And during the feast, a poet tells the story
of Hildeburh, a woman caught
in between the war of Danes and Frisians.
And I hope I'm pronouncing that
in my fine Old English style here.
So, the poem takes quite a while to tell.
And what's the idea behind giving all of this information
about all these people in the middle of Beowulf?
Like, what does that do for us
other than make us yawn every now and then?
Yeah, it will make us yawn.
Epic poems are long.
This is part of the reason they're long,
is that there's these digressons.
But they're not necessarily digressions
in the way that we might think of it.
There's a point.
First of all, again, we're shown the cultural value
of celebrating and feasting and gift-giving.
After Beowulf does his heroic deed,
they have a huge party.
And that tells us something about society.
It's like violence and revenge are valued
enough to celebrate.
He gives -- Hrothgar gives Beowulf tons of gifts
and they eat lots of food
and there's goblets everywhere.
But, on top of just kind of showing us a little bit more about society,
these stories that might seem like digressions,
almost always comment on the main storyline itself.
So the story we hear,
the story that's told by a poet at the party
is basically about this woman
who is caught between, as you said,
the Danes and the Frisians.
She has loyalties to both sides.
And then some of her relatives are killed during --
when there's a war.
And she's kind of torn between the two sides.
And what happens is that Hrothgar's wife,
whose name I definitely can not pronounce,
comes out and really relates herself to this story
because she sees Hrothgar
giving Beowulf all these gifts
and all this, you know, amazing stuff.
And meanwhile, Hrothgar has sons. He has two sons and
he stands there and he says,
"Beowulf, you're like a son to me."
So Hrothgar's wife is like,
"Well, you know, you have sons.
Beowulf is an outsider."
And so she kind of is a little bit worried
and sees Beowulf as coming in from the outside
and maybe causing trouble
and she wants to protect her sons' rights to the throne.
So, these little stories that come in between
sometimes are the most morally complex parts
of an epic poem.
They're the parts that we kind of tend to forget
'cause we're reading along and we're like,
"Aw, shoot, I gotta get a hundred on the quiz.
I don't need to know what happens in this offshoot
of the story. I just need to know if Beowulf dies."
But if we really pay attention, we can get a lot more
out of these kind of side stories
that seem like they might not fit in,
but in reality, they're commenting on the cultural values
and on the plot of the story itself.
Why is the story of Hildeburh
told in the middle of Beowulf?
What can the party tell us about Hrothgar's society?
How does Hrothgar's wife relate to Hildeburh?
What role do digressions play in an epic poem?
Yeah, it will make us yawn.