Hostages in Old English Literature

Byrhtnoth - photo by Andrew Barclay / Flickr

Hostages in Old English Literature examines the various roles that hostages have played in Anglo-Saxon texts, specifically focusing on the characterization of Æscferth in The Battle of Maldon.

Book Review: Drout’s Quick and Easy Old English

drout Quick and Easy Old English

It may seem a little incredible that anyone would need a textbook to learn an older version of his or her mother tongue, but learning Old English (Anglo-Saxon) takes some time and effort – and a good textbook.

Riddles in the Dark Ages

oldenglishriddles

Latin riddles depended on knowledge of a specific subject in order to be deciphered, while English riddles were often about common things like the weather.

The Old English Translation of Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum in its Historical and Cultural Context

Bede - from BL Arundel 74   f. 2v

Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum (HE), written c. 731, enjoyed a great popularity among the Anglo-Saxons and Carolingians and was one of the most popular texts in medieval Europe.

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

The Lord of the Rings - Aragorn

The literature of war in English claims its origin from the Homeric epics, and the medieval accounts of chivalry and the crusades.

The Anglo-Saxon runic poem: a critical reassessment

Copy of the Anglo-Saxon rune poem in George Hickes' "Linguarum veterum septentrionalium thesaurus grammatico-criticus et archæologicus" (Oxford, 1705), copied from Cotton MS Otho B.x folios 165a-165b, which was destroyed in the 1731 fire.

I consider the runic poem in its most basic form, as a runic alphabet, and compare its runes and rune-names with the other Anglo-Saxon runic material collected in the Thesaurus.

The Hero’s Journey: Beowulf, Film, and Masculinity

Beowulf (film)

Beowulf is one of many examples of a story that employs the rhetoric of the hero. The plight of the main character Beowulf is the focus of the tale, and the tasks that he must overcome throughout the course of the poem provide insight into the development of the character of the hero.

Judith in Late Anglo-Saxon England

sword of judith

Judith makes two spectacular appearances in the Old English corpus: she is the brave heroine of a poem which is included in one of the most famous manuscripts of the late Anglo-Saxon period, the Nowell Codex, which also contains the heroic epic, Beowulf.

Ten Great Anglo-Saxon Girls’ Names

anglo saxon girls names

We’ve come up with our ten favourite girls’ names – if you are considering a different type of baby name, perhaps you will pick one of these!

Amending the Ascetic: Community and Character in the Old English Life of St. Mary of Egypt

Saint Mary of Egypt - British library

Among the most eligible saints for such treatment, Mary of Egypt deserves particular consideration: her popularity is evidenced by over a hundred extant Greek manuscripts of her Life and her uniquely prominent position in the Lenten liturgical cycle in the Eastern Church.

How well do you know the origins of English words? – Part 2

oldenglishriddles

Can you tell which English words come from Anglo-Saxon or Old Norse?

(Re)casting the Past: The Cloisters and Medievalism

The Cloisters - NYC.

In this essay, I focus on a variety of texts printed using Anglo-Saxon type between 1566 and 1623 in an effort to explore the use of Anglo-Saxon typeface in the early modern period as the use of the Old English language progressed from polemical truncheon to historiographical instrument.

Making Sacrifices: Beowulf and Film

The Thirteenth Warrior

This essay reviews opening scenes in some recent film Beowulfs, which, although they have nothing at all to say about Scyld Scefing, suggest a sacrificial reading of the prologue and perhaps even the whole poem.

How well do you know the origins of English words?

oldenglishriddles

Can you tell which word derives from the English of Anglo-Saxon times, and which word came from French?

Old English Words for Relics of the Saints

Text page with Latin and Old English glosses.

This study begins with a review of some Latin terms and of certain material traits common to early medieval relic-cults, since these profoundly shaped the Old English vocabulary surveyed in the second part of the paper.

Grendel: Boundaries of Flesh and Law

grendel

In Beowulf, Grendel presents itself as a figure of inescapable ambiguity and as an embodiment of paradox that causes consternation in the human community.

The original Frenglish

original frenglish

When France was speaking English without the prompting of a war or was it England who was speaking French….

Old Norse Influence in Modern English: The Effect of the Viking Invasion

Old Norse

It is estimated that there are around 400 Old Norse borrowings in Standard English. These borrowings are amongst the most frequently used terms in English and denote objects and actions of the most everyday description.

Writing conquest: traditions of Anglo-Saxon invasion and resistance in the twelfth century

Norman Conquest

Writing Conquest examines the ways in which Latin, Old English, and Middle English twelfth-century historical and pseudo-historical texts remembered and reconstructed three formative moments of Anglo-Saxon invasion and resistance…

The Anglo-Saxon Name for the s-Rune: Sigel, a Precious Jewel

Vestergotland Oldest Runestone - futhark

The Anglo-Saxon rune-name sigel has been interpreted as meaning ‘sun’. In some contexts Old English sigel does refer to the sun, in others it means ‘clasp’, ‘brooch’, or ‘jewel’. All these meanings, however, are difficult to reconcile with the maritime imagery of the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem’s sigel stanza.

Judith’s Necessary Androgyny: Representations of Gender in the Old English Judith

Judith - Anglo-Saxon

The Old English poem Judith explores Anglo-Saxon representations of femininity and masculinity by constructing a double-gendered hero who differs from the biblical version of the same woman.

Medieval English for Dummies

Medieval English for Dummies

A quick-and-dirty guide for would-be Time-travellers

The Anonymous Old English Legend of the Seven Sleepers and its Latin Source

The-Seven-Sleepers-Of-Ephesus

The earliest extended treatment of the legend of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus in a
western vernacular language is the anonymous Old English prose version preserved
in British Library MS Cotton Julius E vii…

An Ideal Marriage: Abraham and Sarah in Old English Literature

Adriaen_van_der_Werff_Sarah_presenting_Hagar_to_Abraham

Offers a look at how Bible characters Abraham and Sarah are treated in the old English literature. How their marital relationship is portrayed; Neglect in the character of Sarah; Development in the character of Abraham; How the old English literary writers treated Abraham.

Old English ‘wundenlocc’ hair in context

old english riddles

Immediately she feels my might, she who confines me, the wundenlocc woman.

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