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ALTHOUGH much of the poem of Beowulf is at best only legendary, and a great deal of it purely fabulous, there can be no doubt, I think, that we have, imbedded in the marvels
and wild fancies of the story, a dim and vague but authentic record of the doings of our ancestors some fourteen centuries ago. Dr. Grein, indeed, ranks it higher as an historical authority than the later Sagas which deal with the same period, or 'the confused statements of the learned Saxo-Grammaticus ;' but this after all is no very great praise; and if the poem were only a document by means of which we could make a little clearer the obscure and uninteresting history of Danes and Geáts in the fifth century it would not be worth much. Its real value-considered as an historical authority merely—lies in the vivid picture it gives us of the life, the manners, and the habits
* See his article in the Jahrbuch f. Engl. u. Roman. Literatur, vol. iv.