Beowulf's Funeral

The section titled "Beowulf's Funeral" starts out with Beowulf lying dead with the dragon's dead body near him. Wiglaf watches over Beowulf after having brought out the treasure for Beowulf to see. The cowardly men who abandon Beowulf, when he needs them most, come out of hiding and Wiglaf justly berates them for their betrayal of such a good lord who gave so much treasure. Wiglaf recounts how Beowulf killed the dragon and predicts that the cowardly warriors will lose their land for their shameful deed. Wiglaf then orders that Beowulf's death be announced to his people.

The Geat's messenger tells of the death of his lord and also predicts the end of the Geats. Without Beowulf's leadership, the Geat's enemies, the Franks, Frisians and Swedes will come to war with the Geats. The messenger also brings up past feuds involving the Geats, all of which accurred before Beowulf came to power. Throughout Beowulf's rule, there has been peace for the Geats but now that he is dead, war will bring the end.

Men are sent to Earnaness to look upon the dead Beowulf and the dead dragon. While there, they also see the cursed treasure that only the one favored by the "True King of Victories" can have. The men push the dragon over a cliff, and it falls into the sea.

Beowulf's body is taken to Hronesness, where his funeral pyre is burned and his funeral mound is constructed. The mound is filled with the treasure that Beowulf won from the dragon and all of the Geats gather around to lament the death of their lord. The Geats sing dirges for Beowulf and say "that he was of world-kings the mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, and most eager for fame."

By Renee Yewdaev

Text Used for this summary:
Beowulf. Trans. E. Talbot Donaldson. Ed. Nicholas Howe. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2002.