The Heroic Ideal

Heroic qualities have always been debatable but historians tend to agree that the qualities of a hero are a reflection of the values of the society. Augustus and Beowulf are two individuals revered as heroes during their own time. Both sustained their share of criticism but still managed to come out on top. Augustus was responsible for uniting Rome and creating a society that influenced every single society that followed. Beowulfs success was in keeping the peace for the Geats with the surrounding kingdoms. Through comparing the ideals and values of Rome in the first century and Britain in the eighth, a definite parallel can be drawn connecting these values with how the people viewed the heroes of the time: Beowulf and Augustus. Despite criticism that Augustus used bribery and intimidation to force his way into power, his successful leadership of Rome during the first century B.C. made him one of the greatest leaders of all time. Augustus was thought of as a powerful man and he always had the good of Rome in mind and never took his power for granted. Obviously, Augustus was proud of his leadership and even said as much in his Res Gestae Divi Augusti. His tone did not seem to be bragging, but merely stated the facts of his reign. Augustuss first sentence reminds the Romans that he liberated the Republic at the tender age of nineteen on [his] own initiative and at [his] own expense (WRW 56). A common theme he repeats in his statement is how much of his own money was invested in building the Roman empire. He repaired temples, gave gladiatorial shows, came to the assistance of the treasury (WRW 56) and made up [the] tribute in grain and in money from [his] own grain stores and [his] own patrimonywhenever the provincial taxes fell short (WRW 57). He also emphasized that he repaired Rome without inscribing his name on the buildings and he often gave shows in other peoples names to show that he was …

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