In the epic poem Beowulf, many qualifications can be found for the archetype, Beowulf, to be an epic hero. His bravery is shown through his desire for a quest and a battle with a supernaturally strong man-eating beast. He is unafraid of his imminent death battling the sinister, evil monster, Grendel. He is highly esteemed and his reputation for greatness precedes him after defeating Grendel. These traits are proved throughout this Anglo-Saxon epic poem.
As soon as news travels around that Grendel is terrorizing the town of Herot, Beowulf is more than eager to help. He seeks out the bravest and strongest of the Geats, fourteen to be exact, to go on his quest and sails to Herot: So Beowulf
Chose the mightiest men he could find,
The bravest and best of the Geats, fourteen
In all… (Lines 119-122). Once they made it to the town, they were greeted by King Hrothgar and one of his thanes. Beowulf’s desire for a quest shown through when he explained how he heard of Grendel’s attacks and wanted to help Hrothgar and his people: Now Grendel and I are called
Together and I’ve come. Grant me, then,
Lord and protector of this noble place,
A single request! (159-162). Beowulf had already defeated many other monsters before Grendel so Hrothgar was elated to hear these words and decided to throw a banquet in his honor. After the town rejoiced and partied all evening, they finally went to sleep, except for Beowulf. He waited for Grendel to arrive. Not long after everyone fell asleep, Grendel swiftly and silently made his way in to the hall of the men he thought would be his next supper. To analyze how Grendel fought, Beowulf watched as the beast scooped up a vulnerable victim with ease and sucked the life out of him. Before he could lay a claw on his next victim, he is seized by Beowulf’s supernaturally strong grip. He tries to flee but cannot. Beowulf’s fourteen men try to step in, jabbing at the monster, but cannot penetrate his skin because he has bewitched every mortal man’s blade to where they are blunt. It’s all up to Beowulf at this point. Beowulf grips onto Grendel’s arm and breaks it completely off his body. The monster flees to the depth of his oceanic home to die and Beowulf keeps the arm as a trophy and a sign that the terrorist is dead.
Before Beowulf battled Grendel, he told King Hrothgar that if he were to die while fighting Grendel that there doesn’t need to be a grave prepared for him. There will be no corpse because Grendel will have eaten him whole: “There’ll be nothing to mourn over, no corpse to prepare/ For its grave: Grendel will carry our bloody/ Flesh to the moors, crunch on our bones…” (180-182). He has accepted fate and believes that no matter what happens, God has a plan for him. He doesn’t want anyone to cry over his death and doesn’t want a big funeral.
Right from the beginning, the epic reveals how loved and honored Beowulf is to everybody: “None/ Of the wise ones regretted his going, much/ As he was loved by the Geats…” (116-118). As previously stated, Beowulf was thrown a banquet in his honor, by people he had just met. After Grendel’s defeat, Beowulf was admired, even more than he already was, and praised by all the towns-people, but not enough to depreciate King Hrothgar:
On earth or under the spreading sky
Or between the seas, neither south nor north
Was there a warrior worthier to rule over men.
(But no one meant Beowulf’s praise to belittle
Hrothgar, their kind and gracious king!)… (540-544).
Beowulf meets many qualifications to be an epic hero. He’s brave, unshakable by anything and he is loved by many. This battle was between good and evil and good definitely triumphed. Through hard work and dedication, Beowulf became the victor.