One of Hrothgar's top retainers, Unferth insulted Beowulf after dipping too deeply into the mead-bowl at the premiere banquet. He later lent Beowulf a sword for a crucial battle. Of course, the sword didn't work on the demon, but Unferth didn't get that it would happen. Unferth is an example of everything not to be as a medieval tribesman: he was quick to find fault with other people, but he hadn't done anything great; he's clever and witty, but he killed his family members. In spite of these very negative qualities, the narrator gave Unferth credit where it's due.

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