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by Unknown

Beowulf Violence Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Line). We used Seamus Heaney's Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, published in 2000 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Quote #1

Suddenly then
the God-cursed brute was creating havoc:
greedy and grim, he grabbed thirty men
from their resting places and rushed to his lair,
flushed up and inflamed from the raid,
blundering back with the butchered corpses. (120-125)

Grendel isn't only a violent murderer. He's also a "greedy" killer, someone who takes the lives of thirty men at one stroke even though he can't pay reparations for their deaths and there seems little reason for him to lash out in this way. Even though the world of the Spear-Danes and Weather-Geats is a brutal medieval battlefield, Grendel's violence stands out because it just doesn't make sense according to their customs.

Quote #2

"If Grendel wins, it will be a gruesome day;
he will glut himself on the Geats in the war-hall,
swoop without fear on that flower of manhood
as on others before. Then my face won't be there
to be covered in death: he will carry me away
as he goes to ground, gorged and bloodied;
he will run gloating with my raw corpse
and feed on it alone, in a cruel frenzy,
fouling his moor-nest." (442-450)

Beowulf imagines, not just the possibility of his death and defeat, but the exact details of his gruesome demise, what his corpse will look like, and what will happen to his body after he is dead. Why? Probably because, as a medieval warrior, he's seen a lot of men killed and been around a lot of corpses. It was a brutal life back then.

Quote #3

Time and again, when the goblets passed
and seasoned fighters got flushed with beer
they would pledge themselves to protect Heorot
and wait for Grendel with whetted swords.
But when dawn broke and day crept in
over each empty, blood-spattered bench,
the floor of the mead-hall where they had feasted
would be slick with slaughter. (480-487)

In the world of the Spear-Danes, violence alternates with drunken revels and feasting.

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