Epic Heros In Beowulf And Roland



An epic hero, such as Beowulf or Roland, possesses the qualities of valor, military prowess, loyalty, generosity, and honor. He is a man who fights because he must, for the survival of his tribe or nation. Although the hero is constantly aware of his own mortality, he never shirks "from threat or peril .... It is a hero's duty to preserve his life by valour". It is in battle that the mettle of the epic hero is tested.
The epic hero lives in a "shame culture", or an honor/shame society, where a man's 'good name' is his most prized possession. The society is "hierarchical, that is, controlled by a military aristocracy whose highest good is in the warrior's code". It is partly for this ...

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and Emperor". Although elements of 'the miraculous' appear in the epic, they result in no more than a heightening or aggrandizement of reality.
The epic heroes of Beowulf … [and] of Roland go down to defeat and in some sense are responsible for their defeat ....However, we know that even in defeat partially of their own doing. they are heroes nevertheless—men above the common, above the average, whose drive for glory whether heavenly or earthly, raises them beyond the ordinary and the average. They are big persons who are semi-divine, larger than human, who fascinate us by their valor, courage, and even bravura.

The heroes of both Beowulf and Roland perish and become exalted. What exalts Beowulf is his acceptance of his wyrd. Gwyn Jones defines this exaltation by writing:

For if he accepts what is destined, without bowing to it,
he triumphs overit. An unbreakable will makes him the equal
of all-powerful Fate, and though fate can destroy him, it
can neither conquer ...

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Added: 10/24/2005 02:29:05 AM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 572
Pages: 3

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