Beowulf - His Death and its consequences
Type of Spiritual Experience
Heros usually die young, they never make it to old age. Quite often they are betrayed by their own people and die a relatively lonely death, supported by perhaps only a very few or maybe only one faithful supporter.
Heros also occasionally have weaknesses which bring about their downfall.
Their death can result in two outcomes;
- Their legacy lives on and progresses humanity very slowly to a better condition. If this happens, the baton may be taken up by other men and women in slightly different ways, but the legacy is not lost [level 2 take up]
- Their death results in in-fighting and factious splits within the people left, which lead to wars and dreadful suffering for the people who betrayed their hero
Occasionally both happen, the suffering precedes a period of final peace in which the lessons and legacy are taken up.
These observtions all deal with this theme
A description of the experience
Beowulf [weaknesses and early death]
Beloved Beowulf, best of warriors
Resist this deadly taint, take what is better
Your lasting profit. Put away arrogance
Noble fighter! The noon of your strength shall last for a while now, but in a little time
Sickness or a sword will strip it from you
Either enfolding flame or a flood’s billow
Or a knife stab or the stoop of a spear
Or the ugliness of age; or your eyes’ brightness
Lessens and grows dim. Death shall soon
Have beaten you then. O brave warrior!
Wiglaf then spoke many words that were fitting
Addressed his companions, dark was his mood ….…………..
‘Let us go to him
help our leader for as long as it requires,
the fearsome fire blast. I had rather
that the flame should enfold my flesh frame there
alongside the gold giver – as God knows of me
to bear our shields back to our homes
would seem unfitting to me, unless first we have been able
to kill the foe and defend the life
of the prince of the Weather-Geats’.………..
He strode through the blood smoke, bore his war helmet
To the aid of his lord, uttered few words………..
‘Bold tempered chieftain
Famed for your deeds, you must defend your life now
With all your strength. I shall help you’.
Beowulf [lone death and outcome for his people]
Too few supporters flocked to our prince when affliction came
Now there shall cease for your race the receiving of treasure
The bestowal of swords, all satisfaction of ownership
All comfort of home. Your kinsmen every one
Shall become wanderers without land rights
As soon as athelings over the world
Shall hear the report of how you fled,
A deed of ill fame. Death is better
For any earl than an existence of disgrace
Beowulf [death of and its consequences]
The Geat race then reared up for him
A funeral pyre. ………..
Their great chief, their cherished lord
On top of the mound the men then kindled
The biggest of funeral fires. ………. And in heavy mood
They uttered their sorrow at the slaughter of their lord
A woman of the Geats in grief sang out
The lament for his death. Loudly she sang
Her hair bound up, the burden of her fear
That evil days were destined her
- troops cut down, terror of armies,
Heaven swallowed the smoke