The Importance of the Retainer and King in the Heroic Code
Members of the Anglo-Saxon warrior society subscribed to an ethos that celebrated the heroic code. In the passage from Beowulf, the poet’s interest in the duties of a loyal retainer and the duties of a great king are evident in the specific language he uses to describe Beowulf’s encounter with the dragon.
In one specific passage of this poem, Beowulf is portrayed as an ideal retainer by the loyalty, courage and fealty to the king he possesses. At the beginning of this passage, Beowulf reflects on King Hygelac and the many sacrifices and deeds he provided to Beowulf during his youth. A sorrowful mood is brought upon this specific text, as Beowulf reminisces on the death of
…show more content…
He then gains wisdom as he witnesses Hygelac’s form of generosity towards him and his people, “The treasures that Hygelac lavished on me…He gave me land/ and the security land brings, so he had no call/ to go looking for some lesser champion,” (2490-2494). Beowulf demonstrates Hygelac as a loyal lord, true to his people; in return Beowulf brings himself forward as a tribute to fight the dragon. As Beowulf earns the chance to hold the throne as king later on in the poem, it is evident that the responsibilities he held were much to his advantage when the time of battle arose against the dragon. His full awareness, “‘…as king of the people I shall pursue this fight/ for the glory of winning, if the evil one will only/ abandon his earth-fort and face me in the open.’” (2513-2515) Beowulf, as king and warrior only interprets as a right-doing to go into battle with the dragon, knowing his life is at risk. Towards the conclusion of this passage, Beowulf falls and has no choice but, “to give ground like that and go/ unwillingly to inhabit another home/ in a place beyond;” (2588-2590). Beowulf is true to his fellow citizens and attempts to provide to their needs even if it means losing the battle and sacrificing his life, which was the case in this poem. From this passage, it is evidently shown that Beowulf can not only hold a title of a loyal retainer with his endless amount of courage but also a grand lord,