King Hrothgar of Denmark builds a fabulous meadhall called Heorot. A monster called Grendel besets the hall and wages a murderous war against Hrothgar's people for twelve years. Beowulf, proud Geatish warrior, hears of Hrothgar's plight and decides to help. He travels to Denmark, and is... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
King Hrothgar of Denmark builds a fabulous meadhall called Heorot. A monster called Grendel besets the hall and wages a murderous war against Hrothgar's people for twelve years. Beowulf, proud Geatish warrior, hears of Hrothgar's plight and decides to help. He travels to Denmark, and is welcomed by Hrothgar. Unferth, one of the Danish warriors, challenges Beowulf, reminding him of a swimming match he lost against Brecca. Beowulf reminds the meadhall that Unferth is guilty of fratricide, which silences Unferth's challenges.
When Grendel attacks that evening, Beowulf pretends to be asleep and watches how Grendel maneuvers before attacking. The two are locked in an epic battle. Weapons are useless against Grendel. Beowulf tears Grendel's arm off and hangs the trophy on the wall. Grendel escapes to his lair to die.
Grendel's mother attacks Heorot, taking Hrothgar's beloved friend Aeshere. Beowulf tracks her down in her lair and is nearly killed, but ultimately defeats her when he finds a giant's sword in her lair.
Beowulf becomes king of the Geats. Fifty years pass, and his kingdom is beset by a dragon. Beowulf sets out to fight the dragon, but is mortally wounded. Only Wiglaf helps him fight, and Beowulf bestows his crown on Wiglaf before he dies.
“And a young prince must be prudent like that, giving freely while his father lives so that afterwards in age when fighting starts steadfast companions will stand by him and hold the line. Behaviour that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere. (20–25)”This excerpt, which expounds the virtues of the early Danish king Beow, illustrates the kind of political prudence that characterizes Hrothgar, who is a descendant of Beow.
“Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always betterto avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning. For every one of us, living in this worldmeans waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,that will be his best and only bulwark. (1384–1389)”Beowulf utters this compressed statement of the heroic code after Grendel’s mother kills Aeschere, Hrothgar’s trusted advisor. Although Hrothgar’s grief seems understandable in light of the principle of loyalty that operates in this culture, Beowulf speaks of it as an “indulgence”—an inappropriate and ineffective way of responding to the death of a comrade.
“O flower of warriors, beware of that trap. Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part, eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride.For a brief while your strength is in bloombut it fades quickly; and soon there will followillness or the sword to lay you low,or a sudden fire or surge of wateror jabbing blade or javelin from the airor repellent age. Your piercing eyewill dim and darken; and death will arrive, dear warrior, to sweep you away.(1758–1768)”This passage is the culmination of a long speech, often referred to as “Hrothgar’s sermon,” in which Hrothgar warns Beowulf of the seductive dangers of success after Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother.
“Beowulf got ready, donned his war-gear, indifferent to death; his mighty, hand-forged, fine-webbed mail would soon meet with the menace underwater. It would keep the bone-cage of his body safe:. . .<His helmet> was of beaten gold, princely headgear hooped and haspedby a weapon-smith who had worked wonders. . . . (1442–1452)”These lines describe Beowulf’s preparation for his battle with Grendel’s mother.
“So. The Spear-Danes in days gone byand the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.. . .There was Shield Sheafson, scourge of many tribes,a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.. . .A foundling to start with, he would flourish later on. . .In the end each clan on the outlying coastsbeyond the whale-road had to yield to himand begin to pay tribute. That was one good king. (1–11)”These lines, which open the poem, establish the highly stylized nature of Seamus Heaney’s translation and set forth some of the poem’s central ideas.
“If we die... it will be for GLORY, not gold.”
“Keep a memory of me, not as a king or a hero; but as a man: fallible and flawed.”
“He announced his plan: to sail the swan's road and search out that king, the famous prince who needed defenders.”
“Often, for undaunted courage, fate spares the man it has not already marked.”
“The winter was gone, earth's lap grew lovely”
“When wind blows up and stormy weather makes clouds scud and the skies weep, out of its depths a dirty surge is pitched towards the heavens,”
“For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end.”
“A light appeared and the place brightened the way the sky does when heaven's candle is shining clearly.”
“A warrior will sooner die than live a life of shame.”Wiglaf
“And the king collapsed, the shepherd of people was sheared of life.”
“The swept harp won't waken warriors, but the raven winging darkly over the doomed will have news, tidings for the eagle of how he hoked and ate, how the wolf and he made short work of the dead.”
Behaviour that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere.Highlighted by 80 Kindle customers
“Wise sir, do not grieve. It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning. For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark.Highlighted by 55 Kindle customers
But death is not easily escaped from by anyone: all of us with souls, earth-dwellers and children of men, must make our way to a destination already ordained where the body, after the banqueting, sleeps on its deathbed.Highlighted by 46 Kindle customers
Often, for undaunted courage, fate spares the man it has not already marked.Highlighted by 40 Kindle customers
Past and present, God’s will prevails. Hence, understanding is always best and a prudent mind. Whoever remains 1060 for long here in this earthly life will enjoy and endure more than enough.Highlighted by 37 Kindle customers
Almighty God rules over mankind and always has.Highlighted by 37 Kindle customers
Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark, nursed a hard grievance. It harrowed himHighlighted by 36 Kindle customers
Oh, cursed is he who in time of trouble has to thrust his soul in the fire’s embrace, forfeiting help; he has nowhere to turn. But blessed is he who after death can approach the Lord and find friendship in the Father’s embrace.Highlighted by 34 Kindle customers
if the battle takes me, send back this breast-webbing that Weland fashioned and Hrethel gave me, to Lord Hygelac. Fate goes ever as fate must.”Highlighted by 22 Kindle customers
He took over Heorot, haunted the glittering hall after dark, but the throne itself, the treasure-seat, he was kept from approaching; he was the Lord’s outcast.Highlighted by 16 Kindle customers
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