LINES 1,159 – 1,237 : Cementing Relations
After hearing the sad tale of Finn, the feast reaches new heights of excess
and Wealhtheow joins the company. She pays tribute to Beowulf and the nation of the Geats, and she hopes that Beowulf will take Hrothgar’s thanks to Hygelac, King of the Geats.
The hope is that there will be lasting friendship between the Danes and the Geats.
Beowulf receives gifts from the other dignitaries present.
At last the feast ends and the company retires for the night.
Again, Wealhtheow makes a brief appearance, but it is significant.
She knows only too well that relationships between these warring tribes can
change in an instant. She recognizes that Beowulf would be a formidable foe to her husband and her sons. She makes a specific plea to Beowulf that he should always be kind to her sons.
Perhaps one of the features of this epic poem is the fact that the Queen is
shown as being a ‘person’ rather than a chattel and the poet has taken the trouble to characterize her.
However, it is ironic that Beowulf will not be a threat to her sons.
It is in fact her own nephew who will kill one of her sons, and he in turn will be killed by the other son. Anglo-Saxon audiences would be fully aware of this situation.