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Beowulf Wealth 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 #10

And they buried torques in the barrow, and jewels
and a trove of such things as trespassing men
had once dared to drag from the hoard.
They let the ground keep that ancestral treasure,
gold under gravel, gone to earth,
as useless to men now as it ever was. (3163-3168)

At the end of the epic, the narrator seems to remind us that all the gold and treasures in the world are useless to men in the broader context of life, death, the afterlife, and real human needs. However, maybe what's really useless about his treasure is that it's buried underground with Beowulf, "gone to earth," the way that the gold was before it was dug up and fashioned into treasures. Only when it's in the world, circulating, being used to pay for things or as a reward, can the gold actually be useful to men.

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