by Anonymous

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VII - Hrothgar and Beowulf

{Hrothgar remembers Beowulf as a youth, and also remembers his father.}

          Hrothgar answered, helm of the Scyldings:
          "I remember this man as the merest of striplings.
          His father long dead now was Ecgtheow titled,
          Him Hrethel the Geatman granted at home his
        5 One only daughter; his battle-brave son
          Is come but now, sought a trustworthy friend.
          Seafaring sailors asserted it then,

{Beowulf is reported to have the strength of thirty men.}

          Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen[1] carried
          As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men's grapple
       10 Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

{God hath sent him to our rescue.}

          The holy Creator usward sent him,
          To West-Dane warriors, I ween, for to render
          'Gainst Grendel's grimness gracious assistance:
          I shall give to the good one gift-gems for courage.
       15 Hasten to bid them hither to speed them,[2]
          To see assembled this circle of kinsmen;
          Tell them expressly they're welcome in sooth to
          The men of the Danes." To the door of the building


{Wulfgar invites the strangers in.}

          Wulfgar went then, this word-message shouted:
       20 "My victorious liegelord bade me to tell you,
          The East-Danes' atheling, that your origin knows he,
          And o'er wave-billows wafted ye welcome are hither,
          Valiant of spirit. Ye straightway may enter
          Clad in corslets, cased in your helmets,
       25 To see King Hrothgar. Here let your battle-boards,
          Wood-spears and war-shafts, await your conferring."
          The mighty one rose then, with many a liegeman,
          An excellent thane-group; some there did await them,
          And as bid of the brave one the battle-gear guarded.
       30 Together they hied them, while the hero did guide them,
          'Neath Heorot's roof; the high-minded went then
          Sturdy 'neath helmet till he stood in the building.
          Beowulf spake (his burnie did glisten,
          His armor seamed over by the art of the craftsman):

{Beowulf salutes Hrothgar, and then proceeds to boast of his youthful

       35 "Hail thou, Hrothgar! I am Higelac's kinsman
          And vassal forsooth; many a wonder
          I dared as a stripling. The doings of Grendel,
          In far-off fatherland I fully did know of:
          Sea-farers tell us, this hall-building standeth,
       40 Excellent edifice, empty and useless
          To all the earlmen after evenlight's glimmer
          'Neath heaven's bright hues hath hidden its glory.
          This my earls then urged me, the most excellent of them,
          Carles very clever, to come and assist thee,
       45 Folk-leader Hrothgar; fully they knew of

{His fight with the nickers.}

          The strength of my body. Themselves they beheld me
          When I came from the contest, when covered with gore
          Foes I escaped from, where five[3] I had bound,
[16]      The giant-race wasted, in the waters destroying
       50 The nickers by night, bore numberless sorrows,
          The Weders avenged (woes had they suffered)
          Enemies ravaged; alone now with Grendel

{He intends to fight Grendel unaided.}

          I shall manage the matter, with the monster of evil,
          The giant, decide it. Thee I would therefore
       55 Beg of thy bounty, Bright-Danish chieftain,
          Lord of the Scyldings, this single petition:
          Not to refuse me, defender of warriors,
          Friend-lord of folks, so far have I sought thee,
          That _I_ may unaided, my earlmen assisting me,
       60 This brave-mooded war-band, purify Heorot.
          I have heard on inquiry, the horrible creature

{Since the monster uses no weapons,}

          From veriest rashness recks not for weapons;
          I this do scorn then, so be Higelac gracious,
          My liegelord belovèd, lenient of spirit,
       65 To bear a blade or a broad-fashioned target,
          A shield to the onset; only with hand-grip

{I, too, shall disdain to use any.}

          The foe I must grapple, fight for my life then,
          Foeman with foeman; he fain must rely on
          The doom of the Lord whom death layeth hold of.

{Should he crush me, he will eat my companions as he has eaten thy

       70 I ween he will wish, if he win in the struggle,
          To eat in the war-hall earls of the Geat-folk,
          Boldly to swallow[4] them, as of yore he did often
          The best of the Hrethmen! Thou needest not trouble
          A head-watch to give me;[5] he will have me dripping


{In case of my defeat, thou wilt not have the trouble of burying me.}

       75 And dreary with gore, if death overtake me,[6]
          Will bear me off bleeding, biting and mouthing me,
          The hermit will eat me, heedless of pity,
          Marking the moor-fens; no more wilt thou need then

{Should I fall, send my armor to my lord, King Higelac.}

          Find me my food.[7] If I fall in the battle,
       80 Send to Higelac the armor that serveth
          To shield my bosom, the best of equipments,
          Richest of ring-mails; 'tis the relic of Hrethla,

{Weird is supreme}

          The work of Wayland. Goes Weird as she must go!"

    [1] Some render 'gif-sceattas' by 'tribute.'--'Géata' B. and Th.
    emended to 'Géatum.' If this be accepted, change '_of_ the Geatmen' to
    '_to_ the Geatmen.'

    [2] If t.B.'s emendation of vv. 386, 387 be accepted, the two lines,
    'Hasten ... kinsmen' will read: _Hasten thou, bid the throng of
    kinsmen go into the hall together_.

    [3] For 420 (_b_) and 421 (_a_), B. suggests: Þær ic (on) fífelgeban
    ýðde eotena cyn = _where I in the ocean destroyed the
    eoten-race_.--t.B. accepts B.'s "brilliant" 'fífelgeban,' omits 'on,'
    emends 'cyn' to 'hám,' arranging: Þær ic fífelgeban ýðde, eotena hám =
    _where I desolated the ocean, the home of the eotens_.--This would be
    better but for changing 'cyn' to 'hám.'--I suggest: Þær ic fífelgeband
    (cf. nhd. Bande) ýðde, eotena cyn = _where I conquered the monster
    band, the race of the eotens_. This makes no change except to read
    '_fífel_' for '_fífe_.'

    [4] 'Unforhte' (444) is much disputed.--H.-So. wavers between adj. and
    adv. Gr. and B. take it as an adv. modifying _etan: Will eat the Geats
    fearlessly_.--Kl. considers this reading absurd, and proposes
    'anforhte' = timid.--Understanding 'unforhte' as an adj. has this
    advantage, viz. that it gives a parallel to 'Geátena leóde': but to
    take it as an adv. is more natural. Furthermore, to call the Geats
    'brave' might, at this point, seem like an implied thrust at the
    Danes, so long helpless; while to call his own men 'timid' would be
    befouling his own nest.

    [5] For 'head-watch,' cf. H.-So. notes and cf. v. 2910.--Th.
    translates: _Thou wilt not need my head to hide_ (i.e., thou wilt have
    no occasion to bury me, as Grendel will devour me whole).--Simrock
    imagines a kind of dead-watch.--Dr. H. Wood suggests: _Thou wilt not
    have to bury so much as my head_ (for Grendel will be a thorough
    undertaker),--grim humor.

    [6] S. proposes a colon after 'nimeð' (l. 447). This would make no
    essential change in the translation.

    [7] Owing to the vagueness of 'feorme' (451), this passage is
    variously translated. In our translation, H.-So.'s glossary has been
    quite closely followed. This agrees substantially with B.'s
    translation (P. and B. XII. 87). R. translates: _Thou needst not take
    care longer as to the consumption of my dead body._ 'Líc' is also a
    crux here, as it may mean living body or dead body.

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