What is the difference between Beowulf's youth and his older years?

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When Beowulf first appears in the poem, it is as an epic hero. He is described as the greatest and strongest of the Geats, and his strength (a quality of youth) is emphasized above all else. When he greets Hrothgar, he tells him that the wisest and cleverest of his people have said that Beowulf should come to the aid of the Danes and fight Grendel. They say this because they know his strength. It is notable that Beowulf attributes wisdom to others and only strength and daring to himself, listing his feats in battle and planning to add the glory of killing Grendel to the list.

Fifty years later, Beowulf's strength has waned, but he has had time to acquire wisdom. The attributes of a great hero and a good king may overlap, particularly in a society where the king must defend his people and lead them in battle, but they are not identical. Beowulf does not rush into battle with the dragon. When he addresses his warriors, he says that fighting the dragon will be quite different from fighting...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 952 words.)

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