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2010-10-25 12:12:10
2010-10-25 12:12:10

Both were very oriented towards getting glory. Achilles' only reason for going to Troy is to enhance his own glory. Beowulf is not quite as direct about this, but the value of glory and fame in his society suggests that glory was very important for him as well. Beowulf is perhaps a little bit more selfless, in that he is also helping out a small kingdom. Achilles does not care much about the Greeks, as he wishes for them to do poorly just to beg him to come back. This wish of his results in the deaths of many Greeks, including his best friend Patroclus.

Both heroes have a final enemy, though Beowulf has two, and even three if you consider the dragon at the end. In Beowulf, the story centers around his upcoming battle with Grendel and then gives us the bonus of his battle with Grendel's mother. The dragon at the end almost seems like an afterthought, and gives Beowulf the glory of dying nobly.

Achilles's final enemy is Hector, whom he beats about as easily as Beowulf beats Grendel. The ease of their victories shows the authors of these works trying to demonstrate how vastly superior these men were. These days, we like difficult struggles to prove our heroes' worth. Back then, a hero had little trouble dispatching his enemies.

Having said this, Beowulf DOES struggle to kill Grendel's mother, but even here, his victory is assured.

Both men were not kings when they did the deeds they are most famous for. Achilles is a prince, since his father Peleus is still alive. I am sorry, but I do not know Beowulf's actual status when he fights Grendel, but he does not become a king until later in the story.

Beowulf does not have the companion that Achilles has (Patroclus). Nor does he have any of Achilles' anger. This is a very big difference between the two. As I said before, both men are fueled by pride and glory, but Achilles later becomes fueled by vengeance over the slaying of his friend Patroclus. This leads Achilles to fight his biggest enemy, Hector. Beowulf does not have the anger motivation.

Last thought, Achilles dies in a fairly poor way. He is shot in the heel by Paris. I believe he is killed this way because no mortal being can kill him in hand to hand combat. The poets needed to kill him though, to make his story more tragic. No hero wants to die this way. Beowulf, on the other hand, dies fighting a dragon, which is probably one of the coolest ways to die in his culture. Beowulf's death is definitely better than Achilles. You could argue that his character is too, as he is motivated by glory and the eagerness to help, and not glory and rage.

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