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Literary Heroes Beowulf and Odysseus Reading through Beowulf I began to compare it to the last great epic I read Homers The Odyssey While The Odyssey and Beowulf are each examples of both historic and modern ideas of heroism the acts of Beowulfs hero seem to fit better within its context Beowulf exhibits many obvious heroic qualities such as his strength and confidence in battle These along with more subtle diplomatic actions serve to define him as both a great warrior and leader Beowulf shows both wit and patience in his swift retort after Unferth challenges his skill Later after proving himself by dismembering Grendel he accepts Unferths sword to face Grendels mother This offering can be seen as an act of apology or forfeit on Unferths part and reveals another side of the hero forgiveness Beowulf did not deny Unferth his repentance nor did he ridicule him upon his conceit In contrast with Beowulfs concrete depictions of good versus evil The Odyssey focuses more on the gray areas of punishment and revenge A main theme throughout the poem is vengeance either by the gods or by man and the unforgiving world of The Odyssey reflects in its heros actions Indeed upon Odysseus return to Ithaca he is almost bloodthirsty choosing not to reveal himself as king to drive away the suitors but instead to bide time in the guise of a beggar until he can slaughter all whove wronged him Beowulfs wrath is swift and justified He plays no games with his opponents Beowulf even shows respect to his foe and honorably faces them with no undue advantage A classic example of the honor usually associated with heroes lies in Beowulfs decision to use neither sword nor armor when facing the monster Grendel in Heorot Beowulf instead opted in the name of fair play to fight the monster on its own terms Unsurprisingly Beowulf conquered his foe
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