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From secular to sacred flyting : the Anglo-Saxon re-analysis of the Christian war of words in Old English… Simpkins, Linda Margaret 1994

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FROM SECULAR TO SACRED FLYTING: THE ANGLO-SAXON RE-ANALYSIS OF THE CHRISTIAN WAR OF WORDS IN OLD ENGLISH RELIGIOUS PROSE AND VERSE by LINDA MARGARET SIMPKINS B.A., The University of British Columbia, 1968 M.A., The University of British Columbia, 1985 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of English) We accept this thesis as conforming to they?required, standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA May, 1994 <§) Linda Margaret Simpkins, 1994 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. (Signature) Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT The interaction of Germanic and Latin Christian influences on Old English literature has long interested scholars. This study examines one instance of this interaction -- the effect of the Germanic genre of flyting on the depiction of the Christian war of words in Old English religious prose and verse. I argue that Anglo-Saxon authors re-analyzed the adversarial dialogues found in Scripture and in Latin hagiographies as examples of flyting, and that this re-analysis led to the development of a new and sacred sub-genre of flyting in the Old English Christian epic. To prove my thesis, I begin in chapter one by reviewing the scholarly definitions of Germanic flyting and discussing exemplary secular flyting texts, emphasizing that in Germanic flyting quarrels, words act as weapons. In chapter two, I examine the Latin Christian literary traditions influencing Old English religious adversarial dialogues (particularly the conceit of spiritual and verbal battle found in Saint Paul's exhortation to the faithful in Eph. 6.11-17) and show that the Christian war of words had some features in common with flyting. I then turn my attention to Old English religious prose. In chapter three I show the persistence of the trope of verbal battle in Old English translations of Scripture, as well as in some scripturally dependent homilies found in the Vercelli and Blickling homiliaries and in vElfric's Catholic Homilies. In chapter four, I compare adversarial dialogues found in a selection of Old English prose saints' lives to their Latin counterparts in order to show that in their own work Anglo-Saxon hagiographers altered the Latin dialogues in order to increase their resemblance to flyting. In the final three chapters, I discuss Old English religious verse. In chapter five, I analyze Exodus and Daniel, and show that the conceit of spiritual struggle as verbal battle persists in these poems. In chapter six, I ii concentrate on Satan's verbal confrontations with God and mankind in Christ and Satan and Genesis B, and in chapter seven, I analyze the disputes of saint and devil, and saint and pagan found in Juliana, Elene, Andreas and GuPlac A, showing that in these poems the war of words is treated as sacred flyting. I conclude with a brief recapitulation of the characteristics of sacred flyting and note its prominence in the Old English Christian epic. i n TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract Table of Contents Abbreviations INTRODUCTION Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Secular Germanic Traditions of Flyting Notes The Latin Chr i s t i an Context: Sp i r i tua l Bat t le and the War of Words Notes Christian Mart ia l i ty , the War of Words, and I t s Re-analysis as F ly t ing : The Testimony of a Miscellany of Non-Hagiographic Old English Religious Prose Notes The Re-analysis of the Christian War of Words as Flyting: The Testimony of a Selection of Old English Prose Hagiographies Notes Connections Between Flyting and the Spiritual Struggle in Old English Exodus and Daniel Notes The Christian War of Words in Genes is A, vv. 1-134, 'Solomon and Saturn and Satan, and Genesis B, and Its Connection to Secular Flyting "Vainglory," II, " Christ 1 1 iv vi 1 6 49 63 126 134 184 192 217 Notes 226 260 iv Chap te r Seven The I n f l u e n c e of S e c u l a r F l y t i n g on C h r i s t i a n A d v e r s a r i a l D i a l o g u e s i n O l d E n g l i s h J u l i a n a , E l e n e , A n d r e a s and GuElac A 268 Notes 379 C o n c l u s i o n 408 Notes 414 B i b l i o g r a p h y 416 v ABBREVIATIONS And AS AS PR ASS BH BT CCSL CH Dan EH Ele Exo GA GB Gut> A Jlna MGH N.T. OE ON OS O.T. PL RSV SASLC XSt Andreas Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, eds. G.P. Krapp and E.V.K. Dobbie Acta Sanctorum, eds. Johannes Bollandus and Godefridus Henschenius The Blickling Homilies, ed. R. Morris An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Joseph Bosworth and T.N. Toller Corpus Christianorum Series Latina Catholic Homilies, jElfric Daniel Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Bede Elene Exodus Genesis A Genesis B GuPlac A Juliana Monumenta Germaniae Historica New Testament Old English Old Norse Old Saxon Old Testament Patrologia Latina, ed. J.P. Migne The Bible, Revised Standard Version Sources of Anglo-Saxon Literary Culture, eds. Frederick Biggs, Thomas D. Paul Szarmach Christ and Satan Hill and Periodicals will be cited according to the form used in the PMLA International Bibliography. In citations of Old English, the characters "J?" and " # " represented by "p," and the scribal abbreviation " 7 " silently expanded to "ond" or "and." are is VI INTRODUCTION The effects of Germanic and Latin Christian literary traditions on OE verse have long interested scholars. Critics such as Blackburn, Robertson, and Cabaniss discerned Christian influences in the epic Beowulf ,1 while other scholars found evidence of secular Germanic conventions in OE religious verse.2 Unfortunately, this second discovery sometimes produced condemnations of AS poets whose work was therefore judged to be excessively literal-minded in its heroic depiction of spiritual topics.3 More recent efforts to understand the forces acting upon OE religious verse eschew such harsh conclusions, however, and recognize that the task of determining these influences is more complex than may have originally been supposed. For example, Frank argues that the use of the phrase, "Germanic influence," to denote a pre-literate substrate underlying all AS texts is rather misleading, and conceals continuing literary influences originating in Scandinavia and impinging on literate Anglo-Saxons.4 In addition, other critics recognize that while OE religious verse may have been shaped in part by a martiality of Germanic provenience, its heroic tone is also a reflection of the metaphoric martiality already inherent in Latin Christian literature.5 Given this more complex view of the interaction of Germanic and Christian influences, it seems likely that we have more to learn about how AS authors combined their native literary legacy and the literary traditions imported with Christianity. The adversarial dialogues found in OE religious prose and verse provide an excellent opportunity for the student of OE literature to learn more about the effects of Germanic and Latin Christian traditions on AS texts. Scholars have often identified these adversarial dialogues as examples of Germanic flyting. Bridges calls both Judas Cyriacus' exchange with the devil in Elene and Andrew's quarrel with Satan in Andreas flyting.6 Likewise, Calder considers 1 Juliana's interrogation of the devil in Juliana to be flyting,7 and Kurtz says that Guplac addresses the fiends of Crowland "in fine flyting style."8 None of these scholars, however, explains exactly what they intend by this label, nor do they consider whether the secular genre of Germanic flyting is in any way changed to suit its new sacred context. This is scarcely surprising, however, for even in secular contexts, the denotation of the noun f lyting remains frustratingly elusive, in part because there remain few extant examples of the genre in Old English literature from which to infer its defining characteristics. Thus, critics agree that Germanic flyting is a verbal battle in which mutual vituperation figures prominently, but beyond this there is little consensus. This study will address these issues, defining flyting and examining its influence on the adversarial dialogues found in a variety of OE religious prose and verse texts. I begin with two chapters which deal with problems of definition and with antecedent traditions -- topics which would usually be included in an introduction, but whose complexity here demands lengthier treatment. In chapter one, I review flyting scholarship, examine a selection of adversarial dialogues drawn from classical as well as Germanic literatures, and propose a definition for flyting. In chapter two, I study a variety of Latin Christian texts, including Scripture, patristic commentaries, and some examples of the acta, passiones and vitae of the early martyrs and saints, in order to show the importance of the word in the Christian religion and to introduce the Christian conceit of verbal battle. The remainder of this study concentrates on OE religious prose and verse. In chapter three, I examine scripturally dependent prose texts, including passages from OE translations of the Bible and examples of homiletic exegesis drawn from the Vercelli and Blickling homiliaries as well as from jElfric's Catholic Homilies. These texts show that 2 Anglo-Saxons were familiar with the metaphoric spiritual warfare of the Latin Christian tradition, and knew that spiritual battles could be fought with the weaponry of devout discourse. In chapter four, I turn my attention to OE hagiographic prose which like its Latin counterpart depicts the verbal battles of saint and demon or saint and pagan. In this chapter, I examine first the adversarial dialogues found in OE texts which are translations of earlier Latin works (for instance, Waerferp's translation of Gregory's Dialogues) . comparing the OE dialogues to their Latin sources. I then discuss dialogues found in texts derived from Anglo-Latin rather than Latin sources and which are therefore more reflective of AS sensibilities. In chapters five, six and seven, I discuss the Christian war of words as it occurs in a selection of OE religious verse. Following the pattern established in chapters three and four, I consider scripturally dependent works first. In chapter five, I discuss OE Exodus and Daniel, for although these poems do not contain adversarial dialogues, they nonetheless show that AS poets, like the authors of OE religious prose, recognized the importance of the word in Christianity, and were familiar with its role in spiritual battle. In chapter six, after a brief examination of Genesis A's account of the heavenly revolt, I focus on the lengthier accounts of Satan's verbal battles with God and mankind found in Christ and Satan and Genesis B. Finally, in chapter seven, I examine OE verse hagiographies in which the saint uses verbal weapons to combat pagan magistrates and demons alike.9 Again, I consider first those hagiographies which are most dependent on Latin sources, comparing Juliana and Elene to their Latin analogues in order to discover what changes the AS poet makes in his treatment of the war of words. I then examine works more clearly reflective of AS sensibilities, beginning with Andreas and concluding with GuPlac A, a poem whose relative independence from Latin 3 Christian sources makes it a good witness to the effect of AS sensibilities on accounts of the Christian war of words. An overview such as this study attempts cannot be exhaustive. I have chosen to limit my analysis to OE texts which either reflect the commonplaces of AS Christianity (texts such as OE scriptural translations, homiletic exegesis and Caedmonian verse) or contain examples of Christian verbal battle (chiefly the prose and verse hagiographies), hoping that this limited study will encourage further examination of sacred flyting in other examples of OE religious prose and verse. 4 NOTES TO INTRODUCTION 1 F. A. Blackburn, "The Christian Coloring in the Beowulf," PMLA 12 (1897), 205-25; D. W. Robertson, "The Doctrine of Charity in Mediaeval Literary Gardens: A Topical Approach Through Symbolism and Allegory," Traditio 7 (1949-51), 410-15; Allen Cabaniss, "Beowulf and the Liturgy," JEGP 54 (1955), 195-201. 2 For example, B. J. Timmer, "Heathen and Christian Elements in Anglo-Saxon Poetry," Neophilologus 29 (1944), 180-5; Michael Cherniss, Ingeld and Christ (The Hague: Mouton, 1972); T. A. Shippey, OE Verse (London: Hutchinson, 1972). 3 OE Andreas is a notorious victim of such criticism, in part because of its obvious debt to Beowulf. See, for example, Shippey, OE Verse, pp. 114-28, Claes Schaar, Critical Studies in the Cvnewulf Group, Lund Studies in English, 17, 1949, pp. 277-9 and p. 282, and Fr. Klaeber, ed., Beowulf and the Fight at Finnsbura, 3rd ed. (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1953), p. cxi. 4 In several recent articles, Frank argues persuasively that later Anglo-Saxon England was re-exposed to the influence of Northern Germanic culture through its contacts with the Danes. See "Did Anglo-Saxons Have a Skaldic Tooth?" Scandinavian Studies 59 (1987), 338-55; "Skaldic Verse and the Date of Beowulf," in Colin Chase, ed.. The Dating of Beowulf (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1981), pp. 123-39; and "Anglo-Scandinavian Poetic Relations," ANO 3 (1990), 74-9. 5 See, for example, Joyce Hill, "The Soldier of Christ in Old English Prose and Poetry," Leeds Studies in English 12 (1981), 57-80; and Eric Jager, "A Miles Diaboli in the Old English Genesis B," ELN 27 (1990), 1-5. 6 Margaret Bridges, Generic Contrast in Old English Hagioaraphical Poetry (Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1984), p. 199 and p. 242. 7 Daniel Calder, "The Art of Cynewulf's Juliana," MLO 34 (1973), p. 366. 8 "From St. Antony to St. Guthlac," U of California Publications in Modern Philology 12 (1926), p. 144. 9 I do not discuss GuElac B, since in this narrative Guplac does not engage in a struggle with either Satanic or pagan forces. 5 CHAPTER ONE SECULAR GERMANIC TRADITIONS OF FLYTING The phenomenon of verbal dueling is widespread in both spoken and written discourse. In the former, it denotes dialogues as diverse as the free-wheeling give and take of an ordinary quarrel, the scurrilous abuse of Black American "sounding" exchanges, or the rule-constrained argument of formal debate.1 In literary discourse, verbal dueling is likewise widespread, but one of its forms, flyting, is of special interest to students of AS literature. Flyting, according to the OED, is "the action of the verb f 1 i t e; contention, scolding, rebuking." For many critics this suffices: they understand flyting as a simple synonym for quarrel, "an extended and vigorous verbal exchange ... mutual abuse in verse."2 Other scholars, dissatisfied with the definition, have examined flyting exchanges in Germanic secular literature in greater detail, and their work reveals a complex genre about which there is much disagreement. Several interrelated issues emerge as contentious: Can flyting be identified by commonplace topics, or a distinctive rhetorical form? Are the allegations made by flyters necessarily true? Must flyting be followed by a battle? For the student of AS hagiography in particular, these questions are made more interesting and more urgent by the possibility of a connection between the secular genre of flyting and the metaphoric war of words prominent in OE religious verse. This connection, hinted at in OE Vainglory where the devil's "arrows of envy" are initiators of a possible flyting exchange,3 may have reached fruition in AS hagiography, where representatives of good and evil engage in a verbal war with cosmic implications. Once again, however, there is little critical consensus about this possibility. Parks argues that adversarial dialogues in OE religious verse "such as that between Elene and the Jew, between the fiend 6 and Andreas or Juliana, or between Solomon and Saturn ... do not constitute flytings of the heroic type,"4 but Calder and Bridges disagree and call these quarrels flyting.5 While Olsen concurs with Calder and Bridges, and calls Andrew's dispute with the devil in Andreas a flyting, she qualifies her classification with the observation that "the 'flytings' of the hagiographic poems do not . . . derive simply from Germanic tradition, for they are adaptations of dialogues found in the original versions of the legends."6 If Olsen is correct, the application of the term "flyting" to these religious debates is imprecise, and conceals a rhetorical innovation by AS hagiographers who may have created a new kind of debate from two earlier quarrel genres of differing provenience. The issue can hardly be resolved in the absence of a clearer understanding of the Germanic and Latin textual antecedents of these religious disputes. Accordingly, I shall begin my study of sacred flyting with an examination of its secular parent, Germanic flyting. Although dispute about the exact nature of flyting is long-standing, the cruces of interpretation have remained remarkably consistent. Over thirty years ago, in The Art of Beowulf, Brodeur argued that flyting was either a "rough game" or a prelude to battle.7 Since the quarrel between Unferp and Beowulf (Beowulf, w . 499-606)8 was neither of those things, he judged this exemplary AS flyting text to be something other than "mere flyting" (p. 144).9 Eliason disagreed with Brodeur, and countered that although flyting, particularly in AS literature, was more than a slanging match it did not necessarily lead to a fight. Instead, he agreed with Irving that flyting was "a notable display of heroic wit"10 and added that its contents were not intended by the participants to be taken literally because flyting statements were "whopping lies."11 For Eliason, then, flyting was a sophisticated linguistic game which was won neither by force nor by truthfulness, but by eloquence alone. He added that 7 in Beowulf, the exchange was important because it allowed the poet to demonstrate his hero's native wit. Brodeur and Eliason's dispute is significant because it raises basic issues of definition which, as already noted, vex the study of flyting today: Is flyting rhetorically sophisticated? Do flyters lie? Does flyting necessarily entail a fight? A glance at BT shows that disagreement about the denotation of flyting is scarcely surprising considering the ambiguity of the noun's OE cognates: the glosses of creflit and flitan12 suggest a polysemy which could encompass both quarrel and physical fight. According to BT, the noun geflit in OS and in OE meant "contention, dispute (scandalum, contentio) , " a gloss quite close to its modern meaning. To this iElfric adds two additional glosses in his Grammar. In his enumeration of some third declension nouns, he translates scisma as aeflit, and in his examples of the genitive plural, he glosses lis as aeflit.13 In Vercelli 20, the homilist lists aeflit as an evil like heresy or boasting and suggests that truth will conquer it: Se forma heafodleahter ys ofermodignes ....Of paere byp soplice acenned aelc unhyrsumnes ond gepristlaecung ond geflit ond gedwyld ond gylp ond opere manegu yfelu. Ac pass maeg seo sope eadmonnes ealle oferswipan.14 The related OE verb, flitan, meant "to strive, contend, dispute, rebel; contendere, certare, disoutare, iuaare . "15 The contention denoted by both noun and verb could be linguistic and sapiential, as it is in Solomon and Saturn ("ic flitan gefraegn on fyrndaegum modgleawe men, middangeardes raeswan, gewesan ymbe hyra wisdom" [w. 179-181] and "we on geflitum saeton" [v. 432] ) 1 6 and in Bede' s description of the debate between Augustine and the Celtic clergy about the date of Easter ("pa heo pa haefdon longe spraec ond geflit ymb pa ping") .17 8 On other occasions, the contest was physical. Thus, in Beowulf, Beowulf and Breca compete in a nautical endurance test ("'Eart pu se Bewoulf, se pe wip Brecan wunne/ on sidne sae ymb sund flite, '" w . 506-7), and the exuberant Danes race their horses on their way back from Grendel' s mere ("Hwilum heaporofe hleapon leton / on geflit faran fealwe mearas" [w. 864-5] and "Hwilum flitende fealwe straete/ mearum maeton," [w. 916-7]). The translator of Bede uses the noun, aeflit, in a similar fashion to describe a horse race proposed by the young followers of Wilfrid.18 In addition, the verb flitan could denote outright warfare, as it does in the Laud Ms. Chronicle entry for 777: "Her Cynewulf and Offa geflyton ymb Benesingtun." Significantly, the corresponding entry in the Parker Chronicle is "Her Cynewulf ond Offa gefuhton ymb Benesingtun."19 That the nominal cognate of flyting probably had similar associations is suggested in Beowulf when the poet says that Unferp begins his famous quarrel with Beowulf as if loosing a war-speech ("Unferp mapelode . . . onband beadurune, " w . 499-501)20 thereby implying that this exchange is both quarrel and battle. The use of flitan in Eadwine's Canterbury Psalter, Psalm 63, also suggests a connection between flyting and fighting, for here "fliton" corresponds to the Latin "disputaverunt," and denotes the behaviour of the psalmist's enemies who use their tongues like swords and aim their words like arrows: [63.4] Forpaen hy hwetten swae sweord tungen heora hy onpenedon ond beheoldon bogaen ping biter [63.5] pet hy scotigen ond strelien on dygelnesse pa unwemme [63.6] Ferlice scotigen nine ond ne ondredon hy trymedon him word yfel hy geteaeldon ond fliton paet hy hyddon grino hy cwepon hwylc gesihp hie.21 These glosses certainly suggest a connection between flyting and fighting, but the exact nature of the fight --whether it is actual or metaphoric -- remains unspecified and problematic. Furthermore, we learn nothing from these 9 glosses about either the truth or fictionality of flyting utterances, or about the formal constraints (if any) which govern the exchange. Despite the tantalizing ambiguity of these glosses, critics of AS literature have only recently begun detailed examinations of the convention. An early exploration of flyting, Anderson's 1970 dissertation, "Verbal Contests in OE Literature," provides a lucid introduction to this puzzling genre. Anderson classifies flyting as a kind of "verbal contest." "Verbal contests," he explains, are dialogues which are characterized by four particular "stylistic features": "conflicting frames of reference between speakers," "modulation of tone from one speech to another," "the use of verbal echoes" which often become ironic in the context of conflicting frames of reference, and an "ethical proof" usually marked by the phrase, "sop ic secge" (pp. 18-19) . The purpose of verbal contests is to "emphasize the discourse as a clash of wills between two characters" (p. 20). Flyting as a species of verbal contest is realized in two forms: "battle flyting" and "court flyting." Anderson defines the former as "an exchange of challenges, insults or invective between two warriors preceding physical combat" (p. 28) . Battle flyting not only possesses the four defining stylistic traits of verbal contests, but in addition is identified by the presence of two "motifs." The first of these, the "identity motif," consists of the flyter's assertion of his worth through a rehearsal of illustrious ancestry, and the second, the "settlement motif," refers to the offer of some alternative to combat as a resolution of the quarrel (p. 29). Anderson cites quarrels in Hildebrandslied, Waltharius, Maldon and GuElac A as examples of battle flyting.22 "Court flyting" on the other hand, is a quarrel which "interrupts the festivity or ceremonial dignity of the court" (p. 66) and consists of insults and taunts intended to test either the stranger newly arrived at court, or the court itself. Lokasenna, the green knight's quarrel 10 with Arthur and Gawain in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Unferp's dispute with Beowulf are all examples of court flyting (see Anderson's chapter three). Anderson's study is important for two reasons. First, he suggests some distinguishing features easily discerned in a text (such as verbal echoes, changing frames of reference, and motifs of identity and settlement) which help to identify flyting. Second, while he clearly establishes the agonistic nature of flyting, Anderson recognizes that not all flytings express this implicit aggression in actual violence or battle. Indeed, his identification of "battle" and "court" variants of flyting suggests that flyting may be composed of two differing sub-genres. This is an important perception for it suggests a solution to the Brodeur/Eliason impasse, as I shall show below. There are, however, difficulties with Anderson's treatment. Some of the features which he uses to identify flyting are too general to be very useful: speakers' changes of tone and assertions of truth are the commonplaces of many kinds of quarrel and thus seem inadequate to distinguish flyting from other forms of debate. In addition, by insisting that flyting is a narrative device (p. 67) Anderson excludes Scandinavian flyting texts like Arrow-Odd and HarbarPslioP from the flyting genre.23 Finally, Anderson does not address the issue of truth and deceit in flyting speech. In her analysis of flyting in "The Germanic Context of the Unferp Episode," Clover amplifies Anderson's list of the commonplace motifs of flyting. Flyting, she says, usually occurs either outdoors near water or indoors within a hall (p. 447).24 Flyters may be male or female, and on occasion secondary figures or delegates, speaking "on behalf of or instead of major figures" (p. 450). Not surprisingly, they are usually eloquent (p. 451). She, like Anderson, notes the importance of identifying statements in flyting, especially when the participants are unknown to each other: 11 Flytings ... between unknown or unrecognized persons open with an exchange of stylized questions and answers which establish name, paternity, and credentials. Although the greeting may be polite ... it more typically takes the form of a baiting provocation (p. 450). Recitations of genealogy are followed by "boasts and insults ... with an admixture of threats, curses or vows" (p. 453). Flyters typically boast about physical, military or sexual prowess, and insult their opponents with allegations of cowardice, various species of "heroic failure" (for example, defeat in battle, p.453), sexual peculiarities, or fratricide. Threats include the promise of physical violence, or perhaps more specific curses like "'Go where the devils shall have you!'" Vows, on the other hand, promise "positive action" (p. 453). The flyting is resolved when one of the participants is silenced (p. 459).25 Clover also enumerates additional rhetorical features of flyting, which like Anderson's "conflicting frames of reference" and "verbal echoes" give flyting its distinctive martial tone by creating a linguistic equivalent to the exchange of blows. For instance, Clover discerns in flyting an overall structure of accusation, defense and counter-accusation in which claims and accusations consisting of "insults and boasts" coupled with "threats, vows or curses" are parried by defensive replies which use balanced concessive clauses to initiate a counter-attack of additional insult and threat.26 This reciprocity of attack and counter-attack is further reinforced on the syntactic level by "questions and answers, counterposed speeches, recurrent phrases and symmetrical reasoning" (p. 453). The use of direct address and "emphatic pronoun contrasts" (p. 453) also contributes to flyting's combative tone. Clover argues that this insistent verbal reciprocity, coupled with the martial terminology often used to describe flyting,27 transforms this kind of quarrel into a verbal war: 12 the use of martial terms and images (apparent even in the homiletic Vainglory) and the emphasis on winning and losing make it clear that the flyting is not just a prelude to violence but itself the oral equivalent of war (p. 452). For Clover, then, flyting is "a verbal combat complete in itself" (p. 459 ) 2 8 in which the only weapons used are words. Inevitably, other critics advance differing views of flyting structure. Parks, for example, argues that Clover's paradigm of claim, defense and counterclaim is too general, and he seems to discount her more specific discussion of the verbal features of flyting.29 He proposes instead a "grammar" of flyting speech which includes typical kinds of speech, and typical purposes underlying these speeches: the flyter (1) identifies his adversary, (2) "retrojects" or refers back to some past event or fact, (3) projects some future claim of actions or state of affairs, (4) evaluates and / or attributes (implicitly evaluative) qualities to himself or his adversary, (5) compares himself with his adversary, and (6) intends through his speech to act upon his adversary ("Ritual and Narrative," p. 161). The first three elements of Parks' "grammar" are particularly helpful because they are characteristics of flyting speech which are potentially discernible within a written discourse,30 and therefore give us an additional linguistic means of distinguishing flyting speech from that found in other dialogues and debates. They also suggest that flyting may be profitably examined according to the premises of Speech Act Theory, a topic which I shall explore shortly. However, Parks' paradigm, as he himself admits, is no more generally applicable than is Clover's model.31 Other efforts to define a universal flyting form have encountered similar difficulties. Harris, for example, proposes that senna, a Scandinavian variant of flyting, is an exchange consisting of at least four speeches: 13 there is a Preliminary, comprising an Identification and Characterization, and then a Central Exchange, consisting of either Accusation and Denial, Threat and Counterthreat, or Challenge and Reply or a combination; these structural elements are realized through a more or less regular alternation of speakers, first in question and answer, then comment and reply.32 Although this pattern is a good general description of flyting, it is not true for all flyting, as Harris recognizes.33 Another scholar, Francelia Clark, bases her analysis of flyting upon the Unferp / Beowulf flyting. This leads her to conclude that each flyting speech "breaks into distinct rhetorical subdivisions: an address, an insult, a story, the significance of the story in the past, a conclusion for the present" ("Flyting in Beowulf," p. 177). This analysis, too, is not valid for all flyting. Clearly, then, although there is little doubt that flyting is an agonistic dialogue, there is considerable doubt about the genre's more specific attributes. This is scarcely surprising, for flyting is neither a mathematical formula nor a scientific principle, but a literary artefact, and therefore, almost by definition, resists precise description and classification. In such a situation, Clover's assessment of the genre seems best. She is able for the most part to resist dogmatic prescriptions and yet to provide a portrait of flyting in both general and specific terms which allows us to distinguish flyting speech from the speeches found in other adversarial dialogues. Clover is less convincing when she addresses another question posed at the beginning of this chapter: is flyting speech true or can it be deceitful? On the one hand, Clover argues that flyting charges are factual: far from being 'unfounded taunts,' flyting charges are, at least in the hands of the chief practitioners, deadly accurate: the art of the boast lies in creating, within the limitations of the facts, the best possible version of the event; 14 and the art of the insult lies in creating, within the limitations of the facts, the worst possible version of the event ("Germanic Context," p. 459). On the other hand, when she provides an extensive catalogue of commonplace topics,34 Clover also seems to be arguing that boasts and insults are conventional (pp. 445-6) . Certainly, Clover is correct in asserting the truth of some flyting utterance. It is doubtful, however, that all flyting utterance is factual.35 For instance, Davidson observes that in his flyting with the Danish bully, Grep, Erik Disertus wins by replying to personal insult with "proverbial sayings."36 Such maxims represent the received truths valued by society, and as such are closer to cliche than to factual statement.37 The conventionality of many other flyting utterances cannot be disputed, for some boasts and insults occur again and again in flyting texts, and the very fact of their recurrence coupled with their sometimes bizarre content suggests that they are formulaic rather than factual. Certainly it would strain credulity to believe the truth of the many instances of human and equine sexual congress alleged by ON flyters.38 It seems likely therefore that flyting boasts and insults may be a blend of fact and fiction. Most recently, Parks has devoted his dissertation, several articles and a book to the study of flyting. Although he uses the noun "flyting" in a more general sense than I do, he nonetheless has some interesting points to make about the genre which are relevant to my discussion.39 Unfortunately, however, he, too, fails to resolve satisfactorily the persistent cruces of flyting's relationship to fighting and to truth. In his dissertation, Parks analyzes the different components of flyting discourse according to the constraints of Speech Act Theory. Simply put, this theory assumes that any statement or utterance has a behavioural dimension. According to one model proposed: 15 the minimal unit of human communication is not a sentence or other expression, but rather the performance of certain kinds of acts, such as making statements, asking questions, giving orders, describing, explaining ... etc.40 This speech act can be subdivided into as many as three parts. Pratt gives a description, explaining that to make an utterance is to perform an act. A person who performs a speech act does at least two and possibly three things. First, he performs a locutionary act, the act of producing a recognizable grammatical utterance in the given language. Second, he performs an illocutionary act of a certain type. 'Promising, ' 'warning, ' 'greeting, ' 'reminding, ' 'informing, ' or 'commanding' are all kinds of illocutionary acts.41 The third act performed by the speaker is "perlocutionary. That is, a speaker by saying what he says ... may be achieving certain intended effects in his hearer in addition to those achieved by the illocutionary act. By warning a person one may frighten him, by arguing one may convince, and so on (Towards a Speech Act Theory. p. 81) .42 Perlocutionary effects may also include consequences unintended in the original illocution.43 Although the success of any illocution is dependent on its fulfillment by perlocutionary consequences,44 the exact nature of this fulfillment varies with the type of illocution. For instance, the act of saying45 is successful to the extent that the stated proposition conforms to truth. The speech acts of permitting and commanding,46 however, require the hearer's obedience, while the acts of predicting and promising47 may require in addition that events in the external world beyond either the speaker's or hearer's 16 control conform to the contents of the utterance if the illocution is to be successful. From the perspective of flyting analysis, the most important consequence of this theory is that an utterance must achieve some kind of extra-linguistic fulfillment or confirmation either in the events of the real world or in the deeds of the speaker.48 AS poets' disdain for the false or unfulfilled boast (idel qylp) suggests that they, too, recognized that speech which lacked behavioural validation was somehow deficient.49 Parks suggests that a recognition of this behavioural dimension of speech is central to an understanding of flyting. He observes that the utterances which comprise flyting are speech acts of particular types, demanding their own particular kinds of fulfillment. Using Searle's taxonomy of speech acts (or illocutions) Parks argues that flyting consists chiefly of "assertives," or speech acts which "commit the speaker ... to something else being the case, to the truth of the expressed proposition;" of "directives" which "try 'to get the hearer to do something'"; and of "commissives" which "commit the speaker to some future course of action." He classifies narration and some forms of insult as assertives; inquiries, pleas and some threats as directives; and boasts, promises and other threats as commissives.50 The most interesting consequence of Parks' analysis is that when boast, an acknowledged staple of flyting, is examined according to the illocutionary patterns which he proposes, it is transformed into two distinct illocutions or speech acts -- "retrojective" boast and "projective" boast.51 The former, which includes the recitation of genealogies and past achievements typical of the flyting identity motif is really narration, and therefore subject to propositional and historical validation rather than behavioral validation, while "projective" boast, which anticipates future events, must be fulfilled by deeds or future circumstance, as befits both commissive and directive illocutions (pp. 170-1) . We might anticipate, then, that 17 quarrels in which speakers omit projective boast and directive utterance, and concentrate instead on self-aggrandizing recitations of past glories and retrojective insults are less vulnerable to behavioral tests of truth than are quarrels which contain chiefly vows, promises and threats, whose accuracy can be easily measured against future events. The fact that a boast may be either assertive or commissive suggests a possible solution to the flyting/ fighting and flyting/ truth dilemma which plagues flyting criticism, for as I have already hinted above, we might extrapolate from the two forms of boast, two corresponding forms of flyting, depending on which kind of boast predominates in the exchange, and whether any directive utterance is aimed at either participant. One variant of flyting then would consist largely of retrojective utterances. This form of flyting would be game-like, awarding victory to wit rather than truth,52 and freed from the constraints of behavioral validation would cause no physical fight.53 Co-existing with this game-like flyting would be another kind of flyting composed chiefly of projective boasts and directives whose truth can be tested by deeds. The hypothesis that there is a game-like version of flyting in heroic Germanic literature gets some support from Scandinavian literature. As I have already noted. Clover refers to two kinds of quarrel found in Northern Germanic texts -- senna and manni af naPr -- which she believes are implicit in flyting ("Germanic Context," p. 445). The manniafnafrr or "comparison of men" is a verbal contest based on boasts. It is intended to determine in an entertaining fashion, which of the participants is the better man.54 Senna is also a verbal contest, but here the competition is more serious, and resembles a legalistic dispute about some impersonal truth, even if it still contains a large dollop of personal insult.55 Most significant for my argument, however, 18 is the fact that neither manniafnafrr nor senna is directly associated with subsequent fight, for both quarrels replace physical combat with either linguistic wit or gnomic wisdom. Indeed, Pizarro argues that if a fight does follow one of these exchanges, it is a sign that the quarrel has degenerated into yet another and more vicious form of dialogue -- the abusive and illegal nil? contest, renowned for precipitating violence (pp. 3-5).56 Although, beyond these general distinctions, the exact parameters of senna and manni afnaftr have proven difficult to ascertain (partly because, as Clover observes, "neither category has a pure representative")57 there seems little disagreement that many extant flyting texts are a combination of senna and manni afnafr,58 and thus are game-like contests which require no validation in deeds. Parks, however, does not use the presence of retrojective boast or projective boast as a means of classifying flyting./ Indeed, he denies that there are two versions of flyting1 in heroic literature.59 He describes flyting as a "verbal disputation with an ad hominem orientation"60 comprised of "mental operations" which usually include the identity motif (similar to that described by Anderson) and insults, coupled with retrojective and projective boasts (pp. 287-91). Parks uses a version of the settlement motif to establish the connection between flyting and fighting: . . . the link between the flyting and the fighting consists in the contract that the flyting produces .... To recapitulate: flyting is defined as an adversative verbal exchange in which the heroes, even as they contend with each other for kleos or glory, are contracting on some future course of action from a range of possiblities at least one of which entails a trial by arms.61 Clearly, this serious form of flyting does exist, as many other critics recognize.62 Elsewhere, however, Parks 19 acknowledges a "ludic" form of flyting and includes this kind of flyting, as well as "heroic" flyting and other forms of verbal contest, in a classification scheme which categorizes these dialogues according to four variables: subject matter, referential mode, locus of resolution and context.63 A given contest, then, may contain subject matter which ranges from the personal to the intellectual; it may have a referential mode (or intention) which is either serious, truthful and literal, or ludic and fictional; it may find its resolution in deeds external to the contest, or within the verbal exchange itself; and finally, it may reflect a conflict within a single society or between societies ("Flyting, Sounding, Debate," pp. 445-50). The subject matter of heroic flyting is "contestant-oriented," its referential mode is serious, its locus of resolution is "external" and its context is "inter-social." Ludic flyting differs from its heroic counterpart in its referential mode, which is clearly fictional and in its locus of resolution which is internal (pp. 450-2). Although this analysis suggests useful distinctions between the two forms of flyting, Parks argues that "ludic" flyting does not occur in heroic literature: Flyting, as it appears in early traditional heroic narrative, designates an exchange of insults and boasts between two heroes .... Exchanges of this kind are usually charged with military overtones and frequently preface some kind of a trial of arms .... In fact, we should probably distinguish this kind of serious or 'heroic' flyting from the more playful or 'ludic' type of exchange represented, for example, in William Dunbar's 'The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie' (1979), or Alexander Montgomerie's 'Polwart and Montgomerie's Flyting' (1887) ("Flyting, Sounding, Debate," p. 441). This elimination of "ludic" flyting from heroic literature produces some puzzling results. For instance, if Parks eliminates game-like flyting from Germanic literature by insisting that the flyting exchanges found there are serious 20 and heroic (or in other words contain only truthful utterances, and are resolved by combat) what is he to do with Beowulf's quarrel with UnferJ?? Parks may assert that the Beowulf/Unferp flyting is, in his terminology, both serious and heroic (pp. 450-1),64 but many scholars would disagree. Eliason, as we have seen, considers the whole dispute to be a collection of "whopping lies," and together with Silber and Clover believes that the flyting is won verbally without a fight, while Frank proposes that the flyting includes a skaldic word game.65 However, because Parks has excluded ludic flyting from heroic literature, his taxonomy is unable to accommodate such an interpretation. Two other exemplary flyting texts, HarbarPslioP and Lokasenna, (as I shall show below) are also resolved within the contest and therefore present a similar challenge to Parks' taxonomy. It seems clear, then, that although Parks provides a good description of game-like flyting, he is incorrect in excluding this kind of flyting from heroic Germanic texts.66 What tentative conclusions can be drawn from this review of the critical literature on flyting? Certainly, flyting is a protean convention which eludes precise definition. This elusiveness appears to stem from a double nature, for it seems that depending on the kind of utterance it contains, flyting may be either a witty game composed of fictions and exaggerations, or it may be a serious quarrel which will end in bloodshed. Accordingly, distinctions between types of flyting may be better embodied by Parks' terminology, which potentially distinguishes flyting types according to the seriousness67 of their utterances, than they are by Anderson's taxonomy, which distinguishes "court" from "battle" flyting according to non-linguistic features such as setting and participants. Second, each form of flyting may favour particular motifs. Thus, although the identity motif may be found in both kinds of flyting, it will be especially significant in ludic flyting68 because this motif is usually expressed in 21 retrojective utterances like genealogies and self-aggrandizing histories ("Ritual and Narrative," p. 164) which lend themselves to verbal games of "mirroring" and "surpassing." The settlement motif, on the other hand, seems likely to be more prominent in serious or battle flyting because it is usually uttered in conjunction with a commissive threat. Is there anything which unites these two sub-genres of flyting? Both are usually concerned with issues of fame and reputation, but both can also sometimes discuss more impersonal issues.69 Both are also characterized by the persistent verbal reciprocity described by Clover. Ad hominem insults delivered in direct address, emphatically contrasted personal pronouns, parallel syntactic structures, and verbal repetitions all endow boasts, insults and threats with an acrimony and aggression which transforms flytings of both types into verbal battles. Indeed, it is this association with warfare, whether actual or metaphoric, which finally seems to define flyting and to separate it from other milder forms of debate. What textual evidence is there to support these claims? The literary tradition of adversarial dialogues is an old one, finding its earliest written expression in the classical epic.70 Bowra describes one form of these quarrels: Two warriors are somehow separated from the general throng and confront one another. They hold a parley asking each other about their names and families and after this they fight.71 A brief examination of the parley between Achilles and Aeneas in Book Twenty of the Iliad shows that such exchanges resemble serious or battle flyting72 in that the implication of a projective boast helps to turn the quarrel into a fight. Achilles addresses Aeneas in the midst of battle, suggesting that he is a fool fighting not for the prestige of ruling a 22 kingdom but for the trivial reward of governing an acre of farmland73: '...Does the desire in your heart drive you to combat in hope you will be lord of the Trojans, breakers of horses, and of Priam's honour? And yet even if you were to kill me Priam would not b