Beowulf And The Homeric Heroes Essay

1362 words - 5 pages

As most people would try and find similarities between the characters of Homer and that of Beowulf, I am more than willing to present their differences. It is a challenge to spot their similarities, but it is a greater challenge to locate the differences between them, such differences that set them apart from each other, making them a unique entity. Now, first we must make clear our understanding of a Homeric hero. Such a character encounters four different phases in their lives. One is Arete, which would mean their excellence, the other Hubris, or excessive pride. The third is Ate, which represents their rash behavior, and the last is Nemesis, or the punishment for their actions...more commonly known as the consequence. Now these four patterns of behavior do not follow a specific order, but one thing is for sure: one leads to another, and a misstep could lead to an eternity of shadows.

Our perception of a hero is obviously far different from that of Homer's. Our virtues would have included loyalty, fidelity, courage and chivalry, but to Homer none of these really matter. A hero, is strong, is wealthy, and is honorable. Regardless of the way he obtains power (i.e. brutal, merciless, etc.) he is named a hero if he is able to meet the four patterns of behavior above. Now I wonder why it is this way. Then I realize, why not? Every hero that we have heard of in our lives, turn out to be good in every way possible, no flaw projected in whatever way. Now Homer, presents heroes that actually have flaws. Flaws that make them more human, though vulnerable, it makes their character more acceptable to society. Now the question is: which appeals more to the people? A Homeric hero, whose flaws are boasted to the people or a brave and selfless champion like Beowulf?

First we have to consider the time element of both scenarios. Take in mind that during Homer's time, the culture and the practices were different from that of Beowulf's time. Where woman were once trophies, they now are hailed as objects of divine beauty. Back then strength and power were measured by the number of woman one possessed, now in Beowulf's time of chivalry and valor, to treat a woman as a possession would be disgraceful. Such differences occur through time and with this, a change in perspective. The beliefs that were once as strong as iron is now rotting with rust, for change transpires and with it our values, our virtues, and our faith expire.

Beowulf was a noble man, in one way or another. He was rich, he was honest, he was brave and he was loyal. Remember that he chose not to take the throne offered to him, instead he offers to be the boy king's mentor until he is old enough to rule. Here he shows loyalty. Loyalty to his people, to his kings, and to his country. Knowing that he was not meant to rule just yet, he bestowed the right to the young prince. Now jumping fifty or so years after, Beowulf is king after the previous one dies. He faces yet another lethal enemy, the...

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