Hercules and Beowulf: Comparing Heroic Features and Adventures of Two Characters
Beowulf vs Hercules
The origin of the two heroes Beowulf and Hercules is stated to be associated with divine heroes. They were honored and royal servants of their country and communities they lead their communities to heroic events and battles. In majority of their stories the two warriors usually have a successful end. The two worries had a similar origin of European. To be more specific the two worries inspired two different generations in the Germanic history (“Compare and Contrast Beowulf and Hercules”).
Hercules came before Beowulf. He was an inspiration of majority of German population that was interested in martial heroic events and deeds in Roman period (“Compare and Contrast Beowulf and Hercules”).The Beowulf story was an inspiration to the Germanic warriors that came later in the generation, he took fights with monsters that lived in the caves. Beowulf fought a deadly dragon while Hercules encountered the Cacus Monster. They both came from royal backgrounds, one originated from Greece while the other one originated from Denmark.
Beowulf and Hercules attain similar status, power, and battles in their tales thus allowing one to come to the conclusion that these heroes are the same. Some may argue that these two are very different, however we must remember that the tale of Hercules influenced the Germanic people of heroic tales and bravery, as did Beowulf for the later generations of the Germanic people, thus the reason for the likeness in both. Hercules and Beowulf are both tremendous warriors. Beowulf is called to fight the beast Grendel who is terrorizing the people of Heorot. Grendel does not like the noise and commotion that happens there, so as a result he harasses the people and kills them as they attempt to fight him off.
Beowulf comes to King Hrothgar and volunteers to fight Grendel and sails to Denmark to do so. He defeats the beast successfully and goes on to fight Grendel’s mother followed by a Dragon. He’s ability to fight and defeat these beasts show his skill, and he becomes known as the defender of the city, and the person the people call to fight for them. Hercules is alike in the sense that he was a great fighter and was a protector. He fought the Minyans which were a group of people threatening Thebes, Greece. He also went on twelve labors which were challenging and dangerous. Some of his tasks included killing the Stymphalian Birds, a group of birds that ate humans and terrorized the city, the Lernean Hydra which had nine heads and as he cut one off another one grew, and the Erymanthian Boar which was another beast he defeated by chasing it, until the beast was tired.
Even after completing his twelve labors, he went on to fighting more battles and adventures. Hercules and Beowulf both are men who were constantly victorious in their battles and were always willing to help others. They attained the status of the protectors of the people. These men also had tremendous amount of strength and special powers. Beowulf’s abilities is apparent during his battle with Grendel. During the fight, Grendel attempts to grab Beowulf but instead Beowulf grabs him so strongly, that he becomes scared. Grendel is unable to escape from Beowulf’s hold and their fighting is shaking the kingdom. Warriors attempt to jump in with their weapons and help Beowulf, but don’t know that Grendel is prone to weapons, thus forcing Beowulf to use his bare hands.
Beowulf rips Grendel’s arm and carries it to mount it on the wall. We see his special abilities again with the fight against Grendel’s mom, which occurs underwater. Beowulf has the ability to hold his breath for hours while he fights and can go days and nights without resting or food. Hercules has the reputation of being the strongest man that ever lived. From his infant stage he killed two poisonous snakes that were in his crib sent by the goddess Hera, who was jealous of Zeus, his father. He also killed the Nameon Lion who was a ferocious beast with his bare hands just as Beowulf did and challenged Gods to battles and often won. He never aged and could jump 100 feet into the air.
Another similarity between the two is that they experienced some kind of down fall in each of their stories. When Beowulf fights his last battle which is the Dragon, he is in his old age. He is risking the chance of possibly losing because he wasn’t as young as he was when he fought the other two beasts. The dragon and Beowulf begin to battle but then it takes a bite out of Beowulf and he starts to bleed. Though he is wounded he gets a knife and stabs the dragon and it dies. Unfortunately, Beowulf dies also. Hercules’s second wife Deianeira, was the cause of his death. The two were trying to cross the Evenus River and a centaur called Nessus offered to take Deianeira across. She allowed it, but only after she was given the ride Nessus tried to rape her. Hercules of course protecting his wife shot Nessus to stop him. As he was dying however he told Deianeria to keep some of his blood, so that just in case Hercules begins to fall out of love with her she could use it to make him fall back in love. This was a lie and his blood is actually filled with poison, however Deianeria still takes it. Later on, Hercules begins to look another woman named Lole in a desirable way. Worried for their marriage Deinaneria takes Nessus blood and soaks his clothes in it so that he will continued to be interested in her.
When Hercules goes to put it on, his skin catches on fire as the poison sets in. He is in immense pain and because he is a demi-god, he doesn’t die immediately meaning he has to endure the slow, agonizing pain. After realizing what she had done, Denineria kills herself. Finally, Hercules decides to kill himself and set the rest of himself on fire. This kills the mortal part of him but not the immortal part. He goes to his new home on Mt. Olympus to rejoin with the other gods. These two men also have patriarchal figures that had some sort of authority. Hercules was the son of Zeus, who was the God of King and Thunder who ruled Olympus and the other gods. Beowulf’s father brother was the king of the land of Danes.
Though the two heroes fought and represented their nations and communities in dangerous and important quests they weaknesses of human nature. Beowulf main weakness was his ego that was accompanied by pride. This aspect made him to be reckless making him to undertake very dangerous challenges individually. This aspect distinguished Beowulf from the rest of the Roman and Greek warriors. The Greek and roman warriors always had tragic flaws that lead them to their defeat and destruction in most of the instances. Some dangerous quests without the use of weapons and with no help as he always confident that he will be a victor.
At his older age when he had no much strength, Beowulf decides to fight the dragon alone, when he was wounded an unable to defeat the dragon, he takes that as his fate and accepts that he would die at that point. This distinguished him against the Greek classical heroes that their fate was based on their poor choices that they made at the very crucial moments. He had to choose from deciding to encounter the dragon or many people would die. In this action he never demonstrated Greek hamartia but demonstrated the fatalism of Western.
Beowulf strengths included; the supernatural strength, loyalty, faith, honor and bravery. This is well demonstrated by him agreeing to destroy Grendel and the mother. He elaborates his bravery by fighting the two creatures individually and him dying still fighting and battling to save his people. His strength is well elaborated by him ripping off Grendel ribs with his hands. He demonstrated his faith and recognition of the Supreme Being by always giving thanks to God when he emerge successful in his battles (“Beowulf Characteristics”).
The mythology of the Greek stipulates that Herculkes most of the time he was led by his gluttonous and lustful nature. There information from unreliable sources that stated that he impregnated the daughters of Thespius that were 50. His wife Megara also had given birth to him three kids. He was also very vigorous. He kept on changing his character with time, in some of the stories he is depicted as being very humble. Hercules strengths included his passion to overcome that appeared along his ways, his strength physically, and bravery. Hercules strengths and capabilities are mostly compared to Samson of the Bible hence in some times he is referred to as the Greek Samson (“Greek Samson”).
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