Beowulf vs Thor
Beowulf vs. Thor Beowulf, a legendary hero of Geatish lore, from the epic poem named after him, is the definition of a hero. There is one being who can be collated to Beowulf: the mighty Thor, god of thunder. Derived from Norse mythology, Thor is hot-headed, with an appetite for food and drink. He also is one of the strongest gods, serving as the protector of the people. Both of these characters share similar qualities in what some would define a hero, despite one being a man, and the other being a deity. Thor is one of the most famous of the gods in Norse mythology, well known due to his popularity.
Thor is described as having a quick and hot temper, and a love for food. The enemies of the gods, the giants, were on the receiving end of his fury. cdWith his mighty hammer, he would smash their heads, and such a mighty weapon, crafted by dwarves, required iron gloves and a belt of strength. (Davidson, 1977) When Thor would throw Mjollnir, his fearsome weapon that was known to level mountains, the hammer would return to Thor’s hand, symbolic to lightning. Thor continues to live on today, not as a part of any religion, but on our calendar.
Thursday (Thor’s Day) was derived from this mighty god. (Jakobson, 1985) As one can see, thor is described as a great warrior, as well as an epic hero. Thor, the Thunderer, is perhaps the most famous of the gods of the Northmen, and was considered by some to be greater even than Odin. He was the God of the Peasants–the poor people, while Odin was thought more of by the rich people and the great fighters. Thor usually rode in a chariot of brass, drawn by two goats, Tooth-cracker and Tooth-gnasher, and it was this chariot which was supposed to make the thunder; hence Thor’s name. Bellows, 1936) Thor is a prominent figure in Norse Mythology, and a popular Deity; Beowulf, from Anglo-Saxon literature, is a fictional hero from the epic poem named after him. “Then spoke Hrothgar, defence of the Scyldings: “I knew him when he was a child; his old father was called Ecgtheow, to whom at his home Hrethel the Geat gave his only daughter in marriage. His bold son is now come hither unto a loyal friend. ” (Beowulf, p. 26) Beowulf exemplifies the traits of the perfect hero. He is a great warrior, characterized by his strength and courage, much like Thor.
He also embodies the manners and values of Germanic heroic code, including loyalty, courtesy, and pride. Beowulf acts as a warrior and a king. Following Hygelac’s death is an important transitional moment for Beowulf, as it shows a change in his character, going from a fearless warrior to a wise king. “I count it likely that, if ever the spear or fierce warfare or sickness or weapon take away thy lord, the heir of Hrethel, shep herd of the people, and if thou be yet alive, the Sea-Geats will have none better to choose as king, as guardian of treasure and heroes, if haply thou be willing to govern the king dom of thy folk. (Beowulf, p. 87) Instead of rushing for the throne himself, as Hrothulf does in Denmark, he supports Hygelac’s son, the rightful heir. With this gesture of loyalty and respect for the throne, he proves himself worthy of kingship. Beowulf makes a transition from a young warrior into a wise ruler, prepared for ascension to the throne thanks to his career as a warrior, and advice from his mentor, Hrothgar. Hrothgar spoke and answered him again: ” The all-knowing Lord hath sent these words into thy mind ; I never heard one so young in life speak more wisely.
Thou art strong in thy might, and prudent of mind, wise in thy discourse. I count it likely that, if ever the spear or fierce warfare or sickness or weapon take away thy lord, the heir of Hrethel, shep herd of the people, and if thou be yet alive, the Sea-Geats will have none better to choose as king, as guardian of treasure and heroes, if haply thou be willing to govern the king dom of thy folk. Thy great heart pleaseth me more and more, dear Beowulf. (Beowulf, p. 7) Beowulf’s transition from warrior to king could be described as reaching a legendary, almost deity like status, comparable to Thor. Beowulf starts out as a mighty warrior with nothing to lose, in contrast to his mentor, King Hrothgar, a wise king who wishes to protect his people. Beowulf learns from Hrothgar gaining the qualities fit for a king. Thor and Beowulf were mighty fighters. Thor had iron gloves, a strengthening girdle, and an invincible hammer.
Ingri d’Aulaire’s book of Norse Myths does well to describe these, “For who, as Loki said, would belive that he came to Jotunheim on a friendly visit if he brought his hammer, his iron mitt, and his belt of strength? ” (Ingri d’Aulaire, 2005) Beowulf fights without the use of weapons against Grendel, revealing his enormous strength. “Moreover, the seafarers, who carried thither rich gifts as good-will offerings to the Geats, have said that he, strong in battle, had in the grip of his hand the strength of thirty men. ” (Beowulf, p. 6) Against Grendel’s mother, he uses the sword Hrunting. In the poem, Beowulf receives the sword Hrunting, “the name of the hilted sword was Hrunting, and it was one of the greatest among the olden treasures; its blade was of iron, stained with poison-twigs, hardened with the blood of battle; it had never failed any man whose hand had wielded it in the fight, any who durst go on perilous adventures to the field of battle; — it was not the first time that it had need to do high deeds. ” (Beowulf, p. 71) Both Thor and Beowulf battle their enemies.
According to one well-known myth about Thor, Thrym, king of the giants, came into possession of Mjollnir and declared that he would give it back to Thor only if the beautiful goddess Freyja agreed to marry him. “There he saw Thrym, prince of the frost giants and god of the destructive thunder-storm, sitting alone on a hill-side. Artfully questioning him, he soon learned that Thrym had stolen the hammer and had buried it deep underground. Moreover, he found that there was little hope of its being restored unless Freya were brought to him arrayed as a bride. (Guerber, 2010) Freya angrily refused, and the trickster god Loki came up with a clever plan to recover Mjollnir. Using women’s clothing and a bridal veil to disguise Thor as Freyja, Loki escorted “Freyja” to Jotunheim, the home of the giants. When the time came for a hammer to be placed in the bride’s lap according to custom, Thor grabbed Mjollnir and threw off his disguise. Then he used the hammer to smash the giants and their hall. (Colum, 1920) Beowulf hears of a demon who lives in the swamplands of Hrothgar’s kingdom, and sets sail to Denmark with a small number of companions to defeat Grendel.
Beowulf fights Grendel unarmed, proving himself to be stronger than the demon. Beowulf tears the monster’s arm off, to hang it in the mead-hall as a trophy. Defeating Grendel in battle envokes the wrath of Grendel’s Mother, who then seeks revenge for the death of Grendel. “It now became evident to men that, though the foe was dead, there yet lived for a long time after the fierce combat, an avenger-Grendel’s mother. ” (Beowulf, p. 63) Grendel’s mother sought revenge for the death of her child, from Grendel’s death, Beowulf has acquired an even greater enemy.
Both Beowulf and Thor are heroic figures, one being a Deity and the other a mortal man. They each also come from different cultures, Thor being from Norse mythology and Beowulf coming from Anglo-Saxon literature. Despite two completely different sources, it is obvious that they share similarities, such as their incredible feats of strength and high status in their fictional world. Such incredible beings can only be read about in an epic poem or derived from Norse mythology. These two heroes will stay around in their respective texts, while one may be a deity, and the other a man, they both will live on for an eternity. Works Cited Bellows, H.
A. (1936). The Poetic Edda. (n. d. ). Beowulf. Colum, P. (1920). HOW THOR AND LOKI BEFOOLED THRYM THE GIANT. In The Children of Odin. Couzens, R. C. (1923). Thursday–The Day of Thor. In The Stories of Months and Days (p. CHAPTER XVIII). Davidson, H. R. (1977). Gods and myths of northern Europe. Penguin Books. Guerber, H. a. (2010). Hammer of Thor. Special Edition Books. (2005). Thor and the Jotun Geirrod. In E. P. Ingri d’Aulaire, D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths (p. 106). New York Review of Books. Jakobson, R. (1985). Selected writings: Comparative Slavic studies. Walter de Gruyter & Co. Longfellow, H. W. (n. d. ). The Challenge of Thor.