Explain what is especially ominous about Beowulf's men during the final battle of Beowulf.

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Because eNotes allows only one question per posting, your question had to be pared down. The Anglo-Saxon classic Beowulfis the story of one man's great feats and valor as he battles both creatures (monsters) and fate. He comes to Heorot to help Hrothgar and his people. On his first night there, he instructed his men not to help him when he battles Grendel. When Grendel comes to attack, Beowulf kills him with his bare hands. The men are there and even try to fight, but Grendel has cast a spell which protects him from swords. The point, though, is that they were prepared and willing to help.

When Beowulf follows Grendel's mother to the bottom of the ocean, no one goes with him. His men follow him to the edge of the water and then wait for him. They see the blood roiling on the surface and assume their leader is dead; however, they do stay, unlike Hrothgar and his men.

Fifty years later, Beowulf finds himself in a fight with a fire-breathing dragon. It is his last battle, and though many are with him at the beginning, they soon leave him to fight alone--everyone but the young soldier Wiglaf, of course. The two men fight and kill the dragon, but the cost isBeowulf's life. Wiglaf scolds the cowardly men and predicts that their country will soon be conquered because their king is dead and the enemy will know these soldiers do not have the will to fight.

What is ominous about Beowulf's last battle, then, is the fact that their king is dead and there is only one Geat soldier who is not afraid to fight--both of which make them a target for anyone who wants to conquer them.

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