What does the quote from Beowulf foreshadow, and how does it reflect pagan beliefs?

"for the first time in his life that famous prince fought with fate against him, with glory denied him."

Quick answer:

What the quote ""for the first time in his life that famous prince fought with fate against him, with glory denied him" foreshadows is Beowulf's death in battle against a fearsome dragon. It is reflective of pagan beliefs in that it expresses the notion that fate governs lives.

Expert Answers

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

The noble warrior Beowulf has taken on and defeated many mighty opponents in his time; one only has to think of Grendel and his mother. But on this particular occasion, he's bitten off more than he can chew.

Now King of the Geats, Beowulf is bravely defending his people against a fearsome dragon. But what's different about this encounter, compared to previous fights in which Beowulf has engaged, is that fate is against him.

What's more, Beowulf knows this, and yet, in true Anglo-Saxon warrior fashion, he fights the dragon without the slightest hint of fear. Beowulf knows that the dragon will kill him, but as a warrior, he is compelled to stand tall in the eyes of his people. The last thing he wants is for them to remember him as a coward who ran away from danger.

That Beowulf was fated to die is an expression of the pagan belief system, in which fate played a very important part. This partly explains why Beowulf goes out to meet the dragon by himself without a moment's hesitation. It is his fate to fight the dragon and his fate to be killed by it. And as a proud pagan warrior, Beowulf accepts his fate without compunction.

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