Describe the relationship between King Hrothgar and his warriors in "Beowulf."

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hrothgar is greatly loved by his warriors, who will do anything and everything to protect both king and kingdom.  But as much as they admire him, they realize he has been unable to stop the threat of Grendel.  This undersea monster, "the spawn of Cain" (the first murderer in the Bible) has been terrorizing the kingdom for a dozen years, murdering the soldiers as they sleep.  Hrothgar himself realizes he needs a stronger, younger, bolder leader to help extinguish the terror of the monster.  He sends for Beowulf, having known the brave warrior as a child and aware of his reputation as the fiercest and most unrelenting of warriors.  When Beowulf arrives at Heorot, he greets him saying:

It bothers me to have to burden anyone

with all the grief Grendel has caused

and the havoc he has wreaked upon us in Heorot,

our humiliations.  My house-hold guard

are on the wane, fate sweeps them away

into Grendel's clutches  --

but God can easily halt these raids and harrowing attacks!  (476-80)

The trust Hrothgar places in Beowulf translates to the warriors.  Beowulf has been, in effect, granted a sort of passing of the torch, enabling him to become king later, even though he is not of noble birth.

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