Heroes Of Epic Proportions
Heroes. We all know them when we see them. The only question is what makes someone a hero? Characteristics of what it means to be a hero are shown throughout Anglo-Saxon core values. One of the most famous works from that time period is Beowulf. The story tells us of how one man, Beowulf, sails to the rescue of King Hrothgar and his people in order to save them from a terrible beast that is threatening not only their lives but also their way of life. The warrior Beowulf definitely shows characteristics of an epic hero through bravery, loyalty, generosity, friendship, achieving something of great value, providing people with a sense of security, and being intelligent.
First, Beowulf showcases his heroic nature through his bravery throughout his quest. Many times during his epic quest, he is not afraid to be brave in every situation. One example from the story is, So Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find, the bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen in all, and led them down to their boat (119-122). This proves his bravery because he was the head man for the Geats. By choosing the mightiest and bravest people, Beowulf reflects that he himself must have been even more brave in order to be able to lead his noble people. Therefore in choosing the brave men he did, not only did he prove how much more brave he was, Beowulf also proved that he was by far and epic hero.
Another way Beowulf displays that he is a hero is through his friendship. By showing friendship Beowulf is able to relate to the people more. Therefore he has the right to give them help in a difficult situation. This is shown when he goes to talk to king Hrothgar and the king says, Beowulf youve come to us in friendship, and because Of the reception your father found at our court (191-192). This states that the king was indeed very grateful that he had made the journey and as a result he considered Beowulf a great friend. Beowulf shows his friendship in the fact that he didnt have to come save king Hrothgars people, however because he was reaching out and being a friend he wanted to save them from evil. In this instance again Beowulf shows that he deserves to have the title of an epic hero by showing such strong friendship.
Next Beowulf proves that he is a great Anglo-Saxon hero through his loyalty. Loyalty was without a doubt one of the most important ideals upheld by the Anglo-Saxon people. Beowulf was an ideal Anglo-Saxon, therefore he was loyal every chance he got. So it was a big deal that Beowulf showed his loyalty to king Hrothgar in this quote, I brought the end of Edgethos Quarrel, sent ancient treasures through the oceans Furrows to the Wulfings; your father swore Hed keep that peace (204-207). This is speaking of an act of kindness that finally brought Beowulfs father to peace with Hrothgars people. In coming to the aid of the Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf keeps the peace and thus shows his loyalty and respect to king Hrothgar for helping his father. Beowulf the warrior gave his loyalty to Hrothgar, which showed that he was an epic hero.
Furthermore, Beowulf can be classified as an epic hero in his generosity. Beowulf was always being generous in every situation. He would accept a challenge even if he knew it might take his life. One of the most amazing ways to show generosity and selflessness is in sacrifice. A great example of this is when the warrior says, when we crossed the sea, my comrades And I, I already knew that all My purpose was this: to win the good will Of your people or die in battle, (364-367). In this statement Beowulf is saying that he is willing to lay down his own life if it means he might help save the Anglo-Saxon people. Beowulf generosity testifies again of his heroic nature and epic hero attitude.
Further proof, that Beowulf is an epic hero is when he achieves something of great value for himself. This is described in a secondary source called Moments in time which is written by an english major at the University of Memphis. He says, They undertake long, dangerous journeys, or quest, to achieve something of a great value to themselves or their people (Moments in time). Beowulf always took every problem he heard about on himself. The reason being is because he wanted to gain immortality for himself. This characteristic of an epic hero is shown through this quote, Proclaiming that hed go to that famous king, Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, Now when help was needed (114-116). Beowulf did not sail off to rescue Hrothgars people right away, but instead waited till he was sure that he was the only one that could do the task. The reason he did this is because he wanted to gain immortality, something that was very important for a hero. Therefore, Beowulf took a long quest in order to gain something of great value for himself which shows that he is in fact and epic hero.
Also Beowulf can be described as a great hero because he provides the people with safety. An essay written about Beowulf describes it this way, An Anglo-Saxon hero is a person who has good leadership qualities, is able and willing to provide people with a sense of security, and is willing to go into danger despite possible harm to themselves (Epic of Beowulf Essay). People think of a person very highly when they feel safe with them. This element of an epic hero is described when Beowulf says, I have come so far, Oh shelterer of warriors and your peoples loved friend, That this one favor you should not refuse me-That I, alone and with the help of my men, May purge all evil from this hall (162-166). Beowulf says that he wants to purge all evil from their land. In doing so he is providing the people with a sense of confidence that they are safe and secure. Beowulfs words cause the people to feel a sense of ease, which gives evidence that he is an epic hero.
Finally Beowulf earns the title of an epic hero through being very intelligent. In doing so he fulfills what Christopher Garcia says, In Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, to be a hero was to be a warrior. A hero had to be strong, intelligent, and courageous (The Anglo-Saxon Hero). When someone is in a form of leadership the people expect them to give them smart or intelligent advice. Not only intelligent advice but also to set an example before them that is intelligent. Beowulfs reaction when Grendel arrives shows this final characteristic of a hero, Then he stepped to another Still body, clutched at Beowulf with his claws, Grasped at a strong-hearted wakeful sleeper- And was instantly seized himself, (427-430). Beowulf is very courageous and intelligent in the way he decides to confront Grendel. You could say that Grendel is tricked by Beowulf because he pretends to be asleep and doesnt move to attack him until its too late. The intelligent and cunning tactic Beowulf uses to defeat Grendel is another way that he definitely earns the right to be called an epic hero.
Throughout the story, Beowulf is constantly displaying characteristics of an epic hero. First of all Beowulf displays the four pillars of Anglo-Saxon which include bravery, loyalty, generosity, and friendship (Element of Literature, The Anglo-Saxons 2). He also gets something of great value for himself. Beowulf also gives the people a sense of safety and security. His intelligence is also another way his heroic behavior is shown. There are many heroes throughout time but as far as epic heroes go, Beowulf really takes the cake.
"Epic of Beowulf Essay - Beowulf as Anglo-Saxon Hero :: Epic Beowulf herobeo." Free Essays, Term Papers, Research Paper, and Book Report. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=5566>.
Garcia, Christopher. "The Anglo-Saxon Hero." Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems | | Pace University. Web. 3 Oct. 2012. <http://csis.pace.edu/grendel/Proj2004A1/hero.html>.
Holt, Rinehart. Elements of literature [Gr. 12] Literature of Britain with world classics.. Austin [Tex.: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000. Print. (from Beowluf pg.21)
Holt, Rinehart. Elements of literature [Gr. 12] Literature of Britain with world classics.. Austin
"Moments in Time: The Anglo-Saxon Epic Heroes." Moments in Time. Web. 3 Oct.2012.<http://daretodreamthinkdo.blogspot.com/2008/04/anglo-saxon-epic-heroes.html>.
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Analysis of Beowulf as an Epic Hero The definition of a hero from ancient times to present day has evolved greatly, but they often still possess characteristics synonymous across all cultures and timespans. In modern times, they are often thought of as role models for others to live up to, and are generally humble, honest, and not afraid to put others in front of themselves. In ancient times, more emphasis was put on strength and fearlessness, and epic heroes were often saviors of the land, sent down to Earth in its time of need by God’s hand.
Beowulf, the main character in the epic poem Beowulf, is blessed with superhuman strength, a magical weapon only he can yield, as well as a fierce sense of loyalty to his people and an obligation to protect them no matter what the cost, earning him the rank of an epic hero. It is typical of an epic hero to be born with immense strength in order to fight off demons and thus protect his people, and Beowulf is no exception. As he is fighting the beast Grendel for the first time, Beowulf manages to defeat him single-handedly with no weapons, as if Grendel never even had a chance.
From the moment Beowulf’s hands met with Grendel’s claws, the monster “Knew at once that nowhere on earth/ Had he met a man whose hands were harder” (l. 42-43). All through the battle, Beowulf kept his grip on the fiend whose jaws could snap any regular humans’ bones with a single bite, eventually ending up ripping Grendel’s arm off at the end of the skirmish. Only an epic hero could muster such a feat, and only him “…Of all the men on earth/ Was the strongest” (l. 80-81).
Although Beowulf is blessed with great strength and can fight off demons with just his bare hands, an epic hero also must have a weapon he can call his own, which is why he has a magical sword only he can use to slay the beasts that threaten his homeland. In the battle with Grendel’s mom in her underwater lair, where things are looking bleak for the legend, he spots this sword hanging on the wall, described as “hammered by the giants” making it “the best of all weapons/ but so massive no ordinary man could lift” (l. 43-245). Beowulf takes this sword off the wall with ease and slays his adversary with it, proving that he is immensely strong, as well as the only mortal that can obtain such a weapon. Even before he picked up the giant-hammered weapon, he had his own sword, Hrunting, that he used to fight his foes in previous clashes. This weapon never let him down in battles before Grendel’s mother, and whenever he would “[swing] his sword/ his ring-marked blade…/ The iron [would sing] its fierce song” (l. 04-206). The fact that Beowulf had a blade that could slay almost any enemy, and he immediately finds a better sword only he can use when that weapon let him down, confirms his worth to the Gods and his role as an epic hero. Beowulf spends most of his time battling brutes and hellions, but remember why he does risk his life to kill these monsters; to protect his people he has a fiery loyalty to, and to create a legacy that will be passed down for eternity.
As Beowulf lays dying from the fatal wounds caused by the dragon, he has some wise words to share with his companions as he beholds the dragon’s riches. In his final moments, thinking of his people he has battled all his life for, he humbly says “I give thanks/ that I behold this treasure here in front of me/ that I have been thus allowed the leave my people/ so well endowed on the day I die” (l. 412-415).
He leaves this treasure to his comrades back home, demonstrating his integrity, yet he still has one more wish before he dies. So nobody will ever forget the great Beowulf and the legacy he left behind, he tells his troops to “construct a barrow/ …on the coast” in his honor, so it will be “…a reminder among [his] people—/ so that in coming times crews under sail/ will call it Beowulf’s Barrow” (l. 419-424).
These last words truly wrap up the character of Beowulf as the courageous and loyal hero he is, knowing that his actions will have made his name memorable for ages to come. The epic poem, Beowulf, clearly demonstrates the Anglo-Saxon ideals of bravery and loyalty, which also happen to be traits that make Beowulf an epic hero, as well as possessing a magical weapon and wanting his legacy to live on.
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Although these traits were valued much more long ago, devotion, strength, and courage are still important to many of us today. This text, as it was one of the first written stories that has survived to this day, gives us an insight into what was valued back in that time period, and what people looked up to in a hero. Despite some differences, there are many similarities between the ancient Anglo-Saxon hero and the modern hero, making Beowulf relevant to this day.
Author: Allan Leider
Beowulf Epic Hero Essay
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