Beowulf: Grendel is a Descendant of Cain

    Then the mighty spirit who dwelt in darkness angrily endured
    the torment of hearing each day high revel in the hall.
    There was the sound of the harp, the clear song of the minstrel. [1]
    He who could tell of men’s beginning from olden times
    spoke of how the Almighty wrought the world
    the earth bright in its beauty which the water encompasses;
    the Victorious One established the brightness of sun
    and moon for a light to dwellers in the land,
    and adorned the face of earth with branches and leaves;
    He also created life of all kinds which move and live.[2]
    Thus the noble warriors lived in pleasure and plenty
    until a fiend in hell began to contrive malice.
    The grim spirit was called Grendel, a famous march-stepper,
    who held the moors, the fen and the fastness.
    The hapless creature sojourned for a space in the sea-monster’s home
    after the Creator had condemned him. [3]
    The eternal Lord avenged the murder on the race of Cain,
    because he slew Abel. He did not rejoice in that feud.
    He, the Lord, drove him far from mankind for that crime. [4]
    Thence sprang all evil spawn, ogres and elves and sea-monsters,
    giants too who struggled long time against God. [5]
    He paid them requital for that.


Shane Weller, ed., Beowulf (New York, Dover, 1992), pp. 2-3.


[1]  One of the sufferings of the demons and damned souls in hell is to know that on the other side (heaven), the angels and saints rejoice in the presence of God.  And this is forever and ever.  The laughter of demons are cold with malice, that even the fires of hell fail to bring warmth.

[2]  This is a summary of the first chapter of Genesis.  First day is separation of light and darkness.  Second day is separation of heavens and seas.  Third day is separation of seas and lands, and the sprouting of plants and trees over the lands.  Fourth day is creation of sun, moon, and stars.  Fifth day is creation of fishes and birds.  Sixth day is the creation land animals and humans.

[3]  The sea- or water-dwelling monsters described in the book of Job are Behemoth and Leviathan.  Behemoth looks like a giant hippopotamus, while Leviathan looks like a giant fire-breathing crocodile. (See Job 40:15-24; 41:1-34)

[4] Cain’s offering was fruits, while that of Abel was fat portions of the firstlings of his flock.  God accepted the offering of Abel and not that of Cain.  So Cain became envious and killed his brother Abel.  Because of this, God punished Cain:

What have you done?  Listen; your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground!  And now you are cursed from the ground, which have opened up its mouth to receive your brother’s blood.  When you till the ground, it will no longer yield to you its strength; you will be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth. (Gen 4:10-12)

[5]  It may be difficult to see how Cain could have fathered these monsters.  But recent advances (?) in human-animal hybrids may make this possible soon.