What is the significance of Beowulf's response to Unferth?

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In the second paragraph above, Beowulf essentially tells Unferth (and the assembled court, including Hrothgar) that the Danes (the West-Scyldings, Hrothgar's tribe) are too weak to confront Grendel successfully because they are more fond of boasting than fighting. Given the context of Beowulf's speech—a celebration of welcome for Beowulf—his comment would, under most circumstances, be the cause of a fight because he has just accused the Danes of cowardice, but the comment is ignored by the Danes. One can argue that this particular comment fits more properly with the pre-Christian, intensely-tribal culture that pre-dates the poem in which insults were a natural result of tribal power plays—in other words, Beowulf's sentiment is quite natural but now completely out of place, but the poet keeps it because it reinforces Beowulf's warrior credentials. This could be seen as another example of tribal rivalry that survives the pagan era.

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