Study Guide

Ecgtheow in Beowulf

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Ecgtheow, Beowulf's father, once found himself in a blood-feud with the tribe called the Wulfings because he had killed a man named Heatholaf. Ecgtheow sought refuge with King Hrothgar of the Danes, who eventually "healed the feud by paying" (470)—that is, he made reparations to the Wulfings on Ecgtheow's behalf. In return, Ecgtheow pledged his allegiance to Hrothgar. As a result, Beowulf feels that he owes a debt to Hrothgar.