Beowulf And The Homeric Heroes Essay

1362 words - 5 pages

As most people would try and find similarities between the characters of Homer and that of Beowulf, I am more than willing to present their differences. It is a challenge to spot their similarities, but it is a greater challenge to locate the differences between them, such differences that set them apart from each other, making them a unique entity. Now, first we must make clear our understanding of a Homeric hero. Such a character encounters four different phases in their lives. One is Arete, which would mean their excellence, the other Hubris, or excessive pride. The third is Ate, which represents their rash behavior, and the last is Nemesis, or the punishment for their actions...more commonly known as the consequence. Now these four patterns of behavior do not follow a specific order, but one thing is for sure: one leads to another, and a misstep could lead to an eternity of shadows.

Our perception of a hero is obviously far different from that of Homer's. Our virtues would have included loyalty, fidelity, courage and chivalry, but to Homer none of these really matter. A hero, is strong, is wealthy, and is honorable. Regardless of the way he obtains power (i.e. brutal, merciless, etc.) he is named a hero if he is able to meet the four patterns of behavior above. Now I wonder why it is this way. Then I realize, why not? Every hero that we have heard of in our lives, turn out to be good in every way possible, no flaw projected in whatever way. Now Homer, presents heroes that actually have flaws. Flaws that make them more human, though vulnerable, it makes their character more acceptable to society. Now the question is: which appeals more to the people? A Homeric hero, whose flaws are boasted to the people or a brave and selfless champion like Beowulf?

First we have to consider the time element of both scenarios. Take in mind that during Homer's time, the culture and the practices were different from that of Beowulf's time. Where woman were once trophies, they now are hailed as objects of divine beauty. Back then strength and power were measured by the number of woman one possessed, now in Beowulf's time of chivalry and valor, to treat a woman as a possession would be disgraceful. Such differences occur through time and with this, a change in perspective. The beliefs that were once as strong as iron is now rotting with rust, for change transpires and with it our values, our virtues, and our faith expire.

Beowulf was a noble man, in one way or another. He was rich, he was honest, he was brave and he was loyal. Remember that he chose not to take the throne offered to him, instead he offers to be the boy king's mentor until he is old enough to rule. Here he shows loyalty. Loyalty to his people, to his kings, and to his country. Knowing that he was not meant to rule just yet, he bestowed the right to the young prince. Now jumping fifty or so years after, Beowulf is king after the previous one dies. He faces yet another lethal enemy, the...

Find Another Essay On Beowulf and the Homeric Heroes

Beowulf and Sir Gawain: a Comparison of Two Heroes

1535 words - 6 pages In Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight there are two heroes that help the present day reader gain insight into what the hero of the Middle Ages would have held as ideals and necessary triumphs. Beowulf and Sir Gawain each fill a different role within their unique societies. Beowulf is a leader and a savior in times of need, willing to go to any length to help another group of people as well as his own kingdom. Sir Gawain is also

Archetype Paper-Loyal Retainers Made Heroes compared between Beowulf, The Lord of the Rings, and current leaders in today's society

807 words - 3 pages , archetypes of loyal retainers appear as underlying roles of a greater picture. From the literary piece Beowulf to the box office hit The Lord of the Rings to even the current leaders of today's society, archetypes of loyal retainers portray similar comparisons to each other based on a model that their heroism is revealed through the bravery and loyalty they provide the hero at their greatest time of need.In the epic poem Beowulf, translated by

Beowulf and The Dragon

1162 words - 5 pages dragon’s fortress all by himself that is extreme bravery, he may be completely nuts to do that but it is awfully brave. To summarize, the theory that modern heroes are admired by wisdom and fortitude is not applicable to Beowulf since he lacks wisdom. Even though he may obtain great fortitude, at the same time it is impossible to overlook the inanity in some of Beowulf’s actions. An example of his craziness is the battle between Beowulf and the dragon. However, the word bravery is better suited to Beowulf’s actions instead of wisdom.

Honor and the Celtic Heroes

1335 words - 5 pages possible for each of the heroes. It is because of these supernatural influences that the heroes are both blessed and cursed by power’s perfection. The compliance to the honor-code plays less a role in truly enabling the hero and yet it’s essential in the development of the hero’s identity and reputation among his allies and enemies. Within The Tain, the warrior Cuchulainn is characterized as a flawless hero, destined to die young. Cuchulainn’s

A Comparison of Homeric Formalism in The Iliad and The Odyssey

1473 words - 6 pages Homeric Formalism in The Iliad and The Odyssey "Much that is terrible takes place in the Homeric poems, but it seldom takes place wordlessly... no speech is so filled with anger or scorn that the particles which express logical and grammatical connections are lacking or out of place." (from "Odysseus' Scar" by Erich Auerbach)   In his immaculately detailed study comparing the narrative styles of Homer to those of the Bible

Beowulf and the Warrior Society

1470 words - 6 pages bravery and heroism are so important, that it is even possible to give one's life for them. I think that in many cases poet describes the traits that belong to the society of warriors and shows his attitude to that traits on the example of the main character of the poem - Beowulf - who is a perfect represenative of the warrior society. We see the evidence of that in the story, when the poet tells how Beowulf, realizing that he can lose his own life

Jane Eyre and the Anti-Heroes

851 words - 3 pages numerous characters. Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, however, had a strong-willed anti-heroine main character that did not comply with social customs. Characteristics of anti-heroes and heroines are definite human flaws, not always thinking about what the moral action is, and rejection of traditional values. Jane Eyre is considered the anti-heroine because she defies the patriarchy and the social hierarchy in Victorian Society, as well as maintaining her

Heroes in the Iliad and their criteria

1473 words - 6 pages Criteria for Heroes The ancient Greeks had strict criteria for individuals to follow if they were to be seen as heroes. Above all, a man needed to be a skilled warrior, but this was not the only requirement. To be a hero, a warrior had to respect authority, both governmental and religious. The Greeks gave heroes no room for pride. These men were to be modest, not only giving credit to their culture and the gods for any great deeds they had done

Analysis of the Epic Poem, Beowulf - Beowulf and Caedmon’s Hymn

2319 words - 9 pages the monster:                                       The Lord then ruled all the race of men,              as He still does now (1057ff)   These passages illustrate one scholar’s interpretation: “The Beowulf poet, too, makes his heroes refer again and again to the power and providence of a single God, and he takes Beowulf’s victory as a sign that ‘God has always ruled mankind, as he still does’” (Frank 58). God’s power and

The Epic Poem, Beowulf - Vengeance and Revenge in Beowulf

1323 words - 5 pages Vengeance and Revenge in Beowulf   The oldest of the great lengthy poems written in English and perhaps the lone survivor of a genre of Anglo-Saxon epics, Beowulf, was written by an unknown Christian author at a date that is only estimated.  Even so, it is a remarkable narrative story in which the poet reinvigorates the heroic language, style, and values of Germanic oral poetry.  He intertwines a number of themes including good and evil

The Characters' Personalities in "Grendel" and "Beowulf"

1057 words - 4 pages The book Grendel, written by John Gardner, and the poem Beowulf, translated by Seamus Heaney, both have very distinct opinions on what role each character plays. The translator of Beowulf and the writer of Grendel follow the idea that everyone has a story. A story is the writer’s perspective on a character’s personality, the way people in the story see and treat the character, and the way it ties the ideas together. There are many examples in

Similar Essays

"Beowulf" Heroes Then And Now

532 words - 2 pages Heroes today have changed from those of Beowulf's day. Back in the time of Beowulf heroes were mainly the protectors of the country such as warriors and kings. The roles have changed today were heroes consist of celebrities and sport players. The roles have changed because our society has changed as well.In the time of Beowulf the kings were of the utmost of importance. Without asking the country was sure to fall into ruins. The king's duty was

Comparison Of Modern Day Heroes And Beowulf

740 words - 3 pages Comparison of Modern Day Heroes and Beowulf Most of us have heard of modern day heroes such as Spiderman, Superman, and the Hulk. Each is a hero to many children. Heroes are introduced to people early on in life usually as fictional characters, but as children grow older their perceptions of heroes alter. The characteristics of a hero are usually based around the ideas of a society or culture. In the epic Beowulf, the main character is

Epic Heroes: Sir Gawain And Beowulf

1733 words - 7 pages During the Middle Ages, both “Beowulf” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” were epic stories that were chanted aloud to the public. Each story told about epic heroes who went on a long journey to face or conqueror someone or something. “Beowulf” is a poem about a young man, Beowulf, who slays a monster and his mother with his bare hands to protect the people he loves. As the years go by Beowulf becomes king and a dragon begins to stir. In

Heroes And Sidekicks: Comparison Between Beowulf And Gilgamesh

817 words - 3 pages Can every hero do everything on his own? From comic superheroes like Batman and Robin to athletes like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin, the second banana has always been there to support the lead character. Depending on the situation, the contributions from a sidekick can be very beneficial but the need for one can also be in question. Heroes achieve success when they effectively complete quests and deal with adversity in addition to