Olivia Spedale Carlo 19/23/19 Beowulf V. Contemporary TimeThe Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hero as “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” This definition of a hero has not always been portrayed the same way throughout history. For example, heroes from the Anlgo-Saxon era sought blood vengeance and were extreme warriors whereas today heroes fight with words and are considered activists. The epic poem “Beowulf” tells a story of a selfless Anlgo-Saxon hero. Beowulf embodies the ideals of conduct in Anglo-Saxon culture because he is portrayed as a strong, courageous man, willing to sacrifice himself for the king, all the while on alife-long heroic journey filled with many obstacles. “In Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, to be a hero was to be a warrior. A hero had to be strong, intelligent, and courageous. Warriors had to be willing to face any odds, and fight to the death for their glory and people. The Anglo-Saxon hero was able to be all of these and still be humble and kind. “ (Garcia, Christopher) In the beginning of the poem, Beowulf is described as having the strength of “thirty men” in just one arm. This automatically lets readers know Beowulf has immense strength and ability. As Beowulf first arrives to Herot from Geatland the coast guard sees the mighty hero and says, "I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle-dress" (Beowulf, 7). This introduces a series of events that prove Beowulf’s strength. Whether its single handedly ripping off the arm of a horrific demon named Grendel, killing Grendel's monstrous mother, or even defeating a fire-breathing dragon, the poem“Beowulf” clearly proves strength is an important characteristic of an Anglo-Saxon hero. Not only does Beowulf express immense strength throughout the story but also courage.
Courage must be shown through deeds, even if it means death. Beowulf proves this through the many obstacles he faces along his heroic journey. In a sense both strength and courage rely on one another. As Christopher Garcia put it “Beowulf must display courage in the face of overwhelming or impossible odds, and he must have the strength to back his courage.” In an argument with Unferth, Beowulf says, "Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good" (Beowulf, 12). This quote shows the importance of courage in the Anglo-Saxon culture and that every hero must have courage. In Anglo-Saxon culture fate was thought to be unchangeable but for a hero who has enough courage, fate tends to bend.