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Beowolf - The Epic Poem


The epic poem Beowulf describes the most heroic man of the 
Anglo-Saxon times. The hero, Beowulf, is a seemingly invincible person 
with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. He is able to 
use his super-human physical strength and courage to put his people 
before himself. He encounters hideous monsters and the most ferocious 
of beasts but he never fears the threat of death. His leadership 
skills are superb and he is even able to boast about all his 
achievements. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life 
countless times for immortal glory and for the good of others.

 Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his 
amazing physical strength. He fought in numerous battles and returned 
victorious from all but his last. In his argument with Unferth, 
Beowulf explains the reason he "lost" a simple swimming match with his 
youthful opponent Brecca. Not only had Beowulf been swimming for seven 
nights, he had also stopped to kill nine sea creatures in the depths 
of the ocean. Beowulf is also strong enough to kill the monster 
Grendel, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with his 
bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel's 
mother, who is seeking revenge on her son's death, he is able to slay 
her by slashing the monster's neck with a Giant's sword that can
only be lifted by a person as strong as Beowulf. When he chops off her 
head, he carries it from the ocean with ease, but it takes four men to 
lift and carry it back to Herot mead-hall. This strength is a key 
trait of Beowulf's heroism.

 Another heroic trait of Beowulf is his ability to put his peoples 
welfare before his own. Beowulf's uncle is king of the Geats so he is 
sent as an emissary to help rid the Danes of the evil Grendel. Beowulf 
risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes 
the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. After Beowulf had 
served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to 
battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon who is frightening all 
of his people. Beowulf is old and tired but he defeats the dragon in 
order to protect his people. Even in death he wished so secure safety 
for the Geats so a tall lighthouse is built in order to help the 
people find there way back from sea.

 The most heroic of traits within Beowulf is that he is not afraid 
to die. He always explains his death wishes before going into battle 
and requests to have any assets delivered to his people. "And if death 
does take me, send the hammered mail of my armor to Higlac, return the 
inheritance I had from Hrehtel, and from Wayland. Fate will unwind as 
it must! (18)" He is aware of the heroic paradox; he will be glorified 
in life or death for his actions. He knows that when he fights an 
enemy like Grendel or Grendel's mother he will achieve immortality as 
the victor or the loser. "When we crossed the sea, my comrades and I, 
I already knew that all my purpose was this: to win the good will of 
your people or die in battle, pressed in Grendel's fierce grip.
Let me live in greatness and courage, or here in this hall welcome my 
death! (22)" Even with the enormous amount of confidence Beowulf 
possesses, he understands that Fate or Wyrd will work its magic no 
matter what and he could be killed at any point in his life. He faces 
that reality by showing no fear and preparing for a positive or a 
fatal outcome.

 Beowulf is the prime example of an epic hero. His bravery and 
strength surpass all mortal men; loyalty and the ability to think of
himself last makes him reveared by all. Beowulf came openly and 
wholeheartedly to help the Danes which was an unusual occurrence in a 
time of war and wide-spread fear. He set a noble example for all human 
beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship. Beowulf 
is most definitely an epic hero of epic proportions.


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