Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon folk epic written by an unknown author. It was written in the eighth century. Antigone is an Ancient Greek tragedy written by the playwright Sophocles around 430 BC. Although the two works were written during two different time periods, in two different places, and are different kinds of literature, they contain many similarities in the manner in which they depict an epic hero and a tragic hero. Beowulf tells the story of one of the most heroic men of Anglo-Saxon times. The hero, Beowulf, is able to use his super-human physical strength and courage to provide people with a sense of security, and is willing to go into danger despite possible harm to himself.
He encounters terrifying monsters and the most brutal beasts, but he never fears the threat of death. Beowulf is the ultimate epic hero who risks his life countless times for great honor and for the good of others. Antigone is a tragic play in which the main character Creon suffers many losses and undergoes emotional pain and anguish. A target of the curse on the House of Oedipus by relation, Creon is also a victim of fate. At the end when realized his mistake, he forced to live, knowing that three people are dead because of his ignorance, which a punishment worse than death. He is classified as the tragic hero.
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The two heroes, Beowulf and Creon, are very similar in some aspects and also quite different in others. First able, both heroes are of aristocratic birth. Beowulf is the cousin of Hi glac, who is King of the Geats. Creon is the brother of Jocasta, the Queen of Thebes. Secondly, both of them have strong senses of duty.
Beowulf is always devoted to his people, his king, and their security. For example, when he goes to slay the dragon, he has no help, he realizes that the dragon is more powerful, and he probably will not return from this battle, he still goes along with this because he was the king and it wa his responsibility to provide security for his people. (Unknown, 370-374) When the current king Eteocles was killed in the Battle for Thebes, Creon took the throne with a sense of aggression towards the enemy of Thebes. He wants to protect his country and feel responsible for his kingdom, he does not want people of Thebes take him for an easy king and therefore cause other problems arise. Therefore he punished a traitor, and punishes anyone who sided with the traitor.
None shall grace him with sepulture or lament, but leave him unburied, a corpse for birds and dogs to eat, a ghastly sight of shame. (Sophocles, 9) Thirdly, both heroes have character flaws that reinforce their roles in difficult situation: their hubris. Beowulf possesses goodness by telling the king of the Danes that he is honored to help the kingdom. Beowulf shows superiority in the story.
I sold my life for this treasure, and I sold it well. (Unknown, 76) He was too sure of himself, and never brought the right weapon to fight with, his sword broke into bits after striking the dragon. (Unknown, 113) Beowulf once was challenged by Unferth, he says, No man swims in the sea as I can, no strength is a match for mine.” (Unknown, 253 – 254) Beowulf goes on boasting to Unferth, “Nine was the number of sea-huge monsters I killed. What man, anywhere under heaven s high arch, has fought in such darkness, endured more misery or been harder pressed” (Unknown, 294 – 298) Creon s arrogance gets him into heated debates, arguments, and confrontations with his followers, such as the guard, his victims, Antigone, Now verily I am no man, she is the man, if this victory shall rest with her, and bring no penalty. (Sophocles, 13) and even the wise seer Tiresias who has never been wrong. When done talking with Creon, Tiresias says, He may spend his rage on younger men, and learn to keep a tongue more temperate, and to bear within his breast a better mind than now he bears.
... the hands of fate countless times for the good of others and immortal glory. Beowulf is the ideal epic hero through his superhuman ... with weapons or clothing in order to avoid disgracing his King’s name with such unfairness. With pure strength and brutality ... is yet another classic trait of the epic hero. Beowulf is the ideal epic hero in every way. His quest for glory and ...
(Sophocles, 83) Furthermore, Beowulf and Creon had true epiphanies. Beowulf s tragic realization is that he knew that it was his time to die when fighting with the dragon, because he believed in the Lord. He still thanks God for his prosperous lifetime and he requests that the gold that he fought and died for be distributed to his people and a tower be erected in his name. For this, this gold, these jewels, I thank our Father in heaven, Ruler of the earth, for all of this, that his grace has given me. (Unknown, 385) When Creon realizes that all of the blame for these deaths rests on him alone, he undergoes great suffering, and leaned valuable lessons of morality, moderation, piety, wisdom and humility.
Woe for the sins of a darkened soul, stubborn sins, fraught with death! Ah, ye behold us, the sire who hath slain, the son who hath perished! Woe is me, for the wretched blindness of my counsels! Alas, my son, thou hast died in thy youth, by a timeless doom, woe is me! Thy spirit hath fled, not by thy folly, but by mine own! (Sophocles, 94) Finally, Beowulf and Creon both suffer the wrath of fate. Throughout all Greek tragedies and myths, people and even Gods have attempted to evade their fate, but have never been able to do so. Sad was his spirit, restless and ready, And the march of Fate immeasurably near; Fate that would strike, seek his soul s treasure, and deal asunder the spirit and flesh. Not long was his life encased in the body! (Unknown, 372) At the end of Beowulf s story, fate was soon to run its course and he would loose his life in battle with the dragon. When Creon losses his future daughter-in-law, Antigone, by initiating her death, his son through suicide, and his wife by suicide as well, he suffers the great pain and anguish. Creon is affected by fate through the curse of Oedipus, as the chorus recites: But dreadful is the mysterious power of fate: there is no deliverance from it by wealth or by war, by fenced city, or dark, sea-beaten ships.
(Sophocles, 79) A difference between Beowulf and Creon is that each has different qualities that qualify them as heroes. Beowulf is classified as an epic hero because of his physical strength and bravery. “Beowulf, Hig la s follower and the strongest of the Geats-greater and stronger than anyone anywhere in this world.” (Unknown, 131) Creon is a tragic hero because he fights for the right, makes a choice that results in suffering, tries to reverse an injustice, has a character flaw, and despite his efforts, becomes one of the fate s victim. Come, thou most welcome fate, appear, o come; bring my day s final date, fill up their sum! Come quick, I pray; Let me not look upon another day! (Sophocles, 91) These two characters were written for two entirely different purposes. Beowulf was written to be recited by professional poets or scops. The scops would entertain the warriors and more importantly, inspire them the night before of battle.
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Creon was written to educate the Greek people. Through him and other tragic heroes, the Greeks learned several moral lessons and were reminded of the power of the gods.