The Ultimate Reward

At the end of Beowulf's meeting with King Hygelac, the king acknowledges everything that Beowulf has accomplished. He has brought honor to Hygelac and his kingdom. It is during this time that we learn that Hygelac and the people of his kingdom have never thought of Beowulf as much of a heroic warrior. Previously, they considered him a "weakling" (2188) who did not possess enough strength or ability to engage in battle:

He had been poorly regarded
for a long time, was taken by the Geats
for less than he was worth: and their lord too
had never much esteemed him in the mead-hall.
They firmly believed that he lacked force,
that the prince was a weakling; but presently
every affront to his deserving was reversed. (2183-2189)

Now that Beowulf has vanquished his foes from another land, he will be regarded with more respect than ever before. His king gives him his own land to rule over along with a throne and mead-hall. Although Beowulf had to travel to another land to gain the proper respect, Hygelac and his people finally see him for what he is worth. Beowulf is no longer the slacker that he was mistaken to be. He is viewed as the brave warrior that we have come to know throughout the tale of Beowulf:

The battle famed king, bulwark of his earls,
ordered a gold-chased heirloom of Hrethel's
to be brought in; it was the best example
of a gem-studded sword in the Geat treasury.
This he laid on Beowulf's lap
and then rewarded him with land as well,
seven thousand hides; and a hall and a throne. (2190-2196)

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