Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators
Unit Six: Treebeard's Lament
Beowulf Comes to Heorot
The stone-paved road guided the Geats to Heorot, the golden hall. Their bright corselets shone; the hard rings of their hand-forged mail clinked and sang as they strode along.
Reaching the hall, weary from sea-voyaging, they set their shields and bucklers along the wall, then sat on benches as their mail shirts, fine gear of warriors, clanged. Stacked straight together stood their spears of ash, tipped with gray iron. They were an honorably weaponed warrior band.
Then noble Wulfgar, Hrothgar's herald, asked them from where they came, bearing burnished shields, grim helmets, and coats of iron. He said he had never seen so bold a company of strangers; plainly they were not exiles, but valorous adventurers of great prowess come to seek Hrothgar.
The proud earl of Geats, their helmeted war-leader, answered, "We are Hygelac's hall-companions; Beowulf is my name. I seek to tell your famous king, the son of Halfdane, of my mission, if he will grant us grace to greet his good self now."
Said Wulfgar the Vendel chieftain, whose courage and wise counsel were renowned, "I will tell the king of Danes, friend of Scyldings, Giver-of-Rings, most noble ruler, of your journey here, as you've requested, and swiftly bring the answer that he may deign to give."
Wulfgar went in haste to his master, to where the old, white-haired Hrothgar sat with his earls around him, and stood before his king. The stout thane was a good courtier, saying, "Men of the Geats have come from across the sea, my lord, and their leader is named Beowulf. They ask to speak with you; please donít refuse to hear them, gracious Hrothgar! They appear to be worthy warriors; their chief is most surely a hero who has led his men to us."
Hrothgar, protector of Scyldings, answered, "Yes! I knew him in his youth . . . "
* * *
Geats = Beowulf's tribe, possibly from southwestern Sweden, sometimes identified as the Gautar, Getae, or Goths
corselet = armored breastplate; here, a shirt of chain mail
Vendel = another Swedish tribe, possibly the Vandals
deign = condescend, see fit
earl = Old English eorl, a chieftain
thane = warrior serving a lord, ranked between an earl and an ordinary free man
courtier = member of a king's or other court
stout = strong, brave, dauntless
Scylding(s)= Sheafing(s), the Danish royal house
* * *
(prose adaptation of Part V of Beowulf, from the poetic translation by Francis B. Gummere; original text in the public domain)
Unit Six Content
Comments for Teachers