The hero of an epic normally embodies the ideals of conduct that are most valued by the culture in which the epic was composed. Beowulf embodies the ideals of the Anglo-Saxon culture in his actions. Some of the virtues he embodies are religion, strength, and his behavior as king.
First of all, throughout the story of Beowulf, one finds many elements of Christian philosophy. One of the examples of Beowulf s strong catholic beliefs are that man only survives through the protection of God. Throughout the story, Beowulf repeatedly acknowledges God as his protector. When Beowulf relates his battle with Grendel s mother, he states, The fight would have ended straightaway if God had not guarded me. Beowulf also stated that God offers earthly protection. When Beowulf was about to fight Grendel s mother, in her cave, he sees a great weapon hanging on the wall, but he does not take credit for this protection. The credit is given to God, for he says, But the Weilder of Men granted me that I should see hanging on a wall a fair, ancient great sword.
Next, Beowulf embodies the traits of heroism. Beowulf portrays the most heroic man of the Anglo-Saxon times. The hero, Beowulf is a seemingly invincible person with all the extraordinary traits required of a hero. Beowulf is a hero in the eyes of his fellow men through his amazing physical strength. He fought in many battles and returned victorious in all but his last. Beowulf is also strong enough to kill the monster Grendel, who has been terrorizing the Danes for twelve years, with is bare hands by ripping off his arm. When Beowulf is fighting Grendel s mother, who is seeking revenge of her son s death, he is able to slay her by slashing the monster s neck with a giant s sword that cannot be lifted by another person. When he chops off her head, he carries it to the ocean with ease, but it takes four men to lift and carry it back to Herod Mead-hall. This strength is a key trait of Beowulf s heroism.
Another trait Beowulf embodies from the Anglo Saxon culture is his loyalty as King. He puts his people s welfare in front of his own. Beowulf s uncle is King of the Geats so he is sent to help the Danes get rid of the evil Grendel. Beowulf risks his own life for the Danes, asking help from no one. He realizes the dangers but fears nothing for his own life. After Beowulf had served his people as King of the Geats for fifty years, he goes to battle one last time to fight a horrible dragon that is frightening all of his people. Beowulf is old and tired, but he defeats the dragon in order to protect his people. Even in death, he wished safety for his people, so a tall lighthouse was built in order for them to find their way back from the sea.
Beowulf is a prime example of an Anglo-Saxon. His bravery and strength surpasses all mortal men. Loyalty and the ability to think of himself last makes him worshipped by all. He also had strong religious beliefs, and attributed his victories to God. Beowulf set a noble example for all human beings relaying the necessity of brotherhood and friendship.