How did the Geats honor Beowulf after his death?

The Geats honor Beowulf after his death by having a great funeral for him. They also build a tower in his honor. Twelve Geat warriors then ride around it on horseback, telling of his exploits to celebrate his life. An important way Beowulf is honored is by keeping his memory alive.

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At the end of Beowulf, in his final battle the aging Beowulf dies of poisoning when the dragon bites him. Nevertheless, he is able to wield the final blow that kills the dragon, once again protecting his community from ravages.

Beowulf is the king of the Geats, and his kingdom greatly mourns his passing. The Geats honor Beowulf by holding a burial at sea for him and burying him with the dragon's treasure. They also build a tower in honor of Beowulf. Twelve of the strongest and most noble Geat warriors ride on horseback around the tower, celebrating Beowulf's heroic life.

Beowulf is most honored by the story of his exploits being kept alive. Although he is a Christian who fought evil and is fully assumed to be in heaven, pagan tradition dictated that the most worthy people in the society should gain an additional form of immortality through being remembered in poetry and song. The Geats ensure that this greatest of warriors will never be forgotten.

The celebration of Beowulf, the strongest of the Geats, attests to the importance of the warrior to early medieval culture. From the start, Beowulf uses his strength and skill to protect the mead hall, the symbol of everything good in civilization: warmth, food, safety, and companionship.

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In order to understand the ceremonies surrounding Beowulf's death, it is important to understand that, at the time and place of the poem's writing, Pagan and Christian beliefs were merging and taking new forms. The particular Pagan traditions held that the strongest warrior in the group was the leader and was given additional reverence. For the Geats, the strongest warrior was certainly Beowulf.

Beowulf's burial, in a ship filled with riches, is in keeping with these Pagan traditions and would certainly represent a burial fit for a king. This choice to bury Beowulf in the old traditions rather than the new ones is an additional mark of respect, acknowledging the ways that Beowulf's life was lived in the old ways as well.

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In death, Beowulf achieves a kind of immortality, and the Geats honor him as a great, beloved ruler. He dies protecting his people and asks to be buried under a cairn along the shores. This spot is selected because it best serves as a monument to Beowulf's life as both a great warrior and a noble king. A tower is also built in the late king's memory. Twelve warriors ride around it as a tribute to Beowulf.

Wiglaf also buries the dragon's treasure with Beowulf. This suggests that with Beowulf's death, the Geats will be impoverished not only of a great ruler but also physically. One woman wails that they will be destroyed without Beowulf to protect them. The burial of the treasure suggests a similar laying to rest of the culture Beowulf represented and the hopes that this culture will continue to thrive after he is gone.

Still, Beowulf's warriors continue to tell stories of his deeds, making sure his memory will live on, even if his world and culture cannot. The lack of courage on the part of Beowulf's young warriors during the battle with the dragon also suggests that this is the end of an era.

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“I have survived many wars in my youth, and now I, the old defender of the people, will once again seek battle and accomplish mighty deeds, if that fell destroyer will come forth from his cavern to fight me!”

Beowulf fought against a dragon in his last encounter. He defeated the creature, but he also succumbed to wounds sustained during the battle.

Beowulf requested his men to cremate him and bury his ashes under a rock mound (cairn).  The cairn was to be built along the shores where it would serve as a monument in remembrance of the great King. Wiglaf together with the bravest Geatish warriors built a funeral pyre and mounted on it various battle equipment. After the pyre burnt to ashes, they built the barrow tall enough to be visible to sailors voyaging in the sea. They buried some precious ornaments and the gold retrieved from the dragon’s lair. Twelve warriors then rode around the monument to mourn Beowulf. They rode around the barrow hailing the great King for his courageous and glorious feats in battle.

Then twelve sons of princes, warriors skilled in battle, rode around the barrow to make a lament, mourn their king, chant their dirge, and honor his name.

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Wiglaf first chastised the men who ran away, but then spoke in exhultation of the great king. The Geats rolled the dragon off the cliff into the water so that there could never be a memorial to it. They then built a tower, according to Beowulf's last request, to build a tower to guide sailors forever. Beowulf had also told Wiglaf to use the treasure to benefit the people, but Wiglaf instead collected the treasure and buried it in Beowulf's tower.

Twelve of the bravest Geats then rode their horses around the tower telling the stories of Beowulf's greatness. They mourned him as the prince most deserving of praise.

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