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Symbols

Heorot and Mead-Halls

The mead-hall is the symbol of a society: it is in this central place that the people gather to feast, socialize, and listen to the scop (bard) perform and thereby preserve the history of the people. Heorot, as the largest mead-hall in the world, symbolized the might and power of the Spear-Danes under Hrothgar.

Look for the red text to track where Heorot and Mead-Halls appears in: Hrothgar’s Early Reign (Lines 64–85), Grendel Attacks (Lines 86–193), Beowulf Arrives (Lines 194–490), A Feast at Heorot (Lines 491–701), Beowulf vs. Grendel (Lines 702–836), Celebration (Lines 837–1250), Grendel’s Mother (Lines 1251–1407), A Second Fight (Lines 1408–1639), New Celebration (Lines 1640–1912)

Gold, Treasure, and Gifts

In Beowulf, gold, treasure, and gifts are less important for their economic value than their social value. In fact, gold can be seen as a symbol of social interaction: a lord rewards loyalty with gold, and in doing so inspires further loyalty. The transfer of the gold is also a kind of physical embodiment of the lord's duty to nurture his people. Gold can also act as a symbol of regret or a desire for peace: one way of avoiding a feud is to pay the wergild, the man-price, by compensating the family of the injured person with gold, to avoid more violent vengeance.

Look for the red text to track where Gold, Treasure, and Gifts appears in: Prologue (Lines 1–63), Hrothgar’s Early Reign (Lines 64–85), Grendel Attacks (Lines 86–193), Beowulf Arrives (Lines 194–490), Celebration (Lines 837–1250), Grendel’s Mother (Lines 1251–1407), A Second Fight (Lines 1408–1639), New Celebration (Lines 1640–1912), Beowulf at Home (Lines 1913–2199), The Dragon (Lines 2200–2323), Facing the Dragon (Lines 2324–2710), Beowulf and Wiglaf (Lines 2711–2845), Wiglaf Speaks (Lines 2846–3109), Beowulf’s Funeral (Lines 3110–3182)


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