Many Epic Heroes Throughout the Course of History
There have been many epic heroes throughout the course of history. Some of these heroes include Odysseus, King Arthur, and Siegfried. Epic heroes are legendary, having their stories passed down through generations. These heroes each experienced trials and hardships, eventually being able to overcome their obstacles in various ways. They were forces of good, fighting evil noted in their legends. Beowulf can be seen as a fellow epic hero by sharing characteristics of the heroic heroes. These characteristics allow them to be epic, including battling supernatural forces, having supernatural abilities, and being tested to prove their worthiness.
One characteristic that defines an epic hero is battling supernatural forces. This is evident in the battle between Beowulf and Grendel. The infamous killer fought For his freedom, wanting no flesh but retreat, Desiring nothing but escape, his claws Had been caught, he was trapped. That trip to Herot Was a miserable journey for the writhing monster (285-289, 41-42)! Grendel was a very powerful monster from the depths of Hell. He had tormented the city of Herot for year, causing the citizens to flee. Herot was left desolate for twelve years until Beowulf sailed across the sea on a quest to kill Grendel. Beowulf assembled a team of men and set off to battle Grendel. During this battle Beowulf managed to cut of the Grendel’s arm which caused him to retreat.
After this battle Beowulf is honored by the Geats for being victorious. The Battle With Grendel’s Mother also demonstrates battling supernatural forces. He struggled to free his weapon, and failed. The fight Brought other monsters swimming to see Her catch, a host of sea beast who beat at His mail shirt, stabbing with tusks and teeth As they followed along. Then he realized, suddenly, That she’d brought him into someone’s battle-hall (463-469, 47). Grendel’s mother was even stronger than Grendel. She moved faster and no Geat could have stopped her. She comes back to avenge her son. Beowulf eventually prevails, killing Grendel’s mother and Grendel. Beowulf’s Last Battle also illustrates battling supernatural forces.
I’ve never known fear, as a youth I fought In endless battles. I am old, now, But I will fight again, seeking fame still, If the dragon hiding in his tower dares To face me (607-609, 52). In this final battle Beowulf challenges the dragon with an arrogant and cocky attitude which ultimately leads to Beowulf’s death. Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon are all supernatural forces that could have easily killed a normal human. Beowulf had to possess special traits in order to put up a fight against these forces. The fact that he was able to overcome these supernatural forces adds to the fact that he is an epic hero.
Another characteristic that defines an epic hero is supernatural abilities or qualities. Beowulf displays these abilities throughout the story. During two main parts of the story it is evident that Beowulf uses supernatural strength. In his far-off home Beowulf, Higlac’s Follower and the strongest of the Geats greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in the world (109-111, 36). Beowulf was sent on his quest to kill Grendel because he was the strongest person in the world. Strength is also present in the battle between Grendel’s mother and Beowulf. Then he saw, a sword hanging on the wall, a heavy Sword, hammered by giants strong And blessed with their magic, and the best of all weapons But so massive that no ordinary man could lift (613-616, 49).
This quote states that Beowulf must have a supernatural ability of strength because no ordinary man could lift the sword off of the wall but Beowulf managed to do so. Beowulf also expresses bravery and kinship. That I, alone and with the help of my men, May purge all evil from this hall. I have heard, Too, that the monsters scorn of men Is so great that he needs no weapons and fears none. Nor will I. My lord Higlac (165-169, 38). Throughout the story he willing to stand up for his people time and time again. He is constantly volunteering to go against supernatural forces which takes a lot of bravery and courage. He also volunteers for the love he holds for his men which shows kinship.
Beowulf is Tested to Prove His Worthiness
Finally Beowulf is tested to prove his worthiness in order to be considered an epic hero. He demonstrates worthiness by formulating a plan to end Grendel.
Would sail across the sea to Hrothgar, Now when help was needed. None Of the wise ones regretted his going, much As he was loved by the Geats: the omens were good And they urged the adventure on (115-119, 36). He shows he is worthy by stepping up and fighting Grendel, restoring peace to Herot. His displays worthiness for this mission through his bravery, confidence, and leadership. Beowulf also exhibits proof of worthiness through his trials of the past. They have seen my strength for themselves, Have watched me rise from the darkness of war, Dripping with my enemies’ blood.
I drove Five great giants into chains, chased All of that race from the Earth. I swam In the blackness of night, hunting monsters Out of the ocean, and killing them one by one (151-158, 38). Beowulf is worthy to be an epic hero because of the many obstacles he has overcome for the good of his people. He has constantly put himself in harm’s way in order to protect others. Beowulf also proved his worthiness to the Danes which is exhibited through their actions. No Dane doubted The victory, for the proof, hanging high From the rafters where Beowulf had hung it, was the monster’s Arm, claw and shoulder and all (355-358, 43). The Danes had to flee from their home for twelve years because of Grendel. Beowulf was the only one willing to fight for the Danes which proved he was worthy of being an epic hero.
In conclusion Beowulf can be seen as an epic hero by possessing character traits such as battling supernatural forces, having supernatural abilities, and being tested to prove his worthiness. Without these character traits he would have not been able to live the incredible life he did. He put himself in harm’s way in order to protect his people. He was willing to stand up for himself and his village. Beowulf is considered an epic hero because of the character traits he possesses.