The significance of Hrothgar’s sermon in Beowulf

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The significance of Hrothgar;s sermon in Beowulf (lines 1700-1784)
Hrothgar delivers this speech in his royal hall Heorot, where the Geats and the Danes are celebrating Beowulf;s victory over Grendel;s mother. This victory has finally freed the Danes of the monsters which had been terrorizing them for twelve years. Hence, there is much rejoicing and feasting over the victory as Beowulf and his warriors are feted and rewarded by Hrothgar. Beowulf had earlier given a speech recounting the details of his fight with the monster. He then presented the golden hilt of the sword salvaged from the monster;s den to Hrothgar. In accepting this relic, Hrothgar launches into a long moralizing speech of advice to Beowulf.
In his speech Hrothgar highlights the code of the heroic world and the serious repercussions if one were to break or disregard this heroic ideal. According to this code, the relationship between the king/lord and his men, known as thanes/warriors, is very important. It is the responsibility of the thanes to defend their lord and his lands and also to fight his wars. This relationship is one of mutual loyalty, trust and respect. The thane vows his loyalty to his lord and eventually becomes his companion. In return, the king/lord is responsible for looking after the welfare of his warriors. He offers them shelter, helmets, gold rings, bracelets, swords, beer, mead and a home. A good lord is of noble character and he is generous with his wealth and he forms a close bond with his men through merrymaking and feasting. This ideal of the heroic world is known as ;comitatus; and it is an important characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon race. Thus, Hrothgar;s reference to Heremod is meant as a warning to Beowulf on the serious repercussions if a lord were to disregard this code. Heremod, a Danish king, who was at one time a renowned and glorious youth became tyrannical and broke the virtues of the heroic co…