Essential Quotes by Character: Beowulf
Essential Passage 1: Chapter IX
To a man, the warriors rose up; he spoke man-to-man, did Hrothgar to Beowulf, and wished him luck while granting him command in the mead-hall, adding these words: “Since I could lift up hand and shield, I never before trusted the guardianship of this noble Dane-Hall to any man—except to you on this occasion. Have now and hold this peerless house; remember your fame and be valiant; keep watch for the foe! No desire of yours will be unfulfilled if you come through the battle boldly with your life.”
Beowulf has come to Denmark, to the realm of Hrothgar, on news that the monster Grendel is terrorizing the land. Seeking for adventure in which he can gain honor, Beowulf brings a company of fourteen fellow Geats to fulfill the quest. Hrothgar, beset by the monster that has overtaken his royal hall of Heorot and killed his warriors, is grateful that so strong a champion has come, a man whom he knew in the Geat’s childhood, and whose fame has spread across the seas. In gratitude, Hrothgar yields his place as champion of his own people to Beowulf, granting him the hall of Heorot to defend and protect. Heorot is a symbol of his power, and thus he guardedly gives it into Beowulf’s control. Never before has he yielded any part of his power and authority to any other man, yet, in his age, he has become unable to deal with this new challenge. With a last warning to stand guard, reminding that his fame and reputation stand on his ability to defeat Grendel, Hrothgar departs.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter XXI
Beowulf, son of Ecgtheow, spoke: “Do not lament, wise sire! It seems better that each man avenge his friends than to mourn them to no end. Each of us must await the end of his path in this world, and he who can, should achieve renown before death! That is the best memorial when life is past and a warrior's days are recounted. Rise up, oh warden of the realm! We ride forth promptly to catch the trail of Grendel's mother. Mark my words—she shall find no shelter, neither in the earth of the fields, nor the mountainous woods, nor the ocean's depths—wherever she may flee! Have patience and endure your woes this day, as I suspect you shall.”
Grendel, the monster that has invaded Heorot, has been vanquished. Crawling away to die in his water-hidden chambers, he has left behind his arm that Beowulf wrenched from him with his bare hands. Hrothgar has celebrated the return of his home with a feast. However, the next night, Grendel’s mother storms the hall, seizing and killing Hrothgar’s closest and most beloved advisor. Hrothgar is overwhelmed by another conflict following so quickly on the heels of the other. His courage begins to fail, but Beowulf gently remonstrates him for his lack of heart. Knowing that death is certain for all, it is best to win glory while one can, since that is all that will remain after the warrior is gone. Beowulf thus rather bluntly tells Hrothgar to “man up” and show some spine. It is Beowulf, who has so often shown courage and prowess in battle, who will avenge the death of Aeschere. It is in avenging a death that this warrior will now gain glory.
Essential Passage 3: Chapter XLIII
They placed in the barrow collars, rings, and such wealth as the stalwart heroes had lately captured in the hoard, trusting the ground with the treasure of princes, and placing the gold in the earth, where it lies, forever useless to men, as it was in days of old.
Then twelve sons of princes, warriors skilled in battle, rode around the barrow to make a lament, mourn their king, chant their dirge, and honor his name. They lauded his reign and praised his feats of prowess; it is fitting that men should extol their liege lord with words and cherish him in love when the lord goes hence from life and take his departure from the home of his body.
Thus the men of Geatland, his hearth-companions, mourned their hero's passing, and said that of all the kings of the earth, he was the mildest...
(The entire section is 1,456 words.)