The Iliad and Beowulf
The Iliad and Beowulf are both epic poems. Poems have requirements to be considered an epic. The poems have a similarities and differences. Both of these poems have a heroic figure that determines the fate and destiny of nations, interact with supernatural beings, and have similar themes. In both poems, the actions of the hero determine the fate of their people.
In Beowulf, Grendel must be stopped at all costs. Beowulf stabs him deep in the shoulder. So deep in fact the muscle and bone split. When the battle was over, Beowulf came out victorious and gained glory (Line 336-341). In The Iliad, Achilles and Hector battle it out. Achilles killed the Trojan prince. “The bare throat…where the destruction of life is quickest. Here, then, as the Trojan charged, Achilles…drove his point straight through the tender neck.” (Line 163-166).
The main heroes of the poems have different approaches to heroism. Achilles and Beowulf were well known and had fame, but Achilles is more focused on his fame than Beowulf. Beowulf is humble even though he is a great warrior. They both have super human powers that help them kill their enemies and they both take the body or parts from the body as a trophy after a kill. Achilles is driven by anger, but Beowulf fights more for honor than anything else. He doesn’t have the battle going on in his mind like Achilles does when he was grieving for his friend. Both heroes encourage their
Alexis 2fellow soldiers in battle. Achilles seems like he kills with less of a motive than Beowulf does. Beowulf was trying to protect people, but it seems like Achilles just kills because it’s what he is good at.
Beowulf and the Iliad have similar themes throughout the poems; The battle of good vs. evil. In the beginning of Beowulf, the theme of good vs evil is presented. Grendel, a demon, Who haunted the moors, the wild Marshes, and made his home in hell, Not hell but earth. (Beowulf). He’s the first example of evil we see in this work. Beowulf… The strongest of the Geats (Beowulf). Is the first example of good we see in the work. Throughout the poem, we are told in detail, the bloody encounters Beowulf has had with evil. Even when he was old and weak he still strived to overcome evil.
In trying to protect his honor, Beowulf engages in a battle with a dragon. He is defeated by the dragon, but died with his honor. Meanwhile, in the Iliad, the example of evil is the Trojan war itself. War can bring out the evil in a good spirit and taint their morals. At the beginning of the poem, the hero’s are fighting for the good of their people. After Hector killed Patroclus, Achilles turned his heart bent upon evil actions. The defilement of Hectors body after Achilles murders him, displays the immense evil of war. Hectors body is dragged around in books 23 and 24. This is frowned upon by the gods. Achilles eventually gives back the body and Hector has a funeral. The result of war is bitterness and pain with little justification.
In conclusion, both of these epic poems are similar. Supernatural forces are present in the poems and both have a common theme, good verses evil. The heroes fight for the good of their people and the outcome is determined by their actions. The Iliad teaches us that nothing can be solved by war, in the end, all we will be left with is sadness and death.