In a society in which the poem Beowulf takes place, war and kingship are normal factors in daily life. Beowulf's world is a very violent society with wars as a dominant part of every day life. Dragons and monsters are a constant threat to the Danes and the Geats. Warriors are a necessity to this war-like society. Beowulf is a hero and an example of a great warrior. He fights against monsters. In the section of the poem we are about to discuss, Beowulf is ready to fight a dragon with his thane Wiglaf. He is going to fight a dragon. Beowulf has no fear of the dragon, because he has fought many enemies that were much more ferocious. For example one of Beowulf's great battles is the fight with Grendel. No one other than Beowulf is brave enough or strong enough volunteer to fight Grendel. .
With all Beowulf's great achievements, he finally becomes king of his homeland; Geatland. Even in his old age, his code of honor still obligates him to fight against an evil fiery dragon. For fifty years he governed his kingdom well. Ironically the dragon has been guarding the hoard of treasure for fifty years as well. The dragon functions then as the opposite of a good king because it guards the treasure but can do nothing with it. It represents malice, destruction, and greed; the dark side of kingship. .
While Beowulf is reining, the dragon " kept watch over a hoard, a steep stone-barrow." Under it lays a path concealed from the sight of men. Over centuries no one had disturbed the dragons" kingdom until one day when a thief broke into the treasure, laid hand on a cup fretted with gold. This infuriated the dragon. "The fiery dragon had destroyed the people's stronghold, the land along the sea, the heart of the country.".
Beowulf now in Hrothgar's position as an aging warrior he should do the same as Hrothgar once did and delegate. Beowulf is not the warrior he was; instead he resembles the now dead Hrothgar. That throughout their lives their strength slowly deteriorates as their age ascends.