What do Hrothgar and his council do to try to save his guest hall?

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hrothgar's hall, Heorot, is endangered twice; first by Grendel, and then by Grendel's mother. Both times, Hrothgar and his council make efforts to defend it.

Grendel terrifies Hrothgar's people the point that Heorot is deserted, and Grendel is said to rule the night. We can assume that fighting Grendel proved useless; he is claimed to be as strong as thirty men. Hrothgar later tells Beowulf that some of his men had claimed they could stop Grendel, only to be found dead the next morning;

Boasted full oft, as my beer they drank,
earls o’er the ale-cup, armed men,
that they would bide in the beer-hall here,
Grendel’s attack with terror of blades.
Then was this mead-house at morning tide
dyed with gore
Some of the Hrothgar's advisors even turn to pagan ways, attempting to ask the help of "devils" (i.e. non-Christian gods) to help them;
Whiles they vowed in their heathen fanes
altar-offerings, asked with words
that the slayer-of-souls would succor give them
The "slayer of souls" presumably refers to Satan. This, too, proved useless.
Later, when Grendel's mother attacks, Beowulf snaps the king out of his sorrow with an exhortation to fight, rather than mourn. Hrothgar and his men immediately set out after the monster and track her to her lair.