Beowulf: Introduction to Chapter 24

Beowulf summoned no great army to aid him, as he prepared to confront the dragon that had burned his hall and ravaged his land. His courage was undaunted; he had never faltered before a challenge. In his life he had confronted many monsters, and many armies of men, and had been there when his king, Hygelac, and later Hygelac’s son, was slain. Yet Beowulf had survived it all; so he took with him only eleven warriors, an iron shield, and the thief that had first disturbed the dragon’s hoard as a guide. Still, he sensed his death was near, and as he contemplated the dragon’s barrow, he spoke to his companions of the death of one of his foster brothers when he was a child, and the mourning of any father that loses a son.