Sections 13-18 (lines 837-1250) Notes from Beowulf

Gareth Hinds
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Beowulf Sections 13-18 (lines 837-1250)

The morning after Beowulf's bloody defeat and killing of Grendel, warriors and royalty from far and wide journey to Herot to behold the physical evidence of Grendel's struggle. They are unsympathetic of his death:

"[G]aped with no sense/ of sorrow, felt no regret for his suffering,/ Went tracing his bloody footprints, his beaten/ And lonely flight, to the edge of the lake/ Where he'd dragged his corpselike way, doomed/ And already weary of his vanishing life." pg. 50, lines 841-846

Grendel's lair is ominous and murky, the water bloody and boiling from his rotting corpse.

Topic Tracking: Good and Evil 5

All present rejoice and recount again the tale of Beowulf's bravery. An old soldier sings a song of ancient heroes, and includes Beowulf's victory, securing his place among the honored. Siegmund boasts tales of his bravery, especially that of slaying a dragon. Compared to Beowulf, we are told that Hermod was treacherous, exiled along with the Jutes:

"His vanity swelled him so vile and rank/ That he could hear no voices but his own. He deserved/ to suffer and die. But Beowulf was a prince/ Well-loved, followed in friendship, not fear;" pg. 52, lines 911-914

The whole party returns to Herot, where Hrothgar proclaims Beowulf's victory a miracle and ordained by the Lord. He accepts Beowulf as his son (Hrothgar already has two sons, Hrethric and Hrothmund), and offers his wealth to Beowulf. Beowulf responds that he was guided by his heart to perform this act for the good of the Danes; he would have liked to have killed Grendel on the very floor of Herot, and left his body as the prize.

Topic Tracking: Christian/Pagan 4
Topic Tracking: Men and Monsters 6

Herot is decorated for the festivities, although it is crumbling from Grendel's attacks. A banquet is prepared.

Topic Tracking: Good and Evil 6

Hrothgar and his nephew, Hrothulf, toast each other, as King and people become one. Beowulf is given a glorious gold banner, a helmet, a coat of mail, and an ancient sword, "richly rewarded" by the gracious ring giver, Hrothgar. The King also gives him a set of golden-bridled horses, as a reward for his bravery. Ancient armor and swords are brought down as gifts for all Beowulf's men and Beowulf, "and for the one/ Murdered by Grendel gold was carefully/ Paid." pg. 56, lines 1053-1055

Topic Tracking: Treasure 6

Hrothgar's hall resounds with the laughter and songs of poets, who retell the famed history of the Danish tribe. The Finish tribe attacked the Danish tribe, killing Hnaf its king, brother to Finn's wife. Finn's wife mourned her loss; both her son and brother were killed. With both tribes depleted through war, Finn offered peace between the Danes and the Frisians, and an equal division of property and wealth. Hnaf's and his son's bodies were placed on the funeral pyre to burn away the memory of hatred and war. But Hengest, Hnaf's chief lieutenant and successor, cannot forget the treachery of Finn to his Lord. Soon after, he murdered Finn in his bed with a knife through the belly. The vengeful Danes murdered countless Finns, looted treasure for their ships, and took the Queen back to Denmark, the homeland she had longed for.

Topic Tracking: Good and Evil 7

Welthow, Hrothgar's Queen, walks among her King and her nephew, a symbol of peacemaking between Beowulf's people and her people. She offers a cup of mead to her King to seal the bond between Beowulf and the King, and sits with her sons.

Beowulf, showing his friendship, accepts the cup of mead, and the gifts of mail and gold from the Danes. Welthow entreats him to watch and honor the name of her two sons with his strength and kindness,

"Wear these bright jewels, belovèd Beowulf;/ Enjoy them,...oh fortunate young/ Warrior; grow richer, let your fame and your strength/ Go hand in hand; and lend these two boys/ Your wise and gentle heart! I'll remember your/ Kindness. Your glory is too great to forget/...Spread your blessèd protection/ Across my son, and my king's son!" pg. 61-62, lines 1216-1221, 1225-1227

The Danes and Geats go to sleep, with their mail shirts on and swords ready, as soldiers must always do!

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