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Comparison Between Achilles and Beowulf


As epic heroes, Achilles and Beowulf have many similar qualities, such as courage, bravery, endurance and physical strength. In this regard, one can find a similarity between them, which is determined by the nature of their epic heroism, in particular, they both love fame. Each of these heroes is faced with a choice: either he leads a quiet life and eventually all people forget about him, or he finds eternal glory by dying in a fierce battle. On the other hand, one can identify the essential difference between them. In contrast to Beowulf, Achilles often demonstrates his extraordinary impulsiveness and vindictiveness. Achilles is fixated on his ego and thinks first about his own interests while is the son of his people and wants to see his people happy and prosperous.

The heroism of both characters knows no limits. They are so courageous and brave, that nothing and no one can deprive them of courage. Achilles demonstrates unprecedented strength and courage in the battle against the Trojan warriors. All Greeks recognize his extraordinary force that allows them to conduct successful battles against the Trojans. In turn, Beowulf fights against various monsters that bring trouble to his people. Like Achilles, Beowulf demonstrates himself as the most powerful warrior. In addition, the two heroes seek fame despite the fact that the price of fame is their own life. Achilles says the following words: “If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,/my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies/ If I voyage back to the fatherland I love,/my pride, my glory dies…” (Homer). At the end of the poem, Beowulf decides to fight against the dragon even though he knows that death may come to him.

On the other hand, compared to Achilles Beowulf looks more reasonable and consistent in his actions and behavior. Achilles constantly pursues above all his personal goals while Beowulf does not forget about the interests of his people. Achilles can be viewed as an egotist who does not forgive offenses and always seek vengeance in the case of grievances. Agamemnon insulted him by taking away one of his concubines and Achilles stops fighting in the war even knowing that it has very negative consequences for the Greek army. Hector kills his friend Patroclus, and this situation makes Achilles return to the battlefield. He brutally kills Hector and then defiles his body. As one can see the two heroes are extremely strong, yet the question of whether who would win in fight between them is complicated. Achilles is invulnerable except for his heel, while Beowulf has experience in battles with horrible monsters. It is possible that Achilles would be the winner thanks to his physical invulnerability and thirst for victory, but one cannot assert it unequivocally.

To sum up, the main similarity between Achilles and Beowulf is due to their epic heroism. They are both strong and mighty warriors who want to gain eternal glory. On the other hand, the main difference between them is that Achilles demonstrates greater selfishness, impulsiveness and vindictiveness. Beowulf in this regard deserves more respect because he sees his mission in saving his people from suffering. He is able to cope with his emotions, while the impulsiveness and vindictiveness of Achilles have no their limits.

Works Cited
“Beowulf.” Trans. Francis Gummere. University of Adelaide. 2014. Web. 1 June 2015.
Homer. “The Iliad.” Trans. Samuel Butler. The Internet Classics Archive. n.d. Web. 1 June 2015.

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