The Two Treasons of "Athelston" Analytical Essay by chief

The Two Treasons of "Athelston"
Examining the theme of treason in the anonymous late 14th century poem "Athelston".
# 25087 | 1,658 words | 1 source | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on Apr 25, 2003 in Literature (Poetry) , Political Science (Political Theory) , English (Analysis)


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Description:

This paper begins by defining the term treason and then asking which form of treason was committed in the poem. It explains that treason has many definitions that intertwine but the treason in "Athelston" lies primarily in the breaking in the bonds of sworn brotherhood, and it is from this act that all of the other treacheries arise. The writer presents the two main ideas in Athelston in the realm of treason. First there is the treason supposedly committed by Egeland against the State; the second is Wymound's treason against his oath of the sworn brotherhood.

From the Paper:

"In the mid-late 14th century, the time in which this poem was written, a transition was happening in society whereby the King was beginning to see himself as above those who surrounded him and was deciding to act that way. The King's elevation in society had an effect on what was considered to be wrong, especially with reference to the term treason. Instead of treason being seen as defaulting on an oath, any wrong committed against the interests of the King was seen as a greater wrong, and thusly, a greater treason. The Athelston poet writes in a mix of these two ideologies. Much of the
action in the poem revolves around the supposed traitor Egeland and the results of treason against the King. Wymound first accuses him of this action in line 139, with a rough translation working out to be: "For in thy land, sir, is a false traitor;/he will do thee prompt dishonor". Several stanzas later we see the King's reaction to these accusations, translated by this author:"

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