Neither Beowulf nor Hrothgar is the correct exemplar in Beowulf, for the poem offers no exemplar. Instead, it offers a chance for readers to identify with the plight of all mankind.
Beowulf, like The Odyssey, opens with a hidden main character. Even though he is the protagonist and the title of the poem, our hero doesn’t show up until line 297, and even then he isn’t named until line 345. Instead the poet carefully sets the stage for the arrival of Beowulf by telling us a
Beowulf is the sort of work that gives some Christians fits. Why I’m reading him anyway.