Funerals of Kings

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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 ...

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...going or where the “to wind and tide, bewailing him” (Beowulf 49). They built a memorial on the high grounds letting all that can see know that a great king laid there. All the treasure that had been found in the cave where the dragon had stayed was put back in to the ground where the memorial is. “They let the ground keep that ancestral treasure / gold under gravel,” (Beowulf 3166-67). These treasures had been around for ages and ages, gold is taken from the ground and in the end put back in to the ground.

These kings have thought about how they wanted to be remembered by the people of the time. Their funerals reflected back on their lives, through the gold that was laid on to Shields ship and that was put in the memorial on the coast for Beowulf. Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen. The Norton Anthology Of English Literature. 8th. A. W W Norton & Co Inc, 2006.

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