The Voyage of a King
In the poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, the reputation a king receives is based upon his generosity to his loyal followers. The reputation of a king is very important to his people. He gains his status by giving gifts and treasures for good deeds or just for being kind. This gives the king fame and notoriety, which benefits his family in many ways. Because of his gift giving and compassion, his people are faithful and loyal to him. They honor their king by protecting him and provide him with stability. A king is nothing without his reputation, generosity and his loyal people.
The reputation of a king is vital to his existence. Shield Sheafson was the most famous king of the Danes. Once an orphan, he rises to power and becomes king. The poet writes, “. . . [People on the] outlying coasts / beyond the whale-road had to yield to him / and begin to pay tribute. That was one good king” (10-11). His reputation reflects on his son, Beow. Beow’s reputation is much like his father’s. He is a powerful king and has four sons of his own. King Hrothgar, son of Beow, treats his people well and builds the legendary Heorot Hall. In this building, Hrothgar “doled out rings”, making the hall and Hrothgar himself exceedingly famous (80). It is because of his reputation for kindness and generosity that Beowulf comes to his aid in killing Grendel. The poet writes, “[Beowulf] announces his plan: / to sail the swan’s road and search out that king, / the famous prince who needed defenders” (199-201). Beowulf has quite the reputation himself and it has made him fit to be a king. Throughout the poem, Beowulf is described as strong and heroic. The poet explains, “. . . he was the mightiest man on earth / high-born and powerful” (197-198). A Danish coastguard takes one look at Beowulf and is captivated by his presence: [I have never seen]
a mightier man-at-arms on this earth
than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken,
he is truly noble...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document