Beowulf: The Ideal Anglo Saxon Hero Essay

860 words - 3 pages

Originating in the Anglo-Saxon period, the epic poem Beowulf portrays a legendary hero. Beowulf established the earlier form of heroism, and was then later introduced in to the English culture. Praised and admired by many people, Beowulf possesses several distinct traits that allow him to be defined perfectly as an ideal Anglo-Saxon hero; his eagerness to seek glory and fame, rather than richness and treasures, his loyalty and graceful attitude not only to his rulers but also to his followers, and his contradictory beliefs of faith and fate
In the Anglo-Saxon society, an ideal hero does not seek riches of gold and treasures; instead, he seeks fame and glory through his accomplishments. To ensure immortality and spread his name across kingdoms, Anglo-Saxon warriors had strong aspirations to boast their achievements with contests and challenges in order to prove their capabilities. Unferth challenged Beowulf’s swimming contest with Breca, “The pair of you agreed out of pride and folly to race in the ocean at the risk of your lives and could not be dissuaded by a soul on earth,” (Chapter 8). Although he failed to triumph with victory, Beowulf secured his high reputations and gained glory by encountering intense battles and slaying evil monsters. Ultimately, by challenging himself, Beowulf was able to boast his name and earn much glory to achieve immortality as an Anglo-Saxon hero. Another way for heroes to obtain high reputations and fame was to pursue adventures and quests. Beowulf decided to travel to the land of the Dane as soon as he heard about Grendel. Desperately to gain fame and glory, Beowulf was eager to assist Hrothgar to eliminate his enemy Grendel, who has troubled him and his people for 12 years. “… the highborn son of Healfdene gave me ornaments as rich as any I could hope for. And here, now, my lord, Hygelac my king, I give them all to you, since every benefit I have ever received I owe to you, my closest and kindest kinsman on earth." (Chapter 31) Even thought Beowulf did received hordes of and gold as a reward of slaying Grendel, he sincerely handed all his treasures to Hygelac, proving that he is not concerned about the wealth and fortune, rather, his fame and glory. Moreover, he also signifies his loyalty to his uncle, which is another heroic trait he owns that defines heroism.
The other leading heroic trait that Beowulf possesses is loyalty. The Anglo-Saxon warriors believe in the idea of comitatus, which are the faithful and unbreakable bonds between his king and his warriors. Throughout the story, Beowulf...

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