ABOUT THE THIEF
This image was scanned from:
Marijane Osbourne, Beowulf, A Verse Translation with Treasures of the Ancient North
(1983), p. 81
The thief is a slave who is fleeing from the wrath of his lord. He finds the dragon's home and takes the cup to appease his master. Upon seeing the sleeping dragon, he fears for his life, and decided to flee. In doing so, he is careful not to wake the dragon, for fear of being devoured or burned alive.
The thief makes his way out of the barrow, ignorant that the dragon would one day wake up and find out that something was wrong. The thiefs's flee reflects no courage or bravery.
The thief's cowardice and actions demonstrate that he is not a brave warrior, possessing none of Beowulf's qualities. It is interesting to note that the thief is the only character in the epic poem that is not a member of the warrior or aristochratic classes. Rather, the presence of the thief is a reminder that ordinary people live in the land of the Geats as well.
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