Beowolf: an Epic Hero

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What exactly is an epic hero? An epic hero exhibits the attributes esteemed by the society that shaped him. Beowulf exemplifies the traits of the perfect hero. By analyzing and studying Beowulf, you can learn much about these Germanic people that created Beowulf and discover which traits they admired. Beowulf also perfectly embodies the manners and values imposed by the Germanic heroic code, including faithfulness, courtesy, and honor. His defeat of Grendel and Grendel’s mother verifies his reputation for bravery and establishes him thoroughly as a hero. The poem of Beowulf explores his heroism throughout three distinct and progressively difficult conflicts with Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon.

Likely the poem’s most memorable fabrication, Grendel is one of the three monsters that Beowulf battles. Does Beowulf establish a heroic attribute in his relation to Grendel? Well, the characteristics portrayed by Beowulf when battling Grendel line up with those that are the basis for an epic hero. Those qualities are loyalty as well as bravery. Loyalty was demanded for survival. Tribesmen had to swear fealty to the leader and follow him unquestioningly. Does Beowulf exhibit loyalty? Certainly. The main reason he traveled across the sea to help King Hrothgar was because Hrothgar had saved the life of Beowulf’s father years earlier. This act reveals Beowulf’s honorable moral code, a powerful attribute of an epic hero. Beowulf accepted Hrothgar’s appeal to slay the dragon that was plaguing his kingdom. Now does Beowulf express bravery and courage? Yes, the Danes live in fear of Grendel, yet Beowulf was eager to meet him in battle. Aristotle wrote, “{Bravery} courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” Beowulf is also incredibly powerful, besting Grendel with merely his hands. Following the defeat of Grendel, though, another conflict emerges- Grendel’s mother.

Grendel’s mother, of course, is devastated and...
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