Examples Of Commitatus In Beowulf

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Comitatus, the sharing of wealth and power between a king and his subjects, is a tradition often performed in Beowulf. However, the men and warriors also fight for their own status and power. The traditions of comitatus and the desire for personal glory are opposing views that also complement each other in Beowulf. Comitatus is a practice the Anglo-Saxons and warriors in Beowulf wholly believed in. This is seen whenever a king or leader conquered an enemy and received their riches from their warriors after a battle. For example, just after Beowulf defeats Grendel’s mother, he “gave the golden sword hilt/ To Hrothgar” in a display of his allegiance to the king (“Grendel’s Mother” 332-333). This sharing in the riches supports the practice that warriors and kings divided the treasure amongst…show more content…
While searching for the fame of killing Grendel, Beowulf ultimately “purges all evil from this hall” of Herot, where the Danes would have been unprotected (“Beowulf” 27). This supports the idea that Beowulf’s quest for glory also benefits the whole kingdom because the people are no longer threatened by Grendel. Moreover, it allows for everyone to benefit from the success, which can be considered a form of comitatus. Armies also relied on the desire for glory to keep them together. When Beowulf is fighting the fire dragon, “only one of them (his men)/ Remained, stood there… Remembering, what kinship should be” (“The Fire Dragon” 136-139). The one man who remained, Higlac, stood there out of duty to Beowulf. Higlac later received glory for his brave actions, when Beowulf chose him to be the next king of the Geats. This is how comradery and comitatus can create the fulfillment of glory as well. Comitatus and kinsmanship, along with the desire for fame, power, and status, are opposite and contracting ideas, yet are complementing aspects of society in the poem of

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