The Anglo-Saxon Hero
by Christopher Garcia
In Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, to be a hero was to be a warrior. A hero had to be strong, intelligent, and courageous. Warriors had to be willing to face any odds, and fight to the death for their glory and people. The Anglo-Saxon hero was able to be all of these and still be humble and kind. In literature Beowulf is, perhaps, the perfect example of an Anglo-Saxon hero. In The 13th Warrior, Ibn Fadlan (played by Antonio Banderas) also shows many of the characteristics that distinguish an Anglo-Saxon hero. At the same time, Fadlan and those around him display many of the traits which define today's heroes. The Anglo-Saxon hero is clearly shown and defined in Beowulf, "The Wanderer," "The Dream of The Rood," and even Crichton's The 13th Warrior.
In Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon hero is well defined by the actions of Beowulf. It is obvious that Beowulf is the quintessential hero. His strength and courage are unparalleled, and he is much more humble (and honorable) than many of the corrupt warriors around him. Beowulf displays his great strength time after time. Whether he is fighting sea monsters, Grendel's mother, or a horrible fire-breathing dragon, Beowulf shows that his courage and strength should be an inspiration to all heroes.
Strength and physical appearance are essential to the Anglo-Saxon warrior. Beowulf is described as having the strength of "thirty men" in just one of his arms, and when he first arrives in the land of the Danes, the coastguard sees the mighty hero and says, "I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle-dress" (Beowulf, 7). Strength is clearly an important characteristic of heroes in Anglo-Saxon culture, but strength alone is not enough to define a hero. Beowulf shows that every hero must have courage. In an argument with Unferth, Beowulf says, "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good" (Beowulf , 12). This quotation shows...
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