Beowulf Questions and Answers

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How does Beowulf make sure he has a legacy?

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At the beginning of the poem, the sceop tells us that Beowulf was a man whose blaéd wíde sprang—his renown was spread wide—and that he was folcum gefraége—famed among his people. The poet also tells us that to be remembered in this way is what a good king, who has fought for his people and dispensed rings and treasures appropriately to his lords and vassals, should be able to expect. In Anglo-Saxon tradition, the greatest legacy a man could expect was to have tales told of his glory after his death.

As an illustration of this, reputation and legacy in the Beowulf poem can be seen in the number of digressions the poem contains, which tell the stories of people who are not part of the main story but who, the poet feels, can help illuminate it. In telling these stories, the poet keeps the reputations and legacies of these people alive; we can particularly see this in the story of the "Father's Lament," in which the legacy of a lost son survives through his father's memories of him.


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