Beowulf: The Anglo-Saxon Hero

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“Behavior that’s admired is the path to power among people everywhere (20-25).” War and courage in battle were more honorable than peace in early Anglo-Saxon culture. They were a warrior people, fighting enemies, neighbors and each other with equal passion. No man among them gained power or fame without a display of heroic ideals. For more than five hundred years they ruled Europe, and in their mead-halls stories of the bravery, loyalty, virtue, and physical prowess of Anglo-Saxon heroes were told and re-told. In the epic poem, Beowulf, the title character epitomizes an Anglo-Saxon hero with his bravery and his skill in combat. Throughout the poem, Beowulf’s ineffable skills in combat are highlighted in his battles with each of his foes. Initially, when Beowulf faces the beast Grendel, who is attacking the great mead-hall of Denmark, Beowulf requires no more than the strength of his bare hands to overpower the beast. Grendel is subdued when “every bone in his body quailed and recoiled,…show more content…
As with our modern day heroes, “behavior that is admired” is the key to the power and honor we give them. However, Beowulf would not likely be viewed as a hero today. While the putative, Anglo-Saxon ideals of bravery, skill and honor still hold in the twenty-first century, today’s heroes begin their quests or display their skills motivated by money, not conquest. Wealth, rather than admiration often bestows power on today’s heroes. In eighth century culture, a legendary reputation made a man immortal. We see from his exploits in the poem that it was far more important to Beowulf to build a reputation than to build wealth. Beowulf’s bravery and skill in combat made him an Anglo-Saxon hero of his day. His valiant death as a warrior solidified his legendary status in the minds of his people. Beowulf’s embodiment of Anglo-Saxon heroic ideals has insured that tales of his great deeds will continue to endure for

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