Editor's Choice

In Beowulf, who is Healfdane's son?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hrothgar, king of the Danes, is one of the most important characters in the story. He is a wise, benevolent ruler, beloved by all. He looks upon Beowulf almost as his own son, and he it is who invites the brave and fearless Geat to Denmark to slay the bloodthirsty, vicious monster Grendel. Perhaps Hrothgar sees something of his own father, Healfdane, in the young warrior. For Healfdane himself had the reputation of a brave and noble warlord. He was a fighter prince, as rulers were expected to be at that time. It was only through force of arms that it was thought possible to maintain peace and good order within a kingdom. And Healfdane's bravery and skill as a warrior king ensured that when Hrothgar succeeded his brother Heorogar on the throne he inherited a strong and stable land.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Healfdane, son of Beo, had three sons: Hergar (or Heorogar), King of the Danes, Hrothgar, who became king after the death of Heorogar, and Halga, the youngest. Healfdane also had one daugher, Yrs. See lines 57-63 of the Prologue:

The great Healfdane, a fierce fighter
Who led the Danes to the end of his long
Life and left them four children,
Three princes to guide them in battle, Hergar
And Hrothgar and Halga the Good, and one daughter,
Yrs, who was given to Onela, king
Of the Swedes...
(Burton Raffel trans.)

Hrothgar is the only one of the sons who figures prominently in the poem. Hrothgar is an aging king, beloved by his people, builder of the great hall Heorot. When the monster Grendel begins his deadly attacks on the hall, Hrothgar welcomes Beowulf and seeks his protection. Unlike Beowulf, who is able to accomplish great feats through arms, Hrothgar earns his people's love through his compassion, his generousity, and his wisdom.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial