Beowulf, Ancestor of Lord of the Rings
English, a universal language, is comprised of a copious amount of words that stem from Latin, the dead language of Ancient Rome. Without language there would be no literature. The oldest surviving Anglo-Saxon epic poem, Beowulf, dates back to the eigth century. Ironically, Beowulf was a key inspiration for the 20th century epic fantasy novel, Lord of the Rings. Just as ancient Latin influenced the construction of English, Beowulf inspired many themes, characters, events, and words in the much younger fairytale, Lord of the Rings.
Both literative works combine fantasy and history. Beowolf begins with the history of the Geats, a real ancient germanic tribe. Three kings are introduced before Beowulf arrives in Geatland. From there, the existance of ogres, elves and giants is revealed. Although Lord of the Rings is set in a fictional world, Middle Earth still has a history. In the begining, Frodo is given the One Ring from Bilbo. Gandalf demands he take the Ring away when he learns it's history. Forged by a dark lord, it's the One Ring to gain power over other rings that were kept by powerful men, and mythical creatures like elves and dwarves. Historical references, whether real or fictional, add significance to the fantasical events that occur.
The two stories have heros that undergo a journey that requires struggle and battle, but further the importance of love, loyalty and kinship. Beowulf is at first hesistant to bring his men to slay the dragon. Before the battle, Beowulf tells them a story, warning them not to fight when he dies and to stick together for the sake of the kingdom. He believes in earnest that only love and loyalty will keep the Geats alive. At the end of the first book of Lord of the Rings, Frodo decides to continue the journey alone. Like Beowulf, the love he has for his companions gives him the strength to face horrible danger by himself. But Frodo's loyal companion refuses to leave his master's side. Sam's character is like that of Wiglaf, the only one of Beowulf's men who stays to fight the dragon by his side.