The Finn Digression
Summary
• Finn, a Frisian (may have
been a sub-tribe of the
Jutes), and his warriors
attack Danish King Hnaf in
Hnaf’s own mead-hall—It is
a sneak attack.
• Hnaf’s sister (or daughter
depending on translation)
named Hildeburh is married
to Finn, thus this is a
violation of a sacred trust,
the political marriage.
• Hildeburh loses her brother
Hnaf and her own son in the
battle.
• Hildeburh’s other brother
Hengest becomes Danish
King and is offered peace by
Finn (who was unable to
win); they divide the
kingdom and treasure.
• Hengest is
really out for
revenge. He
waits until
spring and
then kills
Finn.
Purposes:
• Stresses the themes of
revenge, wergild, political
marriage.
• Like Hermod, Finn is an
example of an unwise and
treacherous ruler. He is
contrasted w/ Beowulf,
Hrothgar, Higlac, Shild, etc.
Foreshadowing:
• Freaw’s (Hrothgar’s
daughter) marriage to
Ingeld, the Hathobard. This
is an attempt to bring peace
to the two nations—it does
not work.
• Welthow asks her nephew
Hrothulf to look after her
two sons Hrethric and
Hrothmond after her death.
Later, he kills Hrethric in an
attempt to become king.
• Higlac’s
death by
the Frisians
Questions:
• What does this say about
the role of women or of
changes to the old
vengeance code?
• Why does the vengeance
code retain such a hold on
people's actions?
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The Finn Digression (or Episode)