English literature begins with Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon folk epic written by an unknown author. The epic presents the story of Beowulf, an ideal Anglo-Saxon hero who through his exploits includes Anglo-Saxon values. One value which Beowulf teaches is love of bravery, a value which he demonstrates through two distinct events.
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At a time when bravery was highly valued, Beowulf, a hero of the Geats, was the symbol of Anglo Saxon perfection. He was the perfect warrior, combining extraordinary strength, skill, courage, and loyalty. Grendel, a cannibal ogre, repeatedly invades Heorot to kill the Danes. When Beowulf hears that Grendel captured Heorot, he decides to free Hrothgar, king of the Danes, and his people. After bravely defeating Grendel, the Danes rejoice. Hrothgar gave Beowulf a rich array of gifts, including a mighty treasure sword, an embroidered war banner, eight horses with golden bridles, and an ancient saddle that was fashioned and decorated with treasure.
Beowulf’s bravery did not end with that event. He pursues Grendel’s mother after she revengefully seizes one of Hrothgar’s nobles from Heorot. He finds Grendel’s mother in her underwater den and defeats her with a sword forged by giants of old time. Proving his bravery, he then searches for Grendel’s dead body, sees many treasures, but takes only Grendel’s head and the jeweled hilt of the giant sword. He is persistent in his bravery and is rewarded again with twelve treasures by Hrothgar.
Bravery is so highly valued to the Anglo-Saxons that Beowulf is now the most honored of men. Battle swords slew Hygelac, king of the Geats. The new perfect king should be a strong, loyal, skilled, and brave warrior. Beowulf is crowned the new king. After fifty years of being king, he is still a brave warrior. Instead of sending out an army, he bravely went to fight a dragon that scorched buildings in his kingdom. He manages to kill the dragon right before dying himself. Beowulf lives on as the perfect, brave hero to the Anglo-Saxons.