Epic Traits of Beowulf

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  • Topic: Beowulf, Epic poetry, Supernatural
  • Pages : 2 (813 words )
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  • Published : March 18, 2008
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Beowulf was the first great work of the English national literature. It is one of the greatest epics known to mankind. An epic is a long, narrative poem relating to the great deeds of larger than life hero who undertakes a quest to achieve something of value for himself /herself or society. The epic tells the story of Beowulf, a Geat from Sweden who crosses the sea to Denmark in a quest to rescue people in the Land of the Danes from Grendel. Beowulf was written based in the 8th century, but most historians believe this piece of oral art dates back to the 6th century. The author of the oral art is unknown, but it is assumed that the poet of the version that has been handed down, with changes and embellishments from one minstrel to another, was a Christian Monk. The stories of Beowulf are traditional ones, familiar to the audiences who crowded around the harpist-bards in the communal halls at night (18). The tales in Beowulf epic are the stories of dream and legend, of monsters and of god-fashioned weapons, of descents to the underworld and of fights with the dragons, of the hero's quest and of a community threatened by the powers of evil (18-19). The piece of oral art, Beowulf, portrays several examples of epic traits including; The hero has supernatural abilities, supernatural beings are present, and universal themes.

Being the hero in an epic usually comes with the privilege and honor of having supernatural abilities that are greater than those of the opponent. Beowulf, like all epic heroes, has superior physical strength. "I drove/five great giants into chains…" (153-155) proves that Beowulf has an ultimate amount of strength, which serves him very well throughout the excerpts of Beowulf. Another great supernatural ability is Beowulf's warrior skills; for example, "They have watched rise from the darkness of war, /Dripping with my enemies blood…" (152-153). "…I swam/In the blackness of night, hunting monsters/Out of the ocean and killing them...
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