Considering the poets' descriptions of Heorot (lines 63-91 in Beowulf) and Camelot (lines 37-106 in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight), how are the two halls similar and different?

1 Answer

tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

For King Arthur, Camelot was not only his kingdom, but a place of worship; whereas, the Hall Heorot was what the poet calls a "mead-building." Mead is beer, so basically Heorot was a pub or bar. King Arthur's hall, though, had a chapel and a place for feasting. Both buildings were considered large and able to accommodate many guests. Heorot is described as "tall, high and wide-gabled" as well as a "tall house" used for "beer-drinking" (p. 2-3 of Donaldson's translation). For Camelot, descriptions not only mention the chapel, but a "high dais" or stage, upon which the King and Queen sat with other high-ranking officials to oversee the rest of the feast's company. Camelot also had a canopy over head and embroidered tapestries flowing from the ceilings. The description of each hall can also be discovered by what type of guests assembled there. In Heorot, only warrior men went there to have a drink with their buddies. Camelot's hall, on the other hand, received noble guests, male and female, for the purpose of public entertainment and merriment. They probably drank and got drunk there, too, but that was not anything noble to note. The Gawain poet also took time to address what everyone wore and to list all of the riches and fine food that were available at Arthur's feast. This suggests that high ranking people of noble birth took great care for this event and that it wasn't a place for war--only stories of gallant battles. Heorot, meaning heart, was a casual place of socializing, but again, only men of the time went there and shared their brave stories as well. The two halls, similarly, though, both have a great event take place right before their eyes. In both events, the lines of war or magic are crossed which set the stages for great stories.