Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic about a great warrior who values the Anglo-Saxon ideas of loyalty, personal indebtedness, fame, fate, and heroism. The epic is named after, and centered on, Beowulf and his quests; however, several other characters also reflect Anglo-Saxon values throughout the story. For example, King Hrothgar built “the best/ Of all mead-halls” (ll.145-146) so that his “men lived happy” (l. 15). Hrothgar built the mead-hall because he was indebted to his men who served and protected him. Meanwhile, Beowulf was indebted to Hrothgar because Hrothgar once defended Beowulf’s family.
Throughout the centuries, indisputable morals remain constant, but other values have been altered. One definite value that remains important to all cultures is courage. In the epic poem Beowulf, the moral of bravery appears quite frequently exemplified by the title character Beowulf. A fictional personage who exemplifies the theme of valor today is Harry Potter. Both Harry Potter and Beowulf are exemplary models for many key morals.
Similarly, the ideal characteristics of Anglo-Saxon society are present throughout the epic of Beowulf. Beowulf himself demonstrates how the Anglo-Saxons found traits like strength, courage, faith, and gratitude to be so important (“Character Analysis” 9). Be that as it may, epics tend to also give insight into various aspects of different structures present throughout these societies as well. In Beowulf, the idea that people followed and served a leader who protected them in return, a key concept present throughout Anglo-Saxon society, is seen when Beowulf defends Herot and is named “The mighty protector of men...” (Beers 23). Another example of societal structures or beliefs being present in epics was seen by the importance of kleos, a Greek term used in reference to glory or renown, in the Iliad.
The Webster's definition of a hero is “A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities”, this also happens to be one of the qualifications of being an epic hero. There are many things that can be used to compare and contrast Beowulf as an epic hero and a modern day hero, but you’ll find that the human idea of a hero was primarily the same in 700 CE as it is now although the job descriptions of hero’s have changed. In today’s time a person is usually considered a hero if they help the public good, like a police officer, soldier, firefighter and so on. In Beowulf’s time a person was considered a hero if they were a great warrior. When looking at the characteristics of what makes Beowulf an epic hero and the characteristics
Alexander Hamilton once said, “There is a certain Enthusiasm in liberty that makes Human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism.” Beowulf is an epic poem in which the main character Beowulf did acts of service, but he fought for those who couldn’t fight. The overall theme of good versus evil in Beowulf had Beowulf dealing with challenges that no ordinary man would be able to handle unless they were a true epic hero. Throughout the poem Beowulf proves to be an epic hero by his strength, bravery, and sacrifice. Beowulf is an epic hero because of his strength. His strength isn’t the same as an ordinary man, “He twisted in pain and the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder snapped muscle and on split and broke” (lines 337-340).
Beowulf and Achilles are excellent examples of the hero in Anglo Saxon culture. Both men exemplify basic manly virtues such as physical strength, courage and martial prowess, and both exhibit leadership and command respect among their peers. Nevertheless both characters possess flaws and weaknesses that make them human, and which lead to their eventual deaths. Achilles and Beowulf show many similar traits throughout both of their stories. These traits that were displayed in both of their stories proved shat type of heroes and men they were.
In The Odyssey, Odysseus was a major hero of the novel. He had both heroic traits and human weaknesses. Odysseus defeated the Cyclops, defeated the suitors that were courting his wife, and overcome other challenges throughout the novel. A special trait that made Odysseus a hero was that he was a courageous
Despite these differences, both heroes fight in order to defend the values that they believe are important or the people that they cherish. Due to the differences between the two heroes and the common goals that they share, it is reasonable to say that the definition of a hero has changed slightly over time and encompasses a greater variety of people. In today’s society, a hero can be a man, a woman, a first responder, or a person who is simply admired by others, and therefore, a hero is no longer an incredibly strong man who fights only for glory; on the contrary, a hero is anyone who fights valiantly and nobly to defend a
The early English warriors held a certain set of virtues. Throughout Beowulf, these Anglo-Saxon virtues are clearly displayed by the protagonist. Beowulf most exemplifies the values of bravery, prowess in battle, and boasting at the table. One of the most dominate virtues Beowulf has is bravery. Beowulf claims before each battle that he will either win or die trying.
From the battles and fame to their leadership and loyalty both epic heroes gilgamesh and beowulf display the common characteristics of an epic hero. All throughout their journeys both heros come across situations that make them show who they really are and what they believe in. Although certain aspects of their leadership, journeys and personal beliefs are similar the way they display themselves in their personal and public lives make many of their characteristics differ from one another. The leadership styles and qualities of each character helps to define who they are as a person and what they believe in. Beowulf was a great leader who was loved and respected by his people.