People are enigmatic, but they are also the most artistic creatures residing for centuries on this planet. They are artistic in their subtle mannerisms, artistic in their demeanors, artistic in the way they have evolved over the course of time and artistic in how they have mastered the art of idealism way before they were even aware of the term “idealism!’ Out of the arms of history and amid the warmth of literature, somewhere in the midst of all this, humans started relating to the stories of different epochs. These are stories that are imagined and stories that are instilled with realities of different times. People find refuge in such stories and authors put a lot of effort in helping people escape into their re-imagined worlds. Homer, with his magnificent epic poems and epic heroes, has gained profound attention and admiration over the course of time. Though he wrote his epics long ago when Greeks and Romans were staunch believers of myths, these Homeric poems and the mythological stories imbued within them still enliven the hearts of modern day people. In a way, these epics covertly tell us a lot about mannerisms and beliefs of the ancient Greeks: How they lived, what was important to them back then, their sociopolitical and economic lifestyle with a blend of their idea of a quintessential hero or savior can be witnessed in the works of Homer. Greco-Roman myths were handed down from generation to generation and they explained why life was as it was. People needed explanations for the changing seasons and other natural phenomena but since they were not yet aware of “the four elements” or the “atom theory” and rationalism, they had to somehow provide explanations for the things happening around them. For instance, in the Nordic myth people believed that Thor flew across the sky on his chariot driven by two goats and when he swung his renowned hammer, it produced lightning which was followed by rain, so Thor was also said to be the God of fertility. This is how people of that time connected the dots and provided unthinkable explanations. It can also be inferred that Thor was their heroic ideal; someone they worshipped and revered, someone who was faultless and divine in their eyes. Age after age heroic ideals have changed and evolved for people. As mankind advanced and civilized, its views on idealism altered and progressed in a gradual but astonishing manner too. Let us now explore the epoch of Anglo Saxons and their concept of idealism with respect to their culture, surroundings and religion. Feminism was on the rise when Elizabeth II ascended the throne. She was young but had learned the tactics within a few days of her reign After the fall of Roman Empire, Angels and Saxons of Germanic tribes rose to the occasion and conquered Great Britain. Together they are called the Anglo Saxons, who introduced their own culture, language and religious beliefs. They communicated in the archaic version of the modern day English language and reigned from fifth century AD until 11th century AD. Due to the constant Viking invasions during the Anglo Saxon rule, the people of that time revolved around the idea of war, peace and survival of the fittest. Anglo Saxons were pagans initially but on the arrival of St. Augustine in the late sixth century AD, majority of the Anglo Saxons converted to Christianity; the new and fast-spreading religion then. The characteristics and traits of Anglo Saxons are reflected in the literature of that time, mainly in Beowulf and The Wanderer. Beowulf is an epic poem written in the Anglo Saxon era. Beowulf, the epic hero in this poem shares the same traits as the Homeric heroes except, Homeric heroes are demi-gods while Beowulf is a mortal. It is said that this work of literature is an exceptional example of how Anglo Saxons idealised their heroes back then. Beowulf is a tough warrior, perhaps in those times being a hero was to be a dauntless warrior who fought against all insurmountable odds and was always successful in his missions. Beowulf was both strong and courageous when he battled against Grendel and Grendel’s shrewd mother. He was intelligent in his scheming and equally vicious when it came to fighting off the demons. Apart from these qualities, Beowulf was also portrayed as a kind, humble and honorable man. Instead of enjoying his reward after successfully killing the monsters, Beowulf rejected the offer of kingship as a modest gesture and set off to Hygelac. Physical strength and the ability to hide one’s emotions were the most ideal characteristics of a hero in Anglo Saxon period. Heroes were not supposed to confess their sorrows and fears openly. They were thought to act tough and determined in the face of all adversaries and this was the quality they were most appraised at. Anglo Saxon literature tells us that they strongly believed in fatalism but in an argument with Unferth, Beowulf propounded, “Fate often saves an undoomed man when his courage is good” (Beowulf, 12). This may prove that a warrior can bend his fate if he is bold enough. The two sides of Beowulf are illustrated in this epic; one that of a warrior while the other of a king. In order to attain glory, a warrior must embrace death while battling his opponents but a king should prefer to stay alive for his country. Another Anglo Saxon poem, The Wanderer highlights a very integral feature of an ideal hero of that era, which is the ability to look calm and indifferent even if the hero is a victim of anguish. Anglo Saxons were quite personal about not voicing one’s “weaknesses” in public! The writer further claims that how, despite everything, one is in perpetual seclusion since the day he is born until the day he gives up his ghost. These were some significant qualities of heroic ideal interpreted from the literature of the Anglo Saxon times. As mentioned before, heroic ideals keep changing with the passage of time and taste. Period after period, new concepts of heroic ideals rise and fall and the pattern continues. Let us descend from the epic poetry of Anglo Saxons to someone real and alive. She started her reign 15 centuries later on the same place where Anglo Saxons first set their foot upon, the place called England now. She was young, unprepared and in eternal shock when she first ascended to the throne but in a fraction of second she stole the hearts of people worldwide. She is our very own, Queen Elizabeth II. The queen who has been a monarch for more than 60 years now and still has not lost her charm or support. She belongs to an entirely different world than Anglo Saxons. The culture, the customs, the norms, the advancement both in technology and quality of life are different yet the queen faces similar troubles and has a few similar qualities as that of Beowulf. She might not be strong when it comes to physical strength but when she became aware of her father’s death, King George VI, she also accepted the fact that she had to bury all her emotions inside and ascend to the throne as the queen of her country. So one characteristic about how a hero should not voice his emotions avowedly still prevails. Feminism was on the rise when Elizabeth II ascended the throne. She was young but had learned the tactics within a few days of her reign. Dealing with stubborn, determined and queer prime ministers like Winston Churchill was in itself a huge challenge for the queen. She became the queen of 16 independent states known as the commonwealth realm. She struggled a lot in the initial stage of her rule. Her husband, Prince Philip, could not stand his wife being dominant and the upper hand of both the family and the country but Elizabeth proved to be an inspiration for both men and women. She also became a means of motivation for the women of that time who wanted to be as strong and independent as the queen. Hence, Elizabeth in her early years and at present is a diligent, dutiful and a devoted monarch and a mother. If Beowulf had to prove himself as both a warrior and a king, Elizabeth had to prove herself as a mother and a queen. In their reigns both were expected to be naturally efficient orators. They were also expected to be ordinary and extraordinary. If Beowulf had to fight monsters to prove his strength as an ideal hero, Queen Elizabeth had to face people like Lord Altrincham who manipulated her and told her that, “It’s a changing world, if someone is given a title it does not mean to respect, you have to prove it.” She did prove it, however, by voicing her opinions where she had to and listening to her people when necessary. Beowulf and Queen Elizabeth II are the arbiter elegantiarum of their time, blessed with deference by their people. One is a fictional version of heroic ideal; other is a living and breathing queen who proved herself as a perfect heroine and a dutiful monarch. This leaves us with one obvious question: In an era of fast-paced advancement, how will people idealise their heroes in the coming centuries? What will be their values and demands? Future is a mystery! The writer is a student of English literature and linguistics at Air University. Published in Daily Times, July 20th 2018.