Blights and Benefits of Beowulf’s Booty
In the epic poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, it discusses the advantages and disadvantages of wealth that are shown in today’s modern society.
In Beowulf, the epic depicts many scenes of how wealth in today’s modern society shows someone’s power. One way this is shown by the kings in the story. This is shown by King Hrothgar when he talks about how he handled his enemies, saying, “Finally I healed the feud by paying / I shipped a treasure-trove to the Wulfings” (Heaney 470-471). King Hrothgar pays his enemies with precious gold from his treasure hold and he ends up settling the feud. It is displaying how being wealthy can make a person so powerful that they can pay their enemies to stop attacking them. Another way that wealth can show power in Beowulf is when the kings are being described. One excerpt that shows this is when King Hrothgar is introduced to Beowulf, saying, “Then the grey-haired treasure-giver was glad” (607). The author specifically describes the most powerful men in the land as treasure-givers. This not only shows the Anglo-Saxon cultural beliefs, but as well as reflection on current society. The wealthiest man in the world, currently, is Bill Gates with a net worth of 85.6 billion dollars (Kim). He is not only very wealthy, but very influential in today’s world, especially in the technology business. Finally, Beowulf is king and wishes to look upon some of the treasure he has won to see how much power
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Not only does Hrothgar give Beowulf treasures, but he also puts his trust into him: "Now Beowulf, best of men, I will love you in my heart like a son, keep to our new kinship from this day on"(Crossley, 32). This is an excellent portrayal of the lord and thane relationship, and shows how much appreciation
In Beowulf, the epic depicts an abundance of scenes of how wealth, in today’s modern culture, shows someone’s power. One way the benefit of wealth is shown in Beowulf by the kings in not solely the story but the Anglo-Saxon culture. This is shown by King Hrothgar when he talks about how he handled his enemies, saying, “Finally I healed the feud by paying / I shipped a treasure-trove to the Wulfings” (Heaney 470-471). Moreover, the amiable King Hrothgar pays his enemies with precious gold from his treasure hold and he ends up settling the feud. It is displaying how being wealthy can synthesize the jubilance a person can obtain by being so powerful that they can pay their enemies to stop attacking them. Another way that wealth can demonstrate the power in Beowulf is when the kings are being described. One excerpt that shows this is when King Hrothgar greets his companion, Beowulf, saying, “Then the grey-haired treasure-giver was glad” (607). The author specifically describes the highest powerful men in the land as treasure-givers. Comparatively, this not only showcases the Anglo-Saxon cultural beliefs, but is an even greater reflection on current the population. The wealthiest man in the world, currently, is Bill Gates with a net worth of 85.6 billion dollars (Kim). Not only is he extremely wealthy, but his influence in
Beowulf, the defender of Hrothgar and Heorot, exhibits far more complicated (and less sincere) shades of revenge than the Grendel’s mother. At the end of the day, Beowulf’s goal is to become the preeminent warrior in all the land. In his society, the only way to gain such widespread celebrity is through courageous and self-endangering acts. Beowulf masks these deeds with a façade of seeking revenge; he supposedly comes to Heorot to save the Danes from Grendel’s terror, but his true motives lie in becoming a hero. His reward is not the pride of doing a good deed; Beowulf is rewarded with lavish and expensive gifts.
It foreshadows his victory of pursuit which he aims to carry out in battle. Beowulf stands against evil as contained with destruction and revenge of the monsters, trolls, or giants. Grendel's mom is a threat to Beowulf because she is the queen of the sea and she´ś angry. Her wish is her dying son with his ripped off arm taken off by the monster slayer, Beowulf.
While the author of Beowulf did not initially intend for the epic to become one of the most researched and foundational works in the English language, and therefore, did not go into much detail about its setting and surrounding political structures, the unnamed writer left behind important clues regarding Scandinavian and English political, economic, geographical, and societal bodies. Although not much is known about the author, it is evident through their writing, especially in the societal structure mentioned in the epic, that they were of English descent, specifically, born in the middle of seventh and end of tenth century England, according to Seamus Heaney in the introduction to his translation of Beowulf. Societal clues are the most prominent in proving this claim, as they merge Scandinavian and Old English structures, and at its most form, Beowulf is a Scandinavian tale told through an Englishman’s persepctive.
Many readers of the poem Beowulf may find it difficult to distinguish the 'good' kings from the rest – indeed, almost every man who holds a throne in the epic is named at one point or another to be 'good'. By examining the ideals of the time period as identified by the 'heroic code', it becomes clearer that a truly 'good' king is one who generously distributes treasure and weaponry to deserving retainers to honour courage and strength displayed in battle and to encourage the defense of the kingdom (Intro). When Beowulf ascends the throne of the Geats, the heroic traits of courage and strength for which he was so highly praised as a warrior do not serve well in making him a good king. Indeed, by exhibiting the traits of a thane, that is, by
In Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, treasure and weaponry were of great importance to the people of that time. During the Anglo-Saxon period (410 to 1066 A.D.), gold treasures and swords were distributed to show loyalty and trust among a kingdom’s great warriors (“Beowulf Project - Archeology” 1). For biblical figures, such as Jesus and his disciples, treasure represented wealth and weaponry showed the ability to fight against Satan (“What Does the Bible Say about GOLD?” 1). In today’s society, treasure represents the success and riches one possesses while weaponry can be seen as strength or even arrogance. No matter what period in history, treasure and weaponry play a role and its importance is ever changing.
Beowulf set his ego aside and hurdled into the face of danger in order to defeat a greater evil and liberate the people of Heorot from the demonic grasp of Grendel. The crew aboard the Challenger brought America together and helped us insure the safety of future astronauts. Tom pushed his body to the edge to live the life he dreamed of. Risks are imperative in life. Even beginning life, they are our instinct. We learn to crawl despite the bruises on our knees. We learn to walk no matter how many falls we endure. As we become further aware of the world around us, somewhere along the way, we experience failure; at that point, many people attempt to eradicate most risks from their life. But where would we be without our sense of exploration, our willingness to try new things? In order to push one’s boundaries, move forward as a society, and give purpose to life people must be willing to take risks.
The first half of this dual ordeal is the internal conflict of human nature to be overcome by pride and greed. The characteristic of pride and its contradiction to Christian values gives a first look at the dichotomies of pride vs. humility and sacrifice vs. greed. In Herot, King Hrothgar reminds Beowulf that pride, untempered by humility, will result in the tragic fall. He also shares with Beowulf a second element of Christian philosophy; “wealth, accumulated through the grace of God, must be shared unselfishly.” The characteristic of greed is contradictory in Beowulf. At first, Beowulf is made out to be a selfless warrior; he fights Grendel and Grendel's mother to ensure safety for his people, even if it means he will die. However, once the greed of Beowulf mixes with his pride, he loses that trait of selflessness. Beowulf lets his pride consume him, and begins to brag about what he has accomplished. Beowulf says “Grendel is no braver nor stronger than I am! I could kill him with my sword; I shall not...” (Beowulf 376) Beowulf starts to call himself the best soldier in the world, and that he is the only one that could kill Grendel. At this point, Beowulf is no longer fighting for the protection of his people, but rather for his own personal glory.
Thumping beneath the surface, disguised within the hollows of a man’s soul, impulses beat at their host’s structure. They wriggle through one’s conscious, feeding on the doubts behind all decisions. As this continues, the thickness of the outside will never ensure that these feelings will permanently remain contained.
The themes of revenge and envy can be considered the best developed in the poem “Beowulf,” since it is vengeance, as well as the search for treasures that motivates the deeds of the main characters. The two themes are shown in different perspectives broadening the general outlook of the poem, since in addition to real historical causes that account for the motives of revenge, like frequent intertribal collisions typical of that time, and quite understandable reasons for people’s desire to earn gold for their heroic deeds and become rich and powerful, there are also fantastic considerations and speculations involving terrible monsters, as well as specific reasons that can underlie the revenge, including envy of human beings’ happiness and bliss.
Imagine that you are the hero of a village. You are the person that everyone looks up to- you have all the fame and fortune you could possibly want. But, this doesn’t just come to you on a silver platter. There are risks to take, challenges to overcome, and lives to be put at stake. You must defeat creatures of all sizes and strengths to gain this honorary title. This is Beowulf’s reality as he must conquer unbelievable tasks that nobody else would dare to face. Because of this, Beowulf is recognized as a boasting person, brave, and selfless; and rightfully so.
In the Germanic warrior culture the possession of wealth signifies that you are a tremendous warrior, in particular if you were rewarded with gold. Gold was only given to warriors in the poem if they achieved something glorious or if they have done noble acts. For example, Beowulf is rewarded with a gold standard and horses with golden equipment for killing Grendel “Then Halfdane’s son presented Beowulf/ with a gold standard as a victory gift.” (1020-1021), “Next the king ordered eight horses/ with gold bridles…” (1034-1035). Death is also rewarded with gold, as a recognition for paying the ultimate price towards a cause “And compensation, a price of gold, was settled for the Geat/ Grendel had cruelly
Throughout the epic poem, the possession of wealth and treasure represents a reputation of honor, status, and skill, but were also used to solidify bonds and ensure loyalty. Every king along the lineage of royalty had a duty to spread his riches, a responsibility indicated by the frequent use of “ring-givers” that would even provide, “far-fetched treasures… and precious gear” (36-37). Wealth, a vastly important role in Beowulf, enables the king to manifest his generosity upon society. This act was not only a practice, but also a representation of honor as it was a way to exhibit benevolence to others as well as rewarding their loyal followers. An example would be during the time Beowulf saves the hall of Hereot from the terror and destruction of Grendel. As a result of Beowulf’s heroic acts, Hrothgar showers treasure on him and his men in order to show his thankfulness and goodness. The poet asserts how this giving of gifts signifies the manifestation of Hrothgar’s honor as king.