The beast epic constitutes one of several text types that feature animals prominently, such as the animal (folk-) tale, the beast fable, but also the Physiologus and its descendant, the bestiary. The beast epic in its fully developed form shows distinctive characteristics such as epic length with an episodic structure, protagonists with individual names and the trappings of human culture, and a strong satirical element that also contributes to the entertainment value of the genre. The following article discusses the development and characteristics of the beast epic from its beginnings in the tenth/eleventh century to its most popular representative, the Roman de Renart and its numerous descendants.