The basic question that arises whenever we talk about the modern-day heroism is who is a modern hero. A modern day hero can be described to be a person in who most of the moral values and virtues can be seen. The person possesses intelligence, honesty, bravery, honor and most of all; putting other people’s interest above their own. They might not always be considered to do the right thing but the results they offer become those of serving everybody’s interests. They might also not be able to always please the people they are serving but they try hard to do what they have to. All these characteristics are shown in Beowulf and Dante in the inferno. While the two heroes are nothing alike, Beowulf and Dante the pilgrim are great heroes in their own times and setting because they both experience hard times but emerged as heroes. Beowulf is, however, the greater hero, as Beowulf’s journey is purposeful while that of Dante happens by a chance.
In any of the modern communities, heroes give their people a sense of inspiration and belonging. They give us ways and means of facing our problems head on even if the problems may seem big enough to defeat us. Beowulf’s bravery has been an inspiration to today’s heroes and their supporters.
Beowulf himself shows the glorious victory in battle brings by defeating monsters, which earns him respect and even leadership. The heroic code of honor in Beowulf, depicts a culture that values courage, loyalty in warriors, political skills, hospitality in Leaders and a glorious reputation in all People: “and a young prince must be prudent like that, giving freely while his father lives so that afterwards on age when fighting starts steadfast companions will stand by him and hold the line, behavior that is admired is the path to power among people everywhere” (Grigsby 2005).
The warrior code of honor is in line with Scandinavian Traditional Culture, which also involves a complex society with various tensions and contradictions due to the mixed cultures, but they also form a single community existing in the world of Beowulf (Grigsby 2005). This is a perfect example of a modern-day hero as the work of a hero is to try as much as possible to unite their community as they try to solve the major issues affecting it. This is being able to put themselves first and in the process save the community.
Despite Dante’s journey happening by a chance, he is able to turn his dark morals into a righteous path. Modern day heroes tend to have friends that help them work for the greater good. They value friendship and teamwork because and this, therefore, gives them an upper hand when it comes to fighting their enemies (Durling & Robert 1996). Dante makes good use of this when he is accompanied by Virgil to face the journey of his life. However, his journey does not include fighting off his enemies but more of finding his way in life. It is a self-discovery journey.
Dante is a good example of a modern-day hero who is determined to find the facts of what they do not understand but is afraid of the challenges that they have to face in order to accomplish what they are looking for. This is depicted in the poem when he returns home having not completed his mission. Even though he quits his journey, he comes back a wiser person than he had left.
Empathy is a good attribute in a modern day hero. The ability to feel pain for others and understand what they are going through is relevant to Dante. His journey through hell is quite traumatic but he is able to maintain this character, unlike Beowulf who does not need to have a heart in his wars. He feels pity for those in hell though he cannot actually help them (Durling & Robert 1996).
Another character that portrays Dante’s relevance for today is that he is not built like a non-human being character. When he gets angry, he lushes out to the people around him. It is very normal for a hero to get angry and just as a normal person, do or say things that might not seem so desirable by the community or people around them. The only difference comes in by evaluating the basic reason for anger and how one chooses to handle it. Dante gets angry because he is a man of God and he cannot stand the sinful ways people follow (Durling & Robert 1996).
Durling, Robert M. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Volume 1: Inferno. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, 1996.
Grigsby, John. Beowulf and Grendel: The Truth Behind England’s Oldest Legend. Duncan Baird Publishers/Watkins, 2005.