King Hrothgar in Beowulf: Hrothgar's Speech to Beowulf in Hall of Heorot

Updated on September 29, 2016
King Hrothgar from the movie Beowulf, starring Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie
King Hrothgar from the movie Beowulf, starring Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie | Source

Analysis of Hrothgar's speech to Beowulf


The story of Beowulf was written somewhere between the 8th and 10th century by the Anglo Saxon people in the midlands of England. England at this time had not yet completed its Christian conversion, retaining aspects of Anglo Saxon warrior culture up until the beginning of the middle ages, and reflected their cultural norms in their stories. The pagan warrior-king lie at the heart of their society. Warrior-kings with unmatched strength and bravery ruled their kingdoms. They defended their people from all outside forces.To become a leader in this warrior-king culture meant to be the strongest, bravest, most fearless warrior. These aspects were backed up with dramatic speeches and flyting, an exchange of verbal insults meant to highlight a warriors feats.

King Hrothgar

King Hrothgar foreshadows Beowulf`s death. Beowulf and Hrothgar share many qualities, but Hrothgar's speech in the Hall of Heorot warns him of his excessive pride, called hubris, which Hrothgar recognizes as Beowulf`s fatal flaw.

Hrothgar was a wise and worthy king

Hrothgar accepted the help of Beowulf, who defeated the monster Grendel and his mother in epic feats of strength and bravery, and saved Heorot from ruin. Hrothgar spoke with an insight that only true wisdom could foster. This is vital in pagan warrior culture. The speech to Beowulf in Heorot at the final celebration before Beowulf returned home highlights Hrothgar's status as an eloquent speaker. But more vital to the story, Hrothgar's speech foreshadows Beowulf`s lack of character and his eventual death.

Hrothgar's speech to Beowulf

After Beowulf slayed the second threat to Heorot, Hrothgar put on another celebration replete with alcohol, flyting and dramatic speeches, and took the opportunity to give one of the most important speeches of the epic. The following excerpt is taken from The Norton Anthology of English Literature (lines 1758 to 1768):

"O flower of warriors, beware of that trap.

Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part,

eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride.

For a brief while your strength is in bloom

but fades quickly; and soon there will follow

illness or the sword to lay you low,

or a sudden fire or surge of water

or jabbing blade or javelin from the air

or repellent age. Your piercing eye

will dim and darken; and death will arrive,

dear warrior, to sweep you away

A breakdown of these lines points to the true nature of Beowulf's Character.

Analysis of Hrothgar's speech to Beowulf

Hrothgar understands hubris

When Hrothgar told Beowulf to 'beware of that trap", Hrothgar was referring to hubris. Hubris is excessive pride that represents a lack of moral virtue in Beowulf's character. Beowulf was undoubtedly a brave warrior. He saved Heorot twice, in epic fashion, from monsters that no one else could defeat These abilities of warriors are the "flower" that represents the full bloom of their abilities. But as a wise and worthy warrior-king, Hrothgar understood that hubris was a tragic flaw.

Hrothgar's speech foreshadows Beowulf's death

Hrothgar understood that Beowulf`s impressive strength was fleeting when he said, "For a brief while your strength is in bloom,but fades quickly". This strength faded in Hrothgar and was the reason he needed Beowulf to save Heorot from the monsters. Far from showing an inability to protect his people from outside forces, Hrothgar showed great moderation in his pride because he knew that his strength had waned in his old age. Hrothgar knew that Beowulf`s strength was going to slowly whither and wanted to warn Beowulf. "Soon there will follow ...[a] repellent age. Your piercing eye will dim and darken; and death will arrive,dear warrior, to sweep you away", Hrothgar proclaimed. And when the story ends this repellent age, a distasteful reality that Beowulf refused to admit, swept him away.

Beowulf`s Death

In the final lines of the story, as Beowulf had aged, he was put in the same predicament as Hrothgar but did not take the same course of action, a choice that would lead to Beowulf's death. A terrible dragon was threatening his kingdom and Beowulf had to act. He did not head Hrothgar's speech. He felt that he needed to defeat the dragon by himself, Something that he could have done in his youth but could not do in his old age. He slayed the dragon but was wounded and died. As a result, he left his kingdom without a king.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)