Anonymous Anglo-Saxon poet
Contributed by Karim Chandra
Lines 194-661

The section depicts the first time that Beowulf enters the scene. He is confident, powerful and handsome. He is also motivated by a high level of obligation and loyalty concerning assisting Hrothgar to engage in his activities in the most effective manner. Beowulf also has a battle gear and sets off with his men aboard a ship as they sail off to the Danish coast. The guardians of the coast are largely amazed at the arrival of men armed with heavy artillery. Beowulf details the mission. The guards are impressed by the actions of Beowulf and his men. They, therefore, lead the men to Heorot Hall.

Beowulf also needs to restate his reason for the visit. He also reminds Hrothgar of the great friendship that he and his father shared amongst one another.  Beowulf also tells of his accomplishments. He tells him that he fought many beasts and managed to outwit them. He had also managed to raid a nest of trolls. Through his confidence and brevity, he had also managed to take on several sea monsters. Beowulf states that he has the plan to defeat Grendel. He also has the plan to do so without using weapons.

Hrothgar gives a speech about Beowulf’s father. He also speaks vehemently regarding the murders and the evil actions that were committed by Grendel. He notes that the actions are a great embarrassment to his kingdom. Unferth, the courtier of Hrothgar becomes jealous of the praise that the king has levied on Beowulf. He, therefore, starts making a speech to discredit Beowulf. Beowulf rebukes Unferth and defends himself accordingly stating that he has no morals and lacks the necessary courage that would be befitted on a leader.


The section is important as it aids to show the budding relationship between Beowulf and Hrothgar. A bond of loyalty develops between the two. Hrothgar feels the urge to come to the help of the son of his dead friend, owing to the good relationship they had in the past. Although Ecgtheow, Beowulf’s father is dead, he has managed to pass on the mantle of loyalty and good relationship with the king to the next generation. Many years back, Ecgtheow had been involved in a feud with the Wulfing tribe. The conflict started because he had killed a member of the tribe called Heatholaf. Ecgtheow had been given a fine called wergild for the act but was not able to pay it. The situation, therefore, led to the crop up of the conflict between him and members of the tribe. Hrothgar came to the rescue of Ecgtheow by paying for him the debt. Beowulf, thereby, sought to repay the money for his father back to Hrothgar, in full. He has plans to repay the amount by fighting Grendel and defeat him.

During the time, the culture of Denmark was characterized by heroic code. The code called for loyalty. As well, it called for people to exert revenge when necessary. Where a person assisted another, the beneficiary was indebted to the helper. Thus, the person needed to reach and assist the helper when required to do so. In the same measure, where a person was wronged, he would ensure to exert revenge over the wrongs conducted against him. The revenge would be taken no matter the length of time that it took to achieve the same. The person would also go on with the revenge no matter the number of generations that may have had passed after the wrong was done.

While at the hall, Beowulf makes several speeches. He is not overwhelmed by the heroic glory that he currently possesses. He is fully aware that he needs to do more than what he has currently achieved to maintain the good relationship that his father, Ecgtheow, had established with king Hrothgar. People present to him while making the speech are impressed by the good work he had done and the words he had said. They, therefore, cheer for him and, as well, feel that he is a person to be emulated. Among some of the people who are happy with the words of Beowulf is the queen. She feels that he is highly intelligent and valuable to the people.

Expectations are that, by being a hero, he would talk much about the achievements he has had over the years. Heroes would love to boast around and talk more about themselves to gain cheers and respect from other people. However, although he is boastful, he is ready to acknowledge his weakness as a mere human being. He accepts that he has some weaknesses which he would like to overcome. He tells people what they should do to his body should he be killed by Grendel. By talking about his death, he appears to be open to realities in having a view that he could be defeated in the war that he is about to engage with the monster. Many people are, therefore, able to relate their situation to him as he has confirmed to them that he is a mere human being and does not possess any special powers as compared to them.

The altercation that took place between Unferth and Beowulf is important. It is a portrayal of the excessive jealousy that Unferth has against Beowulf. The situation is important as it helps to make Beowulf appear more heroic. He does not seem to take the insults levied against him. He is ready to correct the assertions that Unferth brings forth. In the end, he manages to restore goodwill between the Geats and the Danes.

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