The Hero's Journey In The Iliad And Beowulf

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Traditional epic literature tells stories of legendary heroes and their journeys both physical and psychological. Homer’s ‘Iliad’ and the Anglo-Saxon ‘Beowulf’ both contain heroes who follow the hero’s journey. The Iliad is set in Bronze Age Greece and is commonly attributed to the blind poet Homer. In this period, Gods and Goddesses graced the earth serving as inspiration for the mortal man to model himself on and achieve excellence on Earth. Victory in war was the pinnacle of glory and consequently, the aspiration of many heroes. Young Achilles is the Iliad’s central hero, recounting the final weeks of his quest for distinction amidst the chaotic Trojan War. In comparison, ‘Beowulf’, takes place in Medieval Scandinavia and was written by…show more content…
Achilles, the Achaean forces’ prized fighter, demonstrates this attribute throughout the Iliad, particularly in his renewed participation after the death of Patroklus. The simile in “[he] swept everywhere with his spear like something more than a mortal” (line 493) describes Achilles’ godlike strength as he slays the Trojans. The reader sees how rage can cause Achilles to apply his strength in a ruthless manner. His clouded logic disconnects him from his own super-human endowment in the battlefield. Similarly, Beowulf, a revered warrior among the Geats, also displays his strength in combat. The alliterative qualities of “sinows sprang asunder, bone-locks burst” (lines 817-8) provide a visual and auditory depiction of Beowulf’s physical abilities. Achilles uses his athletic inclination to avenge the death of his dear friend Patroklus. Prior to Patroklus’ death, Achilles preferred to wait while the Achaeans were “killed one after the other” (line 667). By contrast, Beowulf applies his muscular build to “avenge the evil done to the Danes” (lines 1670-1) and does so of his own free will. The two different hero’s journeys portray them as strong and battle ready, however Beowulf fights with noble intention and consideration for others while Achilles has more self-serving incentives for
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