Beowulf: A Heroic Elegiac Poem
Beowulf is definitely a heroic-elegiac poem. Beowulf was a hero to many. He exhibited,
the traits of a “good king”. He was a warrior with extraordinary abilities which made him seem
superhuman. He was selfless choosing to protect the masses rather than himself. This was an act
of generosity, as well as, great loyalty. There are many references in the poem to the ancestors of
both Beowulf and Hrothgar. They are referred to with reverence regardless to whether they were
good or bad. The references are made as lessons to the present and future kings and queens.
As a heroic-elegiac poem, Beowulf begins with an example of a bad king to contrast him
with a good king. Shield Sheafson who was not a good king because he demanded that clans far
and wide pay homage to him. He destroyed mead halls and rampaged through the countryside.
He was selfish and cruel. His heir, Beow, would be the antithesis of his father. He would be a
blessing to the Danes. Beow would be known for his generosity which garnered him loyal
followers. Beow was the grandfather of Hrothgar. Hrothgar was loyal, courageous, generous and
protective of his kingdom. Hrothgar was a good king like his father and grandfather before him.
He would decide to build a mead hall where he could share his treasures and good fortune with
his people, a place where they could feast and rejoice. These events described here prove that, in
fact, Beowulf is a heroic poem.
The mead hall, Heorot, would only be a safe haven for a short while. The hall would
come under attack. Grendel, a monster, would be annoyed by the sounds of gaiety day in and day
out. Grendel would begin to terrorize the hall murdering many before the would be abandoned
due to fear. Hrothgar kingdom was gripped in terror. Beowulf heard of Hrothgar’s plight and
decided he needed his help. Beowulf was known to have the strength of thirty men in each...
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