The Themes We Have In Common
Beowulf and The Odyssey
Pride and Arrogance
The arrogance and stupidity in giving a defeated foe such information is something that Odysseus later comes to regret after the intense suffering that he and his men experience, especially considering that he looses all of his men as a result of this arrogance.
Comparing the Two
This aspect of the character of Odysseus is something that makes him very different from Beowulf, who is much more a stereotypical epic hero in the way that his strength, valor, and skill is described. There is very little sense of Beowulf developing as a character and learning from his mistakes, as Odysseus does, and he enters the epic with the same level of skill and bravery that he demonstrates throughout. For example he consistently makes tasks more challenging than they need to be by refusing to use weapons in his struggle against Grendel.
"I have heard, moreover, that the monster scorns in his reckless way to use weapons; therefore to heighten Hygelac's fame and gladden his heart, I hereby renounce sword and the shelter of the broad shield, the heavy war-board: hand-to-hand is how it will be, a life-and-death fight with the fiend."
When Beowulf did this he gained more honor for the Geatish king through his lack of a weapon, but also changed what was a battle between good and evil into a battle of skill. It is a matter of personal pride for him that he does not have any special advantage over Grendel as he comes to fight him, and thus he demonstrates typical traits of the epic hero. However, there is very little sense of him developing as a character in the course of this epic classic, as there is with Odysseus.
"Inspired again by the thought of glory, the war-king threw his whole strength behind a sword-stroke and connected with the skull."
"Yet the prince of the rings was too proud to line up with a large army against the sky-plague. He had scant regard for the dragon as a threat, no dread at all of its courage or strength, for he had kept going often in the past, through perils and ordeals of every sort, after he had purged Hrothgar's hall, triumphed in Heorot and beaten Grendel."
Beowulf is completely unafraid of the dragon, so unafraid that he's being a little bit dumb about how to fight it. Other kings might take an entire army to fight a dragon, but Beowulf is simply going to take it on one on one, the way he fought Grendel and Grendel's mother when he was a young man. Perhaps Beowulf is a little too courageous for a king, who should be protecting his people.