Christopher Chin GNHU 201 Professor Miller 09.23.2013 Mortal Heroism Is Odysseus a hero? Why or why not? The known definition of a hero is a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. In the myth of Odysseus, the thoroughly mortal king of Ithaca is not a hero by choice nor decision. He claims the title of being a hero by defying the wrath of two decades of distress with the use of his cunning brain instead of manpower.
This poem follows the life of Beowulf from that of a young and loyal Dane who becomes a great respected king and dies proudly, as a warrior. The warrior culture at this time reflects the values of the society of the 6th century. The Danes and Geats showed their loyalty to their leader by fighting for him, even to the death. The leader would then give them something in return like treasure or property for their deeds or achievements, which helped to improve their reputations. In regard to these important cultural values of that time, four of these values recur throughout this legendary poem: loyalty, violence, celebration and revenge.
What is a Hero? “A Hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is brave five minutes longer” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). In Angelo-Saxon culture they believed a hero was a warrior and must be willing to die to achieve glory. Beowulf exemplified many characteristics of a hero, by showing strength, intelligence and courage. Beowulf was described as having the power of “thirty men” in just one of his arms.
Beowulf possesses many of the traits of an archetypal epic hero; he is strong, humble, and willing to fight to death if necessary. One of the most obvious heroic traits of Beowulf’s is his strength, which is a vital feature in Anglo-Saxon heroes. Beowulf had the strength of thirty men and is blessed with strength beyond that of an ordinary man. Although strength is a key characteristic in defining an epic hero, it alone is not enough to define an epic hero (Greenfield 3). Along with strength, one must have other distinguishing traits to be considered an epic hero.
Beowulf originated in the Anglo Saxon era, is three thousand one hundred and eighty-two lines long, and is the most important of Old English Heroic Poems. An archetype is a very typical example of a certain person or thing. Beowulf has traits of archetypical heros and warriors. He has inhumane skills and strengths and has God sent supernatural abilities in order to complete his heroic tasks. Characteristics of the Anglo-Saxons are endless in the story of Beowulf that interest the mind but so few that change lives when internalized.
Beowulf is portrayed as the hero, not only in Beowulf but in Grendel’s recounting as well. Grendel, on the other hand, feels like he is the hero, even though he is seen as a monster. Beowulf comes to save the Danes from Grendel’s wrath, he is known as the man who has the “strength of thirty thanes" (Chapter 10) and also "hearth-companions of King Hygilac" (Chapter 11). Even though Beowulf is viewed as the hero, Grendel feels like he should not be seen as a monster, that is, until after his visit with the dragon. He sees himself as a human, or something like a human, and wants to be a part of their world.
Gilgamesh has been wrongfully inducted into the idea of what a hero, leader, and king should be. Honestly, who would want to live under a man lacking so much in character? Heroic leaders come in all sizes, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Abraham Lincoln. It is not the size or physical strength that matters, but the ability to be a noble and just leader. Gilgamesh took advantage of his position as a king by abusing his power to exercise “jus primae noctis.” Wettlaufer, the author of one analytical view of the
Grace Smith College English 1301 Period 2 October 3, 2012 Definition of a Hero According to Merriam Webster’s School Dictionary the word hero means a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength and ability, an illustrious warrior who people admire for achievements and their qualities. A hero is one that shows great courage also known as a chief male figure in a literary work or in an event or period. Webster’s New World Thesaurus lists some synonyms as brave, man, model, popular figure, warrior, saint, or a god. Webster’s New World Thesaurus also gives antonyms such as a coward, weak, and a slacker. The definition of a hero is a bold statement and demonstrated in both poems “Sir Gawain and
Beowulf an Epic Hero What characteristic makes someone a hero? Do they have to do something special? Something extraordinary? To answer this question, a rubric was developed to describe the qualities of a hero. The well-known hero Beowulf, the protagonist in the epic poem Beowulf by an unknown author, comes out on top when compared to the rubric.
John Doe Mrs.Blue English IV Honors 10 September 2012 Heroism Everyone has a different opinion of a hero, but every hero has common characteristics. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a hero is “a person that is very courageous; he must also be admired by others and seen as a noble figure.” In the old Anglo-Saxon society an unknown author showcases an ancient warrior hero in the epic poem, Beowulf. He battles monsters and dragons and displays traits that the Anglo-Saxons admire as heroic: bravery in battle, super-human strength, and self-sacrifice in an attempt to attain fame and immortality. On the other hand, in Vietnam War veteran Karl Marlantes’ article, “The Truth About Being a Hero,” published in the Wall Street Journal, Marlantes tells of the bravery of an “unsung hero,” a soldier who displays humility and saves others for the common good of his country. A true hero is strong,