Sunday, October 24, 2010

31 Monsters of October, Day 24: Grendel/Grendel's Mother

Real World Origin:
Literature, Beowulf by an anonymous author

In-Universe Description:
In the epic poem Beowulf, the occupants of the great hall Heorot find themselves the victims of a monster named Grendel. The creature comes in the middle of the night to kill and eat the sleeping warriors.

The hero Beowulf and his warriors eventually come to the rescue. They lay a trap in which the men pretend to sleep in the great hall when Grendel arrives. The swords of Beowulf's warriors are unable to injure Grendel, so Beowulf engages him hand-to-hand. Grendel is defeated when Beowulf rips his arm off.

In revenge, Grendel's mother attacks Heorot. Beowulf's men follow Grendel's mother to her lair, which lies under a lake. Beowulf confronts the monster in a cavern and eventually defeats her with a sword of the giants taken from her own armory.

Although Grendel and his mother are said to be descendants of Cain, descriptions of them in the original material are vague. The monsters have therefore been depicted in many different ways in art and film.

Michael Crichton's Eaters of the Dead is a re-imagining of Beowulf. In Crichton's story, Grendel and his mother are replaced by the "Wendol"; a group of man-eating neanderthals that survived into the 10th century.

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