The Qualities of an Epic Hero
The epic poem Beowulf is the earliest surviving masterpiece of English literature. The poem spins a tale of the adventures of Beowulf, a Scandinavian warrior of approximately the seventh century. Beowulf is described as the epitome of an epic hero who fights for his people and vanquishes evil with his extraordinary abilities in order to bring peace and justice to others. An epic hero is often characterized by a specific set of traits or qualities that he or she possesses. Beowulf is considered an epic hero because he exhibits three of these qualities which are 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. In fact, even in his last battle he managed to conquer his opponent, but at the price of his own life. Beowulf was powerful enough to kill the monster Grendel, who had been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his bare hands. When the two squared off, Beowulf grabbed Grendel’s arm and ripped it off at the shoulder. Beowulf then fought Grendel'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 superhuman strength is a key trait of Beowulf's heroism. On the other hand, another heroic value Beowulf possessed was his ability to put the welfare of others before his own. When Beowulf learned that the Danes were being terrorized by a monster, he wasted no time in going to the aid of these people. He and his men then traveled a great distance to face an awesome...
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