The Geats return to Heorot, where Beowulf presents the head and the hilt to Hrothgar. Hrothgar marvels at the runes on the hilt, which must have been made by giants. He praises Beowulf for his great courage. He repeats the story of evil King Heremod for Beowulf, then advises him on how to be a good king. We learn that Hrothgar has ruled for fifty years. He thanks God for protecting the Danes, and then calls for another feast. They party until late, and again the warriors all sleep in the darkness.
The next morning brings no slaughter, thankfully. Beowulf and his company wish to hurry back to their own land. Beowulf returns Hrunting to Unferth and thanks him kindly.
Before leaving, Beowulf thanks Hrothgar for the treasures, and he offers the help of the Geats if the Danes should ever need it. Hrothgar thanks Beowulf and predicts that the boy will become a great hero-king. As he watches the Geats pack up, Hrothgar wishes that Beowulf could stay. We learn that Hrothgar lived the rest of his days as a good king until he died.
The story recounted on the hilt of the sword is that of Noah’s Great Flood as recorded in Genesis. This reinforces the constant emphasis on water that has been shown throughout the poem. The Flood narrative has a special relevance here. We are reminded of the fate of all Cain’s previous descendants in that great flood; again his descendants (Grendel and Grendel’s mother) have met the same fate by dying in a watery grave. However, this curses the waters for menfrom this point, man’s travel by water will be doomed, leading to war and death.
Unferth has cleaned up his act, as we have seen in the sections after the boasting contest. He has seen the awe of Grendel’s hand; he has graciously given Beowulf a sword to defeat Grendel’s mother. In this last meeting, Beowulf and Unferth can meet as equal warriors,as they have both done noble things.
Events useful for understanding the fall of the Danes and the Geats are set up here. Beowulf’s offer of help for the Danes will be acknowledged, but the Geats will be powerless to stop the enemy. For now, this offer of help to the Danes is another part of the warrior code; one should give aid to those that have aided him.
Hrothgar’s rule will be a guide for Beowulf’s own rule as a king. Like Hrothgar, Beowulf will rule for fifty years and be venerated as a good king.