Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

A B C D E F [G] H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W X Y Z


Grendel, the monster from the legendary epic saga Beowulf, is often overlooked in vampiric lore, but in truth it is a vampiric creature. In the saga, Grendel is a descendant of Cain; a gigantic monster, he is half man and half water troll. At night he would leave his watery cave, located in Dark Lake, and attack the men of King Hrot's court and all who served him. Grendel would rip them apart with his bare hands, drinking their blood and eating their flesh. Avicious warrior already, he was rendered impervious to swords by a spell cast upon him by his mother, a witch. His only pleasure is killing. Beowulf is asked by the king to slay the beast, which the hero does, by ripping off one of his arms in a wrestling match.
If the story of Beowulf and his encounter with Grendel sounds familiar, it should. It is similar to many ancient Norse stories regarding the vampiric REVENANTS known as DRAUGE and
DRAUGR. Both of these vampires are described as being large and exceptionally strong, as Grendel was. Both vampires were able to kill a man in a single swipe, as Grendel did. The DRAUGE was created by magic, and Grendel was protected by the witchcraft his mother placed on him. The
DRAUGEwas reimagined when Christianity was introduced; the story of Beowulf was written during the time when the old religion was giving way to the new. DRAUGR wanted what they had in life—warmth, food, and family; and since they could not have it, they got what pleasure they could through death and destruction. Grendel, who also had none of those things, only found pleasure in killing as well. Neither a DRAUGR nor Grendel could be harmed by mere weapons. A
DRAUGR could only be defeated by a hero in a wrestling match, which was exactly how Grendel was defeated.
Source: Hoops, Kommentar zum Beowulf, 163; Olsen, Monsters and the Monstrous, 79; Perkowski, Vampires of the Slavs; Robinson, Tomb of Beowulf, 185­218; Tolkien, Beowulf, 278

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