May 19, 2017 Eric Blauer

Beowulf and the search for glory

One of the themes I am thinking about as I work through Beowulf is ‘pride and humility’. At the heart of the story is a courageous hero taking on fiends and foe. Pause a bit to ask the question: “Why do we do what we do?”
 
Motivations of the righteous cause, the glory of conquest, survival, the honor of kings or gods, hubris or ambition? What propels someone into danger, war, business or position? Can one truly divide the tissues and ligaments, thought and intentions of one’s actions? Would anything of value be truly attempted if one was forced to weigh and dissect every ambition to the degree of a postmortem court?
 
These line in Beowulf, are rich with wisdom:
 
“I barely survived the battle under water.
It was hard-fought,
a desperate affair
that could have gone badly;
if God had not helped me,
the outcome would have been
quick and fatal.”
-Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation
 
“Defend thee from that deadly malice,
dear Beowulf, best of nights,
and choose for thyself the better part,
councils of everlasting worth;
countenance no pride,
O champion in thy renown!
Now for a little while thy valor is in flower,
but soon shall it be that sickness
or the sword rob thee of thy might,
or fire’s embrace,
or water’s wave,
or bite of blade,
or flight of spear,
or dreadful age;
or the flashing of thine eyes
shall fail and fade;
very soon ’twill come that thee,
proud knight,
shall death lay low.”
-Beowulf, J.R.R. Tolkien translation
 
The apostle Paul summed up his answer to the question this way:
 
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” -1 Corinthians 4:3-5
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About the Author

Eric Blauer I am barbarian, sage, saint, bard, husband and father. Bow my knee to only One, serve all, ruled by none.

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