All of these characteristics apply to Beowulf . The hero, Beowulf, is the title character. He represents the values of the heroic age, specifically the Germanic code of comitatus — the honor system that existed in Scandinavian countries in the fifth and sixth centuries between a king, or feudal lord, and his warriors (thanes). Thanes swore devotion to their leader and vowed to fight boldly, to the death if necessary, for him. If the leader should fall, his thanes must avenge his life. For his part, the leader rewarded his thanes with treasure, protection, and land. His generosity often was considered a virtue and a mark of character. Courage, loyalty, and reputation were other virtues for these warriors, and we can look for them as themes in the poem. The code of the comitatus is at the heart of the Beowulf epic. Increasingly, scholars distinguish between two types of epic. The first, the
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2011 for the course ENG 1320 taught by Professor Bost during the Fall '09 term at Texas State.