English IV, 2
2 September 2011
“Beowulf” vs. “Gilgamesh”
The two cultures I chose to compare heroic values for are the ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Anglo-Saxon cultures. The texts I used in the comparison are Gilgamesh for Mesopotamia and Beowulf for Anglo-Saxon. Although they possess many similar heroic characteristics they also differ greatly. Beowulf is the earliest surviving epic poem written in a modern European language. It was written in Old English sometime before the tenth century A.D. The poem describes the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century. Beowulf is described as a perfect hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities to bring peace and justice. Three of Beowulf’s traits that support this are his amazing physical strength, his ability to put his people’s welfare before his own, and the fact that he does not fear death.
Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength and courage. He fought in numerous battles and returned victorious in all but his last. Beowulf was powerful enough to kill the monster Grendal, who had been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands. When the two squared off Beowulf grabbed Grendal’s arm and ripped it off at the shoulder. Beowulf then fought Grendal's mother, an even deadlier monster who was seeking revenge against Beowulf for her son's death. Beowulf was able to slay her by slashing her neck with a Giant's sword that can only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chopped off her head, he carried it from the ocean with ease, but it took four men to lift the monster’s head and carry it back to Herot. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf's heroism.
Another heroic value Beowulf possessed was his tendancy to put the welfare of others before his own. Beowulf was asked by the Danes to help rid them of an evil monster that was terrorizing their city.... [continues]
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