Great men within great battles

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Making a name for oneself

Both Odysseus and Beowulf sought to make a name for themselves through battle. They also thought of their people and family when going out to battle. What in a man does it take to want power and fame, yet give the glory of that power and fame back to those who support you? This is a powerful question, I believe both Odysseus and Beowulf answer in their characters.

Themes of Odysseus and Beowulf

  • Strong male friendship along with strong code of honor.
  • Honor for God or gods, in family, and their leaders.

Quotes from Odysseus

The words of Odysseus show his want to find his way home and find his way back to his wife Penelope.

“Lord Alcinous, I bid you and your people

To pour libation and send me safely on my way.

And I bed you farewell. All is now here

That my heart has desired—passage home

And cherished gifts that the gods in heaven

Have blessed me with. When I reach home

May I find my wife and loved ones unharmed.

May you enjoy your wife and children here,

May the gods send you everything good,

And may harm never come to your island people.”

“Now that we’ve separated the men from the boys,

I’ll see if I can hit a mark that no man

Has ever hit. Apollo grant me glory!”

“You dogs! You thought I would never

Come home from Troy. So you wasted my house,

Forced the women to sleep with you,

And while I was still alive you courted my wife

Without any fear of the gods in high heaven

Or of any retribution from the world of men.

Now the net has been drawn tight around you.”

Quotes from Beowulf

The words of Beowulf are a picture of a man who living to honor his leaders and God.

“Thus the king acted with due custom. I was paid and recompensed completely, given full measure and the freedom to choose from Hrothgar’s treasures by Hrothgar himself. These, King Hygelac. I am happy to present to you as gifts. It is still upon your grace that all favor depends. I have few kinsmen who are close, my king, except for your kind self.”

The treasures that Hygelac lavished on me I paid for when I fought, as fortune allowed me, with my glittering sword. He gave me land and the security land bring so he had no call to go looking for some lesser champion, some mercenary from among the Gifthas or the Spear-Danes or the men of Sewden. I marched ahead of him, always there at the front of the line; and I shall fight like that for as long as I live, as long as this sword shall last, which has stood me in good stead late and soon, ever since I killed Dayraven the Frank in front of the two armies. He brought back no looted breastplate to the Frisian King but fell in battle, their standard-bearer, highborn and brave, No sword blade sent him to his death: my bare hands stilled his heartbeats and wrecked the bone-house. Now blade and hand, sword and sword-stroke, will assay the hoard.”

“I would rather not use a weapon if I knew another way to grapple with the dragon and make good my boast as I did against Grendel in days gone by.”