Queen Hygd

Queen Hygd is the virtuous and loyal wife of King Hygelac. She is seen as the ideal woman of her time. The author portrays this in the following lines:

Hygd, his queen,
was young, a few short years at court,
her mind was thoughtful and her manners sure.
Haereth's daughter behaved generously
and stinted nothing when she distributed
bounty to the Geats. (1926-1931)

Queen Hygd is presented as the perfect model of a queen. She is kind and generous. Hygd always acts appropriately in everything she does. Queen Modthryth is also presented in this passage as the antithesis to Hygd's virtue. Modthryth's reputation is legendary to the people. She has men killed if they merely look her in the face:

Great Queen Modthryth
perpetrated terrible wrongs.
If any retainer ever made bold
to look her in the face, if an eye not her lord's
stared at her directly during daylight,
the outcome was sealed: he was kept bound,
in hand-tightened shackles, racked, tortured
until doom was pronounced-death by the sword,
slash of blade, blood-gush, and death-qualms
in an evil display. (1932-1949)

Women typical of this time were meant to be generous and docile. They were to respect their father's or their husband's wishes. Marriage was the opportunity for women to link clans together, like temporary strings of thread. Therefore, Modthryth's vices and cruelty are seen as some of the most grievous sins a woman could commit in her time: "A woman should weave peace, not punish the innocent with loss of life for imagined insults." (1942-1943) Modthryth is only stopped after she is married off to the brave warrior, Offa. Her nature changes through the influence of her husband's kind and generous character:

In days to come
she would grace the throne and grow famous
for her good deeds and conduct of life,
her high devotion to the hero king
who was the best king, it has been said,
between the two seas or anywhere else
on the face of the earth. (1951-1957)

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