How does Beowulf die?

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caledon | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Beowulf dies after fighting a dragon.

In the third part of the story, Beowulf has aged since his adventures in Hrothgar's service, and become King of the Geats. However, a thief wakes a sleeping dragon (yet another one of many monsters in the story) who destroys Beowulf's hall and many of the Geat's buildings. The surprise and violence of this assault surprises Beowulf and leads him to believe that it is his fate to die with the dragon.

Beowulf confronts the dragon alone, but is mortally wounded in the battle. Only one of his men, Wiglaf, remains with him. Beowulf instructs Wiglaf on how to bury him, and to care for the Geats; he then states that he is going to join his ancestors:

earls in their glory: I after them go.
This word was the last which the wise old man
harbored in heart ere hot death-waves
of balefire he chose. From his bosom fled
his soul to seek the saints’ reward.
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