King Horn Characters

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Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)


Horn, a protagonist. The son of Murri and Godhild, he is the fairest boy in the land and a paragon of competence, courage, and virtue. After the invaders of Murri’s land send Horn and his twelve companions out to sea on a ship designed to sink, Horn manages to bring his crew to safety in the kingdom of Westernesse. Throughout the poem, his actions exemplify fortitude in battle, obedience to authority, and perseverance in love. Horn is incapable of evil; he is the epitome of goodness.


Murri, Horn’s father and the king of Suddene, who is murdered by invaders as he rides by the sea.


Godhild, Horn’s mother. After the death of her husband and the banishment of her sons, she withdraws from society and dwells alone under a rock, where she prays for the children’s safety.


Athulf, Horn’s brother, who resembles him, although he is not as fair. The poet says that Athulf is the best of Horn’s twelve companions.


Fikenhild, Horn’s antithesis, who is responsible for his exile from Westernesse. The embodiment of evil, Fikenhild is referred to as “the worst mother’s child.”


Aylmar, the king of Westernesse, who harbors Horn and his companions, eventually knighting them all. The poet suggests that Aylmar’s kingdom is somewhat more advanced than Suddene. A steward teaches Horn how to play the harp, carve at table, and bear wine, skills Horn apparently had not acquired in his father’s castle.


Rymenhild, Aylmar’s daughter, who is passionately in love with Horn. She provides the impetus for Horn’s application to knighthood as well as his massacre of the pagans. Rymenhild’s marriage to Horn brings about the reestablishment of his family’s line in Suddene.


Thurston, the king of Ireland, on whose shores Horn arrives following his exile from Westernesse. After Horn defends Ireland against numerous pagans in a battle that claims the lives of Thurston’s sons, Thurston wants to make him king of the land. Instead of accepting this offer, however, Horn enlists Thurston’s help in getting back to Westernesse.


Reynild, Thurston’s daughter, whom he wants Horn to marry. At the end of the poem, she marries Athulf instead.

King Modi

King Modi, the man whom Rymenhild marries, apparently under duress, while Horn is returning from Ireland. After Horn enters Westernesse and learns of the wedding that has just taken place, he kills Modi by throwing him over a bridge and breaking his ribs. The murder is not contrary to Horn’s goodness, for the poet refers to Modi as “the boye” or “the varlet,” making it clear that this character is wicked. Horn’s killing of his rival is a victory of good over evil.

A palmer

A palmer, who informs Horn of Rymenhild’s marriage to Modi. By agreeing to exchange clothes with Horn, he...

(The entire section is 698 words.)