"A beaten warrior. None of his comrades came to him, helped him, his brave and noble, followers; they ran for their lives, fled deep in a wood. And only one of them remained, stood there, miserable, remembering, as a good man must, what kinship should mean."
What values are implied in these lines from Beowulf?
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The lines in question appear at the end of Beowulf. Beowulf, the epic hero, has just fought the dragon and lost his life to the beast. Wiglaf, the only warrior who comes to Beowulf's aid, stands by his king and fights the dragon. After the dragon has taken Beowulf in its teeth, Wiglaf stabs the dragon. At this point, the dragon has become weak enough to allow Beowulf to finish off the "worm." All other men in Beowulf's company have fled to the woods (fearing for their lives).
The men, by fleeing, prove to lack the bravery and nobility necessary of a true hero and warrior. They have failed their king. Wiglaf, after being named the new king, speaks very openly of his hatred of the men. He tells them that they would rather die than live the life of a shamed warrior.
The values the warriors fail to possess are those of bravery and nobility. By running, the men do not prove their worth as true warriors. They do not back up their king in battle, and they do not repay him for all he has done for them. Instead, they shame themselves by running in fear. A true warrior does not run from a challenge or doubt his ability. A true warrior knows that a loss will only come if God deems it necessary. A true warrior fears nothing.
The implications are obvious. The men will be shamed for not upholding the values of loyalty and bravery. They did not come to the aid of their king and running from the dragon illustrated their lack of bravery.
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