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‘A Great Warrior Band’
A Warrior Be #4: Impressions of Beowulf
Lines 53-85 of John McNamara’s translation
The first Numbered “fitt” or section describes the Danish line of succession as Beow rules in the “town-forts” of the people, indicating a garrisoned land, still threatened by alien folk.
Beow sires Healfdane the High, “old and battle-fierce” a classic warrior king indicating again, a land in stages of alien colonization. To this old battle-king “woke into the world” four children: Heorogar, Hrothgar, Halga the Good and a daughter who would be the wife of a “Heatho-Scylfinf king.”
Hrothgar had the most battle success, suggesting a still very young nation, with conquest the ruling stamp. Hrothgar lead an age-based company of men who began with him as youths and followed him into his prime and beyond. His inspiration to build a thing of permanence to hold his people together, presents a clear idea of primitive kingship which was adopted by the Christian church as its temporal pillar early in the Dark Ages and would persist for half a millennia before it was undermined by banking and slain by the Magna Carta.
Lines 69-76
“they would raise on high a great mead-hall
whose fame would forever be heard among men;
there from within he would deal out,
both to young and to old, all that God gave him—
except common land and men’s life-blood.
Then I have heard that many among nations, [1]
throughout this middle-earth, were mustered to work,
to adorn the high hall as a place for the people.”
The King here upholds the pillars of his masculine authority:
-divesting himself of exclusive loyalty to his age-group and taking responsibility for all
-practicing grace in the name of God
-not encroaching upon common lands, which the English traitor-kings would later make a foundational principle of their patronage system under some 200 “acts of enclosure”
-denying himself the right to decree a death sentence, which is a heroic, heathen principle of remotest antiquity, foundational to the ethos of trial by combat and the duel. Hence the outlawing of these under secularized Christian authority a half millennia after the Church has accepted these heathen principles, inevitably led to the police state we now live under, including its most hideous aspect, being capital punishment, the taking of life by passive decree by way of tabooed proxy killers
The hall is named Herot. The King will “deal out precious rings,” and do so in “this middle-earth,” both intrinsically heathen concepts, the rings a legacy of portable wealth sunk in nomadic roots, and the concept of the mortal realm being between otherworldly ones, rather than simply under a higher realm, being more ancient than the Aryan tradition.
In closing, it is noted with fatalistic certainty that a political marriage engaged in by marrying off his daughter as a “peace-weaver” to an enemy king will eventually bring down Herot in flames. One is reminded that Hrothgar’s grandfather ruled over a land of town-forts and that the raising of a hall of concord was perhaps premature.
Notes
-1. The poet names himself here in a way at once anonymous and engaging.
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