Warrior Societies In Beowulf

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The epic poem, Beowulf written by an unknown author deals with warrior societies, which are societies where the relationship between a lord and his thanes, or warriors, is invaluable and grounded on mutual dependence. However, with these warrior societies comes war between societies. These wars are waged anytime, anywhere, and potentially over anything that is found to be valuable to one or both of the opposing clans. These wars are waged in societies where war is seen as a justified and noble thing to do. However, through several instances of war in Beowulf, including the avenging of a fallen kinsman, the wreaking of havoc on a broken clan of people, and the reclaiming of stolen merchandise, it can be seen that war is neither a noble nor…show more content…
People, more than often women, are seen as merchandise in these warrior societies, and are given as tokens of peace; the name peace-weaver describes women in many of these warrior societies. “Ongentheow /Old and terrible…saved his own aged wife…/and kept hard on heels of the foe…” (2924, 2930- 2931, 2933) A war had reignited due to a king (Ongentheow) taking back what was stolen from him. Even though, he may have deserved it by the standards of warrior societies in the time period, because of the chaos his son’s caused after the Geat’s lost their king Hethrel. Breaking the peace that was thought to be between the Geats and Swedes, war again is chosen over peace. War is exacted as revenge for revenge that was exacted over a war that was started out of hate, and just like that a continuous cycle of war begins. “…the king (Ongentheow) collapsed/…sheared of life” (2980, 2981) Ongentheow is killed in revenge for the slaying of Haethcyn, kinsmen to Hygelac, just a continuation of the cycle. Although not directly stated in the poem, peace is eventually found between the Swedes and the Geats as alluded to by Wiglaf. “‘Nor do I expect peace or pact –keeping of any sort from the Swedes.’” (2922-23) Despite peace being reached, there is no trust between the nations because like before Ongentheow breaks the peace by slaughtering Haethcyn and reclaiming his wife. The war between the dragon and the Geats is also…show more content…
With these causes, war is chosen more than peace, and often found as a noble and justified thing to do; however, it can be concluded that war cannot be justified and is not a noble deed. War especially cannot be justified if the option of peace is never explored nor ever acted upon. Although war is not a noble deed, in the time period for the warrior societies in Beowulf, war often lost its nobility because of the wreaking of havoc when a nation suffers a lost and the breaking of pacts and peace agreements, due to a nation’s being in weak state, especially after the loss of a leader. War is a force to be reckoned with and a force that in Beowulf prevailed over all other options of negotiation between clans of
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