In the modern world of stories, heroes nowadays are created to be like regular people, so they can be relatable. Yet, back in the time of the Anglo-Saxons, they had a different idea of what heroes were, and that was called the epic hero. Epic heroes are larger-than-life characters, like Beowulf: a man who fights monsters for his society. He qualifies as an epic hero because of his bravery, honor, and physical superhuman strength throughout the story.
Bravery is no doubt the strongest quality about Beowulf, and there are many instances that show this. For example, in the original story, Beowulf doesn’t hesitate to head into a dangerous place to look for Grendel’s mother when he says, “‘I shall shape glory with Hrunting, or death / Will hurry me from this earth!’ / As his words ended / He leaped into the lake, would not wait for anyone’s / Answer…” (465-468). Despite knowing the fact that he could die from the battle, he didn’t let that falter him. Another piece of evidence from Prezi supports this claim by stating, “Beowulf also kills the dragon. Even though his men left him and he still attempted to battle” (White, 2014). Regardless of those who left him behind, he knew what was important and stood against it.
Beowulf’s honor is also one of his more prominent traits. Nearly everything he does is centered on honor. In his battle against Grendel’s mother, the sword was useless against her, so he decided to fight on more equal grounds. This displays his act when it says, “If weapons were useless he’d use / His hands, the strength in his fingers. So fame / Comes to the men who mean to win it / And care about nothing else!” (505-509). Beowulf was determined to see the battle through and realized he wouldn’t get the true honor he wanted, had he given up after the sword became ineffective. Other supporting evidence for this derives from a source called seattlepi, who says Beowulf has honor because he “…battle with potentially superior enemies, and particularly those who are considered to be ‘god-despising’ creatures…” (Cascio, n.d.).
The odds may seem impossible, but Beowulf proves that he’ll keep to his ways because he cares deeply for his values. Epic heroes always have some kind of superhuman physical strength, which is why Beowulf precisely fits his role as an epic hero. After he tosses his sword away, he starts to get into hand-to-hand combat with Grendel’s mother and it shows in the story when, “…He raised / His arms and seized her by the shoulder; anger / Doubled his strength, he threw her to the floor” (509-511). His strength really shines here because it also comes from his perseverance. To support this claim, Prezi also adds, “Beowulf is able to defeat Grendel who is much bigger than he is and rips his arm completely off” (White, 2014).
Until the moment where he was unable to fight well at the end, he possessed the extraordinary skills to defeat two ruthless creatures without much help from anyone. When it all comes down to it, bravery, honor, and physical strength is what makes Beowulf an epic hero. It’s his identity and the things he experienced that creates his sense of uniqueness. His motivation to save a place that was not his own from the spawn of evil makes him brave, the way how he sticks to his traditions, despite the hard times, makes him honorable, and without his superhuman strength, he likely would’ve never made it out of those battles alive. Beowulf may be a legend, but if one can look past that barrier, it’s clear to see that Beowulf is like any other hero, just wanting to protect what his loves.