Beowulf is in many ways a typical hero of oral-traditional epic. Such heroes were usually described as "speakers of words and doers of deeds." Their primary characteristics were a combination of physical prowess, moral virtue, intelligence, and persuasive speaking. Their physical prowess is demonstrated in battle or conquest, as in Beowulf's triumph over Grendel, Grendel's mother, the sea monsters and the dragon. Persuasive speaking and leadership talents are seen in the way in which Beowulf manages to organize and lead his followers. His intelligence in seen in his figuring out and using tactical solutions rather than simple brute force. Finally, as is typical of heroism, he displays the the virtues of courage and self-discipline as well as piety and generosity.
Unlike the protagonists of modern novels, epic characters are rarely three-dimensional or fully realized, but instead represent "types".