Ecgþeow

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Ecgþeow (pronounced ) or Edgetho (Proto-Norse *Agiþewaz) or Ecgtheow is a character in the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf. He is not mentioned outside the Beowulf manuscript, and it is not known whether he was based on a real person. He belonged to a probably Swedish family (an ätt, see Norse clans) called the Waegmundings. He married the daughter of Hreðel, king of the Geats, and was the father of Beowulf.

His name could be read as ecg + þeow, "edge-servant" (that is, sword-thane); alternatively, if his name was a compound of the ancient bahuvrihi type as were many other Germanic heroic names, it would indicate proficiency with the sword, meaning literally, "whose servant is the sword".

He is first mentioned in Beowulf at lines 262-266, when Beowulf tells the coast-guardian that "My father was known to everyone," calls him a "noble battle-leader", and says that he died after living through "many winters" and that he is remembered well by wise men everywhere.

At lines 372-375, Hroðgar, the Danish king, recalls Ecgþeow, remembering that he married King Hreðel's only daughter.

At lines 456-472, Hroðgar recalls the story of how Ecgþeow once came to him for help: he had slain Heaðolaf, a man from another tribe called the Wulfings (probably the rulers of the East Geats). One of the Germanic ways of resolving a blood feud was either to pay a wergild (Anglo-Saxon, "man-price") or to be banished. Either Ecgþeow's...
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