Hrothgar's Advice (ll. 1685-1795) to Beowulf

As the Danes and Gauls celebrate Beowulf's triumph Hrothgar makes his speech. The triumph was important in their lives because the monsters had terrorized the populace for a very long time. The populace is feasting and celebrating their own triumph, and they are receiving compensation. The man of the day is given the opportunity to speak in the hall, and he gives the old monarch Hrothgar the golden hilt of the sword. The former king offers Beowulf some guidance in a speech that has become well-known. Beowulf is famous in the land after his defeat over horrible Grendel, and he narrates his encounter with Grendel’s mother. In the speech, Hrothgar offers his advice to Beowulf who has pride in himself and over the battles that he takes part. The poem is important as it serves as a great advice to the famous Beowulf as it warns of his pride and the dangers of fame. Hrothgar speaks of the temptations that follow pride and warns the warrior that there were sorrows that followed the great joy that he had at the moment. The main advice from the Hrothgar speech is against hubris and the virtues of generosity.

In the poem, Hrothgar gives an example of his old life and fortunes that had changed in his age. The advice in the poem can be described as a fore-shadow of later life. At some point, the old king had great fame and fortunes, and he had successful reign over the people for fifty years. However, his great success and rule were brought down by the Grendel. This advice to Beowulf is very important especially since he was full of pride from the fame he had in the society. In addition, old age was coming to him, and thus he should not be so proud of himself as some day he will be brought to his knees. This sermon by Hrothgar is evident in the closing sessions of the poem and helps the reader reflect on this message and have a deep look into the actions of Beowulf.

Analysis of the Poem

Hrothgar understands hubris

In the poem, Hrothgar is aware of the negative impacts of hubris when he advises Beowulf to be watchful of the trap. Hubris is defined as excessive pride that usually lacks morals. Beowulf lacks the moral virtue in his actions and speech, and he is seen to be very proud. The warrior was able to help Heorot in two battles with monsters that were a danger to the people. These victories are very important in the life of a warrior, but they should not change the warrior into excessive pride. In life, the mature and the wise understand that glory is temporary. Therefore, the old king is wise enough to understand the impact of pride.

Hrothgar's speech foreshadows Beowulf's death

The old king in his advice speech indicates that he understands that the strengths of a warrior are momentary. The old king is a clear sign of fading of a warrior's strength as he was once a famous warrior but at the moment could not save Heorot from monsters. Hrothgar was not excessive proud of his strength when he was famous, as it had declined in his old age. In his advice to Beowulf, he understands that Beowulf’s strength was going to wane and he warns him. At the closing parts of the poem, Beowulf is not able to his strength as he gets swept away a reality that Hrothgar had foreshadowed.

Hrothgar also advises Beowulf on the code of the heroic world

The old King also speaks of the consequences of going against these codes. Hrothgar advices Beowulf of the importance of the relationship between the king and his warriors and that the warriors should protect their king and their land in wars. Beowulf follows this advice, and he offers his loyalty to the king. They hold a close relationship with the king, and he offers the Warriors a home, swords, and helmets. In the advice, Heremod, a former chief for the Danes, was going against the codes of the kings. He was also indulging in hubris that led to outrageous behavior, and he was swept. This was advice to Beowulf to ensure he follows the code.

Hrothgar warns Beowulf against being boastful

Hrothgar tells Beowulf not to be arrogant towards other people that he is alive since someday he will be swiped by death. Life is a temporal gift that can be taken away any moment in an instant. He warns Beowulf that old age, war, and fire are some of the elements that might take life away from him. The old king, Hrothgar, also offers advice to Beowulf that he should be fully gracious. The king advises that what God has given in life should also be used wisely. Hrothgar advises Beowulf to utilize the grace he has from God to rule over the lands. Hrothgar states that God cannot be affected by age or illness and therefore Beowulf should use God as a stronghold.

Beowulf follows the advice of the old king as he returns the great sword Hrunting to Unferth. In his life, he refrains from revenge against the Unferth who for verbal abuse concerning the Breca contest. The poem states that "noble, generous in spirit" (1812) as he reflects on the virtues that Hrothgar had advised. Beowulf is also ready to return to offer help to Hrothgar in the case that enemies threaten his lands. He offers to welcome Hrothgar's son in his land if he visits.

Works Cited

Louviot, Élise. Direct speech in Beowulf and other old English narrative poems. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2016. Print.

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