Prelude of the Founder of the Danish House
A long time ago, the Spear-Danes and their kings were a powerful people. We have all heard of their power and glory. We have heard of Scyld Scefing, who destroyed his enemies and their halls. Although he was an orphan, he rose and became king, and the people showered him with remarkable gifts. He was a great king. The Lord-of-all knew how people suffered without a leader, so he sent the king a gift from heaven, a son named Beow. The boy was known in the northern lands and behaved well in his youth, sharing gifts and earning the friendship and affection of many people he would have to call later in battle.
Scyld died in his prime. He ordered his men to send his body to sea. They put the body of their beloved king in a boat and filled it with treasure, swords, and armor, so they sent it to the sea. A golden flag fluttered from the ship's mast in the breeze that carried the ship away. He sailed into the unknown while his people mourned his death deeply.
Beowulf became the ruler of Spear-Danes and everyone loved him. He had an heir, the great Halfdan, whose knowledge and firmness guided and protected the people. Halfdane had three sons - Halga, Hrothgar, and Heorogar, and a daughter, who married Onela and became Queen of the Swedes. Hrothgar was a great warrior that people wanted to fight alongside him, so his army grew. He decided to build a huge hall, the largest anyone has ever seen. From there, he would rule and give his people everything he could, except the land and the lives of his people. He brought in men from all over the world to help him build a hall, so his huge and noble hall was soon finished. He called it Heorot. While he was inside, he kept his promise to give gifts and treasures to his people. But outside the high walls of Heorot, death, and destruction await. They were waiting for the day when death will come inside the walls and tear people apart.
The demon lurked outside, and he could barely stand the sounds of music and singing coming from Heorot.
"So lived the clansmen in cheer and revel
a winsome life, till one began
to fashion evils, that field of hell.
Grendel this monster grim was called,
march-riever mighty, in moorland living,
in fen and fastness; fief of the giants
the hapless wight a while had kept
since the Creator his exile doomed."
The Spear-Danes sang about the origin of the world and the glory of the Almighty, who created them and everything they could see. People lived happily until the demon began his evil act. The demon was named Grendel. He lived in the swamps nearby. His Creator banished him to live among the monsters of Cain's family. God expelled Cain from the company of men after killing his brother Abel. From Cain came a race of giants, evil spirits, and elves. They fought against God, even though they had no chance of victory.
At night, Grendel managed to sneak into the hall where he saw that drunk men sleeping, completely unaware of the sadness and pain that awaited them. Full of anger, Grendel grabbed thirty men and took them back to the swamp. In the sunrise, the men saw what Grendel had done. They were overwhelmed with grief. Even their fearless leader sat paralyzed, utterly devastated by the defeat Grendel had caused. But they couldn't mourn for long, as Grendel came back the next night to take on more victims.
Men fled the hall to escape Grendel's hate and soon, the great hall was left empty. For twelve years, Hrothgar mourned because of Grendel's attacks. The whole world had heard of Grendel's rage and the killings he had done. The beast refused to stop, even for huge sums of gold, and no one would dare try to negotiate with a monster. Both old and young were scared, as Grendel hunted them all. When night fell, he was the ruler of Heorot. Hrothgar's heart was broken. All of his advisors offered ideas on how to defeat Grendel. They even made offerings to pagan gods and begged the devils to come to their aid. They have so little hope left. Since they were pagans, they did not know that they could turn to Almighty God, the Lord of the heavens.
The wisest people couldn't offer real help to Hrothgar, who suffered unimaginable grief as his people had to bear the horrors of the night.
The nearby kingdom of the Geats heard of Grendel's attacks. Hygelac, the ruler of the Geats, was led by a great warrior, a nobleman who was the bravest man in the world. No one compared to him. When he heard of Grendel's deeds, he ordered his warship ready to sail. He announced that he was planning on sailing to help Hrothgar. Although the Geats loved him very much, they didn't stop him from leaving. They glorified him and looked for good omens that heralded success. He gathered fourteen best warriors and prepared to sail. The ship was ready, waiting for them in port.
The men carried their shiny weapons and armor on board, while the waves crashed against the side of the ship. They pushed away and caught the wind. The boat was like a bird flying on the surface of the sea.
The next day they saw the high cliffs in front of them and knew their journey was over. They anchored their boat and swam ashore with their spears and armor rattling. They thanked God for the safe sailing. Upon the cliff, one of Hrothgar's guards saw the men unloading their shields and weapons.
He rushed to shore and confronted the people, shaking his spear as he asked who they were and why they came fully armed. He said that they don't have permission to land here with their weapons out and that he had never seen anything like it in all his life. He requested the brave man to tell him what he's doing here unless he wants people to think they're spies.
The brave man, a.k.a. The leader said that they're the Geats and that their ruler is Hygelac whose father was Ecgtheow, a noble warrior. They're on their way to his master, Halfdane's son, Hrothgar to help him defeat the monster and that they have nothing to hide. They heard about the evil beast that kills people in the night and they want to help Hrothgar defeat this terrible enemy and restore peace to the country. Otherwise, he will mourn until the end of his life at least until his hall becomes empty.
The guard replied that a brave man knows the difference between words and deeds and that he trusts him when he says he's here to help them. He said that he'll show him the way to his master and that he'll leave some guards by his boat to keep it until the time comes for him to return home.
The warriors marched quickly and soon saw a hall, huge and shining with gold. Hrothgar Hall was the most beautiful hall on earth and its fame spread to distant lands.
They walked down the path to the hall. Exhausted, they lowered their shields against the wall of the hall and leaned back on the benches. Their weapons were stacked nearby. One of Hrothgar's warriors approached them and asked where they were coming from with so much armor as he had never seen so many brave strangers before. The leader replied that they were coming to Hrothgar to seek glory, not shelter and that his name is Beowulf, and that they are Hygelac's people. If his master, son of Halfdane, meets with him, he will tell him what their mission is.
Wulfgar, one of the local chiefs who was known for his wisdom and bravery said that he will tell the Danish king he was here.
Wulfgar hurried to old Hrothgar, who was sitting surrounded by his men, and said that some people came across the sea from Geatland to see him and that their leader is called Beowulf. They would like to talk to him and that it seems that they are valuable warriors, especially their leader, who looks like a real hero.
"Hither have fared to thee far-come men
o'er the paths of ocean, people of Geatland;
and the stateliest there by his sturdy band
is Beowulf named. This boon they seek,
that they, my master, may with thee
have speech at will: nor spurn their prayer
to give them hearing, gracious Hrothgar!
In weeds of the warrior worthy they,
methinks, of our liking; their leader most surely,
a hero that hither his henchmen has led."
Hrothgar replied that he remembers him when he was young. His father was Ecgtheow, who was married to the daughter of Hrethel Geat. And now their brave son comes to the aid of his loyal friend. He once sent some sailors to the Geats to deliver some gifts, and they came back with wonderful stories about that man. They say he is as strong as thirty people. Merciful God sent him to save them from Grendel's horrors and he will reward him for his courage. He said to let them know that they are very welcome here.
Wulfgar went to the door of the hall and said that his master is sending him this message. He knows his family well and welcomes them here. He asked him to approach the master in armor but leave his shields and weapons behind. Beowulf gathered several of his warriors and marched after Wulfgar, leaving some men to guard their weapons.
Approaching Hrothgar in his shining armor, Beowulf spoke. "Long live Hrothgar!" He said he's Hygelac's loyal subject and cousin, and that he has earned respect in his countries. Even there he heard of Grendel's evil deeds. The sailors talked a lot about how his big hall stands empty at night, so this is why he came to Hrothgar, hopefully, that his strength and courage will help.
He said he captured and killed monsters on land and in the sea, and he avenged and defended his people from enemies who got what they deserved. And now he came to destroy Grendel. He asked his permission to free his hall from this devil using only his people. He heard that Grendel doesn't use any weapon, so he intends to kill him with his bare hands and earn more fame in Hygelac's name.
If Grendel wins, he will be eaten and his body will not be here to be buried. He only asked that they send his armor back to Hygelac.
Hrothgar said he came here to defend them and that, a long time ago just when he became the ruler of Danes, his father started a war when he killed Heatholaf of the Wylfings. That his people were scared that they would die in retaliation so much that they sent him away and that he came here.
It hurts him to see his people suffering from Grendel, but if fate catches his people in Grendel's hands, only God would be able to stop the devil's evil deeds. He said that many times people came here, sat at his banquet table, drank his beer, and claimed to stop Grendel, and every time his hall would end covered in their blood. Now it's Beowulf's turn to sit at his table.
Beowulf and his strong-hearted men sat in the banquet hall. A servant brought them a beer. The minister sang and lifted everyone's spirits.
"- But sit to the banquet, unbind thy words,
hardy hero, as heart shall prompt thee."
At the king's feet sat a man named Unferth. He was jealous of Beowulf's bravery as he wanted to be the one to deserve the glory of victory. So he asked if he was the same Beowulf whose vanity led him to fight Breca on the high seas just to show that he can win. Unferth started talking about the story of how it was a terrible storm and that this man Beowulf fought for seven nights, but in the end, he came as the winner. He returned to his people convinced of his superiority. He said that he may be brave, but it won't matter now - as no one lasted a single night against Grendel.
Beowulf replied that this is the story Unferth told about him and Breca was true, but that he thinks beer must be on his mind as if he wants to know the truth, Beowulf was only a better swimmer. He and Breca have been swimming since they were little, so one time they went swimming holding swords to protect themselves from sea beasts. None of them could get the lead. They swam side by side for five nights until the stormy sea separated them and woke the creatures from the depths. The sea monster pulled him to the bottom, but his armor protected him as he managed to stab one of the beasts and free himself. Monsters kept attacking him, but he drove them away again with his sword. He simply didn't let them turn him into a feast at the bottom of the sea and he made sure they sailed ashore by morning. And this is how he made that part of the ocean safe for sailors.
Beowulf continued telling the story that soon it was morning and the light of God shone from the east. He saw high cliffs nearby. Fate saves those who are brave. He killed nine sea monsters and he had never heard of another man leading such a battle. He was exhausted, but he was alive. He was taken ashore on a beach in Finland, but he never heard of Unferth waging such a battle. It is not a boast on his part that neither Unferth nor Breca can match Beowulf with a sword. He said that Unferth is responsible for the death of his family and that he will pay for it in hell. If he were so brave and fierce, he would've stopped Grendel from killing everyone in Heorot.
Hrothgar was overjoyed for this speech. He knew the help had indeed arrived. Everyone was happy, and their conversation and laughter filled the hall. Hrothgar's wife, Queen Wealtheow, entered the hall to greet the guests. She was dressed in gold. She handed her husband a cup of beer and told him to drink first.
Then she took a cup from man to man so that everyone could drink. She finally offered it to Beowulf. She welcomed him and thanked God that her prayers had been answered. Beowulf took a cup and talked to everyone.
He said that when he heard about their tragedy, he told himself he would do his best to help them or die trying. He was determined to prove his courage or end his life here in this hall.
Weowtheow liked Beowulf's speech, and she went and sat down next to her husband. It was once again a festive mood in the hall. The cheerful atmosphere lasted only until Hrothgar got up and prepared to call the night as Grendel will be here soon. The beast has been waiting all day for him to come to the hall, but tonight a fight will be waiting for him.
The warriors stood up as Beowulf and Hrothgar said good night. Hrothgar said that he has never confided his hall to anyone before tonight, but that he believes in Beowulf he will protect his great hall, defeat the enemy and fight for eternal glory. If he wins, he will give him everything he wants.
"Never to any man erst I trusted,
since I could heave up hand and shield,
this noble Dane-Hall, till now to thee.
Have now and hold this house unpeered;
remember thy glory; thy might declare;
watch for the foe! No wish shall fail thee
if thou bidest the battle with bold-won life."
Hrothgar left with his royal guard. He knew his hall was secure because God sent Beowulf to protect it from Grendel. And Beowulf itself believed in God and his strength. So he took off his helmet and armor and handed over his best sword to his servant with orders to take care of it. Before he fell asleep, Beowulf spoke to his men and said he considered himself as fierce as Grendel. So he will fight the beast with his hands, not his sword, and yet he will win.
"Of force in fight no feebler I count me,
in grim war-deeds, than Grendel deems him.
Not with the sword, then, to sleep of death
his life will I give, though it lie in my power.
No skill is his to strike against me,
my shield to hew though he hardy be,
bold in battle; we both, this night,
shall spurn the sword, if he seek me here,
unweaponed, for war. Let wisest God,
sacred Lord, on which side soever
doom decree as he deemeth right."
Everyone went to bed. No man among them was sure he would see his home again as they knew that many warriors had already died in the very hall. But God was preparing the Geats for victory. They would win as they believed in Beowulf.
Night fell. The one walking in the shadows was coming. All the guards of the hall slept except one. The one who was awake was ready to defeat the beast. Grendel dragged through the misty swamps, making his way to the great hall. He walked in the shadows until he finally came. He had been here many times, but he had never faced powerful enemies. When he opened the door and entered the hall, his eyes were blazing with rage, ready to take new victims.
He saw the Geats sleeping on the floor and laughed. He planned to kill and eat them all before morning. Fate, however, had other plans for Grendel. Beowulf watched the beast patiently, waiting to attack. He didn't wait long when Grendel took one of the sleeping men and ate him. He broke the man's bones and drank all of his blood. When he was done, he turned to Beowulf and raised his claw to strike, but Beowulf struck first, grabbing the monster's claw with his mighty hand. He had never felt such strength coming from a man before. He was scared for the first time. He wanted to pull back to his dirty swamp and hide there, but Beowulf remembered the promise he had made to all the people, so he grabbed Grendel tighter, breaking his fingers. Grendel tried to escape, but Beowulf followed him every step of the way.
Due to the noise, everyone was awake and chaos reigned in the hall. Beowulf and Grendel tumbled around the room, crashing against the walls and overturning the benches. The Danes could hardly believe their eyes were terrified when a moan echoed through the hall. It was Grendel's cry.
"Danes of the North
with fear and frenzy were filled, each one,
who from the wall that wailing heard,
God's foe sounding his grisly song,
cry of the conquered, clamorous pain
from captive of hell. Too closely held him
he who of men in might was strongest
in that same day of this our life."
Beowulf was determined to kill Grendel. His men were trying to help him, striking the evil beast with their swords. Little did they know that not even the sharpest blade could pierce Grendel's skin. The beast was shielded by demonic spells that repelled any weapon. Still, his strength failed him. Beowulf didn't want to let go of his powerful grip. Grendel's entire body shook with pain as his shoulder began to split. His muscles and bones began to break and tore apart, and, in the end, Beowulf ripped off his arm. It was a deadly wound, and Beowulf pushed the beast out of the hall back into the swamps to die. The wishes of the Danes were fulfilled. Beowulf saved their hall from the evil beast and death. He fulfilled his promise and earned fame for his courage. As a display of Beowulf's victory, Grendel's hand was placed on the wall of the great hall.
When the morning came, men from all over the country started arriving at the hall to see the tracks Grendel had left behind as he fled to his swap while the swamp was filled with the beast's blood.
The story of Beowulf's strength and courage spread across the country. Although they remained loyal to their good King Hrothgar, people began to say that no one deserved to rule their country more than the famous Beowulf. Hrothgar's minstrel sang a new song about glorifying Beowulf's triumph. He combined the story of Beowulf's victory with the victories of the mythical hero Sigmund and his descendant, Fitele, heroes who long ago killed many giants and other beasts.
He narrated how Sigmund himself killed the dragon and took the dragon's treasure. Like Beowulf, Sigmund was considered a great hero, and his name was known throughout the country. Sigmund's fortune increased after his king Heremod was overthrown and killed. Heremod didn't protect his people like Beowulf. Soon all the members of the noble clan, including the great king himself and his queen, rode off into the great hall to witness Beowulf's great work.
More and more people were riding into the great hall to see what Beowulf had done. The king and his queen left their private chambers and entered the hall. There, Hrothgar looked up at Grendel's hand on the wall and gave a speech. First, he started thanking Almighty God for this victory. He suffered for a long time from Grendel's hands and he thought he would never get rid of that beast and the grief he caused. This magnificent hall was full of blood from that night. But now one man, with God's help, has done what they all together could not.
Now, he said to Beowulf that he will love him as his son and to take this seriously. He will have everything that wealth can provide. He said that in the past, he has given honor and wealth to people who have achieved much less than Beowulf, but his honor will live on forever, and may God protect and bless him. Beowulf replied that they fought this battle voluntarily and were blessed with victory. He wished the monster's body was still here so they could see it. That was his plan, but the beast broke free and died in its swamp. He said that God wanted it this way.
Unferth, who had been mean the day before, now sat in silence. Everyone could see the evidence of Beowulf's power hanging on the wall. Grendel's claw was as hard as steel, and it was obvious that no sword could have done this and that Beowulf used only his strength.
"More silent seemed the son of Ecglaf
in boastful speech of his battle-deeds,
since athelings all, through the earl's great prowess,
beheld that hand, on the high roof gazing,
foeman's fingers, - the forepart of each
of the sturdy nails to steel was likest, -
heathen's "hand-spear," hostile warrior's
claw uncanny. 'Twas clear, they said,
that him no blade of the brave could touch,
how keen soever, or cut away
that battle-hand bloody from baneful foe."
Everyone started coming to help repair the damage done to Heorot and prepare him for the feast. Beautiful new decorations were hung on the walls of the hall. Although the building was still standing, it was badly damaged in battle. The roof was the only part that was not damaged by Grendel's attack and his attempt to escape.
Hrothgar came to the banquet and he was never before surrounded with such a large group of noblemen. Famous people from all over the country came to sit at tables and drink endless rounds of mead. Everyone in Heorot was filled with joy and the spirit of friendship. People still haven't learned how to betray each other. Hrothgar gave Beowulf a shiny new sword and armor set, along with a golden battle flag and a ridged helmet.
Beowulf was so thankful that he drank with his host. He was not ashamed to receive expensive gifts, because he knew he deserved them. It was rare for such treasures to be gifted. Then Hrothgar had eight horses brought into the hall. One wore a saddle covered in gold and jewels. It was the saddle that Hrothgar used when he rode bravely into battle. He gave it all to Beowulf.
Hrothgar also gave treasure to all the people who sailed with the Beowulf and made up for the loss of the man Grendel had killed. The monster would have killed more had it not been for Beowulf's courage and God's will. Since God's will always wins, the best thing anyone can do is seek understanding. There is so much that a person who lives a long life has to endure.
There was a lot of singing and playing the harp in the hall. The king's minister sang a song about the legendary ruler Finn and his sons. Finn, who ruled the Frisians, was married to Hildeburh, sister of Hnaef, ruler of Scyldings in Denmark. Hnaef was killed during the battle with the Frisians, as was Hildeburh's son. Hengest, Hnaef's deputy commander, agreed to a truce with the Frisians. The terms of the armistice meant that Finn had to give Hengest and the other Scyldings the same treasures he had given to his men, and he had to house them for a while because they could not return to Denmark in the winter.
And so the Danish heroes went to live among the Frisians. Hengest kept his contract with Finn through the harsh winter because he could not sail home. Spring was approaching and Hengest had prepared his men for their departure, but he was still growing revengeful thoughts. The Danes became heated and eventually killed Finn and took Hildeburh back to Denmark.
The Minister finished his song. The sounds of chatter and laughter returned to the hall. Queen Wealhtheow came and sat near her husband and Hrothulf, his nephew and adviser. Unferth was also nearby. Although he had a stain on his reputation, many people still respected Unferth for his cleverness and his bravery. Wealtheow said to Hrothgar to drink and be happy as well as to be grateful for the gifts he has. Heorot was now saved and cleansed from evil. She said she heard he wants to adopt Beowulf as his son and permitted him to do so. She said he should give his kingdom to his family when he dies. She believed in his nephew Hrothulf that he would take care of her sons. If she died before him, he would be good to them. He will remember everything she did for him. She looked at her sons, Hrethric and Hrothmund, and saw Beowulf sitting between them.
Wealhtheow sent Beowulf a cup of mead. She also gave him gold jewelry and a chain suit. In later years, Beowulf gave the necklace to his uncle Hygelac, who wore it when he died fighting the Frisians. There was a lot of applause at Wealhtheow's gift.
Wealhtheow then spoke to Beowulf and told him to enjoy these gifts, be strong and a good guide to her sons. His deeds have ensured that he will be remembered forever. She will pray for his continued success and to treat her sons well.
The queen returned to her seat. The feast was great. The gathered men did not know that their destiny was another terrible threat. It was evening and Hrothgar went home to sleep. The room was guarded as usual. The benches were moved and the men set the beds on the floor. One merry-maker was asleep, not knowing that danger awaited him.
They slept with their shields and weapons nearby, to be ready for battle whenever it came.
They went to sleep, but someone was seeking revenge for Grendel's death. Deep in the swamp, Grendel's mother mourned her son and waited for her revenge.
"The livelong time
after that grim fight, Grendel's mother,
monster of women, mourned her woe.
She was doomed to dwell in the dreary waters"
She was doomed to live in a swamp since Cain killed Abel and God banished him. Cain was the father of many evil beasts, including Grendel, who was killed by the brave Beowulf with God's help. And now Grendel's mother, driven by grief and anger, was coming for them.
She came to Heorot, where the Danes slept. She flew in with a woman's terrifying power, only slightly less than Grendel's. People jumped to their feet and grabbed their shields and swords. As soon as she realized she had been discovered, she tried to escape. She grabbed one of the men, one of Hrothgar's closest friends, and hurried back into the swamp. Beowulf was not in the hall. They gave him a bed in a nice bedroom. Heorot was in chaos.
Grendel's mother took back her son's severed arm, next to the man she had grabbed. Hrothgar was overwhelmed by the news. Beowulf was summoned to the king's side while Hrothgar wondered on all sides whether God would ever stop this series of calamities. Beowulf came in with his men not knowing what had happened.
More sorrow has befallen the Danes. Hrothgar's trusted adviser Aeschere was dead. He was taken away by a wandering demon, and who knows where she is now, eating his flesh. She came to avenge Grendel. Hrothgar heard stories from people living here nearby. They say two monsters are lurking in this land, one male and one female. One of them was Grendel.
The two of them lived in a nearby swamp, a swamp where water burns at night. No man ever managed to explore those waters. Even animals would rather turn to their hunters than go there. Evil lived there, and now only Beowulf could end it. Hrothgar said that if he dares to look for this devil, he will reward him terribly.
Beowulf told them not to despair and that it is better to avenge their friends than to mourn them as they will all die one day, so it is better for them to achieve glory before that happens.
"Sorrow not, sage! It beseems us better
friends to avenge than fruitlessly mourn them.
Each of us all must his end abide
in the ways of the world; so win who may
glory ere death! When his days are told,
that is the warrior's worthiest doom."
They'll go out and find Grendel's mother as she can't hide from them, but today he will patiently endure their sorrows. Hrothgar thanked God for Beowulf's courage and called his horse. He took the lead, and his men followed him closely behind.
They followed the footprints of the demons through the woods and across the plain, following the path she had taken when she took their friend back to her swamp. Her tracks led them along narrow cliffs, high above the waters full of sea monsters. Hrothgar went ahead with some of his best trackers. Looking down, they saw that the water was full of blood. They descended the cliff. They were broken at the bottom when they discovered Aeschere's head washed ashore. The waves tossed and roared with blood. Monsters were everywhere in the water and on the rocky outcrops. People blew their horns and the monsters began to flee and dive into the shelter. One briefly surfaced and the Geats leader hit him with an arrow. He threw himself around in the shallows, where Geats stabbed him to death and dragged him to shore.
Beowulf prepared to enter the battle. Covered in his shining armor, not afraid of death, he prepared to dive into the murky water. His armor would protect him from any enemy, and a helmet, covered with gold and shaped as in ancient times, would stop any sword. But the most powerful of all Beowulf's tools was an ancient sword tested in combat that people called "Hrunting".
Unferth, afraid to fight with himself, lent his sword to a powerful warrior. The fame he lost was gained by Beowulf.
Before diving into the deep water, Beowulf turned to Hrothgar and told him to remember what he said earlier. If he dies in this battle, he will treat him like a son and to take care of his people and send the treasure he gave him to Hygelac. He also told him to let all see what a generous king he is and to return the sword to Unferth. With Hrunting in hand, he will achieve glory or death.
Having said that, Beowulf stepped into the water and disappeared. It took him almost all day to get to the bottom.
Grendel's mother soon realized that someone was breaking into her water den. She reached out and grabbed Beowulf, trying to tore him apart, but his armor was too strong. She headed for her lair, holding him so tight he couldn't use his sword. He saw all sorts of monsters, constantly trying to attack him. The vile beast swam to a sort of underwater hall, areas that kept the walls and roof dry. There was a fire burning inside.
Beowulf turned and cut Grendel's mother with his sword. His blade hit her skin, but couldn't pierce it. Although it was a powerful sword with a great history in combat, it couldn't harm this evil demon. Beowulf threw his sword aside.
"Then the warrior was ware of that wolf-of-the-deep,
mere-wife monstrous. For mighty stroke
he swung his blade, and the blow withheld not."
As before, he would seek fame by fighting with his bare hands. He grabbed Grendel's mother by the shoulder and hit her into the ground. She jumped back to her feet and knocked Beowulf down with her mighty claw. She drew her short sword and swung it at the hero, determined to avenge her son. Geats's armor, however, was too strong, and the sword bent against him. He would have died, but God decided to spare him.
The armor and swords of previous victims were strewn across the den. Beowulf saw the Eotens sword, which is said to be the largest blade ever forged, a weapon they also made for giants. Ordinary people couldn't even lift it. Beowulf grabbed him and swung wildly, grabbing Grendel's mother over the neck. He cut her skin and broke her bones. She collapsed to the floor, doomed. Beowulf was pleased with his bloody work.
Suddenly the hall was filled with light. Beowulf looked around and saw Grendel's body resting there. He decided to take revenge for all the men he killed. He walked to the body and, using his new sword, cut off the monster's head.
Meanwhile, people on the coast saw the water flowing with blood. Some said Beowulf must be dead. Nine hours passed and they became sure that Grendel's mother had certainly won the battle. Some of them, including Hrothgar, began to return home. The Geats, however, waited for their leader to return from the bloody depths.
Down below, the monster's blood caused the large sword to melt like heated ice. It showed the great power of God. Although the monster's lair was full of treasure, Beowulf decided to take only Grendel's head and hilt covered with the jewels of the now melted sword. He swam to the surface. The water grew lighter as Grendel's mother's evil influence disappeared.
Beowulf emerged and headed for shore. His people were overjoyed to see him and thanked God for saving their brave leader. They helped Beowulf take off his armor and headed back down the hiking trails. Grendel's head was so heavy that it took four men to carry it. They all marched together, with Beowulf in the middle. They headed down the hall, tugging at Grendel's hair. The people inside, including the queen, ate and drank, and looked astonished by the scene they saw.
Hrothgar cried Beowulf as he was bringing the treasure from the sea. Beowulf said he almost lost his life getting it. He fought hard and he would have lost strength if God had not protected him. Hrunting is a good sword, but it completely let him down. Luckily, God showed him another sword hanging on the wall, an old giant sword he used to kill the beasts that lived in that filthy lair. Their blood melted the blade, but he returned the hilt and avenged the death of the Danes. Now everyone in Heorot can sleep safely.
Beowulf handed the golden handle. This gift became the most precious possession of Danish princes, a sign of the evils that once plagued them. While carefully observing the ancient etchings on it, the Danish lord said that their former King Heremod was different and that he brought suffering to his people. He told the story of how the war started and how giants were cut off from the God, who flooded the world.
He looked up and said to Beowulf that he was born for glory and that his name is known everywhere. He combines great strength with wisdom and he repeated his promise of friendship and that he'll give a great gift to his people for years to come.
"O friend my Beowulf,
far and wide o'er folksteads many. Firmly thou
shalt all maintain,
mighty strength with mood of wisdom. Love of
mine will I assure thee,
as, awhile ago, I promised; thou shalt prove a stay
in far-off years, to folk of thine,
to the heroes a help."
Heremod was violent and bloodthirsty, so he advised him to learn a lesson from this as Beowulf seeks virtue. Hrothgar said that he's old enough to know how true that is and that God is mysterious. He shares wisdom and power with people, and some people use their gifts so much that they forget they are mortal. They forget that God has blessed them. If he becomes that man he will no longer care about this world or his enemies. Beowulf thinks that nothing can harm him and that the world must obey his will. He will eventually become too proud and when that happens, it's as if a demon shot him in the heart.
"So he waxes in wealth, nowise can harm him
illness or age; no evil cares
shadow his spirit; no sword-hate threatens
from ever an enemy: all the world
wends at his will, no worse he knoweth,
till all within him obstinate pride
waxes and wakes while the warden slumbers,
the spirit's sentry; sleep is too fast
which masters his might, and the murderer nears,
stealthily shooting the shafts from his bow!"
The Danish ruler continued his story that once Beowulf's heart is hit by a demonic arrow, he will become greedy. He will forget the customs of his ancestors and ignore the warning signs of his impending doom. But in the end, he will die and all the wealth he had will be spread among other people. He advised him to avoid becoming such a man. To keep his pride under control as he is strong now, but sooner or later his strength will begin to fail him and time or the sword will let him know that he is mortal. Death will come even for him.
"Greedy and grim, no golden rings
he gives for his pride; the promised future
forgets he and spurns, with all God has sent him,
Wonder-Wielder, of wealth and fame.
Yet in the end it ever comes
that the frame of the body fragile yields,
fated falls; and there follows another
who joyously the jewels divides,
the royal riches, nor recks of his forebear."
He said he ruled the Danes for half a century and protected them from all evil. It began to seem that there was nothing in the world that could pass him by. But everything changed so quickly. His sense of security disappeared when Grendel first entered this hall. Thank God he can watch his severed head now! He asked Beowulf to sit back and enjoy the view and that he will get a lot of treasure tomorrow.
Beowulf sat down happily and soon the feast continued. Everyone was in a good mood as night fell. Eventually both Hrothgar and Beowulf went to sleep. One of the hall guards took Beowulf to his bedrooms. The warrior of the brave heart slept. The hall stood still in the darkness. Beowulf slept peacefully until the morning came. The men were on the move, eager to return home.
Beowulf returned Hrunting to Unferth, thanking him for it. Although he found a better sword, he said nothing bad about Hrunting because he was a good man. With his warriors waiting for him and keen to leave, Beowulf went to Hrothgar.
Beowulf told Hrothgar that he plans on returning to his homeland. That he has been a wonderful host, and that he holds him to heart. If there is anything else he can do for you, he's ready. If his country is ever tormented by war, he will cross the sea with thousands of warriors to fight alongside him. Hygelac is young, but he believes he will support him if he ever needs his help.
He also told him if his son Hrethric comes to Geatland, he will be among friends. Every country will be happy to welcome a brave man. Hrothgar replied that the wisdom of Beowulf's words must be a gift from God. He has never heard such thoughts from someone so young. He's strong in body and mind. If his king ever falls in battle or because of illness, the Geats will not find a better leader than him, if he is willing to be their protector. That his mind pleases him. And that he made sure Geats and Spear Danes were close friends. While he is king, his treasures will be shared, and warriors will be joyfully greeted, and they will send signs of our love across the seas.
"These words of thine the wisest God
sent to thy soul! No sager counsel
from so young in years e'er yet have I heard.
Thou art strong of main and in mind art wary,
art wise in words! I ween indeed
if ever it hap that Hrethel's heir
by spear be seized, by sword-grim battle,
by illness or iron, thine elder and lord,
people's leader,-and life be thine,-
no seemlier man will the Sea-Geats find
at all to choose for their chief and king,
for hoard-guard of heroes, if hold thou wilt
thy kinsman's kingdom! Thy keen mind pleases me
the longer the better, Beowulf loved!"
Then Hrothgar gave Beowulf twelve treasures and told him to be safe on his way home and to return soon. In tears, Hrothgar hugged Beowulf. The old man could not get rid of the feeling that he would never be seen again, and Beowulf was so dear to him that this fear brought the king to tears. Beowulf headed for his ship and he and his men left. On the journey, they repeatedly praised Hrothgar's kindness. He would be a great king until time beats him, as is always the case.
The Geats passed by the guards on the shore. He greeted them as they loaded their treasure onto the ship. Beowulf gave a sword decorated with jewels to the man who guarded the boat. This gift to man deserved great respect in the hall.
The Geats set out for the ocean, leaving Denmark behind. They sailed straight for Geatland and soon saw their homeland. The Geats coast guard was waiting for them and watching over them. The guard anchored the ship along the shore so that the winds would not carry it away. Beowulf and his men unloaded the treasure. They carried him to Hygelac's home, which was not far from the coast.
The house was large, suitable for a heroic king. Hygelac lived there with his wife Hygd, who was young for the queen but thoughtful and generous. She was the opposite of Queen Modthyrth of old, who would have killed any man who dared look her in the face. The queen should not behave like that, even if she is beautiful. But legend has it that Modthyrth was not so cruel after marrying prince Offa. He was one of the most powerful warriors of all.
Beowulf rushed into the hall. Hygelac soon heard of the hero's return and ordered the hall to prepare for his reception. Hygelac greeted his faithful warrior and they sat down together. The King was curious about Beowulf's adventure. He asked him how it all turned out as he left so quickly, hurrying to help destroy the evil that plagued Heorot. If he was successful, did he help Hrothgar? He said he was sick of his absence and didn't want him to go after that monster slaughter as he wanted him to let the Danes take care of Grendel themselves. He thanked God he is safe and that he has returned home.
Beowulf replied that the battle he fought with Grendel is now well known among many people. He fought with him in the very hall where he inflicted so much suffering and avenged all those who died. Now Grendel's descendants, no matter how long they live, will brag about what happened there. But the first thing he did was greet Hrothgar and told him why he had come. He told him that Hrothgar asked him to sit next to his son at the table. The men in the hall were very happy, and he has never seen such great people drinking!
The queen entered the hall and lifted the mood of all the men. Freawar, Hrothgar's daughter, was also there, handing out a cup of ale. She should be married to Frodo's son. That union will hopefully help his people, the Heathobards, and the Danes will put aside their old quarrel. But not even the most beautiful bride could stop the spear if violence occurs.
Beowulf said that he thinks when the Danes and Heathobard will be together at a wedding feast, someone would no doubt remember the old fights. The Heathobards will see the treasure the Danes took from them when they last fought, and one of them - most likely an old man who remembers the past well - will encourage them to rekindle the quarrel. And then all their promises of friendship will be worth nothing.
Beowulf continued telling his story that when the sun went down, Grendel came into the hall to attack them. The monster killed Hondscio and ate him. But it was the only man he got because the next one he tried to attack was him. He was having a dragon skin bag and tried to put him inside. He freed himself before he could catch him. It would've taken him a long time to tell Hygelac every detail of the battle, but with that battle, he has earned the glory of all people. Grendel escaped, but his hand remained in Heorot, where he tore it off, but Grendel died in his swamp.
The next morning the Scyldings gave him many treasures as a reward for his victory. There was a feast with a lot of music and a good mood. The king and other elders entertained everyone with stories of ancient times. So they feasted all day and the very same night Grendel's mother came to avenge her son. She killed Aeschere, Hrothgar's closest adviser, and took him back to her lair. It was the worst hit for Hrothgar, who then asked him to go kill the monster who kidnapped his friend. So, as many men already know, Beowulf dived into the water where she lived. Down there they fought for a long time and the waves were full of blood. In her lair, he found a sword with which he had cut off her head. Hrothgar gave him many gifts which he now gladly offers to share with all of them.
Beowulf told his men to bring all the shiny weapons and armor he had received from Hrothgar. When they brought it, Beowulf said that Hrothgar gave him all this and asked him to tell his king that it once belonged to his brother Heorogar, King of Scyldings. Heorogar didn't give it to his son, although that man, Heoroweard, was quite brave. Beowulf also gave his king four armored horses and said that this is how relatives should treat each other and not conspire against each other. Hygelac was Beowulf's uncle, and the two men looked after each other.
Beowulf also gave Hygda, Hygelac's wife, a beautiful necklace he received from Wealtheow, along with three horses. By doing these things, Beowulf has shown that he is not only brave but also honorable. He didn't attack drunken people and was never cruel, although God blessed him with greater power than any man.
Some of the Geats have looked down on Beowulf in the past, believing he is weak and lazy. He proved them wrong. King Hygelac requested that the Geats' most famous sword, Hrethel's old blade, be brought in and placed in Beowulf's lap. He also gave Beowulf a huge piece of land.
In later years Hygelac was killed in battle, and Heardred, his successor, could not protect the people. So Beowulf became their king. He was a good and wise ruler for fifty years. But then an evil dragon came to Beowulf's land. The dragon had a huge treasure in its lair in the mountains. Somehow the man found his way to the lair and stole the goblet while the dragon slept. All people would suffer from this crime.
The thief didn't intentionally go to the dragon's lair and he didn't intend to steal the goblet. He was a slave who escaped from his cruel master and used the lair as his hiding place. He was looking at the treasure when the dragon appeared, and it scared him so much that he ran out while still holding the goblet. A huge treasure was left there by the ancient lord. He was the last of his race, and after all his friends had died, he had only his treasure to keep him company. He asked the dragon to keep the treasure safe, so no one wore armor buried there, and no one used swords. War and death took them all away.
The master mourned day and night until death finally took him away. The dragon, who was cursed to keep the treasure left in the graves, found the horde. He remained there for three hundred years before the old runaway slave stumbled. He took the cup to his master, hoping to win the master's favor, and the master and his men returned to take as much treasure as they could. When the dragon awoke, he saw footprints leading through his lair. He started looking for the thief, attacking and setting fire to everything in sight. The people suffered.
The dragon burned homes all over the country, terrifying people. He killed everyone he saw and cut off the path of destruction across the Geats country. Every day at dawn he returned to his lair, where he felt safe.
Then the dragon set fire to Beowulf's home, the throne room of the Geats. It was a heavy blow for the old man. Beowulf assumed that God was punishing him for something. He dwelled on his sufferings, which he was never known to do. The dragon destroyed the fortifications and defenses of the Geats along the coast, but Beowulf began to plan his revenge.
Beowulf ordered his blacksmiths to make a mighty shield. He and the dragon are destined to end their lives together. Beowulf thought it would be a disgrace to go after the dragon with the whole army. He has fought many hard battles by himself since the time he killed Grendel and his mother. He fought many monsters and won, for example the battle that took the Hygelac, former king's life. After that battle was over, Beowulf swam through the sea carrying thirty sets of armor. None of his enemies would dare confront him after that. When he returned from that war, Queen Hygd offered Beowulf a kingdom. She thought her son Heardred won't be a good king and guard the Geats. But Bewoulf couldn't be persuaded to take over.
Instead, he helped and advised Heardred until Hygelac's son grew up and managed to protect the Geats. Around this time, some refugees from the wars in Sweden came and Heardred gave them a place to stay. But the Swedes came to look for the exiles, and Heardred was killed in the battle. Onela ruled in Sweden, leaving Beowulf to be the great king for the Geats and he was a great king.
Beowulf soon avenged Heardred and ended the quarrel in Sweden by killing Onela. Thus he repeatedly showed his ability to survive dangerous situations, until the day came when fate forced him to fight the dragon.
Beowulf brought with him eleven men and went in search of the dragon. They met the man who took the goblet from the dragon's lair and Beowulf heard the whole story of how the dragon's rage awoke. The man joined them and took them to the dragon's lair. Beowulf made a speech to his men and told them that he had fought many battles and that he remembered them all. When he was seven, King Hrethel took responsibility for him from his father. He treated him well, no different from his sons Hygelac, Heathcyn and Herebeald. Heathcyn was accidentally killed by Herebeald with an arrow, which was a terrible hit to their father. He could not avenge his son's death because it was caused by his other son. It was like watching a man have his son executed.
Beowulf continued telling a story that Hrethel then lost his mind and that after that he couldn't enjoy anything because he knew that his eldest son was dead and he couldn't avenge his death. This is how he eventually died. After his death, there were many wars between the Swedes and Geat.
Beowulf said his family fought bravely in every battle, and that everyone knows that. Haethcyn was killed in one of these battles and Hygelac went to war against his brother's killer.
Eofor, one of Hygelac's men, killed the Swedish King Ongenthew. He fought bravely with Hygelec and was rewarded with treasure and land. He didn't have to ask for help anywhere else or hire any mercenaries. He always fought at the front and he will continue as he killed many powerful warriors with his bare hands. And, now he will fight this dragon with the same hands and his sword.
Beowulf made his last battle vow.
"I have lived through many
wars in my youth; now once again,
old folk-defender, feud will I seek,
do doughty deeds, if the dark destroyer
forth from his cavern come to fight me!"
Then hailed he the helmeted heroes all,
for the last time greeting his liegemen dear,
comrades of war: "I should carry no weapon,
no sword to the serpent, if sure I knew
how, with such enemy, else my vows
I could gain as I did in Grendel's day.
But fire in this fight I must fear me now,
and poisonous breath; so I bring with me
breastplate and board. From the barrow's keeper
no footbreadth flee I. One fight shall end
our war by the wall, as Wyrd allots,
all mankind's master. My mood is bold
but forbears to boast o'er this battling-flyer.
-Now abide by the barrow, ye breastplate-mailed,
ye heroes in harness, which of us twain
better from battle-rush bear his wounds.
Wait ye the finish. The fight is not yours,
nor meet for any but me alone
to measure might with this monster here
and play the hero. Hardily I
shall win that wealth, or war shall seize,
cruel killing, your king and lord!"
Beowulf got up and climbed the cliff towards the dragon's lair. He didn't try to sneak in like a coward. Soon he saw a stone arch from which a stream of fire was coming out and the dragon. Any chance for peace was now over.
The dragon's poisonous breath erupted from the lair. Beowulf raised his shield and his sword. Both he and the dragon were ferocious but each feared the other. Beowulf stood his ground as the dragon was racing. His shield was not as strong as he wanted. Then he fought for the first time and fate denied him glory.
Beowulf swung his sword. The dragon screamed under the king's blow, but the blade was not as strong as Beowulf had hoped. The sword didn't cut the dragon and this was the first time he failed in his battle. Beowulf had to give up his ground and ran away.
But the dragon attacked again. The dragon bravely struck the king and surrounded him with flames. Beowulf's men retreated into the woods to save their lives. There's only one man left to fight with Beowulf.
That man's name was Wiglaf. He saw that Beowulf was surrounded by flames and remembered all the good things his king had done for him. Wiglaf carried an ancient sword, supposedly inherited from ancient Eanmund. The sword was won by Wiglaf's father, Weohstan after he killed his son Ohter in a battle with the Swedes.
Wiglaf went into battle, and the sword didn't break. Wiglaf said to his comrades that he remembers when they were in the mead hall and he promised to bring Beowulf's swords and armor if he ever needed them. Although he told them to let him fight the dragon on his own, he needed them now and he would rather die in a fire than return home carrying a weapon. It would be a terrible pity if they let their king die and they all survived.
Wiglaf approached Beowulf and told him to be brave and that he will remain by his side.
"Beowulf dearest, do all bravely,
as in youthful days of yore thou vowedst
that while life should last thou wouldst let no wise
thy glory droop! Now, great in deeds,
atheling steadfast, with all thy strength
shield thy life! I will stand to help thee."
The dragon heard Wiglaf and roared forward, with his breath burning. Wiglaf's shield burned and his armor was almost useless, but he managed to get behind Beowulf's shield. Beowulf's action was prompted by thoughts of fame inspired by Wiglaf. He swung his sword with all his might and stabbed it into the dragon's head. The sword broke. It is said that Beowulf couldn't use swords in battle because he was too strong and broke them all. The dragon jumped forward and bit Beowulf's neck.
Then for the third time thought on its feud
that folk-destroyer, fire-dread dragon,
and rushed on the hero, where room allowed,
battle-grim, burning; its bitter teeth
closed on his neck, and covered him
with waves of blood from his breast that welled.
At that moment, Wiglaf's real courage was shown. Although his hand was badly burned, he stuck his blade into the dragon's belly and his fiery breath weakened. Beowulf regained his strength. He pulled out a knife and stabbed the dragon's side. The hit was fatal. Together, two brave men killed the beast. This was the last fight he would ever perform.
The dragon's venom passed through his blood. He stepped out of the den and sat on the edge of the cliff. Beowulf looked up at the cliff. Giant rocks have held the earth for years.
Wiglaf approached and washed the wound of his king. Beowulf knew that he's dying. Despite the wound, he spoke to the loyal Wiglaf and told him he would like to give his armor to his son. He had ruled Geats for fifty years and no other king would dare to challenge him. He focused on his own affairs and didn't look for troubles or wars, and he never broke his promise. Even though he's dying, the thought of all this is comforting him. He has never killed his relatives and has nothing to fear from the Ruler of Mankind. He sent him to go and look at how the dragon dies as he wants to see the treasure before he dies.
"Wiglaf loved, now the worm lies low,
sleeps, heart-sore, of his spoil bereaved.
And fare in haste. I would fain behold
the gorgeous heirlooms, golden store,
have joy in the jewels and gems, lay down
softlier for sight of this splendid hoard
my life and the lordship I long have held."
Wiglaf went to the lair. He saw gold and jewels glittering everywhere. There were ancient helmets and goblets, as well as beautiful treasures of all kinds. It was so bright that Wiglaf was able to see a stunning banner that was hanging on one wall. The dragon was dead.
Wiglaf filled his hands with treasure and ran back to Beowulf, hoping his king would be alive. Beowulf was bleeding to death. Wiglaf sprayed him with water to revive him. Beowulf thanked God that he was able to see such a treasure he will be able to give it to his people when he dies. He traded his life for this treasure. He also asked Wiglaf to watch the needs of his people as he won't be here long. After his funeral to pyre burns down, build a mound in his name for people to pass under it and remember him. They'll call it Beowulf's Hall.
Beowulf took off his necklace, helmet, armor, and ring, gave them to Wiglaf, and said he's the last in the Waegmunding family. Fate has taken all his lineage to the land of ruin, and now it's his time to join them.
"Thou art end and remnant of all our race
the Waegmunding name. For Wyrd hath swept them,
all my line, to the land of doom,
earls in their glory: I after them go."
Those were the last words he said. His soul left his body to seek his reward.
It was hard for Wiglaf to watch Beowulf die. The blades ended his and his enemy's lives as he made sure he no longer besieged the land at night. There are few people, even among the bravest, who would dare to face the dragon's fire and poisonous breath. Beowulf gave his life for the dragon's treasure.
Other men approached. They were too afraid to come to Beowulf's aid, and now they were ashamed. They saw Wiglaf sitting next to their dead king, trying to revive Beowulf. It was too late. He could not bring back that great warrior from where God had taken him.
The cowardly people looked at Wiglaf's grim face. He looked up at them and said that everyone now can see that all the gifts Beowulf has given them have been in vain. They rejected the honor he bestowed on them when they refused to help him. Their king would have no reason to brag to his people. But God gave him an advantage by helping him kill that dragon with his sword. Wiglaf said he couldn't do much to help him, but he did what little he could. He weakened the dragon by stabbing it with his sword. Too bad he was the only one who helped. He turned to Beowulf and said that all this treasure will be useless to all of them and that men will lose their sense of loyalty to him and his country will become desolate. It is better for a warrior to die than to live a life of shame.
"Now gift of treasure and girding of sword,
joy of the house and home-delight
shall fail your folk; his freehold-land
every clansman within your kin
shall lose and leave, when lords highborn
hear afar of that flight of yours,
a fameless deed. Yea, death is better
for liegemen all than a life of shame!"
Wiglaf ordered people to spread the news of the battle to the people that were camping nearby so that they don't wonder what has happened. He sent a messenger to tell them everything. The messenger said that the king of Geats is dead and that his body rests next to the body of the dragon he killed while Wiglaf sits next to Beowulf's heavy-hearted body. The Geats now can expect war to come as their great protector is dead, similar to what happened when Hygelac was killed. The Swedes, Frisians, and French were expected to come into battle.
The French have been keen to fight them since king Hygelac raided Friesland. Since then, Franks has been the enemy of the Geats. The messenger continued that they should not expect the Swedes to keep their peace promise as they still remember that the Geats attacked them and kidnapped their queen.
King Ongentheow saved his wife and killed Haethcyn, who was Hrethelin's son and King of the Geats. Ongentheow defeated the Geats at Ravenswood. King Ongentheow saved his wife and killed Haethcyn, who was Hrethelin's son and King of the Geats. Ongentheow's men surrounded the Geats and mocked them, swearing that the birds would feed their bodies. But when dawn broke, Hygelac and his men managed to save their relatives.
The messenger continued to tell the story of how blood from the battles between Geats and the Swedes flowed all over the country. Wiglaf said that everyone saw it. Eventually Ongentheow and his men retreated to the heights. Ongentheow knew what a great warrior Hygelac was and couldn't outlive the mighty Geats. Hygelac led his men into battle, preparing to deliver the final hit. Geatian soldiers soon surrounded Ongentheow. The two brothers, Wulf and Eofor, came upon him. Wulf broke the king's head, but the Swedish king retaliated and blocked Wulf's sword. So Eofor attacked, pierced Ongentheow's shield and helmet and killed him.
The Geats gave Ongentheow's armor to their leader. Hygelac promised them a great reward, and when they returned home he made his promise. He even gave Eofor his only daughter.
Now the Swedes will avenge Ongentheow's death. They will come to their lands and attack them. Beowulf has been guarding them, but he's gone now. Wiglaf then called them to go back and take one last look at Beowulf's body and take him to the funeral pyre. He said that the plan is to burn all the treasure with him as no one should wear any of these gems as relics or monuments. No girl should wear these gems around her neck and no harp should play to lift their spirits.
"Wealth of jewels,
gold untold and gained in terror,
treasure at last with his life obtained,
all of that booty the brands shall take,
fire shall eat it. No earl must carry
memorial jewel. No maiden fair
shall wreathe her neck with noble ring:
nay, sad in spirit and shorn of her gold,
oft shall she pass o'er paths of exile
now our lord all laughter has laid aside,
all mirth and revel."
The warriors heard the sad news and went to the cliff to see the horrible sight. They saw Beowulf's body stretched out, cold and dead. Nearby they saw a dragon, which they measured at fifty feet. He once flew through the night, but now his travels were over. By the dragon's body was standing a pile of decaying and old swords, cups and plates.
The man who hid his treasure made a bad decision as the dragon must've killed him and it took many deaths before it was killed by Beowulf. Even the most powerful man didn't manage to kill the dragon. The only one who could do it was Beowulf. The treasure was cursed to make those who try to steal it suffer a painful death, but Beowulf wasn't greedy. He only wanted it for his people.
Wiglaf said that one man's decisions can bring suffering to many and that that happened to them there. Their king disobeyed the advice not to fight the dragon alone. He died for it and earned the treasure, but they cannot enjoy it because of the sad way it came to them. He went to the lair and returned all the treasures he could take to Beowulf. He was still alive then. He asked him to build him a memorial mound. He deserves such a mound because he was the most powerful warrior of all. He said that he will take them to the lair to see this incredible treasure. And to build a bonfire so that they can send their beloved king to God.
Wiglaf ordered wood to be brought from nearby houses in preparation for Beowulf's funeral. The fire will take away their brave master, who stood still amid the flying arrows until one finally hit home.
"Let the bier, soon made,
be all in order when out we come,
our king and captain to carry thither
-man beloved-where long he shall bide
safe in the shelter of sovran God."
He took the seven best men left and entered the dragon's lair. He lit their way with a torch. The men didn't argue over who would take the treasure, for so much lay unprotected. They did it easily. The men pushed the dragon's body off a cliff into the sea, where it sank in waves. Then they took the treasure and their king to Hrones-Ness.
They built a large funeral pyre and covered it with armor, just as Beowulf had requested. Heavy hearts laid their leader on top. The sound of crackling fire mingled with the shouts of the assembled people. Beowulf's body burnt into flames. An old widow was standing nearby, crying. She mourned her husband and warned of the evil days to come. As the smoke disappeared in the sky, they began to build an embankment out of the ground. It took them ten days to finish it. They enclosed it with a wall and buried the treasure inside the mound. Twelve knights rode around the memorial mound. They sang praises to their deceased master and spoke of his courage.
"They praised his earlship, his acts of prowess
worthily witnessed: and well it is
that men their master-friend mightily laud,
heartily love, when hence he goes
from life in the body forlorn away."
And this is how the people of Geatland mourned the death of their king, who was the most eager for glory, the most heroic, the most generous and the kindest of all kings on earth.
"Thus made their mourning the men of Geatland,
for their hero's passing his hearth-companions:
quoth that of all the kings of earth,
of men he was mildest and most beloved,
to his kin the kindest, keenest for praise."