Unferthâ€™s Challenge. Friday, September 11 th. Unferthâ€™s Challenge. In the section entitled â€œUnferthâ€™s Challenge,â€ Unferth (one of Hrothgarâ€™s men) accuses Beowulf of boasting.
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Friday, September 11th
In the section entitled “Unferth’s Challenge,” Unferth (one of Hrothgar’s men) accuses Beowulf of boasting.
Unferth’s challenge to the hero reveals additional traits of Beowulf (and the epic hero) such as honesty and self-restraint.
Unferth claims that Beowulf was defeated in a swimming match in his youth.
Beowulf responds with a tale-within-a-tale, which foreshadows his bravery in the battle with Grendel.
Beowulf recalls how he slew nine sea monsters and swam to safety.
Beowulf also notes that Unferth has not yet stopped Grendel from his beastly attacks, calling Unferth’s bravery into question.
Beowulf also notes that Unferth murdered his own kinsmen (“You murdered your brothers, your own close kin.”)
In terms of the Anglo Saxon code of wergild, there is no satisfactory way of repaying the murder of one’s own family. This act of Unferth’s would have classified him as a damned soul in the eyes of the Anglo Saxons.
Hrothgar and his queen, Welthow, toast Beowulf and his warriors for their bravery.
Hrothgar also announces that he will give Beowulf command of Herot in his battle against Grendel, and promises Beowulf great treasures if Beowulf can defeat the beast.