The Heroic Code In Beowulf

2007 Words 9 Pages
Being one of the longest and most appreciable surviving Anglo-Saxon poems, Beowulf embodies values that portray a great sense of heroism. Translator Seamus Heaney emphasizes the importance of these values throughout Beowulf. The heroic code is something of great value in this epic. Unlike the 21st century the Dark Ages revolved primarily around following this specific Germanic code. Courage, honor, and loyalty; Such values were greatly embraced and practiced by the Danes. This dedication showed the importance it had within each tribe. Robert Schmuhl expressed, “Heaney makes the Anglo-Saxon classic of heroism and moral nobility an accessible, contemporary page turner.” Courage was both physically and mentally portrayed in Beowulf all the …show more content…
This greatness is what helped to define the heroic code and the characters in the poem. Within the first three lines, courage is already being introduced. “So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by/ and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness”(Heaney ll. 1-2). These first three lines immediately introduce the idea of how the past kings had ruled. They ruled with courage and greatness, following the values in which they knew they needed portray. Courage and greatness are two values that also closely tie together with the heroic code. Beowulf, the Geatish hero was one the main characters in the epic who helped show us how it tied in together with this heroic code. Seen as “the mightiest man on earth/ high-born and powerful”(ll. 197-198), Beowulf engaged in three major battles leading up to his death. Within each of the three battles, courage was always brought along as a source of strength. Before even engaging himself into the battle with Grendel, Beowulf sailed over to the Danish shore to help Hrothgar protect his people and to defeat this ruthless demon. When the battle approached he courageously stepped up to fight and this showed his devotion to the heroic code and to the Danish people. He was not going to back down and let this …show more content…
Beowulf was a character who truly brought this value to life. Before Beowulf set out to battle Grendel he “proudly asserted” (l. 676) “He has no idea of the arts of war, / of shield or sword-play, although he does possess/ a wild strength. No weapons, therefore, / for either this night” (ll. 681-683). In the Dark Age time period there were certain morals when it came to fighting and Beowulf was respectfully standing by these morals. He was not going to fight Grendel because he was honoring this moral of having a fair fight. Grendel had never been exposed to these weapons therefor he does not have the knowledge on how to use them. Beowulf had an honorable battle and stuck beside the core values in the heroic code. Winning with honor was a way to gain respect within the people and within God. Before Beowulf’s last battle he made one last boast. In this boast he told his people that it was his duty to fight. He specifically said, “This fight is not yours, / nor is it up to any man except me / to measure his strength against the monster / or to prove his worth” (ll. 2532-2535. Beowulf as king knew that it was his place to take on a battle with dragon. Although he was old, he still showed honor in keeping everyone safe. He knew that he had to pay his respect towards the heroic code and if he were to die it would be through the honoring of it. In this particular battle

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