He was called Wiglaf, son of Weohstan, A valued shied-warrior, and man of the Scylfings, A kinsman of Aelfhere.
The poet is introducing the last hero of the poem, the young warrior who is the only one of Beowulf’s men to come to his lord’s aid against the dragon. Wiglaf acts because he follows the warrior code of loyalty to his lord. As was the custom, the introduction begins with the young warrior’s kinship ties, which prove Wiglaf’s noble lineage.
They had felled their foe, bravely taking its life, and the two had together brought down the dragon, as noble kinsmen. Thus should a thane always act in time of need!
The poet has just described how Wiglaf plunged his sword into the dragon’s body, allowing Beowulf to kill the monster and thus get the glory for his final heroic act. The poet gives glory to both men, because they have acted correctly, fighting as kinsmen according to the heroic code.
Then the bold-spirited ruler removed from his neck a golden circlet, and gave it to his loyal thane, the young spear-warrior, also his gold-gleaming helmet, ring and coat of mail, commanding him to use them well.
The poet is describing the last moments of Beowulf’s life, in which the great hero clearly chooses Wiglaf as his successor. Beowulf bestows armor on Wiglaf, just as the aging Hrothgar once bestowed armor on him. The character of Wiglaf echoes Beowulf’s own character as a young man.
Let the bier be prepared, quickly made ready, when we come out of the hoard, and then bear away our beloved chieftain, our dear king and comrade, where he will long remain In the protection of the all-powerful Ruler.
Wiglaf is speaking to Beowulf’s men and to all the nobles of the kingdom and taking charge of the arrangements for Beowulf’s funeral. The poet implies that Wiglaf is now the leader of the kingdom, at least temporarily replacing Beowulf. As he directs the traditional funeral ceremonies, Wiglaf also acknowledges the Christian god who will now protect Beowulf’s soul.
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