Beowulf, the epic poem, defines Beowulf (the protagonist) as the true epic hero. After upholding his promise of ridding Heorot of evil, in defeating both Grendel and his mother, Beowulf returns to his homelands. Prior to leaving, Hrothgar gives Beowulf some very important advice.
Hrothgar tells Beowulf of a very successful king of the Danes, Heremod. This king, although he was on the path of being a great king, fell to his pride and desire for power. Hrothgar uses the story of Heremod to insure that Beowulf remains a true hero and good king (when he is given the throne).
Upon his return to the Geatlands, Beowulf rules his kingdom for 50 years well. On his deathbed he proclaims that he "observed social custom in my home, and cared for [his] own with justice. [He] did not seek feuds, nor have I [he] falsely sworn any oath." Beowulf lived up to the hopes of Hrothgar. He ruled his lands well and did not allow fame, fortune, or power to change him.