Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sumerian Creation Myth

Ø      This myth starts with a vast ocean. There’s something about water that suggests eternity, so Sumerians believed it must have always existed, before land, skies, stars, or the sun. There were two gods of water, Abzu, of fresh water, and his wife Tiamat, goddess of the wild salt water seas. By combining their waters, they created the first life.

Ø      They had a son named Kingu, whom they loved dearly. But, they treated their next children, Lahmu and Lahamu, like servants, standing watch at the gate of their temple, which I suppose was underwater?

Ø      Lahmu and Lahamu fell in love and had children. It may sound strange, but Sumerians thought of their gods as forces of nature, not as a human family. Besides, they didn’t have any other options, they were all that existed in the world.

Ø      These two gave birth to Anshar, god of the heavenly pole, and Kishar, goddess of the earthly pole. Their births created the heavens and the earth. Note this was never planned for nor appreciated by Abzu or Tiamat. They were quite content with the oceans.

Ø      Anshar and Kishar also fell in love, as spiritual opposites who balanced one another, so they had children of their own, Anu and Ki. Now, this is confusing because sometimes these parents and kids were different gods, and sometimes they were the same. Anshar was Anu, and Kishar was Ki. They had a limited vocabulary back then, with some words having double meanings.

Ø      Anyway, skipping that, Anu was god of the heavens, and Ki was goddess of the earth. They also fell in love, big surprise, and gave birth to the Anunnaki, the senior gods of Sumeria, led by their firstborn Enlil, god of air and wind. Anu also created the stars to be his soldiers.

Ø      Anu and Ki had a falling out, for some reason. It may have had to do with the birth of Enlil, causing the creation of air, which separated earth and the heavens for the first time. Who knows? But, Anu fell in love with another goddess named Nammu (we don’t know much of her origins, but she was kind). They had two children, Ningikurga  and Enki, god of knowledge.

Ø      Now, here’s where the story gets interesting. Enlil created a new line of lesser gods called Igigi, similar to angels, to work the land, and keep the world in order. They rebelled, much like Lucifer, and the chaos they started awoke Abzu. He figured he’d just kill all the gods and goddesses of this story, and go back to sleep. But, Enki somehow lulled Abzu back to sleep and then trapped him in Kur, the land of the dead. Enki then took his powers of water to become god of fertility.

Ø      That stopped Abzu, but his wife Tiamat was enraged. She created a host of monsters to kill the gods. Now, who killed Tiamat? It depends on which tablet you translate. It may have been Enlil, or Babylonian Marduk, or Assyrian Asshur, or Nergal. Whichever hero did it, they killed Tiamat, and used her body to maintain order in the universe. Her ribs hold up the sky. Her tail is now the Milky Way, and her crying eyes were used as sources for the Tigris and Euphrates river.

Ø      This saved the gods from death, but there was still the question of who would replace the Igigi? Here’s where we have to thank Enki. He got the idea of making the first humans out of clay. There was just one problem. They needed blood. Here the gods all got together and decided to kill Kingu, the last remaining threat to their existence, using his blood. Enki didn’t like it, but in the end he agreed and we were born! That’s why we have to work. We were chosen by the gods to take care of the world for them.

Ø      Now, just like Abzu didn’t approve being awoken, Enlil hated how noisy people were, so he came up with ways to kill us – drought, famine, and plagues. Each time, Enki would save us, and each time Enlil got angrier. Finally, he tried to wipe us out with a flood. Enki told the Sumerian king Atraharsis to build an ark for his family, and fill it with every kind of animal. He did this and saved his family just as the flood started. After a week, they found dry ground and start over again. Enlil was furious, but Enki got him to agree with new laws limiting population growth. I assume this story was used to justify the killing of children to control a city’s population, which was common practice in those days.

Mythology of Ancient Mesopotamia

Ø      Mesopotamia is the old name for the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, and Israel.

Ø      Mythology in Mesopotamia is the oldest in the world, and also the most confusing. What we know about it comes from finding pieces of tablets, often broken, that are written in cuneiform (klinové písmo). These tablets are buried in ancient cities.

Ø      We’ve learned to read these tablets thanks to the work of researchers, starting in the 19th century, who translated things like the Bahistun Inscription in Iran.

Written around 500 BC, it describes the life of the Persian king Darius, and is written in three languages, so all would understand. As a result, linguists were able to translate it.

Ø      We can read cuneiform. But, the myths are hard to put together. You might get part of the story from one tablet, and another part from a tablet in a different city, made thousands of years later. Imagine how much a story can change in a thousand years!

Ø      And, not every tablet described myths. Many were legal and business documents.

This one says someone bought beer in 3100 BC
Ø      Even more complicated, Mesopotamia was not a peaceful place. It was a collection of cities that constantly fought each other, traditionally Sumerians versus Akkadians versus Assyrians versus Hurrians. And, every once in awhile, an entire tribe of people (usually considered (povavažovaný) barbarians) would invade: Amorites, Hittites, Kassites, Elamites, Chaldeans, et cetera.

Ø      What united these cultures in terms of religion were the mythology of the Sumerians, the oldest, and longest lasting culture in Mesopotamia. Even after the Sumerian empire fell, their religious monuments and stories were so great that invading cultures copied it. Priests continued to speak and write in Sumerian, just like how Christian priests continue to study Latin today.

Ø      But it couldn’t last forever. As new cultures invaded, they changed the names of gods, and added new ones. Towards the end there were around 3,600 different deities (božstvá). All this makes it hard to learn the mythology. It's like putting a puzzle together. Here's the best I could do, spending a day on Wikipedia:

Don't worry, you don't have to learn the names.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Introduction to Mythology

Ø      What we call mythology are the stories that remain (zostavia) of the first religions of ancient (staroveký) civilizations. What we know about them come from ancient texts and tablets (pamätná tabuľa) that had to be discovered and decoded by archaeologists.

This tablet from around 1750 BC tells the story of an ancient flood

Ø      The most famous myths come from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, but there are also many from India, Africa, Polynesia, South America, and Scandinavia.

Ø      It’s funny how similar some of these myths are. In explaining creation and families of gods, many myths involve monsters, incest, and vomiting (zvracenie). It makes you wonder (byť zvedavý) what people were like back then.

Ø      Myths were more than just stories, and more than just religion (náboženstvo). In the ancient world, cities fought one another. The strongest cities controlled the small ones and demanded tribute (príspevky, dane). Any city could grow and build an army, hoping to start an empire (riša).

Ø      Every city had a patron god or goddess, and a temple (chrám) dedicated to him or her (svojho boha). Religion united the citizens in each town by answering the questions “How was the world created?” and “Why is life unfair? Why are there catastrophes like floods (záplavy)?” and “Why do kings have the right to rule (vládnuť)?”

Ø      By answering these questions, people:

1.      Knew which gods were true (theirs) and which were false (everyone else’s). They also knew how the world started, and where they came from.

2.      Understood the gods and why they did such terrible things. People believed that they could avoid (vyvarovať sa) disaster and suffering (utrpenie) by pleasing their gods with sacrifices (obeta) and prayer (modlitba).

3.      Understood why their struggle (snaha) was so important––that their city had to conquer (premôcť) all the others so that the true king of the one true religion would endure (vytrvať) and spread out around the world. It’s an idea that we still see today in the world.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Benjamin Franklin Biography

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
portrait by Joseph-Siffrein Duplessis, circa 1785

v     Benjamin Franklin was a newspaper printer by occupation, but he was also an author, scientist, political theorist, and diplomat, and is considered one of the founding fathers of America.

Benjamin Franklin National Memorial,
in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

v     From 1776-1785 Ben served as an American ambassador in France, convincing them to help us win the Revolutionary War. With his persuasion France gave crucial money and military assistance.

v     When the Revolutionary War started in 1775, Ben was one of five people who drafted the Declaration of Independence. He was the only one to sign all four documents of the revolution: The Declaration of Independence, The Treaty of Alliance with France, The Treaty of Paris, The US Constitution.

v     He was also elected governor of Pennsylvania, serving three one-year terms.

Franklin's return to Philadelphia in 1785, by Jean Leon Ferris.

v     Ben started many important institutions in America, including one of the first volunteer firefighting companies, one of the oldest libraries, The University of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Hospital – the first in America.

v     In 1733 Benjamin published his first Poor Richard's Almanack which was very popular and made him wealthy. An almanac is a calendar, mixed with seasonal weather forecasts, astronomical and astrological facts, practical household advice, puzzles, and other amusements. Ben’s almanacs also contained many witty sayings, like “a penny saved is twopence dear, Fish and visitors stink in three days,” and, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

v     Ben was a strong supporter of free speech: “In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own.” He also said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

v     During his life, Ben had owned as many as eleven slaves, as they were common in Philadelphia. But his opinion changed during his many travels in Europe. Returning home, Ben became an abolitionist, freeing his two remaining slaves, and starting the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.  He also argued for the rights of peaceful Indians living in Pennsylvania.

v     He invented the lightning rod and bifocals, among other things.

bust by Jean-Antoine Houdon, 1778
Personal Life:

He was born in Boston. His father, a chandler, wanted him to be a minister, but didn’t have enough money for Ben to finish school. At ten he dropped out and started working with his brother James as an apprentice printer. Although poor, his family was friend to the famous minister Cotton Mather, who was very influential in Benjamin’s life, especially the idea of volunteering and starting charitable societies.

James founded the first independent newspaper in the colonies, the New-England Courant, and Ben wanted to write for it. James thought Ben was too young, so Ben wrote under the pen name ‘Mrs. Silence Dogood’, a middle-aged widow, fooling everyone and gaining popularity. Two years later, when James realized he’d been tricked, Ben ran away to Philadelphia, the largest city in the colonies, to find work. He was seventeen and worked in a number of printing companies.

In that year Ben also met the love of his life, Deborah Read, the 15 year-old daughter of the landlady where he was staying. The mother disapproved of her daughter marrying so young, and meanwhile, Ben was encouraged to go work in London, which ended up being a mistake. While he was away Deborah married some jerk who took her dowry and left her, fleeing to Barbados because of his debts. She was left penniless and couldn’t remarry. But Ben didn’t care. He came back and they had a common-law marriage.

In 1729 he became publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette. Around 1747 he retired from printing and went into politics and science. In 1771 Ben toured Britain and Ireland and was appalled by the poverty he found there. He feared that colonial America would share the same fate. Ben became popular as a spokesman for the colonies in London when he got the oppressive Stamp Act repealed.

He died of a lung infection. Over 20,000 people attended his funeral. He wrote his own epitaph:

“The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ'd, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.”

Other Famous Quotes:

v     “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
v     “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”
v     “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
v     “Never ruin an apology with an excuse.”
v     “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.”
v     “There was never a bad peace or a good war.”
v     “Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.”
v     “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is Freedom, in water there is bacteria.”
v     “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
v     “In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.”

Franklin on the 100 dollar bill

Geoffrey Chaucer Biography

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400)
Most portraits were drawn years after his death. This one was
drawn during his life by Thomas Hoccleve, who may have met him.

v     Chaucer was an author, philosopher, bureaucrat, courtier (dvoran), diplomat, alchemist, and astronomer, writing a scientific treatise (pojednávanie) on the astrolabe, a tool for predicting the movements of the sun and planets.

14th century, English astrolabe
v     Because of his career in government, we have many documents about his life, whereas other poets of his day are much more mysterious.

v     The name Chaucer derives from the French chausseur, meaning ‘shoemaker’, however his father was a wealthy vintner (someone who makes wine) in London.

v     He’s considered the father of English literature. He was instrumental in the rise of the English language in writing, at a time when French and Latin were standard.

v     He’s most famous for writing The Canterbury Tales.

v     In 1359 he joined the English Army as they invaded France, beginning the 100 Years War. He was captured in the Siege of Rheims, and King Edward III paid a ransom of £16 to free him. King Edward later rewarded Geoffrey with “a gallon of wine a day, for the rest of his life,” we assume for his literary works.

v     In 1366 he married Philippa (de) Roet. They had three or four children.

v     Working for the king, Chaucer travelled widely, meeting other famous writers, such as Petrarch and Boccaccio.

v     No one is really sure when he died or how. His last historical record comes from around 1400. He was the first poet to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Poet's Corner, Westminster Abbey

Hans Christian Andersen Biography

Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

v     Born in Odense, Denmark.

v     He wrote novels, plays, and poetry, but is best remembered for his fairy tales.

v     His mother claimed he was descended from nobility, but there wasn’t any proof. Regardless, Danish King Frederick VI took a personal interest in him as a youth and paid for a part of his education.

Andersen's childhood home
v     His father died when he was 11.

v     His mother, a lawyer, remarried two years later.

v     From 11-14, Hans went to an expensive boarding school, where he had to work while attending classes, first as a bank clerk, and then as secretary to a doctor.

v     At 14 Hans went to Copenhagen to work as an actor in the Royal Danish Theatre. He had an excellent soprano voice, but it soon changed, so he switched to writing.

v     At 17 he published his first story, The Ghost at Palnatoke's Grave.

v     He later said his years in school were the darkest and most bitter of his life. His writing was discouraged (odradzovany), and he was even abused (zneužívaný) to “improve his character.”

v     The love of Andersen’s life was a girl named Riborg Voigt, but they never married. Hans met her in his youth, and he kept a letter which she wrote till the day he died. He kept it in a little pouch (vak).

v     Hans never married, being very shy with women. They thought of him more as a brother. He was also rejected (vyradený) by a couple men he fell in love with.

v     In 1833 he received a small traveling grant from the King, enabling him to set out on the first of many journeys through Europe. These trips inspired many of his stories.

v     In 1835, Hans published his first volume of Fairytales, including Thumbalina, The Little Mermaid, and The Emperor’s New Clothes.

v     In 1845, his fairytales were translated into four different languages, boosting his popularity. The Danish government soon considered him a national treasure.

Memorial at the Rosenborg Castle Gardens, Copenhagen
sculpture by August Saabye
v     In 1847 he met Charles Dickens. Both authors wrote about the problem of poverty, so they greatly respected each other.

v     He died of liver cancer. For the funeral, he recommended, “Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps.”

v     Andersen’s birthday, on April 2nd, is International Children’s Book Day.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen

The Little Match Girl
by Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875)

These events took place on the last day of the old year. Poor little girl, dressed in old worn-out clothes roamed the streets of a big town. Her parents were very poor and her father lost his job, so she was earning her bread selling matches. It was freezing and heavy snow was falling. People walking by, wrapped in warm furs, were passing her indifferently. Unfortunately, nobody needed matches.

            In the evening, tired, the girl hid herself in a corner between two houses and struck a match to warm her cold hands. She closed her eyes for a while and when she opened them again, she saw a huge fireplace with fire burning cheerfully.

            “Oh, how beautiful,” she whispered with delight, bringing her little hands closer to the flame. Then, because of a sudden gust, the match went out and the magic was gone. The girl was again on a cold pavement. Next to her was the half-burnt match.

            “Poor girl!” someone stopped for a while but soon was on his way again.

            The wind was raging around so the little street vendor took out the second match. Soon the faint flame illuminated the wall of the nearby house which suddenly became transparent. The girl could see a cozy room with a table full of food.

            “I must be dreaming,” the girl thought. But when she held out her hand for a piece of cake, the match went out and everything disappeared.

            “Happy New Year!” the people passing by were greeting each other. Nobody paid any attention to a tiny shape at the wall. Slowly it was getting dark and the lights were shining from every window. The girl looked around and sighed. She tightly wrapped herself in a patched shawl and took out another match.

            This time the flame brought out of the dark a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, glowing with burning tapers. And although Christmas was already gone, there were beautifully wrapped presents under the Christmas tree. The girl knew they were for her. Her cold cheeks blushed with joy. The Christmas tree was buzzing amicably. When the child wanted to touch the nicely smelling twigs though, the third match went out and the Christmas tree disappeared in the darkness.

            The streets became deserted. New Year was coming. The girl looked up to the starlit skies.

            “Oh if only my grandmother could be here with me!” she thought with sadness. And at the same time she heard a familiar voice next to her, “I am here, darling. Come with me and you will never know hunger nor cold again.”

            The girl embraced her grandmother tightly and they both flew upwards, far above the earth, to the land of eternal happiness.

            The next morning people walking by found the dead girl leaning against the wall. She looked as if she was smiling in her sleep.

The Brothers Grimm Biography

Jacob (1785-1863) the introvert & Wilhelm (1786-1859) the extrovert,
Drawn by their youngest brother, Ludwig

v     They were German professors and researchers. They collected and published many famous fables, folk and fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, The Pied Piper, and The Frog Prince. All in all, they popularized over 200 tales.

v     They grew up in Hanau, Germany. Their father died of pneumonia when they were around ten, leaving the family destitute (without money). They had to sell their house and lay off their servents.

v     The two brothers attended Friedrichsgymnasium, Kassel, where both headed their classes in grades.

v     Then, they went to the University of Marburg where they started collecting folk tales. All the while they had to work to earn a living. They received no financial aid from their school. In a letter, Wilhelm wrote, “We five people eat only three portions and only once a day.”

v     1808, Jacob was appointed court librarian to the King of Westphalia, and went on to become librarian in Kassel. Wilhelm soon joined him. It paid little, but gave them time to write books which made them famous.

v     In 1825 Wilhelm married. Jacob never did.

v     In 1830 both moved to the University of Göttingen to be professors. They lost their jobs in 1837 for protesting against the king, who had dissolved parliament. They then returned to Kassel, beginning their life’s work, to write a German dictionary.

v     In 1840 they got jobs as professors at the University of Berlin, where they worked till their deaths.

v     In Germany their books are the second most popular, after the Bible.

v     Disney can credit its initial success to making animated films based on Grimms’ fairytales.

v     Some of the Bro.’s Grimm’s tales are criticized for containing violence and murder. The problem is that some of these folktales weren’t originally meant for children, but many were, and all these stories were put together and sold as children stories.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Jonathan Swift Biography

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Jonathan Swift was an essayist, satirist, poet, Catholic priest, and pamphleteer, first for the Whig political party, and then the Tories.

He was Irish, and he was born and died in Dublin, but his parents were English. They were royalists who had lost all their land during the English Civil War (blame Cromwell). They then moved to Ireland to work as lawyers, but his father died before he was born, and his mother went back to England, leaving him with an uncle, Godwin Swift. His family was related to many famous writers, such as Sir Walter Raleigh.

He went to university in Dublin, but couldn’t finish because of political troubles in Ireland – the Glorious Revolution. So he went back to Englandand his mom helped him get a job as a secretary to a powerful nobleman. There, Swift met an 8 year-old girl named Esther Johnson, whom he became life-long friends. There are rumors that they eventually married, but it’s pure speculation. He called her Stella. Later on, he met another girl named Esther that he may have liked. This time her called her Vanessa. So, he had a weird habit of meeting women named Esther, giving them completely different nicknames, and maybe, possibly having affairs with them.

He got a masters degree at Oxford, became a Catholic priest, went back to Ireland, and got his doctorate of divinity at TrinityCollege in Dublin.

Swift was a member of the Scriblerus Club, including the famous writers and poets: Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot.

Swift had Ménière's disease – a disorder in the inner ear that causes vertigo, loss of balance, and hearing loss that comes and goes. No one really knows what causes it.

Swift originally published all his work anonymously, or under pseudonyms, such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, and MB Drapier. This was to keep him safe from prosecution (trestné stíhanie).


Tale of a Tub: His first major work, it’s a satire on religion. Three brothers represent the three major branches of Christianity: Peter (Catholic Church), Martin (Lutherans), and Jack (Calvinists). Many, including Queen Anne saw this as an attack on Christianity in general, and Swift got into trouble. The Tub in the title doesn’t refer to a bath, but a dissenter’s pulpit (kazatelňa), where John Swift saw himself, as a priest.

A Modest Proposal: An essay where Swift suggests that poor Irish might help themselves by selling their children as food for rich gentlemen and ladies. This satirical hyperbole (nadsádzka) mocks heartless attitudes towards the poor, as well as Irish policy in general.


v     Beowulf was a king and hero of the ancient Geats (Goths), who lived in what is now southern Sweden.

Land of the Geats

Beowulf is also the name of an epic poem about his life and great deeds (činy).

Beowulf may have looked something like this.
All the items shown were found by archaeologists.

v     You might remember the Goths (Visigoths & Ostrogoths) as the barbarians who broke up the Roman empire (Rímska ríša) with a series of invasions from 300-550 AD.

How the Romans saw the Goths, 3rd C, AD

v     No one knows what the name Beowulf means, but there are some interesting ideas. Beowa was a pagan (pohanské) god of farming. Beado-wulf is Anglo-Saxon for “war wolf”.  And then, ‘biewolf’ is an Old Dutch word for woodpecker. Who knows?

v     In addition to being an epic poem, Beowulf is a legend because it combines historical fact with fiction. Many of the characters in the book were real life kings.

v     The poem Beowulf is considered the first masterpiece (majstrovské dielo) in English literature, because the earliest written version was found in Britain, dated around 1000 AD, and written in Old English.
The original manuscript (rukopis)
    However, the story really isn’t English. It’s far older, dating to around 520 AD – according to historians, Beowulf’s uncle Hygelac died in a raid (útok) on the nation of Frisia (Franks), some time around 520 AD.

v     Also, the story doesn’t take place in Britain. It takes place in Denmark, Sweden, and surrounding islands in the Baltic Sea.

v     Beowulf is similar to Greek epic poems like the Odyssey, with heroes, villains, and fantastic monsters. But there is no mention of pagan gods, because, by this time, Christianity had traveled north from Rome, and, of course, the written version came far later, written in Christian England. The story makes a reference to the Bible in referring to the monster Grendel as a descendent (nasledovník) of Cain.

Cast of Characters:

Beowulf – the hero (hrdina)
Ecgþeow (Ecgtheow) – Beowulf’s father
Hroðgar (Hrothgar) – the Danish King
Grendel – a demon or monster
Grendel’s Mother – another demon
Hygelac – Beowulf’s uncle, and king of the Geats
Heardred – Hygelac’s son, and king after Hygelac dies.
Ohthere – king of the Swedes
Onela – Ohthere’s brother, the usurper (ten čo sa zmocnil trónu).
Eadgils and Eanmund – sons of Ohthere.

v     This story really begins with Beowulf’s father, Ecgþeow. He got into trouble, killing a nobleman in Geatland. He fled to the Danes, and king Hroðgar paid a weregild (money paid as a reparation (odškodnenie), literally “the price of a man”) so that Ecgþeow could go back home, a free man. He got married and had a son, Beowulf.

v     Years later, a horrible monster named Grendel terrorized the Danes, and Beowulf came to kill it, paying his father’s debt (dlh). Then, he had to kill its mother, who was angry at Grendel’s death.

v     After that, Beowulf went with Hygelac on that ill-fated (nešťastný) raid to Frisia. Beowulf survived by swimming away in full armor (brnenie).

v     Next came war with the Swedes in the north. The Swedish king Ohthere died, fighting with the Geats. His brother, Onela, usurped the throne (zmocnil sa trónu), and Ohthere’s sons, Eadgils and Eanmund, fled (utekli) to the Geats, begging (prosili) for help and mercy (milosť). Here was the Geats’s chance to make peace with Sweden. Young Heardred went off to fight Onela, but Onela killed him.

v     Beowulf, now the new king of the Geats wanted to avenge the death of Heardred, so he and his army attacked the Swedes, killed Onela, and the son Eadgils became king of Sweden. The Geats and Swedes finally had peace, and Beowulf reigned as king (vládol ako kráľ) for 51 years.

v     Beowulf died tragically, killed by a dragon that began terrorizing the land. Beowulf hunted it to its lair and killed it with a seax (a short sword), but was poisoned (bol otrávený) by one of its horns.

a collection of Frankish seaxes, around Beowulf's time.

v     Beowulf’s body was buried in a barrow, a man-made hill, used to bury (pochovať) kings. This was the custom at the time. Archaeologists believe his body might be in Skalunda barrow:

Beowulf is most famous for the killing of Grendel. There are two things that make it interesting. First of all, Beowulf said it wasn't enough to kill Grendel, he wanted to do it bare handed. Grendel always came to kill people in their sleep, so Beowulf pretended to sleep, then wrestled with Grendel, ripping off one of his arms. Then Grendel ran away to die in his swampland home. The second thing that's interesting is, What was Grendel anyway? It's been suggested that his name means rip and tear. he's described as having fiery eyes and large claws, being descended from Cain. But, other than that he's a unique monster, and many artists have come up with different ideas of what he looked like.
Here's a telling of the battle between Beowulf and Grendel, told in old English, with subtitles: