HROTHGAR, CROWN OF the Scyldings, spoke: “To give us your pledge and rescue us at honor's call, my friend Beowulf, you have come to us. Your father's battle kindled a mighty feud when he killed Heatholaf of the Wylfings; his clansmen could not keep him for fear of invasion. Fleeing, he sought our South-Dane folk, those honorable Scyldings, over the ocean's swells, when I had first become king of the Danish folk and had dominion over the heroic treasure hoard. Heorogar, my elder brother, was dead and had breathed his last; Healfdene's son, he was better than I! Directly did I settle the feud for a price, sending ancient treasures over the wave crests to the Wylfings, and he swore fealty to me.”
“It is sorrow to my soul to say to any mortal man what horrors Grendel has maliciously brought upon me in Heorot with his vicious tactics. The people of my hall, my warriors, are reduced to nothing; Destiny has swept them away in Grendel's grasp. But God is able to halt the deeds of this deadly fiend! Those warriors often boasted, when refreshed by beer from their ale mugs, that they would meet Grendel's onset with a clash of swords. Then this mead-house at the morning's tide was bespattered with gore; when daylight broke, the boards of the benches reeked of blood, and the hall was gory. I had fewer trustworthy liegemen and heroic comrades once death had robbed me of them. But sit now at the banquet and be free with your words, stalwart hero, as your heart moves you.”
Then a table in the mead hall was cleared for the Geatish men, and they sat down with strong spirits and stout hearts. A servant attended them with a carved cup from which he poured the clear mead. At times the minstrel's song resonated in Heorot; heroes made merry, and there was no dearth of warriors, both Geatish and Danish.
fealty – an oath of loyalty and service made by a feudal vassal to a lord
dearth – scarcity; lack (of something)
- To the Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf was a model hero. But how does he come across to modern audiences?
- In Beowulf, what are the protagonist's major conflicts?
- What are the similarities and differences between the villains in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (by the...
- What specific elements in Beowulf reflect a Christian point of view?
- In the epic poem Beowulf, how is the episode in which Beowulf fights the dragon at the end of his life different than the episode...
Test Your Knowledge