At the end of the epic Beowulf, when the aged king Beowulf goes to fight the dragon, only one of his men stands behind him when he falters, fighting the dragon. That warrior is Wiglaf. Beowulf is fatally wounded in the battle, and is only able to kill the dragon with Wiglaf's help.
The other men who had accompanied Beowulf had turned and fled. However, when their king is dead, they return. Wiglaf realizes Beowulf cannot be revived—that he is dead—and then the young warrior turns his attention to these villains and tells them what their fate will be.
Wiglaf chides them in that Beowulf had always taken excellent care of them, and always rewarded them as richly as possible. However, Wiglaf warns them that their spinelessness will cost them dearly.
Now gift of treasure and girding of sword,
joy of the house and home-delight
shall fail your folk; his freehold-land
every clansman within your kin
shall lose and leave, when lords highborn
hear afar of that flight of yours,
a fameless deed. Yea, death is better
for liegemen all than a life of shame!
Wiglaf tells them that the many blessings they and their families received from the hands of Beowulf are gone. Everyone related to these men will lose everything, including their land—be driven off—once other highborn lords hear of their flight in the face of battle. He tells the men that it would have been better to die bravely supporting their lord or king, than to live life shamed by their cowardice.