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Funerals Of Kings Essay

1083 words - 4 pages

Beowulf starts with the death of Shield a great king in the eyes of the Geats, it also ends with the death of Beowulf. These funerals are similar in many ways. These funerals can be a reflection of the lives these kings lived because each king had his own way he wanted to be remembered. These funerals both involve huge amounts of treasures being loaded on to ships or back in to the ground and how the Geat people mourned for the loss of the kings.
 Treasures were used to gain loyalty from other men in Geat “steadfast companions will stand by him” (Beowulf 23). Theses “steadfast companions” (Beowulf 23) help the king survive and help conquer lands and allowing a king to stay in power. In the end of this poem even those gifts will not get the support Beowulf needs. The treasure that was laid on the boat for Shield was “Far-fetched treasures / were piled upon him, and precious gear” (Beowulf 36-37) A “far-fetched treasure” (Beowulf 36) would be some of the rarest in the world. Shield has told his men to “Shoulder him out to sea’s flood” (Beowulf 30) The boat they put him in was “A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbor, / ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince”(Beowulf 32-33). The description of the boat I think shows the honor that the Geat’s wanted to show their kings and how ornate they make things. At Beowulf’s funeral at the end of the poem they build a great pyre “The Geat people built a pyre for Beowulf, / stacked and decked it until it stood foursquare.”(Beowulf 3137-38). The pyre is like the boat in the first funeral the boat is built ornately and to stand the test of time. The pyre is built to be tall and strong very similar to the boat. “hung with helmets, heavy war-shields / and shining armor, just as he had ordered.” (Beowulf 3139-3140) All of this armor was taken out of the lair of the dragon the same creature that dealt Beowulf his fatal blow.

Both funerals mourned for their rulers passing “mourning their loss.” (Beowulf 50) Shields funeral only had a small amount of mourning in it as seen in the passage before this. They were more concerned about moving forwards and conquering new lands and gaining new treasures and hordes. “They were disconsolate / and wailed aloud for their lord’s decease.” (Beowulf 3148-49) The wailing and discontent is a true show of how much they missed and mourned the loss of their king. As in the first funeral all that happened was that the responsibility transferred to Shields son. “Then it fell to Beow to keep the forts.” (Beowulf 53) These people at the beginning of the poem pushed on through the morning very quickly to start anew, but with Beowulf’s funeral they spoke so well of him. “They said that of all the kings upon earth / he was the man most gracious and fair-minded” (Beowulf 3180-81).
 Shield and Beowulf had their own idea’s on how they would like to be buried. ...

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