Throughout literature, many writers have alluded to stories in the Bible. Whether it’s from the Old Testament or the New Testament, biblical references have been used to enhance storylines. Beowulf is no exception, as it makes several allusions to the Old Testament and even provides a possible explanation for Grendel’s attack on Heorot. After Beowulf defeats Grendel and his mother, Beowulf has twelve years of peace and happiness with King Hrothgar and Queen Wealtheow before Grendel’s Mother attacks Heorot Hall again.
Beowulf decides to track down Grendel’s mother once more to stop her attacks on Heorot Hall. Beowulf comes across an underwater lake where he sees Grendel’s mother taking Grendels’ body to the lake. Beowulf swims to where Grendel’s mother is and kills her, thus ending the attacks on Heorot Hall once more. Beowulf then returns home to tell his king of Grendel’s Mother’s death, but he finds that his kingdom has been taken over by a dragon who was attracted by Beowulf’s fame. Beowulf decides to seek out this dragon to take back what was rightfully his.
Beowulf discovers the Dragon sleeping in “a rock-fissure deep within a mountain cave, under an iron-cliff, locked fast with towering rocks. The air itself oppressed him like liquid lead; never before had Beowulf seen or heard of anything so terrible. ” Beowulf goes to his king for help but is told that anyone who enters the cave will die, thus Beowulf must fight the dragon by himself. Beowulf slays the Dragon with a sword that was given to him by his son who Beowulf decided not have become another warrior because Beowulf would most likely be killed one day.
Beowulf then returns home with this sword and presents it to his king which allows Beowulf’s kingdom to once again prosper. The first biblical reference can be found in Beo 3176-3183 during Beowulf’s battle with Grendel’s Mother where she tears Beowulf’s arm off. Beowulf tells his men to get Grendel’s Mother away from him so he can fight her by himself, but Beowulf is tired and cannot defeat Grendel’s mother on his own. Beowulf then asks God for help to defeat her which allows him to triumph over Grendel’s mother once more. Beo 3311-3313 states “The Lord of Men heard my need; the Eternal Lord came at my entreaty.
The warlord granted that I could vanquish this monster, kill the evil spirit. And I shall not die in dishonor! On that headland where we grappled, hand locked in hand, I shall build a memorial. ” Beowulf calls upon God to help him win the battle, which is the first Old Testament allusion within Beowulf. Beo 3201-220 states “ Beowulf spake, bairn of Ecgtheow:- ‘Lo! now, southland men, friends of my folk, ye may see with your eyes how the Almighty Lord hath blessed me; that monster beneath the earth through my war-skill; wide flowed the stream of his blood.
And today let our King Higlac greet me well after this victorious toil; treasure like this should be given by proud kin to earls who are fighting for them. Be thou gracious and grant Grendel’s kindred no more such attacks; nor Beowulf any longer his baleful deeds, O Ruler of Glory! Now I have warred for you and furnished you with peace: let me go to my home and rest among the friends who know me! ” Beowulf fought the dragon alone as he had fought Grendel’s mother.
Beo 3641 states “Heed thou, Hrothgar! Further, I seek not from strength to succor thee, though in wrestling I mastered the monster, made him atone for offending. — The feud thou dost follow, this fight hast won. — Thou shalt not need from a friend like me to seek for safety! ” Beowulf is fighting off another attacker who happens to be a dragon, so he requests aid from his king to help him kill the dragon. Beowulf has been very grateful to Beowulf for giving Beowulf treasure and allowing Beowulf’s kingdom to flourish once more and Beowulf returns that gratitude by fighting off this new attack, which Beowulf can do successfully.
The second Old Testament allusion can be found in Beo 3365-3369 during Beowulf’s fight with the dragon where the sword fails him and Beowulf knows that death is near. Beo 3370 states “His brand had failed; his hand was too weak, nor might he smite again! Nor did his war-sword avail against that fated dragon. Beowulf spake in the bitterness of his soul, as his bosom swelled- Beowulph’s last words:- ‘I have lived through many winters, a life of battle and deeds! Now I yield me to Fate… From a warrior thou camest: take now my heirloom, hardy hero!
Be safe going home; ponder well what has happened! ” Beowulf’s sword fails him again and he knows that death is near. Beo 3331 states “More deadly it seemed than common fire could be”-the dragon’s breath was hotter than brimstone” Beo 3368 states “The breath coiling upwards from that foul den, loathly fire, hot fumes, welled blood-red out of the dragon. ” Beowulf knows that death is near and Beowulf leaves his heirloom to Wiglaf who Beowulf believes will be an excellent king. Beo 3392 states “My days now are ended.
I am gray in war songs; old age has come on me as an evil warrior conquering all things! ” Beowulf is dying because the dragon’s breath was more deadly than anything Beowulf had ever experienced before and Beo 3394-3395 states “I am doomed after long woes to perish by the fire of this treasure-hoard fought for in vain: so my life must end. ” Beowulf is fighting off another attacker who happens to be a dragon, so Beowulf seeks comfort in his death by pointing out that Beowulf will die from old age instead of at the hands of an enemy.
Beo 3427-3428 states “The guardian of treasures stood against him; he was wroth with him for waging war, and by not yielding he learned how the firm was his spirit. Beowulf gave him no gold rings or riches: yea, his breast within was all full of this one thought alone-“to greet life no more” Beo 3429-3431 states “He had lived long years through many battles… But there is a Ruler over the race of men wielded sway on high, who on the assemblies of the earth hath fixed the habitations of heroes.
Beowulf is dying because Beowulf fought a guardian of treasures even though Beo 3432-3435 states Beowulf “held his own before him with strength and hand. ’ Beo 3433 states “Long as I have been Lord over folk in this generation, long as my valor held its place, so widely extended this kinsman’s glory, many peoples’ praise. Now I give up that riches to thee! So take it joyfully! ” Beowulf has lived a long life and Beo has won many fights for his king and kingdom until now Beo is fighting a powerful enemy where he will lose.