Character Role Analysis
We get hints that Beowulf has had other guides and mentors, such as King Hygelac of the Geats, but the relationship that we see most poignantly in Beowulf is between our hero and King Hrothgar of the Danes. Hrothgar is an old king, at the end of his reign, and is no longer able to protect his people. He is, however, able to welcome and reward Beowulf, and he provides an example of a man with a long campaign of heroic deeds behind him.
When Beowulf becomes an old king himself, no longer a match for the monsters that are terrorizing his people, he has the example of Hrothgar not to follow. That's because, unlike Hrothgar, Beowulf actually does go out to fight the antagonist that he may not be able to defeat. Beowulf has realized that a king who can't win battles with his own hands isn't any use to his people—in the way that Hrothgar was no longer of use to the Danes, even though he had once been a great warrior.