Beowulf: Old School Hero.

Essay by lelandpUniversity, Bachelor'sA, December 2005

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The ancient Germanic race had a strict code of honor. Strength, courage and loyalty were sought after in knights; hospitality, generosity and political skills were looked for in a potential king. The title character in the great, epic poem Beowulf, exemplifies all of these traits and more over the course of his lifetime; specifically with major conflicts against "evil". In each of his three battles Beowulf matures, both with the knowledge of battle, and the wisdom of age. It is his transformation from young virile warrior, to aged, wise king.

When Beowulf was a young man, a thane to the great King Hyclegac, he based his entire life on masterful feats of strength. The most fabled feat of strength, his swimming competition against Breca, also became his most controversial. At the feast preceding his battle against Grendel, Unferth made comments that contradicted Beowulf's infallibility. " Are you the Beowulf who took on Breca in a swimming match on the open sea...

you vied for seven nights; and then he out swam you, came ashore the stronger contender. (Abrams, 43)." I know that I found myself thinking that Unferth was correct in saying that, "it was sheer vanity made you venture out... (43)." Why else would a man swim for several days in frigid water other than vanity, or an attempt to overcompensate for a diminished capacity in a certain area of his anatomy? Yet my thoughts were proven wrong by a simple amount of research into the Germanic code of honor for Beowulf's time period. A man of that time period would swim for several days in frigid cold not for vanity, but for honor for one's king and country. Beowulf's dedication of every feat to his king and country without giving any of the credit...