LINES 64 – 193 : King Hrothgar and the Ogre
King Hrothgar is the ageing King of Denmark and he resides in a magnificent
Mead Hall called Heorot. He is famous for his feasting and dispensing treasure to his subjects.
Nearby in a small lake, a powerful ogre lurks who can no longer endure the
sounds of happiness coming from Heorot. One night after a great feast, many of Hrothgar’s warriors lie about the hall deep in a drunken slumber.
Grendel, the ogre, comes to the hall and kills thirty of these men in their sleep, taking their bloody corpses to his lair.
For twelve winters, King Hrothgar is visited by Grendel, and the monster’s
evil becomes known throughout the land.
We see contrasts here concerning the civilization, warmth and light of the
Mead Hall, opposed to the cold, damp lair of the evil Grendel.
There will be further contrasts in the poem concerning the age of King
Hrothgar and the youth of Beowulf.
Hrothgar represents one of the main characters of the story, but he is
unable to rid his land of this evil ogre. Here we have a further contrast between joy and sadness, and this is another theme that runs throughout the story.
This is a serious narration and you will find no comedy in its lines.
Hrothgar is shown to have a reputation for holding lavish banquets, and
giving his warriors gifts of treasure for their valor on the battlefield. He would often give them rings, and thus he has the title of “Ring Giver”.
We obtain an insight into life in these harsh lands.
That is why, perhaps, the Danes feast so much, for the periods of joy in their lives are short at the best of times, but now they have this dark shadow over them in the form of Grendel.