Lines 1,651–1,887 Questions and Answers

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Study Questions
1. What is the sign of victory Beowulf gives to Hrothgar?

2. How does Beowulf feel his life was saved?

3. What does Hrothgar do when Beowulf gives him the sword hilt?

4. What happened to the magical giants who made the sword?

5. What is the story of Hermod?

6. What, specifically, is Hrothgar warning Beowulf about in telling this story?

7. What is the occasion for Unferth’s visit?

8. What promises does Beowulf make as he takes his leave of Hrothgar?

9. Hrothgar says he is pleased with Beowulf for what reasons?

10. Why does Hrothgar weep?

1. The sign of victory that Beowulf gives to Hrothgar is Grendel’s head. When he won the earlier battle with Grendel, the monster was able to escape, minus his claw, arm, and shoulder, to die in his lair. At that time, Beowulf apologized to Hrothgar for not being able to bring him the monster’s body. After slaying Grendel’s mother, he finds the body in the lair that the mother and son shared and beheads it, bringing this prize to the Danish king.

2. Beowulf explains that God showed him the giants’ magical sword which he used to slay Grendel’s mother after Hrunting proved to be ineffective. (Remember, this is an English poem about the Danes and Geats written at the time when Christianity was first gaining acceptance.)

3. When Beowulf gives Hrothgar the sword hilt, he examines it minutely, finding the story of the giants’ demise and the name of the owner written in the Runic language.

4. According to the story written on the jeweled sword hilt, the giants survived a battle between good and evil only to be swept away as a people during a flood created by God, whom they hated.

5. Hermod’s story tells of a former Danish king who was very strong, but had mad rages during which he killed his own people. He was insensitive to his people’s needs and ended his life without followers, a lonely man. He shared none of his wealth nor his glory with his soldiers.

6. Hrothgar is warning Beowulf to remember his own mortality; while all may be well now, it may not always be so. In addition, he fears Beowulf will allow his pride to interfere with the way he rules when he becomes the Geat king, as Hrothgar feels he eventually will.

7. Unferth completely revises his opinion of Beowulf when the Geat enters the lake to kill Grendel’s mother alone, since all others were afraid to do so. He wants him to have Hrunting as a gift given in admiration of Beowulf’s fearlessness and strength.

8. When Beowulf takes his leave of Hrothgar, he promises to come immediately with a battalion of 1,000 soldiers supplied by Higlac should Hrothgar summon him or if he hears of a need on Hrothgar’s part. He also promises that Hrethric will be made very welcome in Geatland should he visit.

9. Hrothgar says he is pleased with Beowulf because of his strength and his wisdom. He is also pleased because he feels Beowulf will one day be a great king in his own land, providing he remembers his mortality and does not allow his pride to rule him.

10. Hrothgar weeps because he knows he will never again see this young man he has grown to love and who has done so much for his people. Hrothgar is an old man at this point and Beowulf is sailing home, a great distance.

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