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The epic hero qualities of Beowulf

Summary:

Beowulf exhibits several epic hero qualities, including extraordinary strength, bravery, and loyalty. He fights formidable foes like Grendel and a dragon, showcasing his courage and physical prowess. Additionally, his leadership and commitment to protecting his people highlight his noble character and sense of duty, key attributes of an epic hero.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf embodies several traits that make him a textbook epic hero. Some of these traits include his larger-than-life physical strength, his courage in the face of extreme danger, and his loyalty to both his superiors and the men who serve him.

An epic hero is not perfect or immortal, but he is a sort of superhuman. He is larger-than-life in the sense that his qualities exceed those of regular humans. For example, an epic hero will have extraordinary strength. Beowulf displays this best when he fights Grendel and rips his arm from his body. Grendel is an imposing beast who has already easily destroyed a number of men, including warriors who are strong and experienced fighters. Beowulf's feat in killing Grendel perfectly displays how his physical strength sets him apart from others.

Beowulf is also incredibly brave and willing to put himself into physical danger to save the lives of others. First, he decides to go to Hrothgar's kingdom of his own volition despite hearing the horrific reports about the damage Grendel has caused. He seeks out Grendel's mother in her cave, so he is putting himself into a foreign environment to face off with an angry, violent monster. Later in his life, when he is much older, Beowulf sacrifices himself fighting a dragon to protect his kingdom.

Finally, Beowulf is loyal to his superiors and to the men who serve him. Before he goes into a battle or fights any of the monsters he faces, he makes sure his men will be taken care of. He is their lord, and they swear fealty to him. He is responsible for them, and he holds up his end of the bargain. Beowulf is repaid by one of his men, who finishes off the dragon after it has mortally wounded Beowulf himself. His men also honor him after his death, memorializing him as the epic hero he has proven himself to be.

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Here is a video about the charaters of Beowulf, started at the section pertaining to Shield Sheafson for your convenience:

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is an epic hero for many reasons. Three of Beowulf's most epic characteristics are strength, honor, and the ability to rule justly. 

1) Strength: First and foremost, Beowulf is strong, and is known to possess power greater than any normal warrior. This is evidenced by his ability to wrench off the gigantic Grendel's arm and by his ability to contend with Grendel's equally monstrous mother. In short, Beowulf, like Hercules and Achilles, is far stronger than conventional warriors, and his superhuman abilities elevate him to an epic status.

2) Honor: Beowulf is also described as being honorable and virtuous. This characteristic comes into play many times, but it is most evident in Beowulf's commitment to fighting Grendel in hand-to-hand combat, rather than using man-made weapons. Beowulf reasons that Grendel does not use weapons, and so he will likewise eschew any armament besides his own strength. Thus, Beowulf shows that he follows a respectable code of honor, extending respect even to monstrous foes.

3) The ability to rule justly: Beowulf rounds out his epic qualities by proving himself to be a capable ruler. He clearly does not want power, as he initially refuses the throne of his country and only becomes king when it's clear there is no other option. He then goes on to rule for fifty years, and it seems as if the period of his rule is marked by peace and prosperity. As such, Beowulf is epic not only because he is a skilled fighter, but also because he is capable of justly ruling the kingdom entrusted to him.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

There are four characteristics that all epic heroes must have—they are Glorified, On a Quest, Ethical, and Strong. Beowulf is glorified not only because of his noble birth, but because of his past deeds and accomplishments. Beowulf is on a quest, not only at the beginning of the poem (to kill Grendel), but throughout the poem—his mission is to gain more fame and fortune. He is considered ethical because of his protective nature and willingness to help the Danes with their problem. Although it is debated, I would argue that Beowulf gradually loses this trait through the story. Lastly, Beowulf is strong. His strength is exemplified through his ability to complete tasks no other man can complete, such as ripping off Grendel's arm, lifting and wielding the giant-forged sword, and carrying Grendel's head without assistance.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

An epic hero has to perform heroic deeds. Beowulf kills Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon, all of which are heroic deeds that no one else was able or willing to take on. The foes that Beowulf fought were all beyond human strength and capabilities and required superhuman abilities to bring down. Beowulf performed these deeds for the good of others, which is another quality of an epic hero. In the end, though, it was the human mortality of Beowulf which brought him down when the poison wound caused by the dragon resulted in Beowulf's death.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

An epic hero is, in short, the hero of an epic.  An epic is a story, usually a poem, where a character goes on a quest.  There are some characteristics that an epic hero often has.  You can read about them in my first link.  Here are some ways Beowulf is an epic hero. 

(Please note that there are different versions of the poem.  My quotes come from the enotes PDF.  See my second link.)

Beowulf is a strong leader.

Beowulf is very persuasive and charismatic.  He leads his men and they are honored to follow him.  Sometimes the mark of a true epic hero is someone who can lead others and get them to go along with his will, and even follow him into danger.

Now many of Beowulf's band brandished ancestral blades, wanting to save the life of their leader, the proud prince, if such they could do. (ch 12,enotes pdf,  p. 18)

Beowulf is clearly loved by his men, and they will follow him even into great danger.  Beowulf provokes bravery in his men.

Beowulf has amazing physical prowess.

An epic hero is usually strong, often unusually so.  Beowulf is strong enough to battle monsters with his bare hands, without a sword. 

The monster desired to fling himself free, if at all he could, and fly far away to the fens—he knew that his fingers' power was in the grip of a fearsome foe; this was a dire march to Heorot that this devastating beast had made! (ch 11, p. 17)

Grendel doesn’t stand a chance!  Beowulf’s strength leads to even more bravery, and makes others admire or fear him, depending on what side they are on!

His exploits are sung of and heralded.

Every good hero has to have a cheering section!  All of Beowulf’s triumphs are sung, especially the defeat of Grendel.

Then gray-haired clansmen, many youths, and stalwart warriors rode back in high spirits on horses from the mere, and Beowulf's victory was recounted. Many a man said that among all the seas of the world, south or north, that none of the other shield-bearing warriors under the expanse of heaven's vault were more valiant or more worthy to rule! (ch 13, p. 19)

By recounting Beowulf’s glory over and over, he becomes a folk hero to all of the people.  They admire him and love him for saving them. 

The hero also gets gifts, of course.  Often these are useful to him later.

Then did the son of Healfdene present to Beowulf a banner woven of gold as an ensign for the victory, an embroidered flag of battle, a helmet and a coat of mail, and a precious sword that was seen by many when they brought it before the hero. (ch 15, p. 21)

Beowulf gets a heroic sword to fight Gredel’s mother with.

The epic hero “dies” and is resurrected.

A significant part of the hero’s journey is where the hero is reborn.  Beowulf kills Grendel, but then has to face and defeat Grendel’s mother.  He does so by going deep under the dark waters, a symbolic death.

The life of the son of Ecgtheow, prince of the Geats, would have ended there underneath the wide earth if his armor of war, hard net of battle, had not aided him; and the Holy God, wisest Maker, wielded the victory. The heavenly Ruler championed his cause, and he soon stood on his feet again. (ch 22, p. 28)

So you can see that the epic hero is more than the sum of his parts.  He is an inspiration to others.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is above all courageous and loyal. These two traits inform most of his actions over the course of the poem. He is courageous in that he is willing to face monsters that give even other warriors pause. He thinks nothing of fighting Grendel bare-handed or going to confront the dragon alone even as an old man. Beowulf's loyalty often drives his courage: he does what he does to rescue the Danes from destruction. Their welfare is important to him, though it must be noted that loyalty and protective instincts are not his only motivations in facing monsters.

Beowulf's third major characteristic is a hunger for glory. He hopes that by defeating many monsters he will be remembered after his death. This trait is part of what brings him to Heorot Hall in the first place. This is ultimately a double-edged trait. His hunger for glory is good because it drives Beowulf to accomplish amazing things and further work in service of the greater good. But it is bad because it causes him to act recklessly at times. Some critics have argued that Beowulf's final battle with the dragon is driven as much by a desire to add to his legacy as it is to protect his people. While his death in battle does temporarily save his people from destruction at the hands of the dragon, the people themselves observe that without Beowulf, they are left vulnerable to the attacks of other tribes; in this sense, Beowulf has been reckless in his final actions.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is an exemplary human being who functions as an ideal person. His courage and effectiveness in fighting is balanced by his love for family, generosity, compassion, and overall avoidance of unnecessary violence.

Some of Beowulf's characteristics are as follows:

Loving and loyal to family: Beowulf was raised by his grandfather from age seven. He loves and remains loyal to his grandfather, Hrethel, as well as to his uncle, Hygelac.

Compassionate towards others: Beowulf offers sympathy and words of comfort to Hrothgar when his son dies, and he worries about Freawaru's marriage. He defeats monsters, but we learn of him killing only two humans, despite his being a great warrior. He also rules his kingdom peacefully.

Faith-filled: Beowulf has a strong faith in God's presence in his life and believes that God guides human affairs. He is able to, with trust, put his fate in God's hands.

Dutiful: Beowulf takes responsibility for civilization beyond his own family and homeland, traveling across the sea to aid Hrothgar in defeating Grendel. He is selflessly willing to risk himself for others.

Strength: Beowulf has immense physical strength. This bodily trait is essential to his ability to defeat Grendel.

Courage: Beowulf models courage in his fearless willingness to confront monsters in order to protect the larger social order.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is depicted as the most ideal of leaders. His most immediately recognizable characteristics are his prodigious strength and endurance, which more often than not fall directly into the category of the superhuman. Indeed, he is able to defeat the vile Grendel single-handedly and go on to defeat Grendel's mother immediately afterward. He does all of this for his people and purely on a volunteer basis, demonstrating his steadfast devotion to his people and his courage in the face of danger.

Furthermore, Beowulf even fights a dragon at the end of his life, against incredible odds, going above and beyond the call of duty for his people. Perhaps most telling of his character is his unfaltering faith, as he thanks and consults God in all that he does, asking that he show him the right course of action and give him the strength needed to pursue justice.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Obviously, the defining characteristic of Beowulf is his bravery, and his strong desire to demonstrate it to others. He travels to the land of the Danes in large part to prove his courage by destroying Grendel, and he then fearlessly pursues Grendel's mother into her underwater lair. Even late in his life, he dies fighting against a dragon that is terrorizing his homeland. Beowulf is also very concerned about kinship, loyalty, and honor, all of which are related to the self-sacrificial nature of his courage. For all this, Beowulf is also a man of deep personal faith. Before his battle with Grendel, he offers a prayer: "May the Divine Lord in His wisdom grant the glory of victory to whichever side he sees fit." After the fight with the monster, he gives credit to God, who, he says, "allowed" him to kill the monster, who is, not incidentally, descended from Cain. So Beowulf is defined by his martial valor, his sense of honor and loyalty, and by his religious faith.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf possesses many great heroic qualities:

  • Inhuman strength: he is able to defeat Grendel by ripping his arm off; he is able to defeat Grendel's mother by holding his breath an insane length of time; he is known for this great strength in battle as well as sport competition.
  • Loyalty: he is loyal to King Hrothgar- who once saved his father - evidenced by his arrival to kill the monsters threatening Herot; loyal to his own king (evidenced by bringing the gifts from Hrothgar back home); loyal to his own men - evidenced by his decision to stay with them and sleep in the same place rather than a place of honor.
  • Courage: Beowulf never thinks twice about fighting the monsters that, until his arrival, have done nothing but kill those who came before him - evidence of his courage can be found throughout the text.
  • Faith/Gratitude: Beowulf frequently references giving glory to "God" or the "Lord" after a victory; the traditionally paegan tale passed down orally was finally written by a Christian monk (scholars believe) so the faith in God element was likely added as a means of spreading Christianity - it is there, nonetheless.

There are certainly others, but I'd say these are the easiest to find examples of throughout the text.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

The epic of Beowulf illustrates the characteristics the Anglo-Saxons desired in their leaders. As the protagonist of the epic, Beowulf possess all of the traits the Anglo-Saxons embraced.

Beowulf was a polished speaker, a great warrior and leader, brave, strong, desired to help others, and noble. His battle speeches excite and band together his men. He has proven to be a great warrior based upon his multiple victories over foes of equal or greater strength than he. He leads his men without fear across great expanses of water. He refuses to leave Hrothgar's lands until evil has been defeated.

Time and time again, Beowulf proves the worthiness of his name, his ancestry, and his rise to king.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is certainly brave and strong, but I would argue that his perseverance is his strongest characteristic.  He keeps going even when it is difficult, and that is ultimately why he succeeds.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf has a great sense of pride and will not leave a battle unfinished.  This is revealed in big and small ways throughout the text.  He kills Grendel, but he makes sure that the battle is done by taking Grendel's arm and nailing up on the mead hall front door.  He then doesn't shy away from Grendel's mother who could be just as menacing -- he finishes the battle of Grendel by eliminating any threats from her as well, putting the final touch on this conflict.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

One thing we see about Beowulf is his desire for fame- or to be remembered.  When de dives into the lake to fight Grendel's mom, the book even tells us, "Beowulf, longing only for fame, leaps into" the lake.  Even our modern day heroes may pause and think about the best plan to fight the monster's angry mother, but not Beowulf.  Pausing would make it seem as though he doubted his own abilities, and so he grabs Hrunting and a helmet, throws on his mail shirt and dives in ready to fight.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

One of Beowulf's most important characteristics is his desire to help others, even at his own expense; this is best seen in the final battle with the dragon, where despite his advanced age he lays his own life down to defend and protect his people.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf displays a number of important characteristics, including bravery, intelligence, initiative, concern for other people, loyalty to his superiors, loyalty to God, humility, and, of course, great physical strength as well as real skill in the use of that strength.  Practically all of these traits can be seen in the description of his fight with Grendel.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

The term epic is derived from the Greek word "epikos," which originally meant a poem or narrative. The genre epic is defined by literary critics as a type of poem that derives from oral tradition and represents an important and often normative representation of the culture of a specific group. The term "epic," despite referring to a type of long narrative poem, also suggests a certain type of reception or cultural importance.

Beowulf is a traditional Anglo-Saxon epic. Although it was transmitted in writing, it derives from an oral tradition. It is a long narrative poem based on history and includes foundational stories about historical figures. Its form is a traditional one for epics of its culture, as it uses four stress alliterative meter.

As with most epics, it is a heroic story with breadth and grandeur, embodying the values of its society and holding up a hero as an exemplar of virtue for its audience. It reflects beliefs in the values of martial prowess, strong kinship bonds, honor, and piety. Beowulf himself is a model of a good ruler in the way he sacrifices himself for the good of his subjects and thus is a sort of "mirror for princes", teaching nobles that duty and responsibility go along with privilege.

Another typical epic feature is the patterning in which the hero faces increasingly powerful foes. Structurally, the hero announces how he will attack the foe, prepares for battle, defeats the foe, and then gives a speech afterwards for each foe encountered. This type of conventional patterning of scenes in terms of structure is typical of oral-derived works.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Epics are long narrative poems that typically reveal the values of the culture from which they arise. The earliest epics were transmitted orally, so poets used techniques like kennings and alliteration to help remember the story and engage listeners. Good and evil are clearly defined in epics, and the epic hero (the good guy) must overcome obstacles or defeat villains.

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, the earliest we know of in Old English. The poem is long and tells a story, and it features a classic epic hero in its title character, Beowulf. As the hero, Beowulf is larger-than-life; he is not immortal, but he is depicted as better than "normal" humans in many ways. He has superhuman strength and bravery. These characteristics are demonstrated through his decision to travel to Hrothgar's kingdom to take on the fearsome monster Grendel, who has been terrorizing the kingdom by killing and eating Hrothgar's men. The battle with Grendel proves Beowulf's epic physical strength, as he rips the monster's arm from its body and hangs it in the mead hall as a trophy. Later, Beowulf fights the monster's mother in her own cave. As an old king, Beowulf even puts his life on the line to protect his land from a dragon. Unfortunately, Beowulf is mortally wounded, but his accomplishments and his reputation stand. He goes out fighting in true heroic fashion. On the other hand, the monsters he battles— especially Grendel—are clearly described as evil and villainous, and we as readers are made to know Beowulf is heroic to defeat those beasts.

Beowulf tells us that Anglo-Saxon warrior culture valued bravery, selflessness, and strength. They also admired loyalty and followed the code of comitatus, which governed relationships between lords and those who serve their lords. The epic demonstrates a mix of pagan and Christian beliefs, as the poem was originally disseminated at a time when Christianity had not fully spread or dominated Western culture as the primary religion in Europe. The epic is an engaging tale that describes the epic hero's valiant deeds. 

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Like other epics, Beowulf is long. It also depicts the heroic deeds of a figure who is human, but still larger than life. Beowulf, like many (but not all) of the classical epics, was not originally composed in written form, but rather passed down in oral form by bards, singers who committed the main points of the story to memory and sang it for small audiences. Like many other epics, notably the Iliad, Beowulf includes long descriptions of the major characters' family lines and histories. The events of the poem, like in many other epics, open in medias res, as Grendel is already ravaging the Danes when the story opens. And like other epics, Beowulf occupies a prominent place in the national lore of the people that produced it.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

There are many characteristics of epics. Some of the main ones seen in Beowulf are:

  1. Feasts or Ceremonies between moments of exciting action
  2. Great battles
  3. Sea voyage
  4. Search or Quest for a life-giving item or to rid the land of a dangerous menace
  5. Good eventually wins over evil
  6. Evil's story is often told so we almost feel empathy or understand evil's point of view
  7. The last verse/canto relates the death of the wounded, elderly hero

Some of the secondary epic characteristics in Beowulf are:

  1. Diversions about the histories and naming of objects
  2. List of the ancestry of the main characters
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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

This a very broad question. There are many characteristics of the Beowulf that one can point to. In light of this I will mention only two. First, Beowulf has a strong emphasis on the heroic code. Bravery, courage, prowess in battle, and most of all victory is prized. It is one of the central features of the work. Beowulf epitomizes these qualities. He is sure of himself, fights alone and defeat all his foes. In the end, he even dies while he defeats the dragon.

Another quality that is found in Beowulf, which might be odd, is Christian theology. For example, Grendel is from the line of Cain, the one in the Bible who slew his brother. In this way, we see the genealogy of Grendel traced back to biblical times.

From these two points, we can tell that the work was produced in a culture where valor and Christianity were prized. Hence, we can posit that there was a mixing of cultures - Germanic, Roman, and Christian.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

In addition to the qualities mentioned in the citation linked below, we can find other typical qualities of epic poetry in Beowulf.

We expect an epic to begin in media res, in the middle, and for the most part we can see that this poem offers first a prologue on Shield Sheafson but then jumps into the tale of Hrothgar. We don't start with Beowulf's history, which is somewhat shrouded, nor do we learn much about Hrothgar other than that his meadhall is under siege. We get flashbacks on culture-defining moments and the backstory of Grendel as we go. In this epic, the value of looking back to Shield is important as he is an exemplar of a good king, the theme of the poem. The focus on the epic theme of what a good king must do is important in epic poetry and this poem offers Shield, Hrothgar, and Beowulf as examples of those who are admirable but not perfect in their execution of political leadership.

The elevated language of alliterative verse, kennings, use of epithets, and statements defining cultural values are also important qualities in an epic. This poem seems to have been part of the oral tradition and we see the way its majestic poetry would enhance conversations about what the Anglo-Saxon tribes valued. In particular, the ideal of the comitatus, or the duties of bravery, loyalty and generosity or hospitality, runs throughout the poem. The culture is strong when all do their part, with the king and the thane each performing an appropriate role in keeping the land safe. Beowulf's tragedy in the end seems to emerge from his willingness to fight the dragon—a thane's battle, not an aged king's—thus leaving the Geats unprotected once Beowulf dies.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is an epic because the hero of the story is exceptional. Beowulf is seen battling and slaying great monsters. He also demonstrates outstanding physical abilities such as staying underwater for hours, wielding a heavy sword forged by giants, and tearing Grendel’s arm from his body.

The setting of the poem is considerably vast. It covers different countries, and Beowulf is seen traveling to the Danes across a great sea to fight Grendel.

Beowulf demonstrates supernatural power and significant courage because he reaches out to the Danes and offers his assistance at a time when no other warriors were forthcoming. He not only fights Grendel, he also faces off with the mother.

The story features supernatural beings in the form of monsters and dragons. Beowulf fights sea monsters, Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and a dragon that fatally wounds him.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

In many ways, Beowulf is the archetypal hero. Brave, fearless, and strong—indeed, blessed with superhuman strength. As with many heroes, there is something not quite human about Beowulf. Although we know he comes from Geatland, it seems that he comes from a different world entirely.

Beowulf shows his most important characteristics—strength and bravery—by taking on and killing the evil monster Grendel and Grendel's vengeful mother. This is no simple feat, as even the finest Danish warriors cannot match these vicious creatures. But thanks to Beowulf's superhuman strength, he bests them, and peace can finally return to the Danes.

In agreeing to rid the Danes of Grendel and his mother, Beowulf shows incredible loyalty towards the Danish king, Hrothgar. Loyalty to one's king was an important value in Geatish and Danish society, and Beowulf, in risking his life for Hrothgar, illustrates perfectly just what such loyalty was expected to mean in practice.

When he eventually becomes king of Geatland, Beowulf shows himself to be a worthy ruler. He takes the responsibility of being king very seriously indeed, so much so that he goes out to fight a dragon with a small party of his men rather than remaining behind. In fighting the dragon, Beowulf isn't simply out for glory, though as an Anglo-Saxon warrior, glory is by no means unimportant to him. He is primarily protecting his people from a dangerous threat, just as in his youth he protected the Danes from Grendel and his mother.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf embodies the heroic ideal of both the Geatish world he inhabits and the Anglo-Saxon Christian world that valorized him in the epic poem of his name. On the one hand, he bears the values of the Scandinavian pagan culture in which he lives. He is powerful, fearless, ambitious, and driven by honor. Moreover, he takes pains to ensure that his reputation is untarnished. For example, when he arrives at the court of Hrothgar to offer his assistance in the struggle against Grendel, he delivers a speech citing his resume of accomplishments. He says the Geatish elders supported his intentions to sail to Denmark,

because all knew of my awesome strength.

They had seen me boltered in the blood of enemies

when I battled and bound five beasts,

raided a troll-nest and in the night-sea

slaughtered sea-brutes. I have suffered extremes

and avenged the Geats (their enemies brought it

upon themselves, I devastated them.)

Indeed, Beowulf does not hesitate to highlight his qualifications. When one of the Hrothgar’s men, Unferth, then questions Beowulf’s bravery, Beowulf’s boldness and tendency for self-aggrandizement comes to the fore again. He not only falsifies Unferth’s account of Beowulf’s swimming race against Breca, he calls Unferth’s worth into question:

Now I cannot recall

any fight you entered, Unferth.

On the other hand, Beowulf’s consistent selflessness makes him a model of Christian heroism, reflecting the Anglo-Saxon culture that codified his achievements in Beowulf. His assistance to Hrothgar can be seen as an act of immense service and sacrifice, arguably in the name of eradicating evil—specifically Cain's kin—from the earth. And at the end of the poem, his killing of the dragon represents an act of ultimate sacrifice in that he gives his life to protect his people. From this perspective, Beowulf is a kind of Christian hero, even though the world he lives in is actually pagan. Thus, Beowulf’s characteristics reflect the text’s tension between pagan and Christian values.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is an oral-derived poem, one which draws on a rich fabric of traditional story and legend. The heroes of such poems tend to embody special cultural significance and values for the societies in which they were embedded.

One typical characteristic is the blending of the historical and the mythical. Although Beowulf himself is not mentioned in other historical works, the poem refers to many real other characters and events of the sixth century and provides historical information about the relationships among various tribes.

Next, typically the heroes in most legends are nobles or kings, and the stories about them serve both as foundational stories about a group or tribe and also a guide to how great kings or nobles should behave. Beowulf fits this model in his lineage and the way he serves as a model of a noble hero. He is brave, willing to risk his own life for his subjects, and articulate. Beowulf is also typical in displaying the virtues of physical strength, intelligence, moral restraint, and piety.

The antagonists of the poem, Grendel, his mother, and the dragon are typical in being unequivocal existential threats, who represent pure evil as well as just opposing forces. The poem thus has a certain grandeur and seriousness typical of the genre.

Finally, Beowulf is deeply pious and has respect for the divine, faith, and moral goodness. Conformity to divine will are routinely mentioned, a feature one sees in most epics.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Legendary heroes of old, like Beowulf, have a lot in common with modern day heroes.  In fact, in my media studies class, I show students exactly how much Beowulf has contributed to modern day heroes.  Your question could have asked about any number of currently popular comic book heroes, and their characteristics are strikingly similar to Beowulf's characteristics.  

One key feature to a legendary hero is that the hero has to look like a hero.  Big, strong, young, and handsome.  Think Captain America or Thor for this one.  A legendary hero has to look the part.  They have to look like a warrior.  This absolutely applies to Beowulf.  Near the beginning of the poem, Beowulf is on his way to see Hrothgar.  A guard stops him and demands to know what Beowulf's purpose is.  The guard gives a brief description of what Beowulf looks like.  

Nor have I seen

A mightier man-at-arms on this earth

Than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken,

He is truly noble.  This is no mere                             

Hanger-on in a hero’s armour.

That clearly shows Beowulf as looking the part of a mighty warrior.   Beowulf is also very strong as evidenced by the following quote.  

Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen carried

As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men’s grapple

Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

Plus, don't forget that Beowulf literally tore the arms off of Grendel.  

Another character trait of legendary heroes is that they are brave.  Beowulf is clearly a very brave warrior.  He chooses to fight Grendel.  It's not like he is doing it out of self-defense.  Grendel is not a small fight either.  Not a single warrior has been able to defeat him yet.  Plus, Grendel is scary.  He's said to be demon possessed, and he eats humans.  

Other traits of legendary heroes are that they are victorious while still being humble.  That's true of Beowulf.  He defeats both Grendel and Grendel's mom.  At one point, as a reward, Beowulf is offered the Danish throne and immense riches.  Essentially, Beowulf is offered fame and fortune, but he turns in all down and returns home the same way that he left.  

I think the last defining characteristic of a truly legendary hero is that a legendary hero ultimately dies in battle.  Beowulf does defeat Grendel's mother, but he is mortally wounded in the fight.  He dies as a legendary hero. This is probably single greatest difference between Beowulf and modern day comic book heroes.  They hardly ever die.  

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf is a legendary hero is driven by affection and duty, not personal glory. He seems obvious to fear. Personal glory is not meaningless to Beowulf. He tells Hrothgar that the best thing men can do is to lay up fame before death (lines 1386-89). He willingly accepts treasure but just as willingly passes it on to others. Nevertheless, duty, sympathy and generosity are his primary motivations. What may endear Beowulf to his audience even more is that, despite his great strength, he is a man with limitations. This helps the audience identify with him because in each of his fights he is seriously challenged and clearly sees himself as relying on the help of God. Thus, even though some of his feats seem clearly supernatural, he is characterized as a mortal man who overcomes many challenges in his life.

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What characteristics in Beowulf make Beowulf an epic hero?

Beowulf's three greatest characteristics are humanitarian, spiritual and personal. First, in regard to the humanitarian, he is able to understand and sympathize with the emotions, feelings, thoughts and needs of other people. This sets him apart from others who either don't have the intellect, will or heart to have compassion, discernment and generosity toward others.

Second, in regard to the spiritual, Beowulf thinks of the afterlife and gives thanks to God for the gifts and privileges given him. Further he deports himself in a way that puts spirituality first by valuing other people's lives ahead of his own, even when that means he may lose his life.

Third, in regard to the personal, Beowulf is not only courageous, he is loyal, steadfast and committed to upholding the integrity and honor of his society and the warrior's code of gift giving and receiving, which is a code that fosters unity. In addition, Beowulf is intelligent and an able orator.

For confirmation see: (23 - 35) and (1759 - 1762).

...when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line. Behaviour that’s admired
is the path to power among people everywhere. (23-25)

Choose, dear Beowulf, the better part,
eternal rewards. Do not give way to pride.
For a brief while your strength is in bloom
but it fades quickly;... 1759 - 1762

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What are the epic qualities of the hero Beowulf?

There are several elements of Beowulf's character that make him a hero of epic proportions.  First, he is larger than life with strength that is more than human. He is introduced into a story that is already begun: Grendel has been harassing Hrothgar's people for twelve years.  Beowulf is a not only a leader and hero, but he is an orator who can make great speeches with eloquence as can be seen in his initial speech to Hrothgar seeking permission to fight Grendel.  Beowulf, like many epic heroes, undertakes a perilous journey to seek out and confront Grendel's mother.  His dive into the lake for the battle is a journey to a type of underworld.  Beowulf confronts his enemies: Grendel, Grendel's mother, and the dragon, in single combat and, in the first two cases, without a weapon.   These are characteristics of an epic hero such as the characteristics seen in Odysseus, Achilles, and Roland, other epic heroes.

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Was Beowulf a typical epic hero?

Beowulf, the main character of the Old English poem Beowulf, fulfills many, but not quite all, of the usual characteristics of the epic hero.

Most importantly, he exhibits the qualities esteemed by his culture. When Beowulf was composed, England was primarily an Anglo-Saxon area. The Anglo-Saxon culture was significantly influenced by warfare. This warrior-based culture fostered values like courage and loyalty, both traits that Beowulf possessed in abundance.

Epic heroes often battle supernatural enemies, as Beowulf did with Grendel, Grendel's mother, and finally the dragon that terrorized his kingdom.

A long and dangerous voyage is also a hallmark of the epic hero's experience. We don't really see a lot of this in Beowulf, although his journey to and from Hrothgar's kingdom is briefly referred to.

Epic heroes often have a noble birth. While Beowulf is not born to a king, and is therefore not a prince, he is related to the Geat king Higlac. When Higlac dies in battle, Beowulf ascends to the Geat throne.

Some sort of exceptional ability is often attributed to the epic hero. Beowulf is probably the strongest warrior in the world. He can defeat Grendel single-handedly. He kills sea monsters by himself. He even battles a dragon as an old man.

The one characteristic of the epic hero that Beowulf most certainly does not possess is humility. In terms of our modern sensibilities, Beowulf looks like an arrogant braggart as boasts of his many feats of bravery and strength. However, he is telling the truth—he really is capable of doing all the things he says he can do and has done.

Taken as a whole, Beowulf is an epic hero, even if he does not meet all the criteria. Even Odysseus, the star of the Greek epic The Odyssey, was known to blow his horn about his exploits from time to time.

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How does Beowulf (the character) embody the traits of an Anglo-Saxon Hero?

Beowulf embodies the traits of the Anglo-Saxon hero in several ways. First, he is physically strong and courageous. The Anglo-Saxon hero is not one who builds the biggest corporation or creates the best algorithm, but the person who can use his physical prowess to keep a community of people safe, which is what Beowulf does.

Beowulf exemplifies the Anglo-Saxon hero when he says:

It seems better that each man avenge his friends than to mourn them to no end.

In other words, taking decisive action and being willing to risk himself for others is what a hero does. A hero also shows loyalty to friends who have died by avenging them and killing their killers.

Beowulf embodies the Anglo-Saxon hero in his attitude toward death, saying:

Each of us must await the end of his path in this world, and he who can, should achieve renown before death! That is the best memorial when life is past and a warrior's days are recounted.

Beowulf does not look for his reward in heaven. He wants to become famous as a warrior in this life, because he believes that is the best form of immortality. That is very typical of an Anglo-Saxon hero: despite Christian overlays, his is primarily a pagan world with an emphasis on the here and now.

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How does Beowulf (the character) embody the traits of an Anglo-Saxon Hero?

Beowulf resembles the traditional Anglo-Saxon hero and the more general hero of oral-traditional epic in many ways. He is skilled in the speaking of words and doing of deeds, renowned for his prowess as a warrior and evolving into a powerful and mature leader. He is also descended from a noble lineage, which is important in traditional epic. 

The first trait he possesses is bodily strength and prowess at warfare. His strength is exemplified by his superhuman swimming ability. His skill in individual battle as a warrior is proven in his solitary fights with Grendel and Grendel's mother, two extremely powerful opponents.

The next important trait he demonstrates is loyalty, coming to the aid of Hrothgar, demonstrating fealty to Hygelac, and finally going out to fight the dragon to defend the Geats even though he knows that he will die in the attempt. 

Finally, Beowulf learns to restrain his youthful impetuousness and pride and becomes a just and great ruler. 

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How does Beowulf (the character) embody the traits of an Anglo-Saxon Hero?

Ah, Beowulf. A great hero who has probably type cast thousands of heroes after him. Honestly, the list of Anglo-Saxon hero characteristics is surprisingly similar to characteristics of modern day heroes. I teach a unit in my popular culture studies class on exactly this same topic. You could have asked about Captain America, and my answer wouldn't change much.  

First, an Anglo-Saxon hero has to appear to look like a hero. What does that look like? Then, and now, hero characters are generally good looking, young, white males. They tend to have a lot of muscles, too. They have to look like a warrior. Does it apply to Beowulf? Yep. He's a young, white male that looks like a warrior.  Early in the poem, Beowulf is on his way to see Hrothgar. He is stopped by a guard that demands to know his purpose. Here's one thing he says about Beowulf:

Nor have I seen

A mightier man-at-arms on this earth

Than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken,

He is truly noble.  This is no mere                             

Hanger-on in a hero’s armour.

As for muscles, I don't have a picture of Beowulf, but he's got to be strong.  Hrothgar says that Beowulf has the strength of 30 men. 

"Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen carried

As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men’s grapple

Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle."

That's pretty strong.  Oh, and don't forget that Beowulf ripped off Grendel's arms.  

Another characteristic of the Anglo Saxon hero type is bravery. Yep, Beowulf has that, too. He willingly goes to fight Grendel for one, and Grendel is described as being a demon possessed thing that eats humans. No current warrior has been able to stop Grendel. That's scary, and Beowulf is confident that he will be able to handle it.  

Lastly, the hero must be humble. This one always cracks me up. You have a guy that is crazy strong, brave, good looking, protects everybody, puts his life at risk, is a super celebrity, but is still humble. This is why Beowulf and Captain America are fiction. That character type is next to impossible to find in real life. So is Beowulf humble? Yep. After defeating both Grendel and Grendel's mother, Beowulf is offered the Danish throne and great wealth. Beowulf turns it all down and returns home in essentially the same state in which he arrived.  

"The mildest of men and the gentlest, kindest to his people, . . ."

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In what ways does Beowulf represent a typical literary hero?

Beowulf is in many ways a typical hero of oral-traditional epic. Such heroes were usually described as "speakers of words and doers of deeds." Their primary characteristics were a combination of physical prowess, moral virtue, intelligence, and persuasive speaking. Their physical prowess is demonstrated in battle or conquest, as in Beowulf's triumph over Grendel, Grendel's mother, the sea monsters and the dragon. Persuasive speaking and leadership talents are seen in the way in which Beowulf manages to organize and lead his followers. His intelligence in seen in his figuring out and using tactical solutions rather than  simple brute force. Finally, as is typical of heroism, he displays the the virtues of courage and self-discipline as well as piety and generosity.

Unlike the protagonists of modern novels, epic characters are rarely three-dimensional or fully realized, but instead represent "types".

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How does Beowulf qualify as an epic poem and Beowulf as an epic hero?

The term “epic” has been usefully defined as follows:

It is a poem that is (a) a long narrative about a serious subject, (b) told in an elevated style of language, (c) focused on the exploits of a hero or demi-god who represents the cultural values of a race, nation, or religious group (d) in which the hero's success or failure will determine the fate of that people or nation. Usually, the epic has (e) a vast setting, and covers a wide geographic area, (f) it contains superhuman feats of strength or military prowess, and gods or supernatural beings frequently take part in the action. The poem begins with (g) the invocation of a muse to inspire the poet and, (h) the narrative starts in medias res [into the middle of things]. (i) The epic contains long catalogs of heroes or important characters, focusing on highborn kings and great warriors rather than peasants and commoners. [see link below]

The Old English poem Beowulf is an epic in practically all of these senses, with the possible exception of “e” and the definite exception of “g.” Beowulf definitely represents the ideal values of his nation (the Geats) and religious group (early Christians. His battles with the first two monsters help determine the fate of the Danish people, while his battle with the dragon helps determine the fate of his own people, the Geats. The poem opens with a long catalogue of previous Danish kings, and Beowulf’s enormous strength, his lofty values, and the fact that he fights on behalf of clear and lofty ideals all help make him an epic hero.

In contrast, the Old English lyric poem “The Seafarer” lacks almost all of the characteristics cited above. The speaker of this poem is certainly heroic in the sense that he has survived much physical and emotional pain and also in the sense that he actually seeks out challenging situations.  However, “The Seafarer” is mainly a poem about a representative human being whose problems are mainly personal. He fights with no obvious monsters but instead seeks and displays spiritual strength. He is certainly more "heroic" than complacent people who live comfortably in cities, but he fights no battles on behalf of others. He spends much of his poem lamenting (understandably!) the sorrows he has endured – behavior not typical of the kind of epic hero epitomized by Beowulf.

"The Seafarer" is a much shorter poem than Beowulf and thus lacks the wide temporal scope we often associate with epics.  Homer's Iliad describes events that take ten years to complete.  His Odyssey describes events that take place over another ten years. The time scheme of Beowulf is, if anything, even broader, since the poem begins with Beowulf as a young man in the prime of life and ends by focusing on his old age, fifty years later. One senses that "The Seafarer" also covers more than a few years, but it does not seem to cover anything like the extended time period mentioned in Beowulf.

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What epic features does Beowulf have?

Beowulf clearly seems to fit the narrative idea of an “epic” for several reasons. For one, it is an expansive narrative story following the events of a heroic character. The length and details of the story seem to clearly point to its nature as an epic.

Much like other classic works, Beowulf follows one main heroic character through a large span of time, chronicling his exploits and growth. He essentially goes on a hero’s journey throughout the story. Additionally, on this “journey,” which is more metaphorical in this tale than others, he faces numerous villains that he must overcome to grow and learn.

The fact that Beowulf himself is an epic hero lends more credence to the idea. He holds incredible strength, loyalty, and also some overwhelming pride, which is common of characters like Odysseus and other epic heroes. In the end, it is his nobility as well as his strength that is remembered, making him clearly an epic hero.

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What epic features does Beowulf have?

Important characteristics of epic poems, besides their notorious length, lie in the structure of characters and the story. An epic poem is one that revolves around a heroic figure who travels great distances to prove his strength and courage. The hero must face impossible odds and ultimately prove himself against terrible beasts so that he can assume a duty or office. Beowulf fulfills these characteristics neatly.

The hero of epics are typically human, but they accomplish nearly inhuman feats. As these stories are passed down, these heroes become symbols for what human characteristics are valuable, creating an unattainable goal of strength without emotion. This rewards those, like Beowulf, who will throw themselves at threats that killed many others, and it suggests that strength means lack of regard or feeling.

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What epic features does Beowulf have?

Beowulf contains nearly all the elements of an epic. An epic focuses on the heroic achievements and exploits of an individual. This individual exemplifies morality and daring. The epic of Beowulf meets these criteria by centering on the character of Beowulf. Throughout the story, Beowulf disregards his own safety to vanquish the monsters that are terrorizing the Geats. He is strong and intelligent, the very model of the epic hero.

Furthermore, an epic is a lengthy poem told in a stylized format. Beowulf is a typical epic in that it employs flowery yet stylized language, drawn-out descriptions, and lengthy monologues.

Epics often have a spirit of nationalism to them. They tell of the mythic past of a people and their deeds. Beowulf includes many allusions to legendary kings and heroes of Anglo-Saxon heritage. It is meant to tell the history of the people in the way that many epics do.

Epics involve supernatural forces that interact with mortals. This is certainly the case with the two villains of the story, Grendel and Grendel's mother. They are monsters of mysterious origin that must be vanquished by the story's hero.

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What epic features does Beowulf have?

First consider the elements of an epic:

  • long narrative in elevated style
  • main character is a hero who is often on a journey and possesses almost god-like characteristics
  • action in epics often involve a battle or multiple battles
  • presence of supernatural beings (monsters, demons, non-human enemies -usually-)
  • often contain long speeches

Given the above qualities, consider how Beowulf fits:

  • Beowulf is a long narrative first written in Old English - but even translated is certainly written in verse form, with lots of alliteration, caesura, and kennings
  • main character: Beowulf, who possess superhuman qualities
  • Beowulf defeats 3 monsters in huge battles
  • three monsters are all non-human
  • reflective speeches abound in Beowulf - from historic remembrances to honoring kings and kingdoms.
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What epic features does Beowulf have?

This great work clearly fits into the category of an epic. It is in a sense similar to the Iliad and the Odyssey in that it is the first great work of the English national literature, which is why it is studied so much. The other texts, the Iliad and the Odyssey, are the first great works of the Greek national literature. Beowulf is the mythical and literary record of a formative stage of British English civilisation. It is also an epic of the heroic sources of English culture. Because of this, it shares many archetypes with other similar epics from all over the world, such as the epic hero, the quest, the monster and the battle.

It tells the story of a famous warrior called Beowulf who comes from Sweden to Denmark in a quest to free the people of King Hrothgar from the tyranny of a monster called Grendel. It, like other epics, started off as a piece of oral literature in that it was never written down but instead passed down from generation to generation from one bard to another. As such, because of the communal nature of such storytelling, it was a familiar story incorporating legend, incredible weapons, and a community threatened by the powers of evil with only one heroic individual to stand in the way of that evil.

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Analyze Beowulf as an epic.

An epic is a story centered on a heroic figure who partakes in a sequence of exceptional events and "Beowulf," the most important work of Old English literature, certainly qualifies. The central characters of this epic are defined by their status and their actions. For instance, King Hrothgar is know for both his wealth and influence and for his leadership on the battlefield - including his policy of leaving the "common man" untouched by warfare, which brings him great honor. Prince Beowulf, the central figure, proves his worth as defender of the Danes as he combats and defeats Grendel (which brings him power, wealth, and honor), Grendel's mother, and the Dragon. By contrast, Grendel is represented as having no honor or wealth, which defines Grendel as evil and corrupt. This type of contrast is typical of epics. Another contrast in Beowulf is the distinction between Man and Wild; Grendel's wild and evil nature is defeated by the goodness and purity of Beowulf's civilized ways. These are just a few of the themes in Beowulf that are typical of an epic.

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In the epic Beowulf, can you provide three examples that show Beowulf is an epic hero?

Beowulf is the epitome of the epic poem. Its protagonist, Beowulf, possesses many characteristics which define him as a true epic hero. 

Beowulf enters into the text "in the midst of turmoil." He comes to the Danelands after hearing about Hrothgar and his troubles with Grendel. Grendel has already murdered many of Hrothgar's men and forced the closing of Heorot (Hrothgar's mead hall). Traveling to the Danelands in the first place also illustrates Beowulf's desire (and heroic trait) of helping others

Beowulf possess both arete (excellence) and aristeia (finest moment in battle). Both his arete and aristeia are illustrated and proven through Beowulf's battle with Grendel. Beowulf, not wanting to have an upper hand over the beast, decides to fight him without any weapons. This levels the playing field (makes the battle equal). Since both Grendel and Beowulf both possess the strength of thirty men, the fight must be even for Beowulf to prove his aristeia and arete. 

Bewoulf's journey into Grendel's mother's lair depicts his figurative journey into the underworld. Every epic hero must make a long journey which, at one point, leads him into the underworld. In Beowulf, his journey from the Geatlands to the Danelands to the underworld proves a long journey is made (and it takes him into the underworld). 

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How does Beowulf become an epic hero in Beowulf?

Beowulf was born to be extraordinary.  His early heroic deed involved setting off into the sea with a friend and being the only one coming back alive.  He “proved more might in the sea than any other man, and more endurance in the ocean” (ch 8, p. 14) when he outswam his friend and fought off the sea-fish.  An epic hero usually does have an early deed that shows his ability to accomplish an amazing feat.

Of course, it was Beowulf’s defeat of Grendel that cemented him as the epic hero.

His sinews ripped apart and his bone-frame broke. victory was now given to Beowulf, and Grendel, sick unto his death, went hence and sought his den in the dark moors, that vile abode; he knew full well that his life had reached its end and that the last of his days on earth had come. (Ch 12, p. 18)

Beowulf is able to kill Grendel with his bare hands and brute strength, and his exploits are sung in praise throughout the kingdoms.

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What images depict Beowulf as an epic hero?

The epic hero is a literary convention that defines a specific type of character. This kind of character typically possesses a number of particular traits, including some sort of extraordinary ability.

Beowulf’s extraordinary ability is his strength--no man alive, and almost no monster alive, can match it. The most famous image demonstrating Beowulf’s strength comes early in the story when he fights the monster Grendel:

He twisted in pain,

And the bleeding sinews deep in his shoulder

Snapped, muscle and bone split

And broke.

This passage shows Beowulf defeating Grendel. But Beowulf doesn't simply win the battle; he does so in grand style (or we might say, in “epic” style) by ripping Grendel's arm from his body. The image of Grendel's arm slung over a rafter in Herot is one of the most famous in all of English literature.

Another key trait of the epic hero is his embodiment of his culture's ideals. Beowulf, as part of the early Middle Ages warrior culture, shows the courage that was so highly prized. We see this most poignantly in the poem's final battle, as Beowulf and his trusted friend Wiglaf battle the dragon. Beowulf is an old king now, no longer the fearsome warrior of his youth. In this passage, he has been mortally wounded by the dragon, but continues to fight on, with Wiglaf's help:

And Beowulf drew

His battle-sharp dagger: the bloodstained old king

Still knew what he was doing. Quickly, he cut the beast in half, slit it apart.

It fell, their courage had killed it.

This is Beowulf's last act on Earth. Moments later he dies from the dragon-inflicted wounds. But, as we can see, his courage holds until the end.

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Is Beowulf the ideal epic hero? If not, what is he lacking?

In my personal opinion, Beowulf is an extremely strong example of an epic hero. Whether or not he is the ideal example is up to individual opinion. I think a strong case could be made that he is the ideal and many other heroes are often imitations of him in several regards.

A common characteristic of an epic hero is nobility. Beowulf can check this box. He is the prince of the Geats.

A second characteristic is that epic heroes are capable of great feats of strength and bravery. Beowulf has no problem meeting this standard. He physically rips off Grendel's arms, and the poem says that he has the strength of thirty men.

Who valuable gift-gems of the Geatmen carried
As peace-offering thither, that he thirty men's grapple
Has in his hand, the hero-in-battle.

A third characteristic is that the epic hero is a great warrior. Beowulf is a great warrior. It's why he comes to fight Grendel. It's why he hasn't been killed yet. He even looks the part of a fierce warrior.

Nor have I seen
A mightier man-at-arms on this earth
Than the one standing here: unless I am mistaken,
He is truly noble. This is no mere
Hanger-on in a hero's armour.

Trait four is that the hero travels over great distances. Basically, the epic hero can't be a hometown hero. That is also true of Beowulf. He travels quite far to take care of Grendel and Grendel's mother.

Characteristic five is that the hero's name is widely known. I think Beowulf's victories probably took care of this trait. He also eventually ascended the throne, and that elevated his name even more.

The sixth trait is that the hero demonstrates humility. Beowulf is offered riches and the Danish throne as a reward for defeating Grendel and Grendel's mother, but he turns it down.

Finally, the hero faces enemies of supernatural ability. Grendel definitely counts, because he is part-man, part-demon, and no blade can hurt him.

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Is Beowulf the ideal epic hero? If not, what is he lacking?

Yes, Beowulf is basically the ideal epic hero. He is larger-than-life, exceptionally strong, brave, loyal, and respected. He does eventually fall in the battle with the dragon at the end of the poem, but he does so protecting his kingdom. The response of his men after his death shows that they hold him as a great king and hero.

Beowulf is not immortal, but he is "larger-than-life," meaning he is better than normal humans. He is the strongest warrior we see in the poem. He is the one who defeats the dreadful monster Grendel, who terrorized Hrothgar's kingdom for years; none of his warriors were strong or brave enough to defeat the beast. Beowulf is so strong he rips Grendel's arm from his shoulder. 

Beowulf's bravery is also legendary. He chooses, of his own free will, to travel to Hrothgar's kingdom after hearing the reports of Grendel's ongoing violence. He puts his life on the line to help people in a kingdom in which he does not even live. He is brave enough to wait for the monster to come into the mead hall and fights him without weapons, as Grendel will not be using any. After killing Grendel, Grendel's mother starts taking revenge on the kingdom. Beowulf volunteers to go to the underwater cave to fight her on her own turf. He does need the help of a magical sword to defeat Grendel's mother, but that supernatural force may indicate that Beowulf is favored by the divine. 

Finally, Beowulf is a loyal and respected leader. His men trust him and swear allegiance to him in the fight against Grendel. Beowulf, in turn, asks Hrothgar to care for his men in the event that he is killed in battle. He becomes a respected king later in the poem and puts his life on the line again in order to kill a dragon that threatens his people. One of his men jumps in and helps defeat the dragon in battle after Beowulf is mortally wounded because Beowulf inspires loyalty in his men. They memorialize him after his death in a way that shows how lauded he is as a leader. 

One possible negative quality is that Beowulf is not completely selfless. He does take treasure from the monsters' caves, and he probably takes on the epic tasks to enhance his reputation and experience the glory of his victories. However, one could also argue that swagger and confidence are necessary in an epic hero. All in all, yes, Beowulf is an ideal epic hero. 

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