.Cain and Abel

Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Genesis (RSV) Chapter 4

1: Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have gotten a man with the help of the LORD."
2: And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground.
3: In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground,
4: and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering,
5: but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
6: The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen?
7: If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it."
8: Cain said to Abel his brother, "Let us go out to the field." And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel, and killed him.
9: Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?"
10: And the LORD said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.
11: And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
12: When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength; you shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."
13: Cain said to the LORD, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14: Behold, thou hast driven me this day away from the ground; and from thy face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me."
15: Then the LORD said to him, "Not so! If any one slays Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him.
16: Then Cain went away from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

Is there a connection between the Dragon's charm on Grendel (75) and the mark of Cain in 4:15? Is Grendel's inability to be harmed by men a curse or a blessing?

An ardent scholar might also seek out:

Payne, Craig. "The Redemption of Cain in John Gardner's Grendel." Mythlore 68 (1992): 12-16.


Charles Johnson, novelist and student of Gardner's at SIU Carbondale, has in his novel Dreamer (Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1999, 160-162) a brief but fascinating consideration of the cultural uses or transformations of Cain - beginning with Beowulf's Grendel.

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