Beowulf is one of the most known Anglo-Saxon hero's of the past and present. He had unfaltering loyalty to his King and his allies, his endurance and strength were incredible and he always defeated all of his opponents. Beowulf's courage was motivated by the want to change his fate, and in turn the course of his fate was changed because of the brutal actions that he took. Instead of defeating Grendal with his brain he chose to defeat him with his hands. Just this alone, shows that Beowulf had a lot of self pride, superhuman strength, and was extremely courageous. He used his theory of power instead of brains in all three of his battles, and successfully defeated Grendal, Grendal's mother, and the Dragon. At the beginning of the poem Beowulf gave a speech to Hrothgar, that either win or lose would make him always be remembered. "I hereby renounce sword and shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand is how it will be and a life and death fight with a fiend" (436). By Beowulf stating that he was going to fight this beast bear handed in order for it to be fair, and then following through with it, made him famous. When Beowulf died he had achieved the goal of the Anglo-Saxon hero, which was to be immortalized. His body was made ...
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... honor and glory. If these were not achieved, then death was preferred. They believed that if they were to attain their version of the afterlife, it would be through their own actions and deeds, not through the deeds of someone else.
To the Anglo-Saxons, a character's importance, as well as their wealth and status, where measured not only in monetary terms, but it was also measured in terms of honor, fame, and accomplishments. In order to earn fame one has to be brave, achieve superhuman acts, adopt kin, give boon-gifts, and be faithful to your lord. Therefore, if one was famous, then they were also thought to be just as religious.
Abrams, M.H., and Stephen Greenblatt. The Norton Anthology - English Literature - Beowulf (29-99) New York: Norton and Company 2000
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