I don’t know about you, but for a long time,
I was pretty intimidated by Beowulf. It’s over a thousand years old.
It’s written in a language that almost no one understands anymore.
And it’s not just, like, some story of heroes and dragons. It’s a poem. Once I started reading, though, I found out
that Beowulf is a lot easier to understand than I thought. I’ll tell you why … coming
up. So Beowulf may have been written hundreds
and hundreds and hundreds of years ago, but its message is surprisingly modern. Beowulf is all about what it takes to be a
hero. Now, in this poem, the main character, Beowulf,
is at first a hero for reasons you might only find in a fantasy story—you know, he fights
monsters bare-handed, he possesses almost superhuman powers, and he saves an entire
nation from terrible, lurking beasts that no one else dares to fight. But Beowulf’s heroism is about more than just
his dragon-slaying skills. In fact, even with all the fantasy-style action, this poem actually
spends a fair amount of time on Beowulf’s qualities. He’s courageous and generous.
He’s strong and cunning. He’s indifferent to death, and he puts others’
well-being before his own. He’s also wise, moral, and good. In short, Beowulf follows a sort of heroic
code—one that, if you think about it, is still what makes a hero today just as it did
more than a thousand years ago.