The qualities of Beowulf

Essay by jjbladesterCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2002

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Heroes are termed as figures with admirable qualities- both physical and mental, such as courage and warrior-like strength. Society holds these individuals in the highest regard and puts them on pedestals. Heroes inspire, make a difference, act as role models, and lead others with the utmost of perseverance. Homer's Iliad and 1 Samuel illustrate characteristics of the heroes of their time. Not only do you as a reader see the value of heroes in those particular societies, but also the powerfully negative effects of the heroes' faults.

Homer's Iliad is the tale of the tragic Greek hero Achilles. He is a fearless, ominous figure. As the protagonist in the Iliad, Homer spares no details in describing Achilles' mental torment and the afflictions he lays upon his enemies. Achilles is a Greek demi-god with a somewhat inferior deity, however he is not lacking in the skills of a leader and fellow warrior, he fights to win and win he does.

Achilles gains all the honor of a true warrior but he disgraces this fact by abusing Hector's corpse. He planed to drag the body around the Greek camp, so that by mutilating the corpse, he could get satisfaction for the death of his companion, Patroclus. However, this action only brought despise as seen in Apollo's address to the immortals:

"After he kills Hector,

He ties him behind his chariot

And drags him around his dear friend's tomb.

Does this make him a better or nobler man?

He should fear our wrath, good as he may be,

For he defiles the dumb earth in his rage."

Thus, the tragedy of Achilles continues. To make it worse, his mother Thetis can see his fate but she can't do anything about it. He is aware of his fate through his mother but chooses glory...