Beowulf Vs. Eaters Of The Dead

Great Literary Epics of the Past

The Roman conquest of England in 43 AD, coinciding with the introduction of Christian values, the alphabet and writing utensils was the start of a new Era. Missionaries sent by the Roman Pope to England influenced the pagan values of the native Britanie, as exemplified in their literature. Anglo-Saxons, whom contributed the features of a literary Epic, were torn between pagan beliefs and Christian values as their predecessors had been. The first literary Epic, Beowulf, illustrates the struggle between these two ideologies, as well as contributes the sought after values of heroism. The Eaters of the Dead also demonstrates this struggle between cultures, playing off Beowulf in theme. Excalibur, the Arthurian Legend, depicts the final battle between Christian and pagan belief, Christianity winning out in the end. Epics such as these express their values through heroic acts and support William Shakespeare's quote; "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

Beowulf, labeled the first indisputable masterpiece of the English language, follows the Quest of a Scandinavian warrior who embodies the perfect Hero. Beowulf's fearless nature and love for battle make him a sought after idol in accords to the values of an Anglo-Saxon. "Nowhere, they said, north or south between the two seas or under the tall sky on the broad earth was there anyone better to raise a shield or rule a kingdom."

The main character, and protagonist, Beowulf is first introduced in the novel by means of ancestral lineage. Born into greatness, Beowulf makes his reputation indisputable through action. With the King Hrothgar as witness, Beowulf declares his intentions to aid the Danes by way of slaying the awesome beast Grendel who has caused havoc among the lands. "Now I mean to be a match for Grendel, settle the outcome in single combat." As every great hero fulfils his boast, Beowulf did not fall short. Though the destruction of Grendel brought relief and rejoicings- a mother's wrath would cause it to fall short. Again, the mighty Beowulf takes on this mighty beast, descendant of Cain. As Hrothgar desperately states: "Now help depends again on you and you alone./ Seek it if you dare."

The mighty Beowulf also exemplifies his greatness through his wisdom. Knowing of politics, Beowulf interprets the grim consequences of a proposed marriage between the daughter of Hrothgar and the "gracious Ingled.

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