What is a hero? Webster?s Dictionary defines a hero as someone who is
admired for his achievements and qualities. The question is, does this definition
apply to an Anglo-Saxon hero as well as a modern day hero? Heroes in modern
times are found all over the world in all different social classes, races, age groups,
and religions. Heroes today come in all different shapes and sizes and have a
variety of different qualities which characterized them as heroes. Heroes in
Beowulf?s time, however, were a specific type of person. Typically a hero was a
young, strong, white male who had to have specific qualities to be considered a
hero. Heroes in Anglo-Saxon times and heroes in modern times are characterized
very differently, but also share a few common traits which qualify them as heroes.
The hero of Anglo-Saxon times was a very specific type of person. A prime
example of a hero in the Anglo-Saxon times is Beowulf. Beowulf is a strong,
white male who encompasses all of the characteristics that make someone a hero.
There are three qualities necessary to be considered a true hero: loyalty, bravery,
and strength. Anglo-Saxon society put a great amount of importance on loyalty. A
hero was always supposed to be loyal to his king and his kinship. A hero had to
stand by his knights and hold his blood ties true above all else. Bravery in battle
was extremely important. A hero had to fight for his king, and to protect his people
from harm. He could not fear anything and he risked his life for his country.
Lastly, an Anglo-Saxon hero had to have strength above all others. He had to have
the strength and ability to fight evil and come out strong. Heroes had superhuman
strength of some nature. In Anglo-Saxon society, being a hero also meant fame.
Usually there was a long line of heroes all in the same family, and they were
famous for their family name. Heroes had to be cunning, able, and have good
judgment in trying situations. For a person to be a hero in Anglo-Saxon times, they
had to encompass all of these characteristics, and be a positive role model for all
heroes to come.
The heroes of modern times have a very varied set of qualities which
characterize them as heroes. Unlike Anglo-Saxon times, the heroes of modern
times don?t fit into a cut mold. They don?t have specific qualities they must have
or any requirements they must meet to be a verifiable hero. In modern times, in
contrast to the Anglo-Saxon times, the society is much more individualistic.
Everyone has their own opinion of what a hero is depending on personal
experience. Modern day heroes may be anyone from famous athletes, movie stars,
or pop music icons to a woman, a disabled person, or even a child. There is no
limit on what a hero is, but there are a few characteristics that are commonly
shared among heroes of modern times. A hero must be kind-hearted, inspiring, and
have a special personality. Everyone who is a hero is a hero in their own way.
Whether they fought a war, taught a child to read, or inspired someone to simply
be a better person. In modern times, there are no guidelines, or rules for being a
hero; all you have to do is be yourself and inspire or make a difference in one
Although there are many differences between the Anglo-Saxon hero and the
hero of modern times, there are some basic characteristic traits they share. Having
the general status of being a good person is the basis of being a hero. Heroes in
both time periods have to have a kind heart. They have to be selfless enough to do
an act of kindness for another human being. They sacrifice at least a little bit of
themselves for someone else?s happiness or well being. Whether they realize it or
not, they touched someone enough to be considered a hero and to be remembered
as a positive role model.
In conclusion, there is no one definition for a hero. The word hero means
and stands for different things to different people. The meaning and characteristics
of a hero changes from generation to generation. It developed into a much broader
definition from Anglo-Saxon times to modern times, and who knows how it will
evolve in the future. Regardless of who, where, or when, a hero is someone who is
looked up to, respected, and someone that will always be remembered for their
selfless acts of kindness.