the battle-dodgers abandoned the wood,
the ones who had let down their lord earlier,
the tail-turners, ten of them together.
When he needed them most, they had made off.
Now they were ashamed and came behind shields,
in their battle-outfits, to where the old man lay. (2845-2851)
Although the ten Geat warriors who ran away from the battle with the dragon are scorned as cowardly by the poet, they aren't totally vilified. After all, it's not one man who runs away while the others all stay – everyone runs away and only one man, Wiglaf, is brave enough to stay. This suggests that true courage is somewhat uncommon and that most warriors, at least when they're facing a dragon, have momentary lapses in bravery.