Beowulf & King Arthur: What makes a hero?
In a time where warriors were sensationalized for prowess of their swordsmanship and fearless attitude among the battlefield, King Arthur and Beowulf have similar traits assigned to their characters. Although there are many particulars that separate the story of Arthur to Beowulf, the characteristics that stand out the most deal with the kind of hero they were to their time and the actions they made to become so heroic.
To start, Beowulf and Arthur are both stories originating from the same region of land which was Western Europe particularly English territory. Although they were written in different times, the same values existed in both tales. Both protagonists were admired for being a savior to an entire group of people. They also possessed and undeniable knack for leadership and bravery. Beowulf was King of the Geats, Arthur was King of England. They both have obvious qualities which are found in a great king and a great leader. The only difference is the story of Arthur has a more romantic tone to it while Beowulf is truly an epic tale filled with conflict amongst different monsters terrorizing a kingdom.
What also enhances these two heroes’ talents is an extraordinary weapon. Arthur’s famous weapon was Excalibur which is almost synonymous with the hero himself. After he pulls the sword out of the stone as a timid young boy, he slowly evolves into this brave king under the mentorship of Merlyn. As for Beowulf, “A rare and ancient sword name Hrunting. The iron-blade with its ill-boding patterns had been tempered in blood. It had never failed the hand of anyone in battle.” (Heaney, 101)
Although not as prevalent as Arthur’s Excalibur, Hrunting was the name of Beowulf’s sword given to him by Unferth which he uses to decapitate Grendel’s corpse as well as kill Grendel’s mother. The fact that there is significance enough that their swords have names and a back story tied with it shows how the warrior mentality...
Cited: Heaney, Seamus. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2000. Print.
Malory, Thomas, Heinrich Oskar Sommer, and Andrew Lang. Le Morte Darthur. London: D. Nutt, 1891. Print.
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