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"Help them; my time is gone. Have the brave Geats build me a tomb, when the funeral...

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reedcapps18 | eNoter

Posted September 25, 2013 at 9:57 PM via web

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"Help them; my time is gone. Have the brave Geats build me a tomb, when the funeral flames have burned me, and build it here, at the water's edge, high on this spit of land, so sailors can see this tower, and remember my name, and call it Beowulf's tower, and boats in the darkness and mist, crossing the sea, will know it."

In Beowulf, why is it important to Beowulf that he leave behind a legacy?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 25, 2013 at 10:44 PM (Answer #1)

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While the epic poem Beowulf evinces the Christian poet's motifs of  brotherly love and God's compassion, the poem itself stresses the Anglo-Saxon warrior culture and its emphasis upon heroism. For instance, in his youthful struggle with the dragons Grendel and Grendel's mother, Beowulf clearly has sought recognition as a brave warrior; for example, he tells King Hrothgar that his people have witnessed his great strength and bid him to help the Danes:

[They] Have watched me rise from the darkness of war,
Dripping with my enemies' blood. I drove
Five great giants into chains, chased
All of that race from the earth....

So, in keeping with his high regard for the warrior code, Beowulf desires the battle with the dragon and the capture of its gold to be remembered along with his name as both a respected king and a great warrior. Further, as "boats in the darkness/And mist, crossing the sea..." will recognize it, they will give honor to Wiglaf, the last of his family as well as recall and, perhaps, repeat the tale of the good deeds Beowulf has done for the Danes for others to know.

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