How does the archetypal epic hero stand in relation to his or her community as the hero?



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In the epic poem Beowulf, Beowulf, represents the archetypal hero.  He is a man whose talents and abilities as a warrior are almost god-like.  He is undefeated until his final glorious battle.  His strength is phenomenal and his cunning matches his adversaries.  He is attractive and mighty.

"I have never seen a mightier warrior on earth than is one of you, a man in battle-dress" (Beowulf, 7)

Of course to be the archetypal hero, he has to fight the archetypal monsters that are causing harm to others.  Beowulf also has confidence in his ability to succeed.  He is a leader whose men follow him without question from region to region.  He is willing to fight to the death.

"I resolved, when I set out on the sea, sat down in the sea-boat with my band of men, that I should altogether fulfill the will of your people or else fall in slaughter, fast in the foe's grasp. I shall achieve a deed of manly courage or else have lived to see in this mead-hall my ending day."  (Beowulf, 13)

Despite the victor's confidence he must also have some degree of humility.  Beowulf demonstrates this after he has destroyed the mother of Grendel.

"The mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, and most eager for fame" (Beowulf, 52).

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