Study Guide

Hygelac in Beowulf

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Hygelac, the king of the Geats, is Beowulf's lord and ring-giver. As a "ring-giver," it is Hygelac's job to give land and treasures to his "thanes," or lords, in order to reward them for their loyalty and service. Late in the epic, we also learn that Hygelac was Beowulf's foster-brother when they were children, and that Beowulf is his nephew. Hygelac is a good-hearted and strong king who eventually dies in the way every Scandinavian warrior hopes to go—in battle!