Studying Beowulf

The Fourth Edition of Electronic Beowulf is designed to meet the needs of general readers, who require a full, line by line, translation; of students, who want to understand the grammar and the meter and still have time in a semester to study and appreciate other important aspects of the poem; and of scholars, who want immediate access to a critical apparatus identifying the nearly 2000 eighteenth-century restorations, editorial emendations, and manuscript-based conjectural restorations.


This manuscript-based fourth edition supersedes all previous versions of Electronic Beowulf, which are no longer supported, because of major changes in both the edition and the technology that delivers it. The facsimiles incorporate new, much higher resolution images of all 70 folios, over 130 ultraviolet images, and over 750 newly processed backlit images of the more than 1300 that reveal the hundreds of letters covered on the versos by the nineteenth-century restoration frames.

The text is completely revised, based closely on and comprehensively illustrated by the single surviving manuscript of Beowulf. Recently contested readings are re-examined and in most cases confirmed by clearer, higher resolution, images. The glossary is completely revised, as well, and users now have instant access through tooltips to the definitions and grammar of every one of the 17,327 words in the text.

The Default Setting of the open program has the Edition on the left and the Manuscript on the right. Readers can easily rearrange this view to suit their own preferences.

Figure 1. Opening Electronic Beowulf 3.0

The easiest way to start is simply to proceed through the manuscript using the Next Navigationbuttons-right and Previous Navigationbuttons-left navigation buttons on the top menu. Use the “Goto” button on the menu to choose a specific folio and the accompanying text will open as well; increase or decrease the size of the image at the “Fit Frame” panel. Other uses of the top menus are discussed in the exhaustive online Index & Guide.


For detailed instructions to all aspects of Electronic Beowulf 3.0, click on the online Index & Guide icon on the right side of the top menu. Once online, consult the comprehensive Index & Guide to the left for details of all features of the third edition of Electronic Beowulf.