Hrafnkel: Guilty or not Guilty?
The main character, Hranfnkel, in the Scandinavian family story is vindicated for his killing actions. He slayed Einar, who was one of his workers. His vindictive deed was illegitimate, but, the verities that back his deed overshadow the conflicting facts. The Icelandic perception of civilization, rule, and the relevance of one’s word all provided an extremely sturdy backing for Hrafnkel actions (Coles 1).
In line with the account, Hrafnkel was a respectful and caring man. He was gentle to every person who worked for him and those who complied with his orders. Nevertheless, he was quite strict and coldblooded to his enemies as well as individuals who opposed his directives (Hermann 37). It was due to his strict and pitiless personality that pushed him into slaying many people. The other quite imperative trait of Hrafnkel’s character is that he was so committed to his God Fray. He depicted his loyalty to Fray via pledging to him “Large temples and a half-share in all his best treasures” (Hermann 36). Freyfaxi, one of his many horses, is amongst the dearest resources that he dedicated to god Fray. Consequently, Hrafnkel took “a solemn oath to kill anyone who rode the stallion without his permission” (Hermann 38). Freyfaxi was a holy asset to Hrafnkel as he had dedicated it to a god that he cherished so much.
Einar, who was a victim of homicide, and had been a servant of Hrafnkel in his farm for many years. Nevertheless, he contemplated of looking for job in Hrafnkel’s settlements, when things were not in his favor. On agreeing to serve Hrafnkel, Einar settled never to ride on Freyfaxi; the sacred horse that he had warned him about (Coles 2). Einar promised “never to be so wicked to ride the one horse which was forbidden to him” (Hermann 40). He was as well sentimental of the penalties of disagreeing with Hrafnkel commands. The supreme directive being never to ride on the blessed horse without approval (Coles 2).
The indisputable verity in this entire account is that murder actually occurred, but, the most imperative question is whether Hrafnkel was responsible of taking life of another person or he was right to slay this individual as a form of sentence. In relation to the saga, Einar, was a devoted worker for a short period that he “never lost a single sheep” (Hermann 40). Nevertheless, after being a servant for Hrafnkel for a number of months, things went astray, and he lost 30 of his employer’s sheep at last. He searched for the lost sheep everywhere without any trace. He panicked and so opted to take a horse in his endeavors. He could not ride any of the available horses, except for Freyfaxi the sacred horse. He had no other option that to contradict his employer’s directives. As a result, he opted to ride his boss’s horse without authorization, as he was determined to find the lost sheep (Coles 3).
Exploring this instance, it can be summed up that Hrafnkel’s life taking acts were vindicated in several means. When he employed Einar as his sheepherder, he cautioned him from riding his sacred horse, Freyfaxi. Einar could ride the rest of the horse except Freyfaxi. Hrafnkel had made it apparent that he would slay him if he rode his sacred horse. The core motive for Hrafnkel act was defending his horse that he had already presented to god Frey. He had made it clear to those around him that it was him or god Frey who had the right to ride Freyfaxi (Hermann 38). In the course of this old times account, a man’s expression was quite imperative. People who kept their talk were highly respected. Hrafnkel affirmed to Einar that “Warning wards off all blame”, which meant that “I will kill you if you ride Freyfaxi, and it will be your fault” (Hermann 40). It was apparent that he could ride Freyfaxi when permitted. The most vital question is why did Einar had to ride his boss’s horse without his approval? The instance was not an emergency, because he had been looking for the lost sheep for a while, and the option to ride Freyfaxi was made beforehand. From the time when he started serving Hrafnkel, he was conscious that demise was the punishment for any person who rode the sanctified horse (Tracy 117).
The other motive that vindicates Hrafnkel murderous act is that his actions set an exceptional example to all surrounding people as well as the rest of his workers. It unmistakably depicted what would befall in case one went against his directives. For Einar, he had the choice of alerting him of the lost sheep and save his life instead of opting to go break his firm promise. Despite the fact that Hrafnkel had slayed a number of people, his deeds were defensible murder as not all wrongdoings avowed in his book carried a punishment of manslaughter. Even though homicide was illegal under the common law of the Vikings, it is likely that reasonable killing was pardonable (Yeo 262). Even states castigate wrongdoers by execution if found guilty of certain misconducts. The Scandinavian family story occurred when the federal states were not present. Therefore, Hrafnkel had no other option but to do it himself (Hermann 8).
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Hermann, Pálsson. Hrafnkel’s Saga and Other Icelandic Stories. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971. Print.
The Story of Hrafnkell, Frey’s Priest. [translated by J. Coles.] Eng. , 1882. Print.
Tracy, Larissa. Torture and Brutality in Medieval Literature: Negotiations of National Identity. Cambridge [England: D.S. Brewer, 2012. Print.
Yeo, Stanley M. H. Partial Excuses to Murder. Sydney: Federation Press, with the assistance of the Law Foundation of New South Wales, 1990. Print.