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Chapter Summary

Beowulf depicts how self-restraint directed by social responsibility should always balance power, so that arrogance will not distort ones promise. The political message of Beowulf implies that the boundary between appropriate and excessive action must be gauged by the exercise of humility. A sacral kingship has been theorized prior to the Migration era, but historians have concurred that Migration-era Germanic kingship entailed power-sharing that made politician soldiers (militarily successful representatives of dominant tribes) into kings, loosely defined. Humility earned Gods special protection by implying the kings Christian moral behavior, the wages of divine favor. Beowulf centers precisely on the fulfilment of a heroic aptitude, because political leadership rests on the cultivation of personal values or character. The multivalent attitudes occasioned by internal and external perspectives constitute only one source of narrative complexity in Beowulf.

Keywords: Beowulf; Germanic kingship; migration era; political leadership



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