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Section 2

The Coming of Beowulf

The horrific stories of Grendel reaches the ears of Beowulf, the strongest of living men, kin of Hygelac, in his home with the Geats. Beowulf decides to sail to Scyld to help Hrothgar, and sets out with fourteen men after viewing the omens. After a day's journey, they land on the Scylding shore, thanking God for conducting them safely. The Scylding coastguard, spotting warriors with shields, rides up to them to ask where they are coming from. No one, he says, can land without permission, and he asks them of their lineage, their kinship and purpose of visit. Beowulf introduces himself as the son of Ecgtheow and comrade of Hygelac, and says that they have come in the hope of ridding the "old King" of the evil of Grendel. The guard says that since they look like brave men, they must not have boasted in vain, and thus welcomes them. He promises to guard their ships till they are ready to return.

Beowulf's Welcome at Hrothgar's Court

Beowulf and his men reach the Hall and lay down their shields. Hrothgar's herald, Wulfgar, asks them for an introduction and their purpose of visit. Beowulf gives his name but states that he will reveal his purpose only to the King, and Wulfgar petitions Hrothgar to grant Beowulf a parley. Hrothgar acknowledges Beowulf by saying that he knew him as a child, and like his father Beowulf was continuing the tradition of friendship by coming to his court to seek adventure. He says he has heard that Beowulf's hand-grip is equal to thirty men's strength, is thus hopeful that Beowulf will be successful against Grendel, and bids them welcome.

The Geats rise and enter and Beowulf, after introducing himself as Hygelac's kinsman, says that he has done a lot of brave deeds in his youth. Hearing about Grendel's menace, and at his people's urging, he has decided to come to help the king. His people are aware of his prowess and remember the many times he came home from battle unharmed - the time he bound five giants and slew all of their kinsmen and the time he killed the water monsters. Beowulf boasts that he will single-handedly slay Grendel, and asks for Hrothgar's permission to do so. Since Grendel does not fight with weapons, Beowulf too disdains them. He requests that in the event of his death, his body not be buried, but the corselet covering his breast, sent to Hygelac.

Hrothgar wishes Beowulf honor, and reminds him how Hrothgar had helped Ecgtheow, thus sealing the families in friendship. Ecgtheow had defeated Heathloaf of the Wyfling line but had been unable to pay his family wergild, and thus the Geats refused to shelter him for fear of reprisal. Hrothgar had then come to Ecgtheow's aid and paid wergild to Heathloaf's family, and Ecgtheow had sworn an oath of friendship in payment for this generosity. Hrothgar welcomes Beowulf and invites him to tell his tales of bravery.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Section 1
Section 2
Section 3
Section 4
Section 5
Section 6
Section 7
Section 8
Section 9
Section 10



 






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