In Beowulf, The Cultural Traditions Of The Ancient Germanic

1115 WordsMar 6, 20175 Pages
In Beowulf, the cultural traditions of the ancient Germanic tribes are expressed. Throughout the poem, treasures are a symbol of achievement, glory, and wealth in the Germanic culture. The possession of treasures such as gold earns one respect within the Germanic tribes. Moreover, the act of partitioning is celebrated and it earns you a title of a good king and warrior. While the doing the opposite condemns you and titles you a greedy king and warrior. The concept of sharing wealth and treasures is widely demonstrated throughout the poem. In Germanic culture kings as well as warriors are expected to share their wealth with their tribe. For example, the poem mentions that king Hrothgar builds a great mead-hall where he would distribute his…show more content…
Shield is the character in the poem that sets a standard for a respectable and admired king. Hrothgar is also described in similar manner “…our dear lord, friend of the Danes, / the giver of rings.” (352-353). Again, the idea of “giving rings” (sharing wealth) plays a role in describing a “good king”. In contrast, Heremod was king disliked by the Danish people due to his bloodthirsty, and lack of affection to his people. He was considered to be a “bad king”. One of the main reasons being that he did not honor his people with treasure/gold “…, gave no more rings/ to honor the Danes.” (1719-1720). Therefore, the sole possession of treasures is negatively viewed in the Germanic culture; one must share that wealth with the people. 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
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