The Greek Hero vs. The Anglo-Saxon Hero
The hero stands as an archetype of who we should be and who we wish to be.
However, the hero has inherent flaws which we do not wish to strive towards. In
literature, these flaws are not used as examples of what we should be but rather
as examples of what not to be. This is especially dominant in the Greek hero.
While the Greek hero follows his fate, making serious mistakes and having a
fairly simple life, the Anglo-Saxon “super” hero tries, and may succeed, to
change his fate, while dealing with a fairly complex life.
The Greek hero is strong and mighty while his wit and intelligence are highly
valued. In the Greek tragedy, the hero struggles to avoid many flaws. Among
these flaws are ambition, foolishness, stubbornness, and hubris-the excessive
component of pride. He must overcome his predestined fate-a task which is
impossible. From the beginning of the tale, it is already clear that the hero
will ultimately fail with the only way out being death. In Oedipus, the hero
is already confronted with a load of information about his family and gouges his
eyes out. At this point, when he tries to outwit his fate he has already lost
and is sentenced to death.
The Anglo-Saxon hero must also deal with his “fate” but tries, and usually
succeeds, to change it. While the Greek hero battles his fate with his
A hero has been defined differently as time has progressed. Depending on the situation and the culture, a hero can range from someone who does deeds of the heart to a savior with enormous strength. In the times of Beowulf in the ancient Anglo-Saxon times the hero was a strong, courageous, and valiant person who would do anything to prove that. Anglo-Saxon heroes lived a life of adventure where ...
excessive pride and intelligence, the Anglo-Saxon hero tries to eliminate his
doom by force. The Anglo-Saxon hero is considered a barbarian of sorts due to
his sometimes unethical and immoral views and courses of action. At the end,
the Anglo-Saxon succeeds in altering his fate though.
The Greek hero is so normal, that the reader can relate to him. He is usually a
“common” human being with no extraordinary life. His story seems believable,
even possible. We would have no hard time imagining the hero’s conflict as
being ours. As in the case with Oedipus, we can understand how he feels it
would be possible for his circumstances to be applied to our lives. Although
the details may seem a little farfetched it is not impossible that there is some
truth to the story.
On the other hand, the Anglo-Saxon hero, being super-human, is especially
difficult to relate to. The Anglo-Saxon may reach the same pedestal as a God.
It is extremely hard to relate to this sort of person. Who can relate to
Beowulf, fighting a dragon named Grendel? It seems impossible. Such seems seem
to be pure fiction or folklore. Nobody could apply such a situation to his
The Greek hero is more of a thinker than a violent individual. He tries to
outwit everyone including his fate. He has a high level of hubris. This is
exactly the cause of his death making his fight nearly pointless. Oedipus
deals with the human struggle for knowledge-first for knowledge of the evil
which sets on the state, but ultimately for self-knowledge. Despite the advice
of others, Oedipus remains with his illusion, he must find the truth even if it
will destroy him. Oedipus is a tragic hero according to Aristotle’s Conception
in The Poetics. He is not the victim of fate expressed in the oracles. His
tragedy results from within his character. He sees things only one way-his way,
and driven by his uncontrolled emotions, ends up dead.
Beowulf is the hands on, brutal type. There is no way he could overcome his
fate with his brain. The only way out of the situation is to fight. In the
Anglo-Saxon tragedy, there is no room to think and analyze the situation. The
Anglo-Saxon Belief In Fate And Christianity Essay, Anglo-Saxon Belief In Fate And Christianity The Unity of the Unknown and the Eternal Security: The Anglo-Saxon Belief in Christianity and Fate Imagine a life in which one is simply a pawn at the hands of a mysterious higher force stumbling and meandering through life's tribulations. Until Pope Gregory the Great was sent to spread Christianity ...
hands on, physical confrontations seem more effective, since Beowulf is able to
change the course of his fate.
The tragic hero yearns to believe that there is purpose to his actions, yet many
of his actions lead to pain and disaster more so in the Greek than Anglo-Saxon
literature. He evolves thinking about right and wrong or good and evil,
believing that these come to him as divine revelations. Yet he often discovers
that his morality produces immoral results, and his good is often evil. The
Anglo-Saxon is content with what is happening and decides to use his power to
overcome his conflict rather than his mind.
Robinson, Norbone, “Gun Control Controversy”, Congressional Digest, May ‘86, pp.144,146
Hertzberg, Hendrik, “Gub Control”, The New Republic, April 10, 1989, pp. 4
Isaacson, Walter, “The Duel Over Gun Control”, Time, March 23, 1981, pp.33
Kinsley, Michael, “Under The Gun”, The New Republic, August 26, 1985, pp.8
Woods, Harold, The Right To Bear Arms, New York, Watts, 1986