Scyld, Beowulfs father, did nothave a son for many years. God saw the misery that would befall the Danish nationif Scyld were to die and leave his country leaderless, so God provided Scyld withBeowulf. Afterward, Beowulf rules the Danes for many years. Then his son,Healfdene, becomes ruler, and he has four sons and a daughter. One of Healfdenessons, Hrothgor, although not the eldest, eventually becomes king of the Danesbecause of his loyal courage and success in battle, and his band of warriorsincreases as his reputation for success and fairness grows throughout the land;eventually, he builds up a fierce army. Grendel, not only a monster in human-like shape, but he is also a descendant ofCain.
He lives under an inherited curse and is denied Gods presence. Eventually,reports of Grendels bloodthirsty raids reach King Hygelacs court in Geatland. Soon afterward, Hygelacs nephew Beowulf announces that he will sail toHrothgars kingdom and offer help. He sets out immediately, sailing across the seawith fourteen carefully chosen thanes. Arriving at the Danish shore, Beowulf and hismen give thanks to God for a safe journey, then come ashore. They are greeted byHrothgars coastal guard, who expresses surprise at the Geats brazenness,commenting particularly on Beowulfs formidable and princely bearing.
Beowulf emerges triumphant and swims ashore, carrying the hilt of the giantsword and Grendels huge head. The Geats cluster about him, thanking God, andafter impaling Grendels heavy head on a spear, four men carry it back to Heorot. AtHeorot, they drag the head across the floor for all to see, while Beowulf relates thestory of his fight beneath the water, referring to Grendels mother as the enemy ofGod. Beowulfs moral greatness is enhanced by contrasting his refusal of the throneto Hrothulfs display of ingratitude to Hrothgars kindness when he later lays hold ofthe Danish throne. Beowulf rules wisely for fifty years without war or disruption of peace.
As awarrior, he is incredibly gentle, the mildest of men, and most civil. The peace of thekingdom is destroyed only when the enraged dragon roars through the Geatshomeland, burning homes and destroying their mead hall. Beowulfs first thought isthat he himself may have sinned, or broken an ancient law, and the dragon has beensent as Gods punishment. With superior forces like God and the heroic deeds madeby Beowulf, then one can truly say they understand and respect loyalty. .