Beowulf Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Nor have I seen a mightier man-at-arms on this earth than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken, he is truly noble. This is no mere hanger-on in a hero's armour." (244-251)
Undaunted, sitting astride his horse, the coast-guard answered, "Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what's said and what's done. I believe what you have told me: that you are a troop loyal to our king." (286-291)
To us as 21st century readers, this sounds as though the coast-guard is distinguishing between things that are done as "real" and things that are said as "just talk." But that's the perspective of our culture. In medieval Scandinavian culture, talk was just as important as deeds, as long as they matched. Beowulf's declaration of himself and his intentions is a convincing speech that establishes his identity to the guard's satisfaction.
The man whose name was known for courage, the Geat leader, resolute in his helmet, answered in return: "We are retainers from Hygelac's band. Beowulf is my name." (340-343)
On its own, this quote might not look like much, but it takes the poem a long time to get around to mentioning Beowulf's name directly. Beowulf literally announces himself, proclaiming his name and invoking the reputation he has built up for himself in the past through his great deeds.