Section Seven: The Death of Beofulf

Beowulf dies, and Wiglaf cares for the body, washing him and treating him with reverence. Now that the danger has disappeared, the other 10 warriors emerge from the woods. Disappointed with their behavior, Wiglaf lectures the men. He condemns each of the men as traitors. This is a significant action. It deprives the men of their right to property, and keeps them from entering into the code of comitatus in the future. He reiterates that it would have been better for them to die in the service of their king than to live as they are, shamed by their failure to protect their king. Then Wiglaf sends a messenger to inform the other Geats of the outcome of the battle. The messenger tells the Geats that Beowulf has died, and also predicts problems with Sweden.

Wiglaf has the Geats come to Beowulf’s death site so that they can see the Dragon and truly understand Beowulf’s last great heroic act as their king. The people are truly grief-stricken; not only do they lament the passing of a great king, but they fear for their safety without his protection. Furthermore, they learn that they will not get any of the Dragon’s immense treasure; Wiglaf has determined that it will be buried with Beowulf.

The people build a funeral pyre. They burn Beowulf’s body, then bury his ashes and the treasure in a funeral barrow. The final lines of the poem discuss Beowulf as a king. Interestingly enough, they do not mention Beowulf’s battle prowess. Instead, the lines reflect on Beowulf’s abilities as a king, and how he treated his people well. This is the king that he became. These final lines seem to suggest that despite his seemingly rash decision to battle the Dragon himself, Beowulf did embrace Hrothgar’s lessons and become a capable leader.

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Essays About Beowulf