Gold from the (Word) Hoard (ll.3087-3100) [Old English]

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
Golden Standards
Treasured Retellings
Closing

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Abstract

Wiglaf relates how he gathered treasures from the hoard for Beowulf and what the warrior said to him in his grief.

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Translation

“‘I was in that place and looked over all that was there;
through that building of precious objects I had to clear a
path. Not at all in a friendly way was I granted passage
in the place under the mound. I in haste grasped
much in my hands of a mighty burden
of the hoarded treasures, out to here I carried it
away to my king. Alive was he yet,
wise and aware; a great many things
the old one said in grief, and ordered me to greet you,
ordered that you should build after the friendly lord’s
deeds a lofty barrow there in the place of the pyre,
mighty and renowned, just as he among men was,
worthiest warrior widely throughout the earth,
while he could enjoy the wealth of a stronghold.'”
(Beowulf ll.3087-3100)

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Recordings

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

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Treasured Retellings

Wiglaf’s account of going into the hoard and then bringing some treasures back to Beowulf in his final moments is straightforward and simple. As far as the retellings of events from the poem within the poem go, it might also be the most honest. However, as with the retellings that come up earlier in the poem, Wiglaf elaborates on what the poet originally told us.

Wiglaf points out, among the other details of his time in the hoard, that he met an unfriendly welcome going through it. The first reaction to this statement, the first imagining, is that this is a way of saying how rich the hoard is: There’s so much gold there that he had to wade through it to get to the things he took. But, bearing in mind the curse that the messenger mentioned earlier in the poem, maybe there’s more to Wiglaf’s addition than a comment on the hoard’s wealth.

Since Wiglaf is not the saviour of the Geats that passage into the hoard would truly herald, he has to struggle through some sort of invisible barrier to get into it. Of course, seeing nothing there, he would mention nothing of such magic. Indeed, he’d likely have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gold and treasure in the hoard, and would later ascribe his difficulty to having to wade through piles of heirlooms.

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Golden Standards

Along with his additions to the story he tells of the hoard, Wiglaf leaves out some details, as well. An obvious omission of his is of the things that he took from the hoard. As the poet noted between lines 73-75, he took some gold, cups, and a standard. The gold and cups are obvious choices. But the standard is a charged one.

First. whose standard was it? Why was it in the hoard? The answer to both is that it was the ancient people’s, and that it was put there because that people died out.

Could there be some sort of Anglo-Saxon belief that stealing another group’s standard without first besting them in battle?

Or does Wiglaf not mention it because he wants to keep himself blameless in the matter oft he Geats reaching the end of their time?

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Closing

Next week, Wiglaf gives the Geats directions regarding Beowulf’s funeral, after, of course, boastng a little more about the treasure in the hoard.

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