English / Heroes In The Making - Beowulf

Heroes In The Making - Beowulf

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Autor:  anton  25 December 2010
Tags:  Heroes,  Making,  Beowulf
Words: 685   |   Pages: 3
Views: 233

Beowulf was originally an oral poem and it contains within it a number of occasions where oral poetry is performed. All of these occasions provide a site where issues of importance in the Germanic society depicted are defined and contested. The scop’s story of Sigemund and the Dragon displays many similarities of the stories of Beowulf and his Dragon and illustrates values and deeds in Germanic society.

Sigemund is a figure from Norse mythology and is famous for slaying a dragon. This story foreshadows Beowulf’s encounter with the dragon that also hoards a treasure. Dragons are significant because they are ancient and powerful serpents that are often depicted as guards of something unintended for a human. The treasures are often ancestral treasures that are only intended to be past down through its own people. For someone to defeat a Dragon you must be strong and through the defeat are idolized by those who benefit from the slaying. Sigemund and Beowulf are strong heroes that depict the heroic code of honor.

Sigemund’s story may also be a symbol of what we fear the most for Beowulf. Beowulf must establish himself and possibly be greater then Sigemund. Great warriors are repaid by their Kings with treasurers won in war. In Sigemund’s story and in the story of Beowulf, the treasures won from the Dragon are passed on, but treasures are possibly past down to corrupt hands, “But evil entered into Heremond” (914). It is the responsibility of the king to act for the good of the people and not just for his own glory. Sigemund’s King, King Heremond was betrayed and overpowered but Beowulf “as king of the people I shall pursue this fight for the glory of winning,” (2513).

Wiglaf and Beowulf equal one Sigemund. Sigemund “had dared to enter all by himself to face the worst” (887). Wiglaf was one of Beowulf’s kinsmen and he was the only warrior brave enough to help fight against the dragon. Wiglaf may also be the successor of the heroic reputation like Sigemund and Beowulf because of his bravery “And now the youth was to enter the line of battle with his lord, his first time to be tested as a fighter” (2625). Wiglaf’s youthful heroism was a reminder of the youthful heroism of Beowulf; possibly he could follow in his footsteps to be a mature hero as a reliable king.

Beowulf accomplishes many heroic deeds; first he defeats Grendel, then Grendel’s mother, and then the Dragon. By becoming a great hero he is establishing an identity for himself by reputation to supersede his reputation through his ancestry. Both Sigemund and Beowulf’s reputations grew even more after their deaths because of their accomplishments of the heroic code; a good reputation, strength, courage, loyalty, hospitality, generosity, and political skill. Fame is a way of ensuring an individual’s memory will continue after death. “After his death Sigemund’s glory grew and grew because of his courage when he killed the dragon,” this passage tells us that he has already died, that his reputation is well maintained, and that he too killed a dragon, the same as Beowulf (883). Beowulf even gave up his own life to defeat the dragon, thus leaving his people without a proper heir, but professing his destiny, like those of his ancestors, “You are the last of us, the only one left of the Waegmundings. Fate swept us away, sent my whole brave highborn clan to their final doom. Now I must follow them,” (2813). The dragon is a symbol of the inevitable, death.

Oral poetry was the only way to preserve and pass down the lessons and lineages of the past. Beowulf and Sigemund’s culture had little interaction with writing consequently the stories told were the only ways to learn about the past. The significant and exciting stories were told the most; Sigemund and Beowulf. Beowulf itself supplies the tradition of oral celebration of cultural heroes. The Heroic code is vital to warrior societies and according to the actions of Sigemund and Beowulf they have conformed to the code, thus making them legends.



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