Truth and Justice Make a God King
Beowulf, the main character of the heroic epic poem Beowulf, conveys fundamental examples for leaders in many aspects of life. Many of the stated ideals are pertinent to a leaders time as a warrior and as a king. In the beginning of the story, Beowulf, the hero of the Geats, aids the Danes and King Hrothgar whose people are harassed by a demon, Grendel. After Beowulf destroys Grendel and his mother, he returns to Heorot, the court of Hrothgar, for a feast of happiness. Here, King Hrothgar gives a speech that advises Beowulf how he should lead his people in the future. Hrothgar’s advice to Beowulf details how he should be the protector of his people and lead them with truth, justice, and tradition as the mainstay of his power. Hrothgar emphasizes that selfishness and resentment lead to misfortune as a high official. Beowulf takes King Hrothgar’s advice and as a warrior and King of Geatland, successfully symbolizes a just leader that will do anything for the goodness of mankind.
In the first lines of Hrothgar’s speech to Beowulf, he introduces Beowulf as “a protector of his people, pledged to uphold truth and justice and to respect tradition” (117). To be introduced as so lofty a leader is an honor, and Beowulf strives to fulfill these ideals throughout his life. Beowulf protects not only his own people, by wiping out the dragon, but also the Danes, as he defeats Grendel the monster and Grendel’s mother. Although he obtains glory and fame from these courageous acts, Beowulf performs these actions for the good of his people, not for his own personal gain. He explains his encounter with Grendel’s mother when he returns to Geatland and King Hygelac, “it was hand-to hand between us, then the blood went curling along the currents and I beheaded Grendel’s mother...with a mighty sword” (145). Beowulf’s description is not embellished in any way; his portrayal of events is plainly spoken. The unembellished telling further illustrates...
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