Unformatted text preview: The code of vengeance of the heroic age probably exceeds the modern audience's capacity to understand. When they were young men, Haethcyn killed his older brother, Herebeald, with an errant arrow in a shooting accident. Although that incident is tragic in itself, the grief was exacerbated because the code required King Hrethel to seek vengeance, even against his own son and even though the death was accidental. Unable to endure the dilemma, the father suffered and died without taking action against Haethcyn. In a passage that some critics find one of the finest examples of poetry in the epic, but which might slip by the casual reader, Beowulf compares Hrethel's grief to that of a father whose son is on the gallows (2444 ff.). The first word of the passage is correctly translated "So," but the meaning might be more clear if it were "So also" or "Thus." Haethcyn is not translated "So," but the meaning might be more clear if it were "So also" or "Thus....
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2011 for the course ENG 1320 taught by Professor Bost during the Fall '09 term at Texas State.
- Fall '09