Preparing for his last battle, with the fiery dragon, Beowulf puts his trust in 11 of his finest men, retainers who have vowed to fight to the death for him.
Although the now elderly king insists on taking on the dragon alone, he brings along the 11 in case he needs them.
Now deceased, Ecgtheow had killed a leader of another tribe in a blood feud.
When the tribe sought vengeance, Hrothgar, then a young king, sheltered Beowulf's father and settled the feud by paying tribute (wergild) in the form of "fine old treasures" (472) to Ecgtheow's enemies. The tie between the families goes back many years, and Beowulf is proud to be able to lend his loyal services to Hrothgar.
Reputation is also the single quality that endures after death, his one key to immortality.
Beowulf Essays Essay On Rights Of Neighbours
That's why Beowulf later leaves the gold in the cave beneath the mere, after defeating the mother, preferring to return with Grendel's head and the magic sword's hilt rather than treasure.
He points out that he swam with Breca for five nights, not wanting to abandon the weaker boy.
Rough seas then drove them apart, and Beowulf had to kill nine sea monsters before going ashore in the morning.
However, we soon learn that a major motivation is a family debt that Beowulf owes to Hrothgar.
The young Geat is devoted to the old king because Hrothgar came to the assistance of Beowulf's father, Ecgtheow, years before.