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Old English Literature

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    1. Old English Literature The Celts and the Anglo-Saxons Brought to you by The Passionate Shepherd

    2. Old Irish Literature The oldest writings are poems written in the margins of 6th c. continental manuscripts: short lyrics on religious or nature themes. The early literature has survived in Middle and Late Middle Irish manuscripts: miscellaneous collections of prose and verse containing legend, history, bardic and lyric poetry, and medical, legal, and religious texts from several periods

    3. Bards In Old Irish culture, the bards were the performers of the filds poems They were record keepers and lineage holders, for the bards could determine a king's legitimacy. To satirize a king was to declare his access to the throne suspect. The role of the bard was historian and social commentator. They glorified heroes while insulting cowards and villains. They were both the newspaper and the opinion page.

    5. From 6th c. BC Britain was inhabited by the Celts Britain: a Roman colony 1st-5th c.

    6. 5th Century: Celtic Disarray 408: Devastating attacks by Picts, Scots and Saxons led Britain to declare independence from Rome in 410. 440-450: Civil war and famine in Britain. Country divided along factional lines 445: Vortigen authorized use of Saxon mercenaries against Scots and Picts 450: adventus Saxonum: Hengest arrived with 3 ships of warriors. Saxons increased settlements.

    7. The 7 Kingdoms of Anglo-Saxon England: Kent, Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, Wessex 793-Pillage of the monastery of Lindesfarne by the Normans. Beginning of the Viking Age

    8. England as a Nation Bede articulated the idea of the English as one people in 732 in his History of the English Church and People. Viking Invasions Alfred was compelled to unify the 7 kingdoms to resist the Norman invasion Destroyed kingdoms of Northumbria and East Angles in the 860s Wessex emerged as the power that defeated the Vikings under Alfred the Great 878: Alfred defeated the Vikings at Edington At his death in 899, Alfred was the most powerful regional king in England

    9. Wessex Dynasty Edward the Elder (r. 899-924) succeeded his father Alfred and conquered the Midlands and East Anglia. His son, Athelstan (r. 924-40), brought the Scots, the Welsh, the Cumbrians and the Cornish under English rule by 928: he became King of all England and Emperor of the World of Britain.

    11. Social setup of early AS kingdoms Primitive organization of society: the earl and the churl, the master and the servant Transformed into feudal stratification with William's system of vassalage

    12. The Christianization In 314 AD clergymen from London & York attended a Church Council in Gaul The Welsh had adopted Christianity during the Roman occupation The Conversion of the English came from Rome & a little later from Ireland by way of Iona In 597 Augustine landed in Kent with 40 monks [m??ks]Essex & East Anglia followed the conversion of Kent. The 2 c. b/n the adoption of Christianity & the coming of the Northmen: remarkable standard of learning. In Jarrow, Bede, the most learned man in Europe at the time lived & worked

    13. Literary works Secular literature Christian literature Literary prose,associated with Alfred & his reform Sec. Lit. includes A: Gnomic verse: lists of proverbs & sayings B: Mnemonic verse [ni:'m?nik] C: the OE Riddles: delicate works D: the Lays: heroic poems of fighting, tragic atmosphere, internal conflict E: the Epics, expansion of the Lays, strings of heroic deeds. BEOWULF-the only AS epic preserved F: Lyrical poetry: elegies

    14. Genres: Prose Sermons: most popular of prose genres Translations of Latin religious works and Biblical works Saints Lives Legal texts: wills, records, deeds, laws, etc. Scientific and Medical texts Chronicles: historical writing: Anglo Saxon Chronicle

    15. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle Collection of annals (yearly history) narrating the history of the Anglo-Saxon settlement in Britain. First continuous history written by Europeans in their own language. Probably begun during the reign of King Alfred in the 9th c. After completion of the original chronicle, copies were sent to monasteries and updated yearly. Nine surviving MSS. The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle, marked secondarily by the librarian of the Laud collection. The manuscript is an autograph of the monastic scribes of Peterborough. The opening sections were likely scribed around 1150. The section displayed is prior to the First Continuation. contains various heroic poems inserted throughout. The earliest from 937 is called The Battle of Brunanburh, which celebrates the victory of King Athelstan over the Scots and Norse. There are five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065). The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. This photograph of the work is also in the public domain in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.). -- Wkipedia The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle, marked secondarily by the librarian of the Laud collection. The manuscript is an autograph of the monastic scribes of Peterborough. The opening sections were likely scribed around 1150. The section displayed is prior to the First Continuation. contains various heroic poems inserted throughout. The earliest from 937 is called The Battle of Brunanburh, which celebrates the victory of King Athelstan over the Scots and Norse. There are five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065).

    16. Genres: Poetry Thula: alliterative lists of names or tribes Gnomic verse: proverbs, traditional wisdom Spells: invoke natural and supernatural powers Riddles: what am I? Religious poetry: retellings of Old Testament stories, saints lives, Dream of the Rood Adaptations of classical philosophical texts: e.g. Boethius Consolation of Philosophy Wisdom poetry: lyrical, meditative, elegiac The Wanderer, The Wifes Lament, etc. Heroic court poetry: celebration of historical events related by scops: Beowulf, etc.

    17. Anglo-Saxon Poetry Exeter Book: Contains The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wifes Lament, Widsith, The Ruin, Deor, etc. Junius MS. Anthology of religious poetry: Genesis, Exodus, Daniel, Christ and Satan Accentual & alliterative. Each line has 2 arses & 2 theses

    18. Junius MS: Angel Guarding the Gates of Paradise Illustration from page 46 of the Caedmon manuscript The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. This photograph of the work is also in the public domain in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.). Illustration from page 46 of the Caedmon manuscript

    19. Manuscripts with Anglo-Saxon Poetry Vercelli Book 10th c. ms. Cathedral Library, Vercelli, Italy Contains 23 prose sermons, a life of St. Guthlac and six poems including The Dream of the Rood Nowell Codex: Cotton Vitellius A xv late 10th-12th c. mss. British Librarys Cotton Collection Composite of two mss. Bound together in the 17th c. damaged in an 18th c. fire in the Cotton Library 1st Codex (12th c): Old English prose: Alfred's translation of Augustine's Soliloquies, the Gospel of Nicodemus, Solomon and Saturn, and a fragment of a life of Saint Quentin. 2nd Codex (10th c): Beowulf, Judith and 3 prose works

    20. First page of Beowulf from the Cotton Vitellius MS. This is a public domain image from Kip Wheeler's homepage at Carson-Wheeler College. Kip Wheeler declared its status thus: "The original image of the Beowulf manuscript comes from the anonymous Anglo-Saxon scribe who wrote the 'Nowell Codex', Cotton Vitellius A.x.v. 129 r. It appears here as reproduced in Julius Zupitza's Beowulf: Autotypes of the Unique Cotton MS Vitellius A.xv. in the British Museum with a Transliteration and Notes. E.E.T.S. O.S. 77. London: Trubner & Co., 1882. This image is public domain." Originally uploaded to English Wikipedia by Jwrosenzweig. -- Wikipedia This is a public domain image from Kip Wheeler's homepage at Carson-Wheeler College. Kip Wheeler declared its status thus: "The original image of the Beowulf manuscript comes from the anonymous Anglo-Saxon scribe who wrote the 'Nowell Codex', Cotton Vitellius A.x.v. 129 r. It appears here as reproduced in Julius Zupitza's Beowulf: Autotypes of the Unique Cotton MS Vitellius A.xv. in the British Museum with a Transliteration and Notes. E.E.T.S. O.S. 77. London: Trubner & Co., 1882. This image is public domain." Originally uploaded to English Wikipedia by Jwrosenzweig. -- Wikipedia

    21. Beowulf Prologue

    22. What are those weird-looking letters?

    23. Poetry Thula Alliterative lists of names and tribes Oral mnemonic device Found extensively in Widsith Technique also found in Old Testament Gnomic Verse Proverbs, traditional wisdom Hit becw It is said As the sea is smooth when storms are at rest, So people are quiet when peace is proclaimed. (Exeter Book)

    24. Riddles I war with the wind, with the waves I wrestle; I must battle with both when the bottom I seek, My strange habitation by surges oer-roofed. I am strong in the strife, while still I remain; As soon as I stir, they are stronger than I. They wrench and they wrest, till I run from my foes; What was put in my keeping they carry away. If my back be not broken, I baffle them still. The rocks are my helpers, when hard I am pressed; Grimly I grip them. Guess what Im called.

    25. Spells and Charms Notes: The speaker acknowledges his own human shortcomings and realizes that the power of earth must work on himself as well as on the bees. The Anglo-Saxons knew that bees were intelligent creatures: they lived in cooperative communities, stored food efficiently and prudently, could foretell the weather, etc. The beekeeper asks the Wise Women to share their bounty with him, perhaps hoping to receive some of their wisdom along with the honey. The practice of throwing sand or light soil over bees to get them to settle was common among early beekeepers throughout northern Europe. It has been suggested that this confuses their flight pattern, causing them to land. More important, in the magical spirit in which a performance of this sort took place, is that the scatter of soil over the bees defines their earth or home - they may leave gather pollen, but should always return to the precinct defined by the thrown earth. Notes: The speaker acknowledges his own human shortcomings and realizes that the power of earth must work on himself as well as on the bees. The Anglo-Saxons knew that bees were intelligent creatures: they lived in cooperative communities, stored food efficiently and prudently, could foretell the weather, etc. The beekeeper asks the Wise Women to share their bounty with him, perhaps hoping to receive some of their wisdom along with the honey. The practice of throwing sand or light soil over bees to get them to settle was common among early beekeepers throughout northern Europe. It has been suggested that this confuses their flight pattern, causing them to land. More important, in the magical spirit in which a performance of this sort took place, is that the scatter of soil over the bees defines their earth or home - they may leave gather pollen, but should always return to the precinct defined by the thrown earth.

    26. Known A-S Poets Cdmon: herdsman attached to the Whitby monastery during the abbacy of St. Hilda (657681). Author of Hymn, oldest A-S poem The Venerable Bede (c. 672-735): Benedictine monk at Jarrow; author of the Historia Ecclesiastica: The History of the Church of England and Bedes Death Song Cynewulf (fl. ca. 750): author of four poems, Christian narratives, Elene, Christ II, Juliana and The Fates of the Apostles. King Alfred (849-99) Permission to use this photograph in the Cdmon article on Wikipedia has been granted to me in a letter by the photographer, Peter Green. Mr. Green was replying to a letter I had written to him requesting his authorization to use it in this way. This photograph is from the page about St. Hilda on the website of St. Wilfrid's Church in Bognor, England. (Mr. Green's photograph of the entire Caedmon Cross can be seen at Caedmon Cross.) Depiction of Cdmon carved on a stone memorial cross on the grounds of St Mary's Church in Whitby. The inscription reads: "To the Glory of God and in memory of Cdmon the father of English sacred song fell asleep hard by 680". Permission to use this photograph in the Cdmon article on Wikipedia has been granted to me in a letter by the photographer, Peter Green. Mr. Green was replying to a letter I had written to him requesting his authorization to use it in this way. This photograph is from the page about St. Hilda on the website of St. Wilfrid's Church in Bognor, England. (Mr. Green's photograph of the entire Caedmon Cross can be seen at Caedmon Cross.) Depiction of Cdmon carved on a stone memorial cross on the grounds of St Mary's Church in Whitby. The inscription reads: "To the Glory of God and in memory of Cdmon the father of English sacred song fell asleep hard by 680".

    27. Bedes Death Song The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain worldwide due to the date of death of its author, or due to its date of publication. Thus, this reproduction of the work is also in the public domain. This applies to reproductions created in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.), in Germany, and in many other countries. -- Wikipedia The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain worldwide due to the date of death of its author, or due to its date of publication. Thus, this reproduction of the work is also in the public domain. This applies to reproductions created in the United States (see Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.), in Germany, and in many other countries. -- Wikipedia

    28. Anglo-Saxon Poetic Conventions Elegiac mood: the transitoriness of life Ubi sunt: Where are they??? Heroic mode: active, loyal to kinship group, boastful The inevitability of Wyrd: fate Figures of speech Kennings: two words as metaphor for one: hron-rade whale-road sea; hord-cofan word-hoard mind, thoughts Litotes: ironic understatement -- "That [sword] was not useless / to the warrior now." (Beowulf) Variation: parallel appositive phrases see Cdmons Hymn Alliterative verse: alliteration is used as the principal device to unify lines of poetry

    29. Beowulf Prologue: Alliteration

    30. Wisdom Poetry Lyrical: expressions of feelings, meditations on life Emphasis on transitoriness of fame, glory, kinship, life itself: ubi sunt theme Boethian in exploration of fickle fortune Boethius: author of The Consolation of Philosophy Most found in Exeter Book: The Ruin, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wifes Lament, The Husbands Message King Alfred: author of Lays of Boethius

    31. Heroic Court Poetry Narrative oral compositions handed down from generation to generation Interactive: warriors in the audience were given their turns to boast: to proclaim their self-worth in a stylized solo declamation, which all recognized as a beot or gilph (boast). Celebrations or commemorations of cultural heroes and historic events Sung at court feasts which also included mead drinking, gift giving, harp playing and displaying of trophies

    32. Anglo-Saxon Heroic Poems Beowulf (c. 700-1000) Fragments: The Fight at Finnsburh and Waldere The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains various heroic poems inserted throughout. 937: The Battle of Brunanburh celebrates the victory of King Athelstan over the Scots and Norse. Five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065). Two heroic poems have survived in fragments, The Fight at Finnsburh, a retelling of one of the battle scenes in Beowulf (although this relation to Beowulf is much debated), and Waldere, a version of the events of the life of Walter of Aquitaine. Two other poems mention heroic figures: Widsith is believed to be in parts very old dating back to events in the 4th century concerning Eormanric and the Goths, and contains a catalogue of names and places associated with valiant deeds. Deor is a lyric, in the style of Consolation of Philosophy, applying examples of famous heroes, including Weland and Eormanric, to the narrators own case. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains various heroic poems inserted throughout. The earliest from 937 is called The Battle of Brunanburh, which celebrates the victory of King Athelstan over the Scots and Norse. There are five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065). Two heroic poems have survived in fragments, The Fight at Finnsburh, a retelling of one of the battle scenes in Beowulf (although this relation to Beowulf is much debated), and Waldere, a version of the events of the life of Walter of Aquitaine. Two other poems mention heroic figures: Widsith is believed to be in parts very old dating back to events in the 4th century concerning Eormanric and the Goths, and contains a catalogue of names and places associated with valiant deeds. Deor is a lyric, in the style of Consolation of Philosophy, applying examples of famous heroes, including Weland and Eormanric, to the narrators own case. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle contains various heroic poems inserted throughout. The earliest from 937 is called The Battle of Brunanburh, which celebrates the victory of King Athelstan over the Scots and Norse. There are five shorter poems: capture of the Five Boroughs (942); coronation of King Edgar (973); death of King Edgar (975); death of Prince Alfred (1036); and death of King Edward the Confessor (1065).

    33. The Scop Court singer Historian Genealogist Teacher Composer Critic Warrior Reporter