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.
During these time periods, a hero was usually a great a warrior who sacrificed oneself to protect their king and kingdom. In addition, culture, religion, chivalry, and traditions played a vital role in the work of these early heroes. This was seen numerous times in Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, where both characters frequently prayed and followed the Code of Chivalry. In contrast, a hero today would portray few— or none— cultural or religious elements. Usually, present-day heroes would acquire the label by depicting some sort of supernatural, phenomenal, or superhuman trait that a normal person would not obtain.
This also indicates that Beowulf kills for the purpose of battle and avenging the lives lost at the hands of Grendel. Lastly, we must analyze the monsters in the poem and how they are different and similar to the hero. Grendel is a chaotic monster that comes to Heorot Hall each evening to attack and feast on King Hrothgar’s people (page 44, lines 115-25). Grendel’s actions of killing demonstrate to the reader that he does not do this for any higher purpose other than to cause chaos, meaning he has no value for honor. Another heroic trait that Grendel does not possess is power of blood.
To them, power is everything and for one person to attain so much power, one must become a hero and perform heroic deeds. An Anglo-Saxon hero is perfectly portrayed by Beowulf who contains values of Anglo-Saxons like bravery, loyalty, honor and the willingness to risk his life for the greater good of his people. The latter is primarily why he gains the trust of his people which is why he claims the title of King and therefore gets hold of power. While Beowulf is the symbol and representation of heroes in Anglo Saxons, we have multiple personalities who we consider as heroes. People who work, people who dream, people who act.
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).
Chivalry is a code of conduct associated with the medieval institution of knighthood which developed between 1170 and 1220. Between this time period many authors wrote about knights and warriors and how they represented the values of being loyal, courageous and their willingness to give one’s life for another or in other words being a chivalrous warrior. Some examples of these tales are Beowulf and Le Morte d’Arthur. Beowulf and Wiglaf from Beowulf and King Arthur from Le Morte d’Arthur each have two examples of them reflecting the values of being a chivalrous warrior. Beowulf from Beowulf has very few things about him that are not chivalrous.
The poets and oral history were valued because they immortalized the greatest warriors and the Anglo-Saxons strived to be immortalized. Through this major societal push to be remembered and hold a legacy, the Anglo-Saxons valued warriors for the loyalty, strength, and courage they pursued. These values are important to Anglo-Saxon culture and to its literature. Beowulf, both the epic and the character, represents these values of loyalty, strength, and courage time and time as seen by the melded perspective of Anglo-Saxons and the Christian scribes in this piece of literature. Loyalty to the King and the warriors is seen as a sign of immortalizing character throughout the Anglo-Saxon history.
In Anglo- Saxon England, courage and loyalty were valued (Janet, 101). A man with valor and loyalty was expected to be rewarded by their king (Janet, 103). Furthermore, above anything, everyone battled for fame because fame is the only thing that lasts. In Beowulf, Beowulf is a renowned Geatish warrior and hero (Beowulf, 153-156). His
Achilles was a epic hero too but, Hector had more character than Achilles because even though he had the same characteristic as Hector. Achilles did not fight for his country. He fight for his own that is a bit different from Hector. Achilles had his arm. The men who follow him to the battle with Achilles.
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