Beowulf: The Ultimate Hero


A hero is one who places himself or herself at risk for another by
performing great deeds of courage. Often in our society today, athletes are
looked up to as heros. Brett Favre is an excellent example of a modern day hero.
He is looked up to by many for his strength, leadership, and success. While on
the football field, he is willing to risk his "life" by running the ball in when
there is no one else to go to. Favre also gives all of the glory to God.
Whenever he has conquered another team, or made the winning play, all praise is
given to God. In the poem Beowulf, translated by Constance B. Hieatt, Beowulf is
an epic hero. An epic is a "lengthy narrative poem which genealogizes and
embellishes the origin of a tribe or nation". (Edward A. Bloom) Not only is
Beowulf a hero because of his physical strength, but like Favre, gives the glory
to God. Beowulf is the ultimate hero who put his life on the line for an entire
kingdom.
Beowulf\'s heroism can be seen when he takes 14 of the bravest in his
land to go help Hrothgar. Hrothgar was Beowulf\'s father\'s close friend who had
been plagued by attacks for twelve years that threatened an entire kingdom.
Beowulf did not have to offer Hrothgar\'s kingdom help, but does so because he
wants to uses his God given strength to the best of his ability. As soon as
Beowulf heard of the troubles in this land he set sail immediately. Beowulf
continues to show his thankfulness by thanking God for giving them safe travel
across the sea. Beowulf is lead to Hrothgar and offers him is "services."

"-Now sit down to the feast, and, in due time, listen to lays of warriors\'
victories, as your heart may prompt you. (15)

Beowulf is asked by the warriors to tell of his past defeats while eating in
Hrothgar\'s palace. Beowulf is already a hero to the people of this land for he
is about to rid them of their enemy. The warriors are anxious to here what he
has done and what he plans to do to Grendel. Here Beowulf "puts on his running
shoes" and runs through his battle plan mentally just as any great athlete would
do before a big meet. As the Banquet continues, Hrothgar thanks Beowulf, and
promises him great treasure if he succeeds in defeating Grendel.
As an ultimate hero, Beowulf decides, to be far, he will not use weapons
in his battle against Grendel since Grendel reputedly does not use them.

"I do not consider myself a lesser fighter than Grendel does himself;
therefore I will not kill him with a sword, and deprive him of life in that
way....No: this night we two will abstain from swords..." (19-20)

That night, even after hearing of all of Beowulf\'s heroic defeats, the warriors
still feel that no man on earth will be able to stand up to the evil Grendel
carries. Beowulf will either defeat Grendel or die in the process. "Let me live
in greatness...and courage," he says, "or here in this hall welcome...my death."
Beowulf awaits the arrival of Grendel then goes on to defeat him and sends him
back to the "fen" to die.
Hrothgar\'s speech to Beowulf is more than an expression of thanks. For
he states: "Let me take you to my heart" and "make you my son too..." When a
heroic deed is done such as Beowulf has done, it is common practice for them to
accept you into their family. Once again, the influence of Christianity shows
in Hrothgar\'s speech to Beowulf. It was the "Almighty" who sent Beowulf and it
was "with the Lord\'s help" that Beowulf was able to defeat Grendel. Hrothgar
wants to make it known throughout the world that Beowulf is the strongest man
alive and is a proven hero. It is the characteristics of agelessness and
dedication that sets him apart from the other warriors, and makes him a truly
heroic individual.
Beowulf may have defeated Grendel, but his fighting days are not yet
over. For Grendel\'s Mother is about to seek revenge.
Another one of Beowulf\'s heroic deeds of kindness is seen when he goes
after Grendel\'s mother even though that was not a part of the original "deal."
Hrothgar is beside himself. "Anguish has descended on the Danes." (36) The
king begs Beowulf to help him once again. Hrothgar is extremely upset by the
death of his friend Aeschere. His speech to Beowulf shows how hurt he is.

"...the grey-haired warrior,