Quotes in Beowulf

Below are several of the most famous quotes from Beowulf. Each has an accompanying annotation with analysis.

Quotes Examples in Beowulf:

XXII 2

"Practice thou now patient endurance           Of each of thy sorrows..."   (XXII)

Beowulf's speech to Hrothgar in this passage represents an important shift in his character. Whereas previously Hrothgar gave guidance and consolation, he has switched roles with Beowulf, emphasizing Beowulf's growing influence as a leader in his own right.

""Grieve not, O wise one! for each it is better,           His friend to avenge than with vehemence wail him;..."   (XXII)

Beowulf reaffirms his own values and the values of the culture at the time. Vengeance of a friend or loved one is the appropriate response, not mourning. He is not only reminding Hrothgar of this, but he is also consoling Hrothgar and vowing to kill Grendel's mother. Beowulf's values underscore a major theme in the play: the importance of being honorable through glory and valor.

"I shall gain me glory, or grim-death shall take me...."   (XXIII)

This famous quote has varied from translation to translation. Notably, in Seamus Heaney’s translation, this quote by Beowulf simply reads “I shall gain glory or die.”