Beowulf Sections 7-12 (lines 456-836)
Hrothgar, King of the Danes, welcomes Beowulf into his court, explaining how peace was achieved between the Danes and Beowulf's father, Edgetho. Edgetho had killed Hathlaf, causing a feud and later Edgetho's exile:
"Beowulf, you've come to us in friendship, and because/ Of the reception your father found at court./ Edgetho had begun a bitter feud,/ Killing Hathlaf, a Wulfing warrior: /Your father's countrymen were afraid of war,/ If he returned to his home, and they turned him away." pg. 37, lines 457-462
Only after Hrothgar, new to the Danish throne, interceded with gold as a peace offering to the Wulfings, was peace between the Geats and Danes found.
King Hrothgar laments Grendel's massacres in Herot, telling Beowulf and the Geatish warriors how many men he has lost. He invokes the Lord's name to stop this madness. Hrothgar draws the parallel between his men's lack of success against Grendel and his hope for Beowulf's bravery and success in slaying the monster. Mead is poured out and all the men rejoice at the prospect of the impending battle.
Unferth, Ecglaf's son and one of Hrothgar's courtiers, jealous of Beowulf's renowned bravery and fame, accuses Beowulf of vanity and boastful pride. He tells of a dangerous swimming match Beowulf had with his friend and companion, Brecca. The two young warriors swam side by side for seven nights in the ocean, were separated, and Brecca won. Unferth says he thinks Beowulf's luck will change with Grendel. Beowulf laughs off Unferth's attack, calling him friend, and proclaiming:
"But the truth/ Is simple: no man swims in the sea/ As I can, no strength is a match for mine." pg. 40, lines 533-534
Beowulf brushes away Unferth's words with his pride, claiming he and Brecca were young and overzealous. Beowulf boasts how he killed a fierce monster in the sea with his sword; attacked by a whole host of monsters in the ocean, he fought them off until he reached land. The sun, "God's bright beacon," showed him Finnish soil, where he landed after killing nine sea-monsters.
Beowulf reveals that Unferth murdered his brothers to achieve power in the Danish court. Unferth will "suffer hell's fires,...forever tormented" for his deeds. He blames Grendel's attacks on the Danes' as a consequence of their acts of reprisal against one another. The reason the monster ravages their mead-hall is partially their own fault; it is a consequence for their own evil actions. Welthow, Hrothgar's queen, passes among all the warriors, pouring mead from a jeweled cup for each to drink. Upon reaching Beowulf's place, she thanks God that he arrived to save her people from the curse of Grendel. Beowulf pledges allegiance to the Danes once again, willing to sacrifice his life to end the curse.
Before retiring to bed, Hrothgar makes a speech declaring that if Beowulf and his men rid Herot of Grendel, Beowulf's ship will sail home full with treasure. Hrothgar will be indebted to the Geats, symbolized by the gift of gold.
Night falls in Herot and all of Hrothgar's men prepare for sleep. Beowulf strips himself of his armor, mailing and swords, in preparation for his battle with Grendel. He is firm with the Lord's presence and brave. The Lord's favor is with the Geats and Danes, as Beowulf waits, watchful.
Grendel approaches Herot in the lurid glare of the moon, breaking down the door, joyless and hungry:
"He strode quickly across the inlaid/ Floor, snarling and fierce: his eyes/ Gleamed in the darkness, burned with a gruesome/ Light. Then he stopped, seeing the hall/ Crowded with sleeping warriors,.../ And his heart laughed, he relished the sight,/ Intended to tear the life from those bodies/ By morning." pg. 46, lines 724-732
Grendel kills his first Geat warrior, breaking him apart with his great jaws, and drinking the hot blood from his veins. He reaches for Beowulf, lying on the floor silently, but Beowulf seizes his giant claws, bends them back and holds him. Grendel is filled with fear, wanting to escape to his lair, away from Herot. But Beowulf grips his claws fast until they crack. He and Grendel battle up and down the hall, as the walls shake with their rage. Grendel cries out in pain:
"[T]he Danes started/ In new terror, cowering in their beds as the terrible/ Screams of the Almighty's enemy sang/ In the darkness, the horrible shrieks of pain/ And defeat, the tears torn out of Grendel's/ Taut throat, hell's captive caught in the arms/ Of him who of all the men on earth/ Was the strongest." pg. 47-48, lines 783-790
The Geats rise at the sight of Beowulf's battle with Grendel, their swords raised to protect their master. But all their weapons are useless against Grendel; they cannot puncture or harm him, for he had bewitched them.
Grendel's shoulders, bound fast in Beowulf's hands, snap and split at the sinews. Grendel flees in agony, to die in his murky lair at the bottom of a marsh. Beowulf is victorious, his boasts fulfilled, and the Danes rejoice, the proof "[h]anging high/ From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was/ the monster's/ Arm, claw, and shoulder and all." pg. 49, lines 833-836