About how old is Beowulf when he fights his last battle in Beowulf?

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In the last section of the story, after Beowulf returns to his homeland, it is revealed that after Hygelac's death, the "kingdom came into Beowulf's hand for fifty winters."  With this piece of information it would be safe to assume that Beowulf is at least 70 to 80 years old when he faces his last foe -- the fire breathing dragon.  When you consider the average life expectancy of a male 1500 years ago it is actually quite remarkable that he is alive at all -- especially considering how dangerous his life would have been.  It is additionally remarkable that Beowulf fearlessly goes into battle to save his people from the danger of the dragon.  He is a very old man, yet he and only one other man are emotionally strong and brave enough to face this enemy.  He dies from wounds received, but he faces his death with valiant dignity.

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