Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beowulf, part 3

     It is odd that Beowulf survives the massacre on the Rhine river and returns home and is accepted by the community in spite of the death of Hygelac.  The Heroic Code is clear - if your leader dies in battle, you must either avenge him or die trying.  So Beowulf must have done enough before fleeing that he is considered to have avenged Hygelac in spite of the fact that Theudebert survived the battle. 
     He is said to have saved 30 sets of armor and swam across the Rhine with these on his back.  This places a high premium on armor.  Indeed, normally after a battle, the victors strip the armor and weapons from the dead and these are their spoils.  They get to keep the armor of the man they killed.  And, since armor and weapons are expensive and scarce; they wear them and use them.   People remember swords and armor worn by warriors and this causes feud to erupt again when the person who killed a warrior wears this armor or bears the sword of someone they killed where a relative might see and recognize it.
     Armor is important.  This is one thing in the film The Thirteenth Warrior that does not ring true to the past.  Wulfgar and what remains of the thirteen slip into the cave of the Wendol to kill the mother and just discard their armor to be lost forever in a cave where they cannot retrieve it because they are making too much noise with it.    That is a feature of our throw away age where we cast something aside so casually.  They would not have done so.
     I have a habit of snorting at stuff like this in films.  My husband had to sit through 300 while I muttered 'Herodotus didn't say that.  That's not what happened.'  His answer was that he did not care what Herodotus wrote.  Blasphemy!  Beware anyone who wants to sit through a movie with me.