Anglo-Saxon Ideal Code of Conduct


Anglo-Saxon Ideal Code of Conduct

he epic poem of “Beowulf” presents the characteristics of two heroes, Beowulf
and Hrothgar. During this Anglo-Saxon time period, Hrothgar rules as the king of his
Danish lands. However, this king faces many problems due to the disturbances of a
monster known as Grendel. As an Anglo-Saxon warrior of the time, Beowulf hears of
this creature and journeys through the hero’s path to kill Grendel. Through this journey,
Hrothgar and Beowulf reconstruct the code of conduct of an ideal Anglo-Saxon king and
warrior.
The Danish lands of the time are ruled by Hrothgar, a respected and generous
king. These qualities of character were admired by the people of his time and place. All
people of Hrothgar’s kingdom respected this king, and they all accepted his “very word
far and wide as a command.” The people also give him great titles such as the “Lord of
the Mighty Danes,” “guardian of the Scyldings,” and “protector of warriors.” Much of
these people’s respect come in response to Hrothgar’s generosity to everyone. This
generosity can be seen towards Beowulf, when the king gives his thanks for the heroic
deeds of the warrior. Hrothgar rewards Beowulf with priceless material as he says to the
warrior, “You shall lack no earthly riches I can offer you.” The people of the land also
trust their king, who holds a strong belief in God. In the scene where Hrothgar celebrates
Grendel’s death, he holds the monsters hand as he says, “Let us give thanks at once to
God Almighty for this sight.” The followers of the king both respect and trust their ruler,
and through his generosity and strong trust in good, Hrothgar displays the ideal code of
conduct for an Anglo-Saxon king.

Mano 2

Another epic hero that has qualities that follow the Anglo-Saxon code of conduct
is Beowulf. This warrior, known to be the “strongest man alive,” leaves for a heroic
journey when he hears of the evil Grendel. He first shows his strength and bravery when
he sets sail to assist Hrothgar in defeating Grendel after hearing news of the creature in
his own land. Beowulf is constantly referred to as brave, such as when he defeats
Grendel, and Hrothgar must reward him for his heroics. As the “brave man moved
forward until he stood immediately before the Danish lord,” Hrothgar says, “I will
reward this brave man with treasures.” The unbeatable strength of Beowulf shows during
his confrontation with Grendel, when the monster instantly realizes that “never had he
met any man in the regions of earth, in the whole world, with so strong a grip.” The
enormous creature, for the first time, meets his match and cannot help but to feel terror
and “eager to escape to his lair.” To further understand Beowulf’s power, the author
describes of an “immense invincible sword wrought by the giants” that no other human
but Beowulf could handle it during battle. Through his bravery to confront the evil
creature and his strength to defeat Grendel, Beowulf creates himself as the bold and
powerful warrior that represents that ideal code of conduct for an Anglo-Saxon warrior.
Through the hero’s journey in “Beowulf,” characteristics of both Hrothgar and
Beowulf can be seen. Hrothgar plays his role as a respected and generous king, while
Beowulf is the strong and brave warrior. In displaying these characteristics, both
Hrothgar and Beowulf reconstruct the ideal code of conduct for an Anglo-Saxon king and
warrior.

Category: English