I need help writing an essay for the following assignment:   The pagan Germans, Greeks, and other ancient peoples believed that fame and glory are the only things that will survive a human being’s death. What evidence do you find in Beowulf of the importance placed on a person’s public reputation? Write an essay in which you use examples from the poem to support your answer.    

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Beowulf derives from an oral tradition and describes a time several centuries earlier than the one in which it was finally written down. As such, while the "Beowulf-poet," or Beowulf scribe, writes in a Christian context, the Christian elements in the poem often seem to sit uncomfortably with its overwhelmingly pagan concerns, among which reputation is key.

To Beowulf and his soldiers, reputation is paramount. When Beowulf first arrives at Heorot, he establishes his right to be there and to take on the fearful monster Grendel by telling stories of his previous heroic feats. Unferth takes issue with these; many have wondered whether this is a case of "ofermod" in Beowulf, with the great hero exaggerating what he was capable of (holding his breath under water for many hours while fighting sea monsters, for instance). This kind of exaggeration was permitted under the rules of the heroic boast, provided that the hero is able to defend his reputation by continued success in battle. In killing...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 677 words.)

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