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 underezds 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.