In Beowulf, how do the actions of Beowulf's men hold up to the Anglo-Saxon code of honor in battle with Grendel?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon text with implications for today.  Beowulf's men were the epitome of honor for all time, not just their time--until the battle with the dragon.  First, they were chosen by Beowulf, but they also chose to go.  He could not have forced them to go or to fight with him; they did so willingly.  This selflessness is indicative of honor.  Next, they were polite, peaceable, and  respectful in the house of a king.  They put their weapons aside when they entered Heorot.  Third, they slept with their arms easily at hand on the night of Grendel's attack; they were prepared to fight.  Fourth, they had been warned by Beowulf beforehand that he wanted to fight this battle himself, without weapons.  When Grendel begins his attack, though, they attempt to defend their leader; their efforts were ineffectual, of course, because of the charm Grendel made for himself, but they strove to defend their leader.  Finally, when Beowulf follows Grendel's mother to the bottom of the ocean, they keep watch/vigil and do not lose faith that their leader will survive this ordeal.  These same qualities and actions can be applied to the knights of the medieval period as well as today's military, to some degree.  That's because honor has no time constraints or geographical boundaries.