Is Hrothgar motivating Beowulf with death?

Introduction
Synopsis
The Original Old English
My Translation
A Quick Question
Closing

A scop sings his boasts, just like Beowulf does before Hrothgar.

Image found at http://bit.ly/2jumA3j


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Introduction

Unfortunately this week’s been a little too hectic for me to make time for a full translation post. Instead of skipping a week though, here is my translation of the next part of Beowulf.


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Synopsis

Hrothgar makes the moral of his story loud and clear for Beowulf.


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The Original Old English

“‘Bebeorh þe ðone bealonið, Beowulf leofa,
secg betsta, ond þe þæt selre geceos,
ece rædas; oferhyda ne gym,
mære cempa. Nu is þines mægnes blæd
ane hwile. Eft sona bið
þæt þec adl oððe ecg eafoþes getwæfeð,
oððe fyres feng, oððe flodes wylm,
oððe gripe meces, oððe gares fliht,
oððe atol yldo; oððe eagena bearhtm
forsiteð ond forsworceð; semninga bið
þæt ðec, dryhtguma, deað oferswyðeð.'”
(Beowulf ll.1758-1768)


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My Translation

“‘Guard against such evil hostility, dear Beowulf,
best of men, and be sure to make the better choice:
eternal gain; be not intent on pride,
oh renowned warrior! Now is your power prospering
for but a short while; soon will either
illness or the blade deprive you of that strength,
or the grip of flames, or the surging waters,
or an attack by sword, or the flight of spears,
or terrible old age, or the light of your eyes
will fail and grow dim; presently such will come
upon you, oh lord of battle, and death will overpower you.'”
(Beowulf ll.1758-1768)


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A Quick Question

A lot of people take the inevitability of their own death as a major inspiration to get on with what they want to do with their lives. Steve Jobs, for example, used his mortality as a way to figure out if what he was doing was what he truly wanted to (he suggests was “meant” to do) on what sounds like a daily basis. At least that’s the impression I get from the speech quoted in this article.

Although Hrothgar’s list of all the ways Beowulf could eventually die is a little gloomy and seems very melancholic do you think he’s doing the same thing here? Is he trying to motivate Beowulf to live each day to the fullest? Or is he just trying to remind Beowulf that he won’t live forever?

Let me know in the comments!


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Closing

Next week Hrothgar gives a recap of the whole poem so far — from his perspective.

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