The title character of Beowulf is on of the earliest examples of an Anglo-Saxon literary hero. He is endowed with traits that 10th century Europeans could admire, such as great bravery and courage. Beowulf also has confidence in his skills as a warrior and as a leader. He also, however, is aware of what his limits are, and he knows not to exceed them. It can therefore be said that Beowulf is a classic Anglo-Saxon hero.
Perhaps Beowulf's most admirable trait is his bravery and courage in the face of danger. "My lord Higlac/Might think less of me if I let my sword/Go where my feet were afraid to." (264-256) In these lines, Beowulf vows to kill the creature Grendel with his bare hands. To early Europeans, such characteristics would indeed seem heroic, and keeping with the idea of a literary hero.
In the epic poem, none equaled Beowulf's skill as a warrior or as a leader of men. It is with this knowledge in mind that decides to end the scourge that is Grendel by himself. "That I, alone /May purge all evil from this hall." (260-261) As stated above, Beowulf is aware of the fact that many have died battling Grendel, yet he vows to defeat the beast single handedly. Such confidence in skill projects Beowulf as a true Anglo-Saxon hero.
Despite all of Beowulf's strengths, however, his is aware of what his limits are. Regardless of the fact that he smote Grendel bare handed, Beowulf admits a dragon is a formidable foe indeed, so a decision is made to unsheathe Hrunting Beowulf's mighty blade. "I"d use no sword, no weapon, if this beast/Could be killed without it, crushed to death/Like Grendel, gripped in my hands and torn/Limb from limb." (630-633) Beowulf knows that the dragon might kill him, and a man who walks into death is not a hero but a fool.
To the 10th century European reader of Beowulf, the title character is a might hero indeed. He possesses such envious traits as extreme bravery and courage, even in the face of mortal danger.