Beowulf and Hercules: Strong, Self-confident, and Stupid.
"An epic is a long narrative poem presented in an elevated style, relating the heroic deeds of noble or semidivine personages" (England in Literature, 11). In most epics, the traits of the main characters revealed the values that were most important to the people of the society in which they were written. Furthermore, the main characters of most early epics were often courageous, brave, powerful, and nearly invincible. Therefore, it is not surprising to find that Beowulf and Hercules both possessed the traits of bravery and self-confidence. (1a) Most heroes, such as Beowulf and Hercules, were often strong and brave; however, most heroes also usually had one prevailing weakness. In the case of Beowulf and Hercules, the weakness of both turned out to be their thick heads. As can be seen in their stories, Beowulf and Hercules possessed similar traits because both characters displayed the values of strength, self-confidence, and stupidity during their adventures.
Perhaps the best way Beowulf and Hercules can be compared is to examine their great strengths. Beowulf, for instance, was "the strongest man alive, [both] princely and powerful" ("Beowulf," 7). (3) He often displayed this great strength: he defeated powerful monsters without any weapons except for his bare hands. For example, he defeated Grendel (without any help at all) by ripping the monster's arm right out of its socket. Additionally, he dove down into a "fiery lake" and defeated ma Grendel by himself. Finally, Beowulf tried to slay the dragon that was terrorizing the inhabitants of his kingdom, even though he was old and weak. In a similar manner, Hercules was also deemed to be "the strongest man on earth" and often displayed this great strength by defeating terrible monsters. For instance, when Hercules was just a baby he defeated the two venomous snakes sent by Hera with only his bare hands.