin] - 2nd son of Hrethel. In the poem, he accidentally slew his older brother Herebeald in an archery contest, causing his father to die of grief, but I have used that motif elsewhere and made this one more drastic. Here, he is said to have slain his brother intentionally in battle in order to become the foremost heir of Hrethel, upon which he was executed by his father.
Haldar - Father of Hæreth and Erik. He is named Hæreth in the poem, but no more is said of him. That name has been given to his daughter instead, and this one substituted. He serves as one of Hygelac’s battle commanders.
Halga - Youngest son of Healfdene, brother to Hrothgar and father of Hrothulf. He was given the epithet Halga “the Good” in the poem, but is mentioned only once, then disappears. The corrupt passage naming his sister Yrsa provided an opportunity to explore just how the gene pool must have fared in rougher times.
Halgar - Danish warrior among the dead that come to life in Grendel’s lair. He was called the Mad-Berserker for his quick temper.
Hama - Ancient Danish hero who slew Eormanric and took the Brosing neck-ring. He is mentioned in Widsith.
Hannah - Wife of Hondscio, not named or mentioned in the poem.
Harthbard - Bardic storyteller of Hrothgar’s Danes and mentor of Widsith before the coming of Grendel.
Healfdene [hay-alf-day-na] - Former King of the Danes (-498), father of Heorogar, Hrothgar, and Halga (and probably Yrsa in the poem). He was given the name “Half-Dane” due to the fact that his father took a foreign wife.
Heardred - Son of Hygelac by his first wife, and later King of Geats. In the poem he assumed the throne as a minor, under the regency of Beowulf, but was slain in battle by Onela during a Swedish invasion of Geatland.
Heath - Son of Hondscio and Hannah, the twin of Heather.
Heather - Daughter of Hondscio and Hannah, the twin of Heath.
Heatholaf [hay-ath-o-laugh] - Wylfing warrior slain by Edgtheow, beginning a blood-feud that resulted in Edgtheow’s exile from Geatland. He was possibly of the same tribe of Wylfing Celts as Wealtheow. His name means “Battle-Legacy.”
Hediwig - Wife of Gottard and mother of Gerta.
Heimdall - Vænír God who stands as Guardian of the rainbow bridge Bifröst.
Hel - Queen of the Underworld, daughter of the God Loki and the Giantess Angurboda. She was half living flesh and half rotting and decomposing bones.
Helga - Wife of Haldar, mother of Hæreth and Erik.
Helm - King of the Helming clan of Wylfing Celts, and father of Wealtheow.
Hengest - Hnæf’s heir, here one of the few remaining warriors among the Danes. He was the Marshall of the Half-Dane Jutes in the Fight at Finnsburg, and also figures in the tales of King Arthur, but was an actual historic figure who, with his brother Horsa, was among the first to invade Britain in the 5th century. Historically, he would have died in the latter half of the 5th century (c.488), but in incorporating the Finnsburg episode into the Fall of Heorot, his presence was projected forward by several decades.
Heorogar [hay-or-o-gar] - Former King of the Danes, eldest son of Healfdene, brother of Hrothgar and Halga, father of Heoroweard. His was a short reign of less than two years, and the circumstances of his death said to be "mysterious". In fact, both he and his son were slain by Unferth at Hrothgar’s instigation.
Heoroweard [hay-or-o-weird] - Only son of Heorogar, and nephew to Hrothgar. He was passed up for the throne upon the death of his father, for unknown reasons; birth defects have been postulated, and I have followed up on that minor clue.
Herebeald [hair-a-beeld] - Eldest son of Hrethel. He was slain by his younger brother Hæthcyn, and consequently executed by his own father for the crime.
Heremod [hair-uh-mode] - Ancient King of the early Danes who ruled his people as a tyrant, before being cast out from his clan. He is said to have been miserly in dealing out his treasure to his followers, and to have murdered the sons of the Dane Edgwela. His name means ‘Battle-Heart’ and is mentioned in the Old Norse poem Hyndluljóð as having been given a helm and corselet by Odin.
Hilda - Geatish fish-wife used by Guttorm as a witness to Hrolf’s indiscretions.
Hildeburh - Wife of Finn and sister to Hnæf in the Fight at Finnsburg. A Half-Dane Jute, she was betrayed by her husband’s clan and lost both her son and brother in the battle before escaping with Hengest.
Hildegard - Mother of Emily and Arni.
Hjalmar [hyal-mar] - Bee-Keeper of the Geats, a maker of mead and ale, and consequently a very important man among the clan.
Hnæf [hnaf] - King of the Jutes, brother of Hildeburh and father of Faolin. He was treacherously slain at Finnsburg by his sister’s husband Finn.
Hödur - Blind Æsír God of Darkness who slew his brother Baldur due to Loki’s trickery.
Hogrid - Father of Signy.
Hondscio [hond-show] - The only member of Beowulf's war-band named in the poem, and only then in passing as the one Geat slain by Grendel. Here he serves as Boat-Swain on Beowulf’s ship during the voyage to Dane-Mark.
Horsa - Jute brother of Hengest, a warrior for the Danes. Historically, he figures less prominently than does his brother, and is said to have died c.450, but had his life prolonged for this adventure.
Hothbrod - Swedish warrior who slew Halga at the Battle of Sorrow Hill.
Hrethel - Former King of the Geats (c.475-499), father of Herebeald, Hæthcyn, Hygelac, and Hælena, and thus, maternal grandfather of Beowulf. He is said to have died of sorrow when Hæthcyn slew Herebeald. As King, it was his duty to enforce justice upon the slayer of a clan member, and thus he would be forced to kill one son for the death of another. In the poem, he could not do this, but here he does, after which he lost all motivation to live. The nature of his own death is less certain.
Hrethric [hreth-rik] - Eldest son of Hrothgar and Wealtheow, treacherously slain by Hrothulf, his cousin. In the poem, as well as several Norse sagas, this occurs not long after he assumed the throne, an honor he is never accorded here.
Hrolf - Master of Sail on Beowulf’s crew (not mentioned as such in the poem), son of Wonred and elder brother of Eofor. Called “Wulf” in the poem, but changed here in order to more clearly differentiate his name from Beowulf’s. He became the Commander of the Fleet during Heardred’s reign.
Hrothgar - King of Danes, son of Healfdene, husband to Wealtheow, and father of Hrethric, Hrothmund, and Freawaru. He defeated the Heruli tribe and built Heorot to commemorate the victory. He gave his daughter Freawaru to Ingeld as a peace offering to end the Danish-Heathobard feud, but Ingeld slew him anyway.
Hrothmund - Younger son of Hrothgar and Wealtheow. He disappears from the poem early on and is not heard from again, but he fares much better here, becoming King of Dane-Mark in his own right.
Hrothulf - Son of Halga, nephew of Hrothgar, and cousin to Hrethric, Hrothmund, and Freawaru. In the poem, he usurps the throne and rules for twenty years, but is ultimately himself overthrown. A figure known widely to Norse legend, he is the titular hero of Hrolf’s Saga Kraka, a later tale bearing much resemblance to Beowulf, but in which Hrothulf assumes the heroic role (and Beowulf is gone).
Hrungnír - Giant who made a magic Rune-Sword that was used by Beowulf against the Troll-Hag. In Norse mythology, he was slain by Thor.
Hygelac [hidj-uh-lak] (d.c.515-521) - King of the Geats, son of Hrethel, father of Heardred, and uncle to Beowulf. His first wife bore him two children, but after her death he took the young Hæreth for his wife in vengeance against Beowulf, whom he held responsible for Fritha’s death. He later undertook a raid on Frisia where he was slain, an event recorded in the Historia Francorum by Gregory of Tours, as well as being mentioned in the Liber Monstrorum. His bones were discovered in a burial mound on an island in the Rhine river estuary, just as Gregory said. Called among his clan the Crimson King, he wore his long red beard in braids, bound with golden rings.
Ilsa - Frisian wife of Othere, mother to Eanmund & Eadgils.
Inga - Geat wife of Healfdene and mother of Halga and Yrsa. She take captive in a raid by the Jutes when Halga was a child and later raped by him.
Ingeld [een-gayld] - King of the Heathobards, son of Froda, and husband of Freawaru. He burned Heorot in a treacherous attack, but died in the blaze, an event which, in the poem, occurred long after Beowulf’s departure. His place in history is well documented, to the extent that in the 8th century Bishop Alcuin mentioned him with disdain as a pagan heroic figure receiving too much praise.
Jan [yon] - Frisian fisherman taken captive by the Geats on their Viking expedition to the South. He survived the sinking of his slave galley and brought word to Theodoric of the Geat invasion.
Jeanne - Daughter of Sibyl by the unknown seed of Father Godfrey.
Jordanes - Son of Jan the Frisian Fisherman. He would one day become a monk of the island monastery once attacked by the Geats.
Jormungand - The World Serpent that surrounds the Outer Seas of Midgard.
Karl - Door-Warden of the Danes, slain at Heorot.
Kelvin - Door-Warden of the Danes, among the first to flee from Grendel’s lair.
Ketil - Danish warrior among the dead that come to life in Grendel’s lair.
Leif [layf] - Ship’s Navigator on Beowulf’s crew. The son of a sailor, he is here a tribute to that famous son of Erik the Red who later sailed the seas.
Loki - Giant-God of trickery and deception, blood-brother of Odin and father of Hel.
Lothar - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Leather-Crafter. An important man, it was his duty to maintain all lashings, ropes, harness, sheathes and boots. He hoped to open a leather goods shop one day (and did so).
Lucinda - Geatish serving maid of Roman birth who tends to Leif’s needs after he returns from Daneland. They were later married, living long and sailing far.
Merovech - Legendary founder of the Franks, called Merovingians after him.
Mimír - Æsír Giant-God who guards the Well of Wisdom at the foot of Yggdrasil.
Mordan - Danish warrior whose bones were used to build the arch of Grendel’s lair.
Nægling [nag-ling] - Ancestral sword of Beowulf, handed down from Hrethel to Edgtheow, and ultimately to Beowulf, who broke it in his battle with the Dragon. The name means “Nailer” (i.e. “Impaler”), or the “Foe-Nail.” It was forged of pure red-iron ore from the Dwarven mines of Oslo.
Norns - The three Wyrd Sisters who control the Fates of Men.
Odd - Danish warrior among the dead that come to life in Grendel’s lair.
Odin - Æsír God of war, called the Allfather, as he created all the other Gods as well as Men. He gave up one of his eyes to attain the wisdom of the Runes at Mimír’s Well, and sacrificed himself to learn the secrets of the Dead.
Olaf - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Wood-Crafter, elder brother of Ottar, and son of Tarkil Blood-Axe. Also an important figure, as all ships and buildings were then constructed mainly of wood. He kept his head shaved clean of all but a long, drooping mustache of crimson red.
Olga - Geat blacksmith’s daughter, one of Edgtheow’s conquests in his early years.
Onela - Younger son of Ongentheow, brother to Othere, and husband of Yrsa, whom he was forced to marry after Halga was slain at Sorrow Hill. He slew his brother and usurped the Swedish throne, subsequently attacking the Geats for harboring his banished nephews. If he was given a barrow mound it has not been found. Given the chronology of Beowulf, he would likely have lived ca.480-535.
Ongentheow [on-jen-thay-o] (d.c.510-515) - King of the Swedes, husband of Elan, and father of Othere and Onela. He is known to Norse sagas, and his is one of the three burial mounds at Old Upsala, along with his father Oní and grandson Eadgils. His father Oní was slain by Beowulf father Edgtheow. A pink-eyed albino, he was often called the White Wolf of the North, for ever at his side strode a white-haired wolfhound. Probably born around 450 AD.
Oní - Swedish father of Ongentheow, slain by Edgtheow the Geat, beginning the Swede-Geat feud which resulted in many deaths on both sides.
Oslaf - Commander of the Swedish cavalry forces under Ongentheow. His name was taken from one of the Half-Dane warriors present during the fight at Finnsburg.
Osmund - Swedish warrior assigned to stand guard with Otto over Hæreth during the Battle of Ravenswood. Otto drove him crazy with his endless idle chatter.
Othere [oh-thair] - Eldest son of Ongentheow, brother to Onela, and father of Eanmund and Eadgils, and later King of the Swedes. He was buried in a mound at Vendel, north of Upsala, and given the mysterious epithet “Vendel-Crow.” He probably lived from ca.478-532.
Ottar [oh-tar] - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Oar-Master, son of Tarkil Blood-Axe and younger brother of Olaf. He loses an arm in the battle with Grendel, but still manages to seduce the ladies. He became the Horn-Bearer during Heardred’s reign after the fall of Ragnar in the Frisian raid.
Otto - Swedish warrior assigned to stand guard over the captive Hæreth during the Battle of Ravenswood. He wanted just to be a farmer and tend his pigs and cows.
Ragnar - Horn-Bearer on Beowulf’s crew, a post of great significance, as the horn was the only means of conveying messages quickly over long distances.
Roderik - Danish youth, son of Rorik. A mighty runner who outran a pack of wild wolves. His bones were found at Grendel’s mere.
Rogier – Frankish monk of the abbey attacked by Hygelac’s war-band.
Rorik - Danish warrior, father of Roderik, whose bones were found upon the tree at Grendel’s mere.
Rowena - Wife of Dægrefn, slain by Hygelac at Nimwegen.
Rutger - Swedish Spearman under Ongentheow. His favored weapon was a nine-foot spear named Ravager that he had acquired in Frisia.
Sceaf [shafe] - Legendary father of Scyld.
Scyld [shield] - Eponymous founder of the Scylding dynasty of Danes, far-father of Hrothgar. His name represents the King’s aspect as a protector of the people.
Sibyl - Healer and Seeress of the Gifthas tribe who, after a vision, had become a Christian nun of the abbey raided by the Geats along the River Rhine.
Sigemund - Son of Volsung (Wæls) and father of Fitela (Sinfjötli in Old Norse) by his own sister Signy, slayer of the dragon Fafnir. Only in the Beowulf poem is he given this role, while in the Germanic-Wagnerian Nibelungenlied cycle he is the father of Sigurd, who is father to Fitela by Signy. He is shown as a parallel of the great hero Beowulf becomes.
Signy - Hogrid’s daughter, and one of Edgtheow’s many conquests in his early days. Not the same as Sigemund’s sister, the mother of Fitela.
Sigrid - Daughter of Ongentheow, wife of Weohstan and mother of Wiglaf.
Skuld - Eldest of the three Norns, the sisters of Fate. Her task was to sever the life-line of each mortal warrior when their day of death had come.
Sleipnir [sleep-near] - Eight-legged, snow-white warhorse of Odin that can traverse land, sea and air with equal ease.
Snorri - One of the odd characters who show up at Hondscio’s funeral service, named in honor of that greatest of Icelandic poet-historians, Snorri Sturlusson.
Sonja - Daughter of Swerting and wife to Hrethel, and by him the mother of Hygelac and Hælena, and thus, maternal Grandmother to Beowulf.
Starkath - Heathobardan warrior, father of Wolfram. Ingeld sees his boar-carved helm upon a Danish Door-Guard. Saxo has much to say concerning him, but here the name is only mentioned, and his role in Saxo taken up here by Onela.
Starfire - Swedish steed that carried Otto up the rocky slopes of the Trollhight. His Old English name would be Steorrafýr.
Stinkfish - Geat fisherman who goes on the Frisian expedition.
Sturla - Geat farmer who goes on the Frisian expedition.
Svein [svain] - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Weapons-Master. Yet another role of enormous importance, for these men lived and died by their weapons. He became the Captain of the Guard during Heardred’s reign.
Swanhild - Ancestral Queen of the Ostro-Goths. The wife of Eormanric, who slew her after she had an incestuous affair with her own son.
Swerting - Legendary founder of the Geat tribal clan, far-father to Beowulf.
Syagrius (430-486) - Last Roman legionnaire of Gaul, defeated by Clovis.
Tarkil - Father of Olaf and Ottar, founder of the Blood-Axe clan.
Theodebert (500-547) - Son of the Frank King Theodoric, and grandson of the famous Clovis. He led the defense against Hygelac’s ill-fated raid, a story told by the near-contemporary Gregory of Tours in his Historia Francorum.
Theodoric - Merovingian King of the Franks (511-534), eldest son of Clovis, and father of Theodebert.
Theodoric the Great - King of the Ostrogoths (Eastern Goths), founder of the Ostrogothic Kingdom in Italy.
Thor - Æsír God of Thunder, son of Odin and Jorth (or Fjorgyn). He was armed with the hammer Mjöllnir, which returned to his hand after being thrown. Thursday was named after him.
Thorfin - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Provisions-Keeper. It was his duty to feed the crew, and therefore he was essentially Wiglaf’s boss, and made certain that fact was well known to him at all times. He became the Banner-Bearer during Heardred’s reign, after the fall of Bodivar in Frisia.
Thormund - Danish warrior whose bones hung upon the tree at Grendel’s mere.
Thryth - Geatish daughter of Hygelac and Fritha, and later wife of Eofor. In the poem, Eofor is said to have been given the hand of Hygelac’s unnamed daughter for the slaying of Ongentheow, and here she takes her name and temperament from that infamous Queen of Offa who slew any man that looked at her.
Tyr [tier] - Æsír God of Law and Order. The bravest of the Gods, he put his hand in Fenrir’s mouth as a sign of faith, but the Wolfhound bit it off.
Ulrik - Elder son of Edglaf and brother of Unferth. He is not named in the poem, but it is he who Unferth is accused of having slain.
Unferth - Chief Councilor to King Hrothgar. He slew his brother Ulrik and was subsequently exiled from his clan. He was given refuge by Hrothgar, but proved ultimately disloyal when he conspired with Hrothulf to usurp the Danish throne. In the poem he is not seen again after Beowulf leaves Denmark.
Urdu - Youngest of the three Norns, the Wyrd Sisters, who determined men’s Fates. Her duty was to weave the threads of each man’s life as it played out.
Vagnír [vawg-near] - King of the Fire Dwarves in the caverns of the Trollhight. Named after the famous German author of Das Ring Der Nibelungen, Richard Wagner.
Valkyrie - Female warriors who choose the valiant from among the dead and carry them away to Valhalla on their wingéd steeds.
Vænír - The older branch of Nordic fertility Gods, including Njord, Freya and Freyr. They were essentially supplanted by the Æsír war-gods with the coming of the Iron Age, though farmer-folk still clung to them till recent times. They dwelt in Vanaheim, apart from the Æsír.
Verandi - Middle sister of the three Norns, whose function was to measure out the length of each mortal life.
Viggo - Geatish husband to one of the many serving women Ottar seeks to wed.
Wægmund [wag-mund] - Far-father and founder of the clan to which Beowulf and Wiglaf belong. He was a Vandal who came to ancient Swede-Land in the service of Scylf, taking a Swedish wife and winning great fame.
Waldric - Danish warriors found among the slain in Grendel’s lair.
Wealtheow [way-el-thay-o] - Queen of the Danes, wife of Hrothgar, mother of Hrethric, Hrothmund and Freawaru. She was a Wylfing Celt from the Helming clan, and was given to Hrothgar to unite the tribes in a seemingly rare instance of successful peace-weaving.
Weohstan [way-o-stan] - Father of Wiglaf. A Wægmunding Half-Swede, he married Ongentheow’s daughter Sigrid, swearing fealty and taking service with the Swedish King, under whom he was then obligated to fight against his own clan.
Widsith - Young minstrel bard who entertains the Danes. Not actually in the Beowulf poem itself, his name derives from the Old English poem Widsith, a tale of the wide wanderings of a traveling minstrel told by the title character himself, in which are to be found mention of several characters from Beowulf.
Wiglaf [wee-laugh] - Son of Weohstan, and kin to Beowulf. In the poem he doesn’t show up until nearly the end, but plays a significant role as the only loyal retainer to stand by Beowulf in his battle with the Dragon, for which he is rewarded with the crown of Geat-Land (such as it is).
Wilhelmina - Wife of Wolfric, mother of Edgtheow and Weohstan, and thus, grandmother both to Beowulf and Wiglaf.
Windermere - Danish warhorse of King Hrothgar.
Withergyld [with-ur-gild] - Regent of the Heatho-Bards during Ingeld's minority, although he is said in the poem to have died in battle with the Danes. Clearly, he could not be both regent and have died when Ingeld was only one. [see Starkath]
Wolfram - Heathobard warrior, son of Starkath, whose mail-shirt is worn by a Danish Door-Guard (probably Karl), prompting him to seek revenge.
Wolfric [wulf-rik] - Father of Edgtheow and Weohstan, paternal grandfather to Beowulf and Wiglaf. He was slain by the Swedes at the behest of Weohstan.
Wonred - Father of Hrolf and Eofor. A member of Hygelac’s war council, he was called “Iron-Fist” both for his battle valor and his gruff demeanor.
Wulfgar - Herald and Harbor-Guard of Heorot under Hrothgar. In the poem, he is only a herald, but here his role was combined with that of the harbor-guard in order to give him more dialogue and to avoid unnecessary repetition. He is of the Wulfing clan, connected with the Wylfings from whom Wealtheow came.
Yngvie [ing-vay] - Member of Beowulf’s crew serving as Shield-Bearer. Shields took a prodigious beating on a regular basis, so he was generally kept quite busy. He became Captain of the Infantry during Heardred’s reign, due to his proficiency with shield formations, though Svein did most of the actual training.
Yorick - Danish warrior whose bones were used to build the arch of Grendel’s lair.
Yrmenlaf [ur-men-lof] - Danish warrior, younger brother of Æschere. Mentioned only in passing in the poem, he becomes the third member of the party which sets out to discover Grendel’s fate.
Yrsa [ur-sa] - Husband of Onela, and sister-daughter of Halga. Her name is the Swedish equivalent of Ursula, and is the subject of a highly-debated textual issue in the poem, due to a seemingly corrupt passage, which may or may not refer to her. The name itself is not given in the poem, but derives from Hrolf’s Saga Kraka, as did the basic story for her convoluted lineage.
Ælmere - Great inland sound between Holland and Friesland, now called the IJesselmeer. Hygelac’s Geats took this route to reach the Rhine.
Æsgard [az-guard] - The Over-World, hovering above Midgard. It was specifically the realm of the Æsír, the warrior Gods, but commonly referred to all of the Upper-World, including Alfheim, Vanaheim, and Valhalla.
Ålborg - Market town in Jutland, attacked by Hrothgar’s expedition on their way to Frisia.
Alfheim [alf-hime] - Land of the Light-Elves in Æsgard.
Amuthan - Frisian village on the estuary of the River Vecht.
Arnheim - Roman town on the River Rhine, called by them Arenacum, and thus, here said to house a gladiatorial arena.
Beaumont Abbey - Fictitious nunnery where Sibyl is taken by Father Godfrey.
Bifröst [bee-froost] - The flaming Rainbow Bridge connecting Midgard to Æsgard.
Geatburg - Keep and capital of the Geat Kingdom, situated at the mouth of the Göta River on the western shores of what would become Sweden. Equated with the modern Göteborg (Gothenburg).
Gokstad - Bronding township in the Vik, south of Oseberg.
Hel - Realm of the Dead in the Underworld, ruled over by the Goddess of the same name, and including the regions both of Niflheim and Muspelheim.
Heorot [hay-o-rot] - Golden mead-hall built on the isle of Sea-Land by the Danish King Hrothgar to commemorate his victory over the defeated Heruli. The name means “Hall of the Hart.” Jotunheim - Land of the Giants in the East of Midgard.
Jutland - Modern Danish peninsula protruding from the north Germanic mainland.
Kattegat - The body of water that lies between the Jutland peninsula and the western shores of Geatland. It is this sea that Beowulf sailed on his way to Daneland.
Kaupang - Market place on the Oslo Fjord where international trade occurred since early times.
Koben’s Haven - Fictitious name derived from Copenhagen, where this village lay.
Lejre [leer] - Location of Hrothgar’s great mead-hall Heorot, some five miles inland from the northern shores of Sea-Land (modern Sjælland).
Lindholm Høge - Township near the tip of Jutland, across the Lim Fjord from Ålborg. A remarkable Viking-age stone ship cemetery is located there.
Maurik - Frisian village on the Rhine, halfway between Vechten and Arnheim.
Metz - Rich merchant city in the northeast of France.
Midgard - The Middle-World, or Middle-Earth, where mortals dwell, including Men, Dwarves, Dark-Elves and Giants. Muspelheim - Region of fire in the southern half of Hel ruled over by the Giant Surt.
Nidavellír - Land of the Dwarves in the West of Midgard.
Niflheim [neef-ul-hime] - Land of the Dead who do not go to Valhalla. It was a frozen realm of ice and snow and eternal darkness in the northern half of Hel.
Nimwegen - Roman castellum situated on the south shore of the River Waal, southwest of Arnheim.
Norden - Town on the Frisian coast from which Jan the fisherman hails, attacked by the Geats.
Orléans - Capital city of Clodomer’s kingdom, southwest of Paris on the Loire River. Later the site of Jeanne d’Arc’s triumph against the English.
Paris - Founded as a fishing village, it was made the capital of Clovis’ realm in 486. It was the capital of Childebert’s kingdom after his father’s death.
Rheims - Fortress city in northeast France on the River Vesle, an important site in Roman Gaul, and long the site of French coronations. It was the capital city of Theodoric’s kingdom of Austrasia. There the sons of Clovis fought their war.
Ringsted - Danish fort town south of Lejre where the Thing (Danish Parliament) would later meet.
Skåne - The southernmost tip of Sweden, a region of rolling hills and beech woods.
Soissons - Ancient Roman town in northern France where Clovis defeated the Roman legions in 486 AD. It was the capital of Clotair’s kingdom.
Svartalfheim - Land of the Dark-Elves in the South of Midgard.
Trelleborg - Danish settlement on the western coast of Sea-Land, where a royal earthwork fort would later be constructed.
Trondheim - Township on the western coast of Norway. The Geats are said to have traveled there on trading expeditions in Hrethel’s day.
Upsala - Central fortification of the Swedes under Ongentheow, north of the Mälar Fjord. A pagan Nordic priesthood rose up there, with many temples used for human sacrifice, and a hall belonging to the Norse God Freyr.
Utgard - Citadel of the Giants in Jotunheim.
Utrecht - Roman castelum south of Amsterdam, as the confluence of the Vecht and Rhine. It was the northernmost outpost of the Roman Gauls, but soon abandoned.
Valhalla - The Hall of Heroes in Æsgard where mortal men who fall in battle go.
Valsgärde - Village lying between Vendel and Upsala, attacked by young Edgtheow.
Vanaheim - Land of the Vænír, the Nordic Gods of fertility.
Vechten - Roman fort town south of Utrecht, called by them Fectio.
Vendel - Home of the Wendel (Vandal) clan of Wægmund, north of Upsala and Valsgärde.
Wadden Sea - Body of water lying between the mainland of the Netherlands and the outer line of islands, north of the Ælmere.
Yggdrasil - The Cosmic Tree, whose roots connect the three worlds and are watered by the Norns.