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The 13th Warrior is an amazing 1999 fiction film based on Michael Crichton’s novel Eaters of the Dead. The film is about a Muslim emissary who is coerced into joining a group of savage warriors set to counter the most dreaded gang of Viking warriors that captured Ibn Fadlan on his way to meet the Saqaliba King from Baghdad. On the other hand, Beowulf is a classical English epic poem composed of long alliterative lines from the Anglo-Saxon literature set against the Scandinavian background. The place of warriors and heroism takes a center stage in both the Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior. This paper therefore highlights the concept of heroism in the fictional movie and epic poem.
The two main protagonists Beowulf and Ahmad Ibn Fadlan share a lot of heroic qualities one of which is selflessness and brevity as depicted in Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior respectively. The actions of the two warriors are commonly driven by their intrinsic urge to respond to the others’ distress call. In Beowulf, Beowulf is responding distress call of the troubled King Hrothgar of Denmark. The gallant Geatish warrior travels to Denmark in a band of warriors in a daring move to slay a monster (Grendel) that wields superhuman strength. Beowulf is never scared by the ogre look of Grendel but the warrior is geared up to engage the troll-like creature in a fierce battle on a foreign and unfamiliar territory for the sake of the King Hrothgar.
Similarly, Ahmas Ibn Fadlan is not very different from Beowulf. He is selfless, strong willed and brave too. Upon banishment to the northern barbarians from his homeland for his alleged illicit affair with the wife a noble, Ibn encounters the contingent of Norse warrior who forced him into joining the relentless fight against the marauding ancient evil- a quest he accomplished without any objection. Despite the frightening nature of the prevailing evil (Wendol), also called the “angel of death”, Ibn joined the band of warriors without any hesitation regardless of the oncoming danger. This demonstrates that he is brave notwithstanding the forthcoming danger posed by Wendol that would otherwise dampen the spirit of many.
Fearlessness and constant urge to conquer the enemy no matter the situation at hand are the most predominant qualities that the two warriors (Beowulf and Ibn) exhibit in all the battles they engaged in. The two warriors are readily available for the service and welfare of the wider society. Additionally, the intelligent and tactful nature of the two warriors is amazing as portrayed in the Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior. In the first instance, Ibn is fast in learning the new ways of the Viking warriors and mastering their Norse language within a very short period of time against the expectations of his fellow warriors. This newly nurtured intelligence enabled him confirm the humanoid cannibal “Wendol” as the true enemy of the Norsemen- a phenomenon that led to the killing of both “Mother Vendol” and Wendol – thereby ending the war ceremoniously.
In the same manner, Beowulf (the hero of Geats) also managed to ensnare Grendel (the monster enemy) in the company of his men at Heorot after learning that the monster was hypersensitive to noise. Through an explicit use of intellect, the warrior attacks the Mendel with his bare hands since the dragon is immuned to human weapons that opponent warriors ordinarily bear. This was the event that led to eagerly awaited killing of Grendel and mother Grendel by the hero Beowulf and subsequent victory that freed the kingdom of Danes from the indomitable fear of dragons.
Similarities between Beowulf, Ibn and other heroes in Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior
The protagonists (Beowulf and Ibn) are heroes in their own making. As such, they share a lot of similarities with other heroes and outstanding warriors in the film and epic poem to a larger extent. Just like Beowulf and Ibn, Wiglaf is another fearless and daring warrior who is always in the company of Beowulf whenever they lay an attack on the dragons s illustrated in the epic poem.
In The 13th Warriors, Beowulf and Ibn share a lot of attribute with the Buliwyf who devoted his entire life battling the most dreaded dragons across the kingdom. His exemplary brevity is evident during the killing of Wendon and the dragon leader “Mother Wendon” in a cave-complex that the dragons inhabit. In general, various heroes in the epic poem and film were all selfless in their relentless fight against the monster and dragon enemies.
Ways in which Beowulf and Ibn Fadlan stand out from the other heroic warriors
Even though all the heroic warriors in the epic poem and film have a lot of shared attributes, Beowulf and Ibn Fadhlan are outstanding in their intrinsic qualities that work to their own advantage of becoming outstanding warriors. Through the inner instinct and intellect, the two warriors are capable of understanding the supernatural underworlds of their dragon enemies more than any other warrior. In this perspective, the two heroes are supernatural in their capabilities and instincts as human beings.
These superior attributes saw “Beowulf slew the toughest and most dreaded dragon, Wendol and Mother Wendol, in a fierce battle that followed in the darkest of the cave complex inhabited by the dragons” (Alexander, p. 273). Prior to his new approach of engaging the dragon in a losing battle, the humanoid cannibals were the biggest threat to King Hrothgar and other warriors because the supernatural beings were could not succumbed to human weapons- an event that led to massive loss of warriors upon any of their staged attacks.
Similarly, Ibn Fadhlan also demonstrates sharp traits of a highly gifted warrior. Although he appears weak in the physical body, his inner strength manifested in personality, intelligence and exemplary perception of the world around him is amazing. It is through his high level of discernment that he was identified Wendol as the “Angel of death” that traumatises warriors in the entire kingdom before any other person could.
Similarities and differences between Beowulf and Ibn Fadlan
It is most notable that there are significant differences between Beowulf and Ibn Fadlan in their heroic qualities and deeds based on the scenes and plots of the Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior though the two protagonists are peculiar in their own rights. Beowulf seen to be full of physical strength compared to the emissary Ibn Fadlan who is portrayed as quite weak in the physical appearance. For this reason, the confrontational Beowulf exposes himself to high risks by resorting to more of physical actions in his approach of fighting the dragons hence his premature death at the end of the book. On the other hand, Ibn Fadlan is tricky, tactful and non-physical in his approach of battling the dragon. He over-relies on intelligence and tactful ways of pinning down the monsters hence his survival after all dragons are slain.
The two protagonist heroes in the poem Beowulf and The Thirteenth Warrior distinguish the changing concepts of heroism in Anglo Saxon England between the middle Ages and the present times. Beowulf is regarded in hero in the classical times while the learned and diplomatic Ahmad Ibn Fadlan is a hero in the modern Anglo Saxon England.