Explore the connections between heroism and saintliness in Beowulf and The Dream of the RoodAny suggestion for points of discussion welcome
Excellent question! Both in Beowulf and in “The Dream of the Rood,” true heroism is associated with a Christian willingness to sacrifice oneself for others – a willingness rooted in devotion to God.
For example, Beowulf demonstrates true Christian heroism through his final battle against the dragon, a battle that results in the deaths of both. As Beowulf is dying, he thanks God for his victory over the dragon. He realizes that he has made a worthy sacrifice of himself by remaining true to his Christian principles, thereby benefitting his people.
Similarly, in “The Dream of the Rood,” Christ himself is presented as a kind of epic hero – a man willing and indeed eager to sacrifice himself so that others (in this case all of humanity) may benefit. Both Beowulf and Christ are “defeated” in a worldly sense (since both die), but each shows, in the process of sacrificing themselves, how easily heroism can be reconciled with saintliness from a Christian perspective.