Beowulf vs Achilles: What are Their Unique Distinctions?

Beowulf vs achilles what are the similaritiesBeowulf vs Achilles, what are their similarities and differences? To begin with, they are both heroes from epic poems, but they greatly differ in how they conduct themselves. One deserves greater respect than the other. Both Achilles and Beowulf are seen as great heroes, however, they are similar, and also different. Find out more about it and who the better hero is by reading on this article!

Beowulf vs Achilles: What Is Their Main Difference?

Qualities as a hero
  • Possesses superhuman strength
  • Brave, loyal, and fights a battle to protect people
  • Incredibly strong
  • Valiant
  • Loyal
Personal Traits
  • Loves fame and glory
  • Logical and level-headed
  • Short-tempered
  • Egotistic
  • Vindictive
  • Loves fame and glory

Differences Between Between Beowulf and Achilles

The difference between Beowulf and Achilles is their motivation and temper striving for glory and fame, Beowulf’s motivation begins to shift as he matures, from self-centered to more heroic cause. He performs his actions, not for personal gain, but to save and protect people. Achilles, however, exhibit selfishness and vindictiveness.

Best Characteristics of Beowulf

Superhuman Traits

Beowulf is the name of the main character in the Beowulf book, which is also known as the Beowulf poem. He is a mortal man who possesses immense strength that is said to be equivalent to the strength of thirty men.

For Beowulf, it happened when Hrothgar needed a mightier warrior to defeat the monster terrorizing his kingdom. Beowulf came to help and ultimately killed Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and eventually a fire-breathing dragon.

The poem narrates his successful battles with several creatures, which paved the way for him to achieve what he always wanted: the fame of a glorious warrior. Initially motivated by self-interest, he gradually developed the maturity to fight for the right cause, which is to defend his people. He successfully defeated the fire-breathing dragon that terrorized his kingdom, but it resulted in him being mortally wounded and dying a true hero.

Additionally, it is key to note that what made Beowulf a superhuman hero was not only how he fought, but how he was able to fight for hours without breathing, and he can go for days and nights without eating or resting, while, according to legends.

Not to forget how Beowulf was challenged to swim, and he entered a swimming competition where he swam with all his might and won, proving the person who bet him wrong. In addition, to all the aspects, one of the key notions is how he fought under the water when he was in a battle with the mother of the monster. Keeping in mind that he defeated and killed the mother monster.


Loyalty is one of the reasons why Beowulf was seen and admired as a hero. The first battle started through loyalty, and it was in order to prove to King Hrothgar that Beowulf is indeed a loyal person.

It started back when Beowulf’s uncle had given his word to King Hrothgar, and Beowulf kept that allegiance with the king through his uncle’s promise. Furthermore, it is important to note that his intention was not to be rewarded through material and good, on the contrary, Beowulf wanted to prove his loyalty through his actions, which was by killing the monster.

Nonetheless, after he killed the monster, he also led another battle with the mother of the monster, and he also killed her. In addition to being loyal to the king, he also protected the lives of the innocent people who were in danger and afraid to be harmed.

Loves Fame and Glory

Beowulf, to this day, is seen as an epic hero because of his love for fame and glory. True, he did fight because he loved his people, however, he also had a love for fame and for his name to rise so that he gains glory. Glory is seen in the poem in different parts, such as when he presents himself to King Hrothgar, being conscious that he truly is able to fight and kill Grendel.

Furthermore, the love of fame comes from how aware he is of himself and the power of his strength. Beowulf knew that his strength cannot be defeated by the monster, and knew that he would be able to take him down and gain glory from the king and his people. The latter triggered his strength and he went on with a battle and killed the monster, followed by the mother monster.

Best Characteristics of Achilles

Incredibly Strong

According to Greek mythology, Achilles was the child of Thetis, a sea nymph, and Peleus, king of the Myrmidons. He was known to be the best warrior in the Greek army. Achilles was said to have been extremely strong, brave, and devoted, yet he also had a weakness known as his “Achilles heel.” This is because his mother, Thetis, immersed him in the River Styx when he was still a child, and he was held by one of his heels.

In the fight with the Trojan warriors, Achilles exhibits power and bravery, unlike anything he has ever experienced. All Greeks are aware of his exceptional strength, which enables them to defeat the Trojans in combat.


He was most notable for what he did to the Trojan prince, Hector. After killing him, he tied Hector’s body to his chariot and dragged it through the dirt. It was his revenge after Hector killed Achilles’ friend, Patroclus. Although not mentioned in The Iliad, one version of Achilles’ death is by an arrow on his weak heel, shot by Paris, Hector’s brother.


With all that is written about Achilles, first and foremost, he was regarded as a hero as he was the most effective soldier in the Greek army during the Trojan War. According to myths from the time after Homer, Achilles was invulnerable, and without him, the Greeks would not have been able to beat the Trojans.

However, Achilles’ dark side was also made known. Even in the battle-hardened culture of their civilization, some behaviors are forbidden, such as those that do not adhere to 21st-century morality. An example of this is the way Achilles defiled Hector’s body after killing him. Not even the Greeks or the gods could approve of it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Beowulf and Achilles Similar?

There are many similarities between the two. Both Beowulf and The Iliad are epic poems, and for poems to be considered epic, they must meet certain criteria. These two poems feature a hero who greatly affects the fate and future of their respective kingdoms. They both engaged with supernatural creatures and emerged victorious. They are widely celebrated and lead glorious lives as warriors.

Who Would Prevail If Achilles and Beowulf Engaged in Combat?

It is hard to determine who would win between them as there are several factors to consider. While Achilles is believed to be invulnerable (except for his heel) due to his immersion in the River Styx, Beowulf possesses incredible strength, which is believed to be equal to that of 30 men. So, if they engage in a fight and Beowulf manages to capture the ever-swift Achilles, Beowulf would have the upper hand to apply his incredible strength.

In addition, with the Scandinavian custom of “flyting,” or ritually exchanging insults, and Achilles’ famous temper, Beowulf might be able to tease Achilles into a wrestling match, which would favor him.

On the contrary, Achilles’ physical invulnerability and intense desire for victory might make him win as well. In conclusion, even if all of their heroic talents and attributes are taken into account, there are so many similarities and distinctions between these two great figures that it is difficult to predict who would prevail.

Is Achilles the Odyssey’s hero?

No, Odysseus is the protagonist of The Odyssey while Achilles is the hero of The Iliad, although some may argue that Hector is the real hero of The Iliad. Those are two different epic poems, but they are connected to each other. The Iliad is the first epic poem that narrates the story of the Trojan War, which erupted due to Helen’s kidnapping by Menelaus, a Greek and the brother of King Agamemnon. The culprit is Paris, a Trojan, and son of King Priam.

Achilles is a famous Greek warrior who fought with the Trojans. Even before the Odyssey started, Achilles has already passed away. According to The Iliad, Achilles was given a choice to live a full life or to die young.

Was Hector a More Effective Fighter Than Achilles?

No, while Hector is braver and has higher morals in comparison to Achilles, the latter is a stronger and better fighter. Hector died as a hero fighting for his people, whereas Achilles was merely fighting for himself. In this regard, Hector excels above them all. He was even pleasant in treating Helen, who was the cause of the battle between the Greeks and the Trojans. Hector was still forgiving toward her.

Unlike the Achaean leaders, Hector demonstrates even greater honor by taking part in battles within his own realm. He is a family man who loves his wife and kids and often thinks of them before himself, unlike Achilles, whose only concern is his own well-being. Even though Hector is devoted to his family, he never neglects his responsibilities to Troy. So, between Hector and Achilles, one can say that Hector was a better leader and person as a whole.


Achilles and Beowulf have a lot in common, as they are both epic heroes in their respective periods. As both are legendary heroes known for their courage, endurance, and strength, they are often compared to each other. Below are the keynotes of their similarities and differences.Beowulf vs achilles what are the differenties

  • Both Beowulf and Achilles have a royal lineage. Beowulf even became king when he inherited the throne from his cousin, Heardred. Achilles, on the other hand, is the son of Peleus, a Greek king.
  • They are both excellent warriors and succeeded in almost all of their battles. They both love the fame and glory that comes along with every successful battle.
  • The main differences between Beowulf and Achilles are their motivation and temper. Achilles fiercely pursues his personal goals above all else, whereas Beowulf never loses sight of the interests of his people.
  • Achilles is known to be vindictive. It was shown in how he mistreated Hector’s corpse as revenge for the death of his friend, Patroclus.
  • Beowulf seems more sensible and consistent in his deeds and conduct. Beowulf’s motivation begins to shift as he matures, from being self-centered to more of a heroic cause. He performs his actions not only for personal gain but also to save and protect people from harm.

To sum it up, both have strengths and flaws that may be bigger or fewer than those of the other. They have performed numerous brave deeds, though, and that makes them both deserving of the title of hero in their own right.

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