Beowulf ,written in Old English sometime before the tenth century AD, describes the adventures of a great Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century. Beowulf tells the reader a lot about the time in which it was written. Heroes show what the society as a whole values. By looking at Beowulf we can tell what the tenth century AD Anglo-Saxons valued.
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Beowulf has many attributes to his credit but by far his most notably traits are his strength and fearlessness. The first fight that we see involving Beowulf is that fought with Grendal a monster that has bean attacking king Hrothgar?s men as they sleep. Before the battle starts Beowulf make a decision that shows both his fearlessness and his strength ?My hands alone shall fight for me?(267-268). Beowulf?s fearlessness is shown in this statement ?I?ve never known fear, as a youth I fought in endless battles?(line 624-625).
Fame is very important to the Anglo-Saxons, as shown by the emphasis on fame in the story. Fame is so important because it is the only thing that is left after a person dies. Beowulf?s fame is beyond what a normal man could achieve this is shown on line (178-179) ? wise men all over the earth surely remember him still?. It is easy to impress those who don?t know you. The real test is in impressing those who you are close to. In Anglo-Saxon culture no one was closer than your fellow warriors. Beowulf impressed his fellow warriors as shown in this quote ? and so Beowulf?s followers rode, mourning their beloved leader, crying that no better king had ever lived, no prince so mild, no man so open to his people, so deserving of praise.?(lines 866-870)
The Anglo-Saxons valued strength, fearlessness, and fame. We now this because they made their hero embody these very qualities. Ancient heroes give us a look at ancient society.