Beowulf and Odysseus: a Comparison

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Beowulf and Odysseus: A Comparison

What is more important to the hero than his men? Both Beowulf of “Beowulf” and Odysseus of The Odyssey of Homer have the all important asset of men at their disposal, Men who follow them as leaders and accompany them on their travels. While Odysseus greatly values his men and treats them very loyally and emotionally, his men, in turn, give him the same loyalty and respect back. Beowulf is far more self-driven. While his men are mostly present throughout, they often take more of a spectator role due to the fact that Beowulf’s actions and decisions often don’t require the assistance of his men. He has a very neutral personality when it comes to his men, and only really has passion for himself and his own glory. In response his men are not nearly as loyal of those of Odysseus, and often act as if they don’t have confidence in Beowulf’s abilities.

Beowulf’s men were chosen by him to accompany him to the Danish shores where he would attempt to slay the monster Grendel. While it is true the men are his kin, he shows no emotional attachment right from the beginning. “Beowulf chose the mightiest men he could find, the bravest and best of the Geats” it seems he simply picked the strongest men who would go with him and just left. He chose none based on loyalty, background, or friendship, but simply the strongest. This also says something about Beowulf’s character. He’s a man who values strength and power above all else, sometimes even to the point where it clouds common sense.

Beowulf’s men were also completely overshadowed by Beowulf himself. The vast majority of the times his men are almost like an audience due to the fact that there is nothing they can do to help him battle the monsters he faces. More often than not his men simply did not have the strength or ability to aide Beowulf in his battles, so superhuman was his power. “Their courage was great but all wasted: they could hack at Grendel from every side, trying to open a...
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