Hrothgar, the aged ruler of the Danes who accepts Beowulf’s help in the first part of the story, aids Beowulf’s development into maturity. Hrothgar is a relatively static character, a force of stability in the social realm. Although he is as solidly rooted in the heroic code as Beowulf is, his old age and his experience with both good and ill fortune have caused him to develop a more reflective attitude toward heroism than Beowulf possesses. He is aware of both the privileges and the dangers of power, and he warns his young protégé not to give in to pride and always to remember that blessings may turn to grief. Hrothgar’s meditations on heroism and leadership, which take into account a hero’s entire life span rather than just his valiant youth, reveal the contrast between youth and old age that forms the turning point in Beowulf’s own development.
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