Beowulf Questions and Answers

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"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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Several values are implied in this passage from Beowulf. The more obvious values are courage and loyalty, both of which are displayed by Wiglaf and conspicuously lacking in the other warriors.

Slightly less obvious, perhaps, are the values of strength and aristocracy. Beowulf has been the greatest warrior alive, but he is old now and no longer has the strength to defend his people. He dies honorably, from a mortal wound received in battle, but it would not have been honorable for him to linger on, since he no longer has the strength to defend his people.

The value of aristocracy is a vital feature of primary or "authentic" epic. The Beowulf poet, like Homer, describes men of aristocratic birth as brave and noble even when they are not behaving bravely or nobly (Paris, for instance, is also described as brave when he runs away from Menelaus). The degree of irony here is debatable, but even if the description is wholly ironic, it reminds the reader just what is expected from men of noble...

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