The power and importance of treasure, in Beowulf
An epic, is a lengthy narrative poem concerning about social and political organization, and events significant to a culture or nation. In Fred Robinson words, much of Beowulf is devoted to show the Germanic heroic code, in different aspects, which values strength, courage, bravery and loyalty in warriors; hospitality, generosity, responsibility and political skill in kings; ceremoniousness in women; and good reputation in the inhabitants.
Treasure, as well, is one of the most important elements of the Anglo-Saxon’s social lives. As Katherine O´Brien O´Keeffee says “ The touchstone of that life- as represented in Old English literature at least- is the vital relationship between retainer and lord, whose binding virtue is loyalty. Continuing loyalty is ensured in the lord´s giving of treasure. Through gifts of worth, a lord enhances both his own reputation and that of his retainer, and he lays upon his man the obligation of future service.”And it is possible to see that, when the story opens, describing a funeral ceremony, one of the rituals in those years. “Next to that noble corpse/They heaped up treasures, jewelled helmets/ Hooked swords and coats of mail, armor/Carried from the ends of the earth: no ship/ Had ever sailed so brightly fitted”/ (L. 36). This shows the human relationship between the warrior and his lord, the “ring –giver”. Also, warriors must bring these golden helmets, famous swords, and armour to their kings, in repaid for all the protection they have received, as Beowulf upon his return home, presents a wide variety of treasures to Higlac, “So I could bring his riches to you, my ruler,/And prove his friendship, and my love. Your favour/Still governs my life.../(canto 31, l.2149-2150) when he comes back from Denmark; and in turn receives golden armour, high rank and extensive land. “Then Higlac, protector of his people, brought in/His father´s-Beowul´s grandfather´s- great sword,...
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