Who is Scyld in Beowulf?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Scyld, or Scyld of Scefing, is introduced in the "Prelude of the Founder of the Danish House." According to the prelude, Scyld was the first Danish king. Early in life, he was friendless, yet, as a fearsome warrior, he found great wealth and power later in life. Many tribes respected him as a leader and a king. 

He had a son named Beow. As asked by his father, Beow insured that Scyld was given a proper burial when death took him. He was laid to rest in a ship laden with the most bountiful collection of treasures, weapons, and armor. Scyld was an amazing king who looked after his people well. 

Beow then had four children (as told of in chapter one): Heorogar, Hrothgar, Halga the good, and Elan. Therefore, Scyld was also Hrothgar's grandfather. 

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parama9000's profile pic

parama9000 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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He was a respected king and leader that bore 4 children. He was laid to rest on a ship with treasures, weapons and armors.

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StephanieRR | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Scyld shows up on both the eNotes character page and summary page.

Character summary: "Often called Scyld Scefing, the first king of his line. In other ancient accounts, Scyld is said to have arrived alone in a boat as a small child. One tradition holds that he is the son of the biblical Noah, and was born aboard the ark. Scyld appears in the genealogy of the West Saxon kings."

Beowulf Summary: "Scyld was found by the Danes as a small boy in a boat washed ashore. The Danes at this time were without a leader and oppressed by neighboring countries. Scyld grew to be a great warrior king and made the Danes a powerful nation. Dying, he ordered the Danes to send him back in a ship to the sea from which he came. They placed him in a ship surrounded by treasures and pushed it out to sea— and 'no one knows who received that freight.' Scyld's son, Beowulf Scylding, becomes king in his turn."

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