Beowulf is a poem about the Anglo-Saxons and their strong belief in the heroic code. The heroic code exemplified in Beowulf illustrates the principles of the Germanic heroic code. The main characteristics that outline this heroic code of Beowulf are courage, loyalty, and strength. Beowulf illustrated courage by his willingness to confront monsters fearlessly. The precedent of valor is set from the stories passed throughout history, where all rulers showed bravery. He has faced nine monsters and garnered the courage to meet all of them. He showed courage when he left his homeland to go and help his King in finding the monster, Grendel. He implies that fate can be changed through courage and determination.
Beowulf is loyal to his family and King. He is loyal to his grandfather, who raised him and the King because of his father, who the King had helped in times of need. The King aided his father when they were younger. He claimed that he would be loyal till death as he explained how he would fight Grendel even if it means sacrificing his life. His men also portray loyalty when they back him up as he was going to fight Grendel. Beowulf has immense physical strength, which was instrumental in him defeating Grendel, the monster. For a warrior, strength was an important trait while fighting, as shown by Beowulf’s traits in fighting the monster without weapons.
Comparisons Between Heroic Codes
There are both differences and similarities in the different heroic codes in Beowulf and Odysseus. They both have unique qualities of heroes in their stories, and both believed in Christianity and fate. In Beowulf, heroism is outlined as seeking and killing the monsters while in Odysseus, the battles are thrown at him in the form of revenge by the gods. Odysseus sometimes used trickery in his quest for defeating the enemy, while in Beowulf used his strength to fight the monsters.
Beowulf and Oedipus show similarities in that they are both heros who saves their world. Beowulf was killing a monster while Oedipus was solving the Sphinx riddle where the sphinx killed herself. The difference is illustrated by the qualities that make them heroes in that Beowulf heroic code characteristic was the use of physical strength in fighting monsters, and that of Oedipus was mental strength by solving riddles.