, Volume 92, Issue 2, pp 333-338
Date: 08 Sep 2007

Beowulf 3074–75: Beowulf Appraises His Reward

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Beowulf 3074–75 has been construed as confirmation of God’s grace for a man ‘eager for gold’ (Klaeber), an invitation to consider Beowulf’s dragon-killing sacrificial (Smithers), and an indictment of Beowulf’s greed (Stanley). John Tanke’s recent work on the passage offers significant new readings, and some of these have been adopted by R. D. Fulk. Working from Tanke’s interpretation, I suggest that that Beowulf merely appraises the treasure Wiglaf has brought from the barrow. Since he is dying, Beowulf stares at this wealth more keenly than he had ever examined any other reward in the past. This appraisal evokes an ambivalence and invites an observer’s assessment of Beowulf’s deeds in the dragon fight.