Comitatus: Grendel's Mother and Beowulf

Topics: Beowulf, Hroðgar, Heorot Pages: 2 (628 words) Published: September 22, 2014
The phrase comitatus is extremely important in Anglo-Saxon culture and is demonstrated strongly in Anglo-Saxon texts. Comitatus means fellowship, particularly an allegiance between a lord and his men. This phrase refers to a very important tradition during the times of the Anglo-Saxons. It was so important because these men were constantly protecting their people from outside attacks and invasions and the comitatus was the bond that held these men together and that is what they lived for. The comitatus ensured that neither left the field of battle before the other. If a warrior deserted his fellow warriors, he was essentially outcast by his clan. Specific Anglo-Saxon texts where the comitatus code is eminently portrayed are “The Wanderer” and “Beowulf”. “The Wanderer” is an Anglo-Saxon poem in which a warrior longs for old times, as he nostalgically ponders when he served his lord as well as feasted with his friends. The wanderer in the story has lost his fellow warriors and lord in battle, and now walks alone in exile. His sorrow continues even in sleep, "Often when sorrow and sleep together/ bind the poor lone-dweller in their embrace,/ he dreams he clasps and that he kisses/ his liege-lord again, lays head and hands/ on the lord’s knees as he did long ago,/ enjoyed the gift-giving in days gone by./ Then the warrior, friendless, awakens again" (“The Wanderer” 119). He is completely consumed with loyalty to his lord and most of him died with his lord. That is how deep comitatus was seeded in some people during that time. Another prime example of comitatus is in the old pagan story “Beowulf”. It tells of a great Geat warrior, Beowulf, who learns about a horrible monster, Grendel, and decides to go slay him. The land Grendel is ravaging is under the rule of King Hrothgar. One day Beowulf shows up and says to Hrothgar, "Now I mean to be a match for Grendel/ settle the outcome in single combat./ And so, my request, O king of Bright-Danes/…my one request is that...
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