what does the dragon guarding the hoard of gold represent

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What does the dragon guarding the hoard of gold represent

That's a hint: dragons usually symbolize greed, violence, murder, and other scary things that are hard to keep under control. The treasure itself represents a whole heap of heartache: in it, there's likely to be treasures from lost civilizations, failing dynasties think Hrothgar and family , and truly unlucky warriors.

Though he may be symbolic in many ways, the dragon is also a "real" creature in Grendel. So real, in fact, that Grendel can barely control his bladder when he seems him:. Vast, red-golden, huge tail coiled, limbs sprawled over his treasure-hoard, eyes not fiery but cold as the memory of family deaths The color of his sharp scales darkened and brightened as the dragon inhaled and exhaled slowly, drawing new air across his vast internal furnace; his razorsharp tusks gleamed and glinted as if they, too, like the mountain beneath him, were formed of precious stones and metals.

In short, Grendel's dragon is elemental, massive, invincible—totally scary. In an ironic twist, Grendel can hardly pay attention to the "wisdom" that the creature wants to give him, because he's so entranced by sight of the dragon's body. It's another way in which Gardner is trying to play with the idea of the monstrous: Grendel is too afraid of the dragon to listen to anything he has to say, just as the humans are too afraid of Grendel to listen to anything he has to say.

We don't get any backstory on Grendel's dragon, because we don't need it. Gardner is using the dragon as shorthand for the misery of existence—the kind of misery that can lead to the depressing philosophies and appalling social manners he ends up sharing with Grendel. In this sense, the dragon is not only a huge, frightening freak of nature: he's also a state of mind. Remember how Grendel gets to the dragon's lair?

He doesn't break out the GPS and hit "Favorite Places": "I made my mind a blank and fell, sank away like a stone through earth and sea, toward the dragon" Moving toward the dragon is as much a psychological journey as it is a physical one. Grendel may be in the right mood to take advice from the dragon, but Gardner wants us to be more careful. The dragon might use big words, and he might have the gift of prophecy and a lot of ready cash, but what does it all boil down to?

The best the dragon can hope for, in the end, is to count all his useless junk and arrange it into piles like some kind of demonic Martha Stewart. Parents Home Homeschool College Resources. Study Guide. Beowulf had brought his king Horses and treasure—as a man must, Not weaving nets of malice for his comrades, Preparing their death in the dark, with secret, Cunning tricks. Related Characters: Beowulf.

For ten long days they made his monument, Sealed his ashes in walls as straight And high as wise and willing hands could raise them And the treasures they'd taken were left there too, Ground back in the earth. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.

Prologue Lines 1— When Scyld dies, he is laid to rest in a ship filled with treasure and set out to sea. In this way, the narrator notes, his life ends just Hrothgar is successful in battle, and gains followers and treasure. He constructs Heorot, the most magnificent mead-hall ever built, and a good place to feast, Grendel Attacks Lines 86— Hrothgar can neither make Beowulf Arrives Lines — Hrothgar after Ecgtheow killed Heatholaf of the Wylfings.

Hrothgar purchased peace from the Wylfings with treasure , and Ecgtheow swore an oath of loyalty to Hrothgar. Celebration Lines — He proclaims that Beowulf is now like a son to him, and reward s him with treasure. Hrothgar adds that it is "through the Lord's might" that Beowulf was At the feast, Hrothgar gives Beowulf gifts ranging from gold to horses to weapons. He also gives gifts to Beowulf's men, and After the song, Wealhtheow, Hrothgar's queen, offers the gold mead cup to Hrothgar and tells him to be generous to Beowulf and the other Hrothgar says he must depend on Beowulf a second time, and offers him treasure to kill Grendel's mother and end the feud.

A Second Fight Lines — Beowulf asks Hrothgar to protect his Geat companions and send the treasure he's won to Hygelac, should he fail to return from the fight with Grendel's mother New Celebration Lines — At Heorot, Beowulf presents the head and sword hilt to Hrothgar. He describes his fight with Grendel's mother, saying that "the fight would have Hrothgar tells Beowulf that he will reward him for his courage as he promised, and compares Beowulf's wisdom and generosity favorably to Hrothgar gives Beowulf twelve more gifts , and begins to weep with the knowledge that he will not see Beowulf again.

At the coast, the Geats greet and reward the watchman for guarding their ship, and sail toward the hall of Hygelac. Beowulf at Home Lines — The narrator states that Hygd is a good queen, generous with gifts , in contrast to another queen, Modthryth. When Modthryth was young, if anyone but her lord After finishing his story, Beowulf turns over most of his treasure of armor, weapons, gold , and horses to Hygelac and Hygd.

In addition he gives Wealhtheow's In order to acknowledge and reward Beowulf's loyalty and bravery, Hygelac gives Beowulf numerous gifts , including a magnificent sword that belonged The Dragon Lines — The dragon guards an underground barrow full of treasure , which is accessible only by a secret passage. One day a slave, fleeing a beating, The narrator explains that this particular barrow was the treasure of a lost tribe.

Long ago the last living man of the tribe placed his The dragon discovered the treasure sometime later, and guarded it in peace for the three hundred years. But when the Facing the Dragon Lines — Geats carrying the armor of thirty men on his back. In Geatland, Hygd offered Beowulf treasure and rulership of the kingdom, fearing that her son Heardred was too young to rule Beowulf tells also how he repaid Hygelac's gifts of treasure and land with loyal service, not only leading Hygelac's warriors into battle, but

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From The Hobbit :. Dragons steal gold and jewels , you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live which is practically forever, unless they are killed , and never enjoy a brass ring of it.

Indeed they hardly know a good bit of work from a bad, though they usually have a good notion of the current market value; and they can't make a thing for themselves, not even mend a little loose scale of their armour. There was a most specially greedy , strong and wicked worm called Smaug.

Dragons are simply greedy by nature, and that combined with an inability to "make a thing for themselves" has apparently driven them to horde precious items made by others. Aside from dragons gathering treasure being a generic mythology trope e. Fafnir's hoard, which Tolkien would have been well aware of , an in-universe explanation is also appropriate.

Dragons in Tolkien do gather treasure; his other major dragon from the legends of the First Age - Glaurung - did the very same after he sacked Nargothrond - piled up all the treasure and sat on it. In the Third Age Scatha the Worm is also mentioned as having a hoard, which led to a fued between the Northmen and the Dwarves the horn that Merry was given is mentioned as having come from this hoard.

As creatures of Morgoth there is very likely an element of his spirit in them this is nowhere confirmed in canon, but I'm imagining Morgoth feeding reptiles to create dragons in much the same way as he fed a wolf to create Carcaroth, although their obvious intelligence and sentience suggests a possible Maiar source I'm deliberately ignoring the Lost Tales concept of dragons here ; either way we don't know and we've moved away from the topic a bit now ; when Morgoth lusted after and stole the Silmarils from Formenos, he also took a lot of other jewels with him, which he also did not need and which he begrudged having to feed to Ungoliant.

So there's a clear element of basic avarice, especially avarice for items one does not actually need, running through Morgoth and his dragons. Collecting something you value is an intrinsically motivated act. You build up a collection of things you enjoy purely because you enjoy them. The opinions of others have no impact. To collect something valued by others shows extrinsic motivation. Not only do you deprive others of the contents of your collection, but by gaining their admiration or envy, you gain power over them.

Tolkien's day job was as a teacher of Old English literature, among other things. The dragon emerged and devastation ensued. Eventually the dragon is slain, but the hero dies. The idea of dragonish desire for treasure was certainly present in literature before AD, and was also picked up in C.

Lewis' Voyage of the Dawn-Treader. Perhaps it was all metaphorical for humans with an overwhelming lust for glittery stuff. We all know some bling-heads! They probably had them back then too. Some of the Anglo-Saxon gold-work with enameling and carnelian insets are unbelievably intricate and beautiful, check the Sutton Hoo treasure on google images.

I can see why dragons would covet it. There are a lot of scholarly articles on the dragons of Old English literature, try google scholar. The bibliographies of a few articles should get you on the road to a better answer. Not a Tolkien source, but I fondly remember the explanation used in The Flight of Dragons , a favorite movie when I was a boy. Breathing fire, dragons tend to burn up bedding made from conventional materials. They make their beds of gold as it is a softer metal that won't ignite.

Wikia states no Tolkien quote that there was one side benefit to the hoarding possibly not intentional - the jewels stuck to Smaug's scales when he was lying atop of his treasure, making him even less vulnerable to damage than scales alone. A collection is meant to get the attention of mates and show that he is strong enough to collect it.

That's the way it works for many birds. Some grow tail feathers that are counter productively long in a display that says that he is strong enough to fly even with those 2 foot long feathers. Bird songs also show that the bird has the energy to chirp all day long and is in a good enough position that they don't have to fear predators. However, it is possible that the reason why Smaug is so grumpy is that lady dragons would prefer collections of something useful like food sources or defenses for hatchlings.

Smaug may be so invested in this method of attracting a mate that, since it doesn't seem to be working, he just tries harder at it. I totally am. Imagine collecting Star Wars stuff. That never works. However, my collection of Babylon 5 stuff totally worked. For the same reason people need gems, diamonds, gold, oil, watches, luxury racing cars, houses with 25 rooms and 5 bathrooms.

Dragons are very much like humans, greedy. I dunno. The Tolkien explanation is fine and all, based on historical literature. I've even read online that Tolkien had elements of the dragons reproducing on their own to some extent. As is the basic drive of almost every living thing in our world. Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Stack Overflow for Teams — Collaborate and share knowledge with a private group.

Create a free Team What is Teams? Learn more. Why did Smaug gather a treasure of gold and other precious objects? Ask Question. Asked 8 years, 8 months ago. Active 1 year, 10 months ago. Viewed 34k times. Why did Smaug gather his treasure? Improve this question. DavRob60 DavRob60 But I think there might be a deeper reason.

No matter how dragons originally came to being, they would undoubtedly have been influenced by Morgoth. It just might be that their obsession with treasures they could not make for themselves are an effect of this influence. Why Do Dragons Hoard Treasure?

Thorin describes the conundrum pretty well himself, saying Dragons steal gold and jewels, you know, from men and elves and dwarves, wherever they can find them; and they guard their plunder as long as they live which is practically forever, unless they are killed , and never enjoy a brass ring of it.

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Dragons in stories like Beowulf or The Saga of the Volsung or Grendel , for that matter are not a cause for reverence and celebration. Wherever there's a dragon guarding a hoard, there's intense suffering and death.

That's because a dragon is never just a dragon: he's a highly symbolic character in myth. He almost always starts out life as something else—like the character Fafnir , who was a dwarf at first but then got transformed into a dragon because of his greedy and murderous heart. That's a hint: dragons usually symbolize greed, violence, murder, and other scary things that are hard to keep under control.

The treasure itself represents a whole heap of heartache: in it, there's likely to be treasures from lost civilizations, failing dynasties think Hrothgar and family , and truly unlucky warriors. Though he may be symbolic in many ways, the dragon is also a "real" creature in Grendel. So real, in fact, that Grendel can barely control his bladder when he seems him:. Vast, red-golden, huge tail coiled, limbs sprawled over his treasure-hoard, eyes not fiery but cold as the memory of family deaths The color of his sharp scales darkened and brightened as the dragon inhaled and exhaled slowly, drawing new air across his vast internal furnace; his razorsharp tusks gleamed and glinted as if they, too, like the mountain beneath him, were formed of precious stones and metals.

In short, Grendel's dragon is elemental, massive, invincible—totally scary. In an ironic twist, Grendel can hardly pay attention to the "wisdom" that the creature wants to give him, because he's so entranced by sight of the dragon's body. It's another way in which Gardner is trying to play with the idea of the monstrous: Grendel is too afraid of the dragon to listen to anything he has to say, just as the humans are too afraid of Grendel to listen to anything he has to say.

We don't get any backstory on Grendel's dragon, because we don't need it. Gardner is using the dragon as shorthand for the misery of existence—the kind of misery that can lead to the depressing philosophies and appalling social manners he ends up sharing with Grendel. In this sense, the dragon is not only a huge, frightening freak of nature: he's also a state of mind. Remember how Grendel gets to the dragon's lair?

He doesn't break out the GPS and hit "Favorite Places": "I made my mind a blank and fell, sank away like a stone through earth and sea, toward the dragon" Moving toward the dragon is as much a psychological journey as it is a physical one. Grendel may be in the right mood to take advice from the dragon, but Gardner wants us to be more careful. The dragon lives in a barrow and guards his treasure. A man comes and steels a gold cup from the dragon while he is sleeping.

T he author describes the thief as "someone's slave". The thief is the first character in Beowulf that is not a warrior or a king. The dragon is guarding a treasure hoard left by "the last survivor of a noble race," who, before he died, locks his gold and jewels in a stone fortress. After that Last Survivor dies, his treasure-hoard is guarded by a dragon for whom the treasures are useless. The thief angers the dragon by stealing a single cup from the treasure-hoard.

T he dragon becomes furious when he awakes and discovers that he has been tricked. He is determined to find the man who stole the cup. The fierce dragon takes joy in the thought of warfare. W hen night falls, the dragon happily leaves his hoard to find the man who stole his treasure.

The dragon begins to vomit flames, burn houses, and kill everything in his path. He even burns the house of Beowulf, which houses the throne. The dragon, like Grendel, only attacks at night. W hen Beowulf learns of the destruction of his home, his first thought is that he has done something to anger God, and therefore he feels guilty. The dragon has destroyed the stronghold of the Weather-Geats.

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Beowulf's eventual death from the dragon presages "warfare, death, and darkness" for his Geats. The dragon's hoard symbolizes. The dragon chanced upon the hoard and has been guarding it for the past three Only when Hygelac's son met his end in a skirmish against the Swedes did. However, the dragon also symbolizes the specific fate that lies in wait for the Geats, and for pagan society generally. The dragon is “driven [ ] to guard.