Loyalties and Abilities: The Function of Heroism in Beowulf

Beowulf, the Old-English epic poem, is characteristic of its Nordic-Germanic roots as a tale of a great Scandinavian warrior - Beowulf - who saves a neighboring kingdom from the wrath of the destructive, blood-thirsty monster, Grendel, and eventually becomes the king of his own people, the Geats, and sacrifices himself for their proliferation. Beowulf is the hero of this epic because he is a quintessential representative of "a warrior venturing into battle against spiritual evil... even as the secular lord and his comitatus engaged the armed forces of predatory enemies" (Greenfield 102). Beowulf, with his strength, confidence, and skills, gained respect from the people he encountered in his adult life through his militaristic accomplishments. The purpose behind these accomplishments, however, is the more convincing factor in Beowulf's representation of heroism. All of his mature feats were pursued based on his sense of loyalty and carried out through his physical abilities. From sailing to King Hrothgar's court to battle Grendel to his final conflict with the dragon that haunted his subjects, Beowulf used his corporal strength and cunning to defend the honor and secure the safety of those around him. This...

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