Origins for Beowulf and Rolf Krake

[Rev 0.1], 2003-07-10, Written by Wilmer Thomas (work still in progress).


Beowulf and Rolf Krake (Hrolf Kraki) are two well-known characters in the myths and sagas of ancient Scandinavia. Both are supposed to have lived sometimes around 450 - 550 AD, and much have been discussed over the years regarding the origin of them both.

Character alignments

There are several characters in Beowulf that apparently match the names known from other ancient northern tales and Sagas.

There seems to be some foreshadowing in Beowulf that Hrothulf will attempt to usurp the throne from Hrothgar's sons, and there is another reference to the future burning of the hall of Heorot in the beginning of the poem - which is the legendary death of Rolf Krake, who is believed to have been burnt to death by his brother-in-law Hjorvard, over a matter of taxes.

beo (bee) + wulf (wolf), i.e. Bee-Wolf, i.e. Bear (the wolf/hunter of bees).

This is another reason why people see Biarki as Beowulf's 'cognate' (because of the names).


Table 1: Personas of Beowulf and Rolk Krake sagas


Rolf Krake, Heimskringla etc.



Egil (Angantyr)

father of Ottar and Ale



brother of Ale



brother of Ottar



son of Ottar

Geographical definitions

The geographical placements of Beowulf's Weder-Geats as well as the other geograhically referenced places in Beowulf are subject to much debate.


Alignment of characters in the Sagas

There has been some work on possible equivalences between the Beowulf characters and the characters from the various Norse sagas and king-lists, etc.

Here are some references:

General Beowulf discussions

For other references on Beowulf, see the Wikipedia page for Beowulf . Also the following sources are of interest.


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Information owner: Wilmer Thomas

Last updated: 2003-07-10