In the epic poem, Beowulf, what attributes made a good king in Beowulf's time?

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Eleanora Howe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The other answer to this question does a great job of highlighting honor, faith, wisdom, and loyalty as important kingly qualities in the world of Beowulf. I'd like to add that kings were also expected to display generosity to their subjects by giving gifts. Hrothgar periodically provides his subjects with generous feasts, and he lavishes Beowulf with gifts on several occasions. After Beowulf defeats Grendel, for instance, Hrothgar holds a feast and gives rich accessories, including a sword, armor, and horses.

The giving of gifts was an important aspect of the world in which Beowulf  takes place, ensuring the loyalty of a king's subjects and their continued service to the kingdom. In other words, this generosity was a key component of maintaining social stability, of keeping the community of Heorot intact and strong against the forces of chaos, represented by monsters like Grendel, lurking on the fringes of civilization. A good king was one who could be generous in rewarding the...

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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