The Anglo-Saxon Epic Heroes

The epic hero embodies the value of ideas of a particular society. They undertake long, dangerous journeys, or quest, to achieve something of a great value to themselves or their people. Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and Hector are epic heroes with the characteristics of going on a journey and risking death for the glory and for the greater good of society. Beowulf must protect a community by defeating a gruesome monster that seeks to destroy Herot hall. Gilgamesh is on a quest with his friend Enkidu to battle the monster Humbaba. The Trojan hero, Hector, who kills Patroclus, battles with Achilles one-on-one.

Beowulf is going on a journey and risking his life to defeat Grendel in Herot hall. As everyone enjoys life, Grendel is steaming mad with hatred for the humans. After Grendel comes storming in, he starts to snatch people left and right, destroying the hall. The great warrior hears what is happening. He goes to Denmark with some of his strongest men to defeat the shepherd of evil, guardian of crime. The hero has to now leave the land of Geats (Sweden) to battle, risking his life for an entire community. "The infamous killer fought for his freed, wanting no flesh but retreat, desiring nothing but escape; his claws had been caught, he was trapped" (line 53). Grendel and Beowulf are now wrestling around Herot hall, fighting each other. The Danes wants to help their great leader fight this big, brave monster, but Grendel is being unharmed with the magic he holds. At this point, Beowulf is risking death while he fights Grendel. The monster's shoulder was chopped; bones and muscles were broken. This defeat makes Beowulf a hero. He ended the grief, sorrow, and the suffering forced on Hrothgar's helpless people by a bloodthirsty friend. To boast his victorious battle with Grendel, Beowulf decides to hang up the monster's arm, claw, shoulder, and all. Beowulf went through battle so he can continue to have the frame of being noticed and the ego of being the great warrior of the Geats.

Gilgamesh is the next hero that is risking life and death to protect his society. Part god, and part human, Gilgamash will perform the deed of destroying the cedar forest of and the evil giant Humbaba. "I meet. I want to prove him not the awesome thing we think he is and that the boundaries set up by gods are not unbreakable. I will defeat him in his cedar forest. The youth of Uruk need his fight. They have grown soft and restless" (lines 26-32), is the speech he gives to the elders letting them know that he is there hero and that the journey to win the battle with the giant will be victorious for the good of everyone. The brave hero isn't going on this journey alone. As the battle goes on, Gilgamesh is ready for battle. He raises and ax and struck at the great cedar. Instantly, Humbaba races to see what is happening. Now the ironic part is that Gilgamesh boasted in the past about defeating the giant and now he is scared. Gilgamesh has defeated the giant with his ax and watches as he plea for his life. Finally this horrible battle is over and the head of Humbaba is swinging from a tree.

The last epic hero is Hector - the honorable warrior-prince of the Trojans. The conflict is between him and Achilles, the enemy. The god Apollo assists Hector. Apollo is the sun god and his name is Phoebus. Everything started when Hector kills a soldier named Patrochus. Achilles is enraged and seeks revenge because the Greeks believed that a soul could not be rested until the body was buried with proper rituals. Hector is running around the city way from Achilles. He is trying to run for the Dardan Gates, but Achilles isn't allowing that to happen. Zeus uses his scales of judgment to decide the fates of Achilles and Hector. Hector is doomed to die since everyone wants him died. Athena tricks Hector into thinking that she is Deiphobus, one of his brothers. "No more running from you in fear, Achilles! Not as before. Three times I flee around the great city of Priam - I laced courage then to stand your onslaught. Now my spirit stirs me to meet you face-to-face. Now kill or be killed!" (lines 73-77). Hector is stating that he is willing to be the brave warrior. Hector realizes that Athena had tricked him blind. Finally, Hector went t to the House of Death and the Trojans are left alone with no hero. Achilles goes and cause trouble with the Trojans to see what they will do since the hero is dead.

In conclusion, Beowulf, Gilgamesh, and Hector went on a journey to help their society. Beowulf has the superhuman strength and reflects the highest ideas of his culture - the Anglo-Saxon culture of ancient England. Despite the differences at several points in their adventure, Gilgamesh and Enkidu defeated the giant Humbaba and their attitudes changed as well. Hector died as he tried to keep his life and save the Trojans during the war against the Greeks. These three Anglo-Saxon heroes did a good deed, went to battle, risk their life to save their community, kept their ego, and overcame evil over good.


  • Interesting. Did you have to go back and reread some of these passages? Because if you didn't than I must congratulate you, you know them quite well. I like the story of Beowolf because it was full of action, although the movie created based on the story is sexed up. I wonder how long people will be reading about these Epic Heros considering that they weren't of American culture but european. Shouldn't Americans be creating their own? What do you think?

  • We had like these workbooks with the text that comes from the textbook and we had to answer the questions. So the workbook seem to be in a more understand format since you had to actual do the questions and underline this and circle that. So that workbook helped me to memorize what happened in order for me to write the paper. The one I can remember best is Beowulf, but the others are good, too.

  • Only Beowulf is Anglo Saxon. Your other heroes are Mesopotamian (modern Iraq) and Trojan/Greek. Hector is a Trojan (so strictly speaking, not European) remembered as a hero by the Greeks, the Romans and all the western civilizations now founded on their values, including British and American. These three heroes span from 2500 BC through 1000 BC for the Trojan wars to 500 AD so they've already endured thousands of years.