Countless names from history rise to our minds when we think of examples of courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities.
Pope St. Leo the Great and St. Joan of Arc are remembered for their courage. El Cid and Don Juan of Austria are remembered for their valor, honor and noble obedience. Virtues of a hero are necessary for great kings and warriors.
The meaning of hero is embodied in the ancient tale, Beowulf. The central figure, Beowulf, possesses and displays the virtues that are essential as king and warrior in a pattern that modern readers should study.
Beowulf Brief Summary
This adventure follows the life of a brave and fearless warrior as he aids the Danes in their afflictions. After a man-eating monster awakens at the smell of wealth and gold he plagues the great hall every night while the men are asleep. The woe of this land reaches the ear of a peerless Geat warrior who embarks on an adventure to save these sad people.
The book carries many thought provoking and poetic verses. When the hero is first described, the author writes:
“There was no one else like him alive.
In his day, he was the mightiest man on earth,
high-born and powerful.”
The story relates the might of a God-fearing man who is too strong for any sword and challenges a coward who attacks innocent people at night to hand-to-hand combat. All his victories are credited to his Maker and he walks in this life as God wants all men to: blameless and perfect.
Beowulf is basically the story of a soul. Beowulf is the soul, and the three monsters that he face are the same dangers that every soul faces: the world, the flesh and the devil. The first monster, Grendel, which Beowulf faces in his prime and youth, represents the world. The second monster, Grendel's seductive mother, represents the flesh. And the final dragon, faced in Beowulf's declining years, is the final attack of the devil on the deathbed. This is the hardest battle, for the soul is weary of fighting, but it is the most important skirmish.