In Beowulf what does quotation mean:"In the home of the Geats Hygelac's thane gathered the stories of Grendel's tormatment a good man and strong strongest of all in that broad kingdom born for the...

In Beowulf what does quotation mean:

"In the home of the Geats Hygelac's thane gathered the stories of Grendel's tormatment a good man and strong strongest of all in that broad kingdom born for the deliverence shaped for that hour."

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amymc | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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This quotation addresses a couple of standard beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon era, first, the idea that fate determined one's destiny in all things and second the idea of the oral tradition and its impact on culture.

The quotation itself can be paraphrased loosely as in the land of the Geats, King Hygelac had a nobleman who seemed to be born to be the one to end Grendel's torment.

The idea that a man can be born to do something is taken relatively literally here.  Beowulf, being strong, brave and intelligent, is the one chosen by the gods or God, to defeat Grendel. 

Yet, how did Beowulf even hear of the 12 year reign of terror handed down by Grendel?  After all, Grendel terrorized Denmark, and the land of the Geats is across the sea.  The answer is the oral tradition.  Nothing was written down at this time; no records were kept.  The only way news could travel would be word of mouth.  This stories of Grendel made their way across the sea in this fashion, being told and retold until it finally reached Hygelac and Beowulf. 

Beowulf is certainly willing to intercede because he, too, wants to be remembered.  If he defeats Grendel, his name will live in the oral tradition as well, allowing him to live on after his own death.

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