Sigurd, like Beowulf, is a dragon-slaying product of Germanic warrior culture, who fulfils all the criteria for heroism within that culture. He is of royal birth, strong and courageous, a leader and a warrior who performs great feats and whose name lives on long after his death. The sources for the heroic career of Sigurd are perhaps more numerous than those pertaining to any other hero. The most detailed of many are the Volsunga Saga, the Poetic Edda, and the Nibelungenlied. However, there are many discrepancies between and even within texts.
In the Volsunga Saga, Sigurd is the son of King Sigmund, who died in battle before Sigurd was born. He grows up at the court of King Hjalprek, and his first great feat of courage is to slay the dragon, Fafnir. He then awakes the Princess Brynhild, who was stabbed by the god Odin with a thorn that induced sleep. His power to wake Brynhild confirms his heroic status, as does her willingness to marry him, since she has always refused to marry anyone who knows the meaning of fear.
Slaying a dragon is enough to make a hero but, beyond this, there is little agreement about precisely what Sigurd did and what happened to him. The number of different versions of his story can be taken as evidence of his heroic stature, as can the uncertainty about which, if any, historical figure served as a model for him. Beowulf, like Aeneas, is dependent on a single poet for his fame. Sigurd is a much more legendary and universal figure.