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Beowulf

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Courtney Harle

on 29 September 2013

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Transcript of Beowulf

"Reputation is Important"
In our day-to-day lives, we tend to worry about how others see us; the Anglo-Saxons were no different. Both cultures place importance on certain values that make a respected man, the only difference being how reputations are earned. We can see how the Anglo-Saxon valued a good reputation because we continue to do the same. A man who is known to be brave, loyal, and came from a well respected family would be looked up to for his actions and associations in both modern day and Anglo-Saxon societies.
Shield Sheafson
He always obtains territories from many tribes and foes. In the each clan on the outlying coasts beyond the whale-road had to yield to him and begin to pay tribute. Because he built this country and he was the first king of the kingdom. He also is a great example for his sons.
Hrothgar
He is Beow's son and also a great king. Everyone knows he is a descendant of Shield, Beow, and Halfdane so by association he was meant to be a well respected king, just like his ancestors. He worked hard to set a higher standard and forge a strong, positive reputation as king.
Beowulf
War and Reputation
The presence of war in Anglo-Saxon poetry demonstrates how important it is to their lifestyle. Honor is won , brothers are avenged, and kingdoms are defended on the battlefield.
Funeral
He was an awesome and well respected king so his funeral was also very luxurious. Far-fetched treasures and precious gear was piled upon him. The ship was well furbished with battle tackle, bladed weapons, and coats of mail in order for the king's men to show their appreciation. (Beowulf (pg) 5).
This tradition shows how a king who is respected among his people and treated his men well earns a lasting positive reputation. It also establishes that a king who is a ring-giver is the standard to which all great kings are held in Anglo-Saxon society.
"Behaviour that's admired is the path to power among people everywhere." (Beowulf 24)
"The fortunes of war favoured him. Friends and kinsmen flocked to his ranks, young followers, a force that grew to be a mighty army." (Beowulf 64)
Heorot Hall
"...he handed down orders for men to work on a great mead-hall meant to be a wonder of the world forever; it would be his throne-room and there he would dispense his God-given goods to young and old..." (Beowulf 68)
"It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning... Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark." - Beowulf to Hrothgar (Beowulf 1384).

This sums up Beowulf's desire for honor from being a great warrior and also why he boasts about his power.
He wants to be known for his greatness, just as all warriors in Beowulf's time do. To be regarded as a hero was their greatest honor, a reputation worth dying for.
"He was not man enough to face the turmoil of a fight under water and risk his life. So there he lost fame and repute." -Beowulf about Unferth (Beowulf 1468).

War could also hurt a man's reputation, especially in the Unferth's case. He was unable to fight in the water and too afraid to risk his life that from then on he was looked upon as weak. This explains why Unferth is so hostile towards Beowulf, constantly undermining and embarrassing him because that is the only way he can think of to make himself sound superior.
Example
His strength of thirty in the grip of each hand. (Page 27)
He battled and bound five beasts, raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea slaughtered sea-brutes.
He used sword to kill nine sea-monsters.
He has so much power that even stronger than Grendel.
As main character of this famous book, Beowulf is a generous and brave person. As a warrior, he is always loyal. As a king, he was known to be the most generous.
The storytellers sang songs of Beowulf to immortalize him and make sure generations to come would know of his strength and loyalty as a warrior.
All kings want to build monuments that can be a symbol of them and their reign even after they are gone. Halls were the Anglo-Saxons' way of building the monuments. Heorot demonstrates how the reputation that outlasts the man is very important, not only to warriors, but also to kings.
He has the reputation of a confident person since he
is not afraid to tell other people
how great he is. Including when he was at Heorot before attacking Grendel and his words before he died.
Even when he is facing danger, he doesn't ask other warriors for help.
He is known as one of the most generous kings because he gave all his treasures to people in the country.
"Go now quickly dearest Wiglaf...hurry to feast your eyes on the hoard. I want to examine that ancient gold, gaze my fill on those garnered jewels..." (Beowulf 2743).
Beowulf wanted to get the gold that is said to have been paid for by his death. He shows his merits as a king by leaving the riches to his people. He paid those who protected him, like Wiglaf, very well.
"Then the king in his great-heartedness unclasped the collar of gold from his neck and gave it to the young thane, telling him to use it and the warshirt and the gilded helmet well." (Beowulf 2809)
Like Shield Sheafson, Beowulf's funeral showed how much his people loved him. They covered his ship with all of the gold from the dragon's cave. This shows how important a man's reputation is still important even after he is gone.
"He wanted me to greet you and order the building of a barrow that would crown the sight of his pyre...since of all men to have lived and thrived and lorded it on earth his worth and due as a warrior were the greatest." (Beowulf 3095)
Print of Beowulf's Funeral
Example of a Saxon ring
In conclusion, the Geats and Danes prized a good reputation, just as we do today. It shows how we learn from history and the traditions that last between generations and groups of people. The Anglo-Saxons were quick to win battles, reward their defenders, and build monuments to create their lasting story, even after death. Just the Geats and Danes achieve greatness to be remembered years later, we work to be remembered positively by our peers and teachers long after we move on after graduation. The importance of reputation is not only stressed in Beowulf through the characters and the morals that are taught, but it is also repeated in modern day society.
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