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Female characterisation in Old English poetry Klinck, Anne Lingard 1976

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FEMALE CHARACTERISATION  IN OLD ENGLISH POETRY  by ANNE LINGARD KLINCK M.A., Oxon., 1969 B r i t i s h C o l u m b i a , 1970  M.A.,  A THESIS SUBMITTED  IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES/ (Department o f E n g l i s h )  We  accept to  this  t h e s i s as c o n f o r m i n g  the r e q u i r e d  standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA  ©Anne  Lingard Klinck,  1976  In  presenting  an  advanced degree  the I  Library  further  for  of  this  written  agree  thesis  in  at  University  the  make  that  it  thesis  freely  p u r p o s e s may  for  partial  permission  representatives.  for  is  financial  of  University  British  2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V5T 1WS  9 7 .g^pmhPr 1976  of  Columbia,  British  by  gain  shall  Columbia  for  the  understood  English of  of  extensive  be g r a n t e d  It  fulfilment  available  permission.  Department The  shall  scholarly  by h i s  this  requirements  reference copying of  Head o f  that  not  the  I  agree  and this  be a l l o w e d  that  study. thesis  my D e p a r t m e n t  copying or  for  or  publication  w i t h o u t my  ABSTRACT  A  survey of O l d E n g l i s h poetry  originality involving  i s t o be f o u n d  female,  rather  suggests that  greater  i n the presentation  of situations  t h a n e x c l u s i v e l y male,  characters.  T h i s phenomenon c a n b e r e l a t e d t o a d o u b l e b a c k g r o u n d o f social  and l i t e r a r y  conditions.  An i n v e s t i g a t i o n o f t h e  s o c i a l p o s i t i o n o f A n g l o - S a x o n women on t h e b a s i s o f c o n temporary h i s t o r i c a l received a  opinion,  subordinate  exceptions improved  they  locking and  reveals  contrary  to the  and p a s s i v e  one.  However, t h e r e  to the general  rule,  and t h e p o s i t i o n o f women  are certain  An e x a m i n a t i o n o f t h e  of c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n Old English poetry  shows  a r e b a s e d on a s e r i e s o f c o n t r a s t i n g and i n t e r -  stereotypes,  selectivity,  conditions  which,  departures  association with The  allowing  f o r t h e most p a r t  of actual l i f e .  significant  women  Almost  f o r a degree o f archaism  correspond  t o the t y p i c a l  a l l t h e examples o f  from the stereotypes  occur i n  characters.  proverbial poetry  t r a d i t i o n a l Germanic s u b j e c t s portraits  that,  t h e s t a t u s o f A n g l o - S a x o n women was m a i n l y  i n the course o f the era.  techniques that  records  o f women b a s e d  and t h e poems t r e a t i n g present  some r a t h e r  on t h e s t e r e o t y p e  However, t h e h i g h l y s k i l l e d  Beowulf poet  sketchy  o f t h e good  takes t h i s  queen.  standard  t y p e and u s e s i t f o r h i s own e n d s : a s a v e h i c l e o f p a t h o s and tragic  i r o n y i n t h e poem.  The poems b e l o n g i n g  to the "saint's  iii life"  genre u t i l i s e  saint.  the other  main f e m a l e s t e r e o t y p e : t h e  Because t h e o u t l i n e s o f t h i s  unnatural, within  little  this  individual  category.  type  c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i s t o be found  The two O l d E n g l i s h l o v e  W i f e ' s Lament and W u l f and Eadwacer, subject of exile, insight,  apply  a warrior  and, w i t h  husband o r l o v e r . are  t o be f o u n d  The most s t r i k i n g  i n the temptation Here,  the separation,  not of  from  examples o f o r i g i n a l i t y  s c e n e o f G e n e s i s B and i n t h e e n c o u n t e r s between Adam  and a r e a l i s m most u n u s u a l i n O l d E n g l i s h The  explanation  the treatment  involving normally  f o r the greater  o f female c h a r a c t e r s ,  them, l i e s confined,  i n the passive  This passivity  deeper e x p l o r a t i o n o f thought portrayal  of intimate  ready-made t r a d i t i o n s category passive rigid  i . e . , that  and l e a s t If  poetry. present  r o l e s t o w h i c h women were and i n  l e d the poets i n t o a  and f e e l i n g ,  of the poetry.  and i n t o a f o r by the  Paradoxically, the very  which i s not r e s t r i c t e d  containing  with  and s i t u a t i o n s  r e l a t i o n s h i p s not provided  o f female c h a r a c t e r s role,  originality  both i n Old E n g l i s h poetry  Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y .  The  psychological  E v e , and J o s e p h and Mary, r e s p e c t i v e l y , a r e t r e a t e d  freedom,  in  considerable  lyrics,  the t r a d i t i o n a l  and comrades, b u t o f a woman  D i v i s i o n V I I o f C h r i s t I. and  take  i t t o a new s i t u a t i o n :  from l o r d  a r e r i g i d and  to a  t h e s a i n t s , i s t h e most  lifelike.  we l e a v e  o u t t h e s a i n t s ' poems, i t i s p o s s i b l e t o  show a c h r o n o l o g i c a l d e v e l o p m e n t characterisation.  i n t h e p a t t e r n o f female  The p r o v e r b i a l p o e t r y  and t h e p o e t r y on  iv traditional two  G e r m a n i c themes c o n s t i t u t e an e a r l y s t r a t u m , t h e  l o v e poems a r e somewhat l a t e r ,  latest insight  of a l l . A corresponding c a n be t r a c e d  and G e n e s i s B and C h r i s t I  increase  i n these three  groups.  humanism i n t h e A n g l o - S a x o n e r a i s , t h u s , poetry  A growing  reflected  i n the  i n an i n c r e a s i n g i n t e r e s t i n t h e s i t u a t i o n o f p a s s i v e ,  female c h a r a c t e r s .  This  development  movements i n m e d i e v a l E u r o p e , and  i n psychological  foreshadows  notably,  the growth o f the l i t e r a t u r e  the r i s e  wider of the l y r i c ,  of courtly love.  V  TABLE OF CONTENTS INTRODUCTION  1  Chapter I.  II. III.  THE SOCIAL STATUS OF WOMEN IN ANGLO-SAXON ENGLAND  19  CHARACTER-TYPES  67  IN THE POETRY  FROM THE PROVERBIAL POETRY TO BEOWULF: THE TRADITIONAL FIGURE OF THE IDEALISED WOMAN AND ITS EXTENSION  IV.  THE POEMS IN THE SAINT'S L I F E TRADITION  V.  LYRICAL POEMS FEATURING WOMEN: WULF AND EADWACER AND THE WIFE'S LAMENT  169  DRAMATIC SCENES 'INVOLVING WOMEN: GENESIS B AND CHRIST I  203  VI.  CONCLUSION  BIBLIOGRAPHY  . . . .  93 129  234  .  250  1  INTRODUCTION Probably in connection  the f i r s t  observation  t h a t s p r i n g s t o mind  w i t h the female characters o f O l d E n g l i s h  poetry  i s t h a t they a r e few.  poetry  a s a w h o l e , women c h a r a c t e r s p l a y a d i s t i n c t l y  part.  H o w e v e r , i t h a s s t r u c k me t h a t some o f t h e more  interesting e f f e c t s created  I n the corpus o f O l d E n g l i s h  i n that poetry  i n fact  minor  involve  f e m a l e f i g u r e s : t h e B e o w u l f p o e t makes a n e v o c a t i v e  use of  h i s female c h a r a c t e r s , e s p e c i a l l y Wealhtheow and H i l d e b u r h , i n showing t h e t r a g i c e f f e c t s o f feud;  the temptation of  Adam b y E v e i n G e n e s i s B i s a h i g h l y d r a m a t i c  and s t r i k i n g l y  h e t e r o d o x p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e F a l l o f Man; t h e d i a l o g u e b e t w e e n J o s e p h a n d Mary i n D i v i s i o n V I I o f C h r i s t I i s a miniature  drama p r e s e n t e d  with a great  d e a l o f human  sympathy; t h e two l o v e l y r i c s w i t h f e m a l e n a r r a t o r s , W u l f and  E a d w a c e r a n d The W i f e ' s Lament a r e u n i q u e i n O l d E n g l i s h  poetry if,  i n d e a l i n g s e r i o u s l y w i t h s e x u a l love.-*-  i n these  inspired ask  cases,  t h e treatment  the poets t o greater  originality tendencies  of female characters has  inventiveness.  how a n d why t h i s may b e s o .  I s there  t h i s trend?  One i s l e d t o  indeed  i n t h e c r e a t i o n o f female f i g u r e s ? l i e behind  I t looks as  a greater What  Is the relatively  general minor  r o l e o f women c h a r a c t e r s  i n the poetry  a contributing  factor?  circumstances  might be r e l e v a n t ?  What h i s t o r i c a l  2 And' how c a n t h e p a t t e r n  o f female  E n g l i s h p o e t r y be r e l a t e d literature  t o the broader  following  the pattern  thesis  emerging  to establish  background.  This  thoroughgoing  t o broader  t h e immediate  study,  analysis of the social  England.  preliminary  investigation  historical  position  form t h e b a s i s  about  the p o e t i c  t r e a t m e n t o f women.  and l i t e r a r y I with a  o f women i n .  o f my  The b r o a d  i t i s  emerge i n t h i s  t h e n a t u r e and s i g n i f i c a n c e  l i t e r a r y background  final  of trends i n  outlines of the  are subsequently presented, i n Chapter  i s , the characterisation  comparison  influences,  The c o n c l u s i o n s w h i c h  inferences  That  characterisation i n  then, begins i n Chapter  Anglo-Saxon  II.  t r e n d s o f European  a i m s t o answer t h e s e q u e s t i o n s .  from female  t h e p o e t r y i s t o be r e l a t e d important  i n Old  i n t h e M i d d l e Ages?  The Since  characterisation  o f women i m p l i e s a  with the characterisation  o f men, and, t h e r e f o r e ,  t h e g e n e r a l t e c h n i q u e s o f c h a r a c t e r - d r a w i n g , m a i n l y seen i n the c r e a t i o n chapter. and  o f male c h a r a c t e r s ,  a r e summarised  The r e m a i n i n g c h a p t e r s f o c u s d i r e c t l y  passages  which  make s i g n i f i c a n t  u s e o f women  Chapter  I I I d e a l s w i t h what we may c a l l  poetry,  i . e . , the poetry rooted i n native,  The  subject  depict  o f Chapter  devoted  t o t h e two l o v e  characters.  Germanic poems  o r h o l y woman.  lyrics,  on t h e poems  the t r a d i t i o n a l  IV i s t h e C h r i s t i a n  the career of a saint  i n this  material.  which  Chapter V i s  and C h a p t e r V I t o t h e  passages  f r o m G e n e s i s B and C h r i s t  chapters  i n this  I.  In a r r a n g i n g t h e  way, I f o l l o w a d e v e l o p m e n t  from a sketchy  3  presentation  o f women, v e r y  Germanic conventions, evinced  chapters.  towards g r e a t e r  expecially  to traditional  t o a more e x t e n d e d p r e s e n t a t i o n , a s  i n the succeeding  movement  much i n d e b t e d  Also,  individuality,  i n C h a p t e r s V and V I .  there  i sa  noticeable  The C o n c l u s i o n  defines  t h e p a t t e r n e s t a b l i s h e d and s u g g e s t s i t s i m p l i c a t i o n s . reasons f o r o r i g i n a l i t y set in  forth,  i n female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n a r e here  and t h e q u e s t i o n  trends with,  i n Old English poetry  developing  i n European  t h e scope o f t h i s  study  more p r e c i s e l y , b o t h w i t h and  t o the connections  of O l d E n g l i s h The  an the  literature. should  But, t o begin  be d e f i n e d to previous  a  little  scholarship,  t h a t m i g h t be made b e y o n d t h e l i m i t s  volume o f c r i t i c i s m  devoted  i n O l d English poetry  specifically  explanation  this  i s r e l a t e d t o wider  reference  f a r a s I h a v e been a b l e  focussed  Finally,  poetry.  characterisation as  o f a c h r o n o l o g i c a l development  female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i s d i s c u s s e d .  development  The  i s very  to discover,  on t h e s u b j e c t  of the greater  c r e a t i o n o f female,  t o female s m a l l , and,  no work h a s  o f my own i n v e s t i g a t i o n :  originality  t o be found i n  a s o p p o s e d t o male,  characters.  The  works t h a t h a v e b e e n w r i t t e n on women i n an A n g l o - S a x o n context in  h a v e more f r e q u e n t l y b e e n h i s t o r i c a l  approach.  Thus,  i n the f i r s t  E n g l i s h Woman i n H i s t o r y ,  2  Doris  chapter  than  literary  o f h e r book, The  Mary S t e n t o n  stresses the  i n d e p e n d e n c e o f t h e A n g l o - S a x o n woman, w h i c h s h e l a t e r contrasts with  the subordinate  p o s i t i o n o f t h e woman i n  4 post-Conquest England.  George F o r r e s t Browne, i n "The 3  Importance of Women i n Anglo-Saxon Times,"  d e s c r i b e s the  prominent women a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the C h r i s t i a n i s a t i o n of England, and w i t h the double monasteries i n the seventh and e i g h t h c e n t u r i e s .  Other s t u d i e s , such as F. T. 4  Wainwright s ".ZEthelflaed, Lady of the Mercians," 1  W. Campbell's "Queen Emma and J E l f g i f u  and M i l e s  o f Northhampton:  Canute the G r e a t ' s W o m e n , h a v e been devoted t o i n d i v i d u a l women who i n f l u e n c e d the s e c u l a r course o f Anglo-Saxon history. the  A r e c e n t study which combines the s p e c i f i c and  g e n e r a l approach i s C a r o l e E l i z a b e t h Moore's "Queen 6  Emma and the Role o f Women i n Anglo-Saxon S o c i e t y . "  Moore  regards Emma as e p i t o m i s i n g the i n f l u e n t i a l p o s i t i o n o f women i n Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y , a p o s i t i o n which she f i n d s d i s t i n c t i v e l y Germanic and n o n - C h r i s t i a n i n o r i g i n .  The  v i n d i c a t i o n of the Anglo-Saxon woman's independence which appears i n a l l these works i s a p o i n t o f view which I s h a l l f i n d o c c a s i o n t o q u e s t i o n i n Chapter I. S e v e r a l s t u d i e s have been concerned w i t h  social  a t t i t u d e s t o women, r a t h e r than w i t h h i s t o r i c a l women i n themselves.  B e t t y Bandel, i n "The E n g l i s h 7  A t t i t u d e toward Women,"  Chroniclers'  argues that i n Anglo-Saxon times  i t was regarded as normal f o r women t o take an a c t i v e p a r t i n the o r g a n i s a t i o n of s o c i e t y .  A similar position i s  adopted by J . A. Crawford i n "The P o s i t i o n o f Women i n Q  Anglo-Saxon England."  Crawford t r e a t s O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y ,  along w i t h the prose, as a d i r e c t r e c o r d o f s o c i a l  custom,  5 a procedure which I regard as very dangerous, i n view o f the h i g h l y s t y l i s e d world o f the p o e t r y .  However, t h i s i s  an i s s u e w i t h which I s h a l l d e a l more f u l l y i n Chapter I. The assumption that O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y i s a d i r e c t i n d i c a t o r o f s o c i a l a t t i t u d e s i s even more pronounced i n a Q  recent  a r t i c l e by Janet Buck,  however, adopts a d i f f e r e n t  "Pre-Feudal Women."  stance from the p r e v i o u s w r i t e r s  i n that she s t r e s s e s the " s o c i a l i n s u f f i c i e n c y " women.  Buck,  of pre-feudal  Taking a f e m i n i s t approach, Buck sees i n Beowulf a  r e c o r d o f male w a r r i o r  "bonding," which e x c l u d e s women.  She  argues t h a t s o c i e t y should e l i m i n a t e t h i s k i n d of "bonding," which she b e l i e v e s i s s t i l l  prevalent.  In a much e a r l i e r work, the monograph D i e F a m i l i e b e i den Anqelsachsen.  E r s t e r H a u p t t e i l : Mann und F r a u , ^  F r i t z Roeder a l s o takes a d i f f e r e n t  t a c k from most w r i t e r s  on Anglo-Saxon s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s ,  and s t r e s s e s the  dependency o f Anglo-Saxon women. is entitled  Although R o e d e r s study 1  "Mann und F r a u , " h i s focus i s upon women: i n  their relation  t o t h e i r husbands, and i n t h e i r  p o s i t i o n more g e n e r a l l y .  social  He proposed t o extend h i s study  of the Anglo-Saxon f a m i l y by the a d d i t i o n of a second " H a u p t t e i l " on t h e c h i l d r e n , t o have been w r i t t e n . evidence c o n s i d e r e d  1 1  b u t t h i s p a r t appears never  In the range and d e t a i l o f the  (legal, h i s t o r i c a l , p h i l o l o g i c a l ,  etc.),  Roeder's i n v e s t i g a t i o n i s by f a r the most impressive o f the works c u r r e n t l y under d i s c u s s i o n . elaborate  However, R o e d e r s 1  r e c o n s t r u c t i o n o f Anglo-Saxon custom b u i l d s t o o  6  c o n f i d e n t l y on fragmentary and d o u b t f u l assumption that the p o e t r y used as a s t r a i g h t f o r w a r d  evidence, and h i s  of the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d can be s o c i a l record  i s highly  12 que s t i o n a b l e . A work s i m i l a r i n scope t o the l a r g e r study proposed, but not completed, by Roeder, i s Anton Serota's "The 13 Family i n O l d E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e . "  Serota  i s interested  i n the c o n t r i b u t i o n o f C h r i s t i a n i t y t o the development of family l i f e ,  and argues t h a t the e f f e c t o f C h r i s t i a n i t y was  to ennoble the f a m i l y bonds which had become weakened the Conversion.  before  However, as I s h a l l demonstrate i n Chapter  I, the C h r i s t i a n i n f l u e n c e was not e n t i r e l y a p o s i t i v e one i n t h i s regard,  e s p e c i a l l y with reference  of women i n f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  to the p o s i t i o n  Moreover, Serota's study  i s s u p e r f i c i a l i n i t s a n a l y s i s and t e n d e n t i o u s i n i t s inferences,  and i n v o l v e s some r a t h e r sweeping assumptions  about what Anglo-Saxon England was a c t u a l l y l i k e i n the ( l a r g e l y undocumented) p e r i o d b e f o r e  the Conversion.  While the number o f works devoted t o the h i s t o r i c a l p o s i t i o n o f Anglo-Saxon women has been few, t h e range o f works s p e c i f i c a l l y concerned w i t h the l i t e r a r y of women i s even s m a l l e r . t h a t three theses.  The reader w i l l have n o t i c e d  of the s t u d i e s a l r e a d y mentioned were unpublished  In the area o f female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n , not  merely a p r o p o r t i o n , been a b l e t o f i n d on other  treatment  but the e n t i r e body of m a t e r i a l  (apart from s c a t t e r e d r e f e r e n c e s  t o p i c s ) has been contained  i n theses,  I have  i n works  mainly  7 unpublished.  At worst,  these s t u d i e s have done no more  than present a catalogue o f the d i f f e r e n t k i n d s o f women who appear here and t h e r e : B. M. Walker's "The P o r t r a y a l o f 14  Woman i n Anglo-Saxon L i t e r a t u r e "  i s a survey o f t h i s  type.  Somewhat more d e f i n i t e i n i t s c o n c l u s i o n s (though h e a v i l y indebted—and  much i n f e r i o r — t o Roeder) i s Ada Broch's 15  "Die S t e l l u n g der Frau i n der a n g e l s a c h s i s c h e n P o e s i e . " Broch laments the f a c t t h a t so much of the p o e t r y has t o do w i t h a r i s t o c r a t i c women, and f i n d s the p o r t r a y a l o f such women i n the t r a d i t i o n a l Germanic p o e t r y d i s a p p o i n t i n g l y i d e a l i z e d and unconvincing. and  She f i n d s more c o n v i n c i n g  l i v e l y the women i n the O l d Testament poems  (Genesis  and J u d i t h ) , and the humbler women i n the R i d d l e s and Gnomes.  However, no r e a l t h e s i s emerges from h e r a n a l y s i s .  A l s o , as we s h a l l see, the c a t e g o r i e s d e f i n e d by her a r e r a t h e r d i f f e r e n t from those which I d i s c e r n among the female c h a r a c t e r s of O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y . One female  o r two s t u d i e s have been d i r e c t e d , not towards  c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n the p o e t r y as a whole, b u t  towards more l i m i t e d aspects of the s u b j e c t . Seaton,  i n a d i s s e r t a t i o n on "Marian  Harriet  Images i n the O l d  16  English Writings,"  catalogues the images f o r Mary—some  t y p o l o g i c a l and some n o t — t o be found i n O l d E n g l i s h prose and verse.  She uses the r e l a t i o n of Mary's f a i t h t o h e r  virgin-motherhood Christian,  and of the l a t t e r t o the Church and the  as 'keys' i n i n t e r p r e t i n g these images.  Seaton's  work c o n t a i n s copious q u o t a t i o n s from Old E n g l i s h and from  8 the L a t i n p a r a l l e l s , but the a c t u a l a n a l y s i s o f the imagery i s minimal, and no c l e a r t h e s i s emerges from the whole.  A  much s h o r t e r , but much more d e c i s i v e , study i s Nancy G o r t z Rose's d i s s e r t a t i o n on "The O l d E n g l i s h J u d i t h : The Problem 17 of L e a d e r s h i p . "  Rose sees the poem as a study i n  l e a d e r s h i p p o i n t i n g the c o n t r a s t between the good J u d i t h , and the bad l e a d e r ,  leader,  Holofernes.  Thus, works on the treatment o f women i n O l d E n g l i s h poetry  have been few, and have tended t o t r e a t the p o e t r y  as a s o c i o l o g i c a l r e c o r d .  Of the very  concerned w i t h s p e c i f i c a l l y l i t e r a r y , historical, and  evaluation,  s l i g h t number rather  than  a l l have been e i t h e r s u p e r f i c i a l  i n d e c i s i v e o r s t r i c t l y l i m i t e d i n scope.  No study has  i s o l a t e d any p a r t i c u l a r tendency d i s c e r n i b l e from female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n Old E n g l i s h poetry present  t h e s i s aims t o do. The  reader may be tempted t o ask why t h i s  investigation restricts i t s e l f poetry,  as a whole, as the  s p e c i f i c a l l y to Old English  r a t h e r than t r e a t i n g O l d E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e as a  whole, as s e v e r a l o f the s t u d i e s mentioned above have done. However, Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y  i s a very s h a r p l y  defined  area, w i t h conventions of i t s own, q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from those o b t a i n i n g  i n the prose.  Whereas the p o e t r y  of the  Anglo Saxons i s a conscious a r t form, a v a s t body o f Old r  E n g l i s h prose has no p r e t e n s i o n s wills,  t o a r t i s t r y : the laws,  and c h a r t e r s are s t r i c t l y u t i l i t a r i a n .  t r u e t o a l a r g e extent  even of The Anglo-Saxon  This i s Chronicle.  9 .  There i s a l a r g e amount of h d m i l e t i c prose, n o t a b l y the works of Wulfstan and, i s indeed a r t i s t i c , O l d E n g l i s h prose, delight,  but s t i l l  some of which,  especially,  521fric,  the f u n c t i o n a l purpose of  i t s aim at i n s t r u c t i o n r a t h e r than  i s d e f i n i t e l y to the f o r e .  Much of the p o e t r y  i s d e v o t i o n a l too, but i t i s convenient t o draw a l i n e between the r a t h e r p r e c i o u s atmosphere of the verse, a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a t r a d i t i o n of c o u r t l y entertainment, the more p r a c t i c a l prose.  and  F u r t h e r , a very g r e a t d e a l of  Old E n g l i s h n a r r a t i v e prose r e l i e s on t r a n s l a t i n g  Latin  originals.  i s also  Use of f o r e i g n sources, mainly L a t i n ,  common i n the poetry, but l e s s so, and the i n f l u e n c e of the n a t i v e a r t form i s conspicuous  even i n t r a n s l a t e d works.  In f a c t , an e s s e n t i a l p a r t of my  method i n t h i s  study i s t o make a sharp d i s t i n c t i o n between Old E n g l i s h prose and v e r s e . nature,  The former,  because of i t s p r a c t i c a l  I regard as a much b e t t e r guide to the a c t u a l  customs of the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d .  Hence, i n Chapter  I,  Old E n g l i s h prose, along w i t h A n g l o - L a t i n w r i t i n g s , i s used as a ' c o n t r o l , ' i n an attempt  to e s t a b l i s h a h i s t o r i c a l  background a g a i n s t which the p o e t r y can be N e v e r t h e l e s s i n c o n s i d e r i n g female  judged. characterisation  i n the poetry, i t w i l l be n a t u r a l to make comparisons with the treatment  of women i n Old E n g l i s h prose.  Here a  d i s t i n c t i o n w i l l be made between h i s t o r i c a l women, mentioned, f o r i n s t a n c e , i n the C h r o n i c l e and E c c l e s i a s t i c a l H i s t o r y , and  i n Bede's  ' l i t e r a r y women,' such as the  10  women i n i E l f r i c ' s  h o m i l i e s and the h e r o i n e o f the (unique)  Old E n g l i s h prose romance, A p o l l o n i u s of Tyre.  The former  w i l l belong t o the ' c o n t r o l ' e s t a b l i s h e d i n Chapter I. With regard t o the l a t t e r category, i t w i l l be seen t h a t the k i n d of development p o s i t e d f o r the poetry, i . e . , treatment  the  o f female c h a r a c t e r s w i t h a g r e a t e r degree o f  originality,  i s l e s s i n evidence.  The prose works are l e s s  f r e e ; they show a c l o s e r dependence on t h e i r L a t i n  sources.  In a d d i t i o n t o i t s l i n k s with O l d E n g l i s h prose, the p o e t r y suggests o c c a s i o n a l more f a r - r e a c h i n g comparisons,  with foreign l i t e r a t u r e s .  circumstance  i n mind, I b e l i e v e i t w i l l be h e l p f u l at t h i s  p o i n t t o e s t a b l i s h c e r t a i n broad comparisons can be made.  Bearing  this  c a t e g o r i e s w i t h i n which  The o v e r a l l s i g n i f i c a n c e o f these  comparisons w i l l be d i s c u s s e d i n the C o n c l u s i o n . The most obvious category f o r comparison i s t h e l i t e r a t u r e of the other Germanic peoples, but r e s e r v a t i o n s have t o be made, f o r most other Germanic l i t e r a t u r e i s two hundred years l a t e r , or more. tendency  I t has been a common  t o draw c o n c l u s i o n s about t h i n g s Germanic i n O l d  E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e on the b a s i s o f f e a t u r e s t o be found i n l a t e r Germanic l i t e r a t u r e ,  especially Old Icelandic.  Statements made i n the p r e s e n t t h e s i s about Germanic c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y a r e not n e c e s s a r i l y intended t o imply that these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s are shared by Old I c e l a n d i c and Middle High German, merely stem from a n a t i v e , as d i s t i n c t  from a L a t i n ,  t h a t they Christian  tradition.  N e v e r t h e l e s s , comparisons w i l l be made with  the  l a t e r Germanic l i t e r a t u r e , e s p e c i a l l y t h a t of medieval Iceland.  In the  Icelandic  sagas, e s p e c i a l l y , women  c h a r a c t e r s are h i g h l y developed and  p l a y a prominent  although, as we  significantly different  from the  s h a l l see,  they are  female c h a r a c t e r s i n Old  English  poetry.  Contemporary Germanic l i t e r a t u r e o f f e r s one comparison: the Old Genesis B i s based.  important  Saxon Genesis, on which the Old The  remaining Old  German poetry, n o t a b l y the H e l i a n d and respectively,  part,  contains l i t t l e  Saxon and the  English  Old  High  Hildebrandslied,  t h a t bears on  female  characterisation. The  main area from which c l o s e comparisons can  drawn i s not Germanic, but particular,  L a t i n l i t e r a t u r e , and,  or i n d i r e c t l y .  i s based, e i t h e r d i r e c t l y  L a t i n sources l i e behind a l l of the  d e a l t with i n Chapter IV:  Elene, J u l i a n a ,  f i r s t two,  and  saints' lives,  the  and  t h i r d , a work i n  Elene and  prose v i t a e , and  J u d i t h from the Book of J u d i t h  Vulgate B i b l e .  The  t o be  the  I, and  the  In a s s e s s i n g  found i n the Old E n g l i s h  in  the  l i t u r g y provide  scene between Joseph  Mary i n t h a t poem i s indebted to a t r a d i t i o n of dialogues.  the  J u l i a n a are adapted from L a t i n  L a t i n antiphons of the  framework of C h r i s t  works  Judith,  same t r a d i t i o n .  homiletic  in  the r e l i g i o u s L a t i n works upon which much of  the p o e t r y under c o n s i d e r a t i o n  the  be  and  Latin  the degree of o r i g i n a l i t y  characterisation,  be e s s e n t i a l to e s t a b l i s h the d i f f e r e n c e s  i t will  between the poems  12 and the L a t i n works which have i n s p i r e d or i n f l u e n c e d them. A f u r t h e r area of comparison l i e s i n the treatment of women i n e a r l y Middle E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e .  The  closest  resemblance i s i n the h o m i l e t i c prose, which c o n t i n u e s the t r a d i t i o n to be found i n the Old E n g l i s h prose h o m i l i e s : most c o n s p i c u o u s l y , the a l l i t e r a t i v e ,  rhythmic s t y l e ,  growing from the same r o o t s of o r a l t r a d i t i o n as Old E n g l i s h poetry.  However, the treatment of c h a r a c t e r i n the Middle  E n g l i s h h o m i l i e s i s markedly d i f f e r e n t from t h a t i n the Old E n g l i s h poems on s i m i l a r s u b j e c t s .  The c h i e f comparison t o  be made here i s between the ' s a i n t ' s l i f e  1  poems and the  l a t e t w e l f t h - c e n t u r y h o m i l e t i c works known as the "Katherine Group"  (named a f t e r the L i f e of S t . K a t h e r i n e of A l e x a n d r i a  i n c l u d e d i n t h e i r number) .  In p a r t i c u l a r , J u l i a n a  invites  comparison w i t h the L i f l a d e ant te P a s s i u n of S e i n t e J u l i e n e i n t h i s group. The c a t e g o r i e s mentioned and c u l t u r a l .  so f a r have been  linguistic  Although these p r o v i d e convenient groupings,  a more fundamental c l a s s i f i c a t i o n , characterisation,  as regards concepts of  i s t h a t p r o v i d e d by genre.  The p o i n t s  of resemblance t o or d e p a r t u r e from o t h e r medieval l i t e r a t u r e s can be made w i t h r e f e r e n c e to the major contemporary genres: h o m i l e t i c works, and s a i n t s ' l i v e s ,  i n c l u d i n g sermons  h e r o i c p o e t r y , p r o v e r b i a l o r gnomic  poetry, romance, drama, l y r i c .  The f i r s t  two  c a t e g o r i e s — h o m i l i e s and v i t a e — a r e of L a t i n , origin.  Christian  The t h i r d and f o u r t h are more widespread, but i n  13 t h i s t h e s i s w i l l c h i e f l y i n v o l v e comparisons with Germanic works, such as the Eddie p o e t r y of I c e l a n d and the Middle High German N i b e l u n g e n l i e d . the Aeneid,  Beowulf can be compared w i t h  although t h i s takes us beyond the range of 18  medieval  l i t e r a t u r e and d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p s ,  and  an  i n c i d e n t a l , though i l l u m i n a t i n g comparison can be made 19  between Genesis B and P a r a d i s e L o s t .  The Old E n g l i s h  h e r o i c fragment, Waldere suggests comparison with the t e n t h - c e n t u r y L a t i n poem on the same s u b j e c t , W a l t h a r i u s . The  l a t t e r i s r a t h e r an unusual work, being an e p i c i n the  V i r g i l i a n manner using m a t e r i a l drawn from Germanic legend. W a l t h a r i u s and the N i b e l u n g e n l i e d , though p r o b a b l y to be c l a s s i f i e d as e p i c , a l s o partake of the q u a l i t y of romance.  Here we  come t o a very p r o l i f i c medieval  embracing works of w i d e l y v a r y i n g k i n d s . the treatment  genre,  On the one hand,  of women i n Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y o c c a s i o n a l l y  suggests a resemblance w i t h the romance of H e l l e n i s t i c origin.  The v i o l e n t f l u c t u a t i o n s of f o r t u n e and  savage  p e r s e c u t i o n s undergone by J u l i a n a have something i n common w i t h the c a r e e r of the p r o t a g o n i s t i n the H e l l e n i s t i c romance, who,  typically,  s u f f e r s a long s e r i e s of w i l d  v i c i s s i t u d e s of f o r t u n e b e f o r e " f i n a l l y emerging (although not, of course,  i n martyrdom).  triumphant  The t a l e of  A p o l l o n i u s , of which there i s a v e r s i o n i n Old E n g l i s h prose, belongs  to t h i s type of romance.  At the other  extreme, l i e the c o u r t l y romances of the h i g h Middle Ages. In the works of C h r e t i e n de Troyes, f o r i n s t a n c e , c h a r a c t e r  r e l a t i o n s h i p s are presented w i t h c o n s i d e r a b l e s u b t l e t y . Although  the drama i s a major medieval  genre, i t s  f l o w e r i n g d i d not take p l a c e u n t i l w e l l a f t e r the Old English period.  However, t h e r e are d i s t i n c t l y  elements i n D i v i s i o n V I I of C h r i s t I and  dramatic  i n Genesis  B.  These can be compared w i t h the r e l i g i o u s drama of the Ages: the L a t i n m i r a c l e p l a y , and, the l a t e r v e r n a c u l a r drama.  t o a l e s s e r extent, w i t h  Rosemary Woolf has  compared 20  v  Genesis  Middle  B w i t h the Anglo-Norman Mystere  d'Adam.  p o i n t of comparison with the Old E n g l i s h works,  Another striking  because i t too i s markedly e a r l i e r than the g e n e r a l development of medieval drama, i s the s e t of s a i n t s ' p l a y s produced  by the t e n t h - c e n t u r y German nun, H r o t s v i t h a . The  f i n a l category of comparison t o be mentioned  here i s the l y r i c .  The r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two  E n g l i s h l o v e poems and the widespread  Old  genre of the 21  F r a u e n l i e d has been d i s c u s s e d by Kemp Malone,  while a  narrower r e l a t i o n s h i p between the two Old E n g l i s h works and the F r a u e n l i e d e r among the Cambridge Songs, a c o l l e c t i o n of t e n t h - and e a r l y e l e v e n t h - c e n t u r y L a t i n l y r i c s , has been suggested The Wife's  by C l i f f o r d Davidson.  Wulf and Eadwacer and  Lament can be r e l a t e d to love-laments u t t e r e d  by women which appear i n a v a r i e t y of l i t e r a t u r e s , 23 A r a b i c and  Indian.  The type i s p r o b a b l y u n i v e r s a l ,  i t w i l l be s u f f i c i e n t f o r my purposes w i t h other medieval  including but  t o draw comparisons  European treatments.  The  relationship  of the Old E n g l i s h 'women's songs' t o works of the same  genre i n Medieval L a t i n and e a r l y C e l t i c l i t e r a t u r e w i l l be mentioned i n Chapter V, and a l s o a comparison made between the two O l d E n g l i s h l y r i c s and medieval l o v e poems more generally, love.  from bawdy songs t o l y r i c s and l a y s of c o u r t l y  As we s h a l l see, the O l d E n g l i s h poems, though j u s t  as i n t e n s e ,  are l e s s o b v i o u s l y  e r o t i c and l e s s  than t h e i r b e t t e r known c o u n t e r p a r t s both i n L a t i n and i n the v e r n a c u l a r  sensual  of continental o r i g i n , tongues.  In the course of the f o l l o w i n g t h e s i s , i t w i l l be seen t h a t the c l a s s e s i n t o which I have d i v i d e d the Old E n g l i s h poems correspond t o wider c a t e g o r i e s  i n European  l i t e r a t u r e , whether the r e l a t i o n s h i p i s due t o borrowing or t o p a r a l l e l development o f c u l t u r e s a t a s i m i l a r stage of e v o l u t i o n . Riddles,  The poems t r e a t e d  i n Chapter  III—the  gnomic poems, Waldere, and Beowulf, a l l belong t o  an a n c i e n t , poetry.  Germanic, u l t i m a t e l y pagan t r a d i t i o n of o r a l  The ' s a i n t s ' poems' i n Chapter IV a r e d e r i v e d  from L a t i n v i t a e , and a l s o have a f f i n i t i e s w i t h the romance, a genre of Mediterranean o r i g i n . represent  a genre l i t t l e  The l y r i c s of Chapter V  evidenced i n O l d E n g l i s h , but w i t h  analogues i n Medieval L a t i n , and l a t e r , Finally,  i n the v e r n a c u l a r s .  the passages from Genesis B and C h r i s t I are  dramatic i n nature, and t o be r e l a t e d t o the emergent r e l i g i o u s drama o f the Middle Ages, seen f i r s t  i n L a t i n and  subsequently i n other languages. Although t h i s study i s focussed poetry, and indeed, on t h a t r a t h e r  on Old E n g l i s h  small body o f p o e t r y i n  which women c h a r a c t e r s  play a s i g n i f i c a n t part,  i n order t o  a s s e s s the o r i g i n a l i t y present i n the c r e a t i o n o f women characters,  I s h a l l take i n t o account the broader f a c t o r s  t o which the treatment i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y i s r e l a t e d . The  s o c i o l o g i c a l b a s i s f o r the l i t e r a r y development w i l l  emerge from Chapter I, and I s h a l l show l a t e r i n the t h e s i s that there  i s an i n t i m a t e  r e l a t i o n s h i p between the l i t e r a r y  p o r t r a y a l o f women and t h e i r a c t u a l s o c i a l p o s i t i o n i n Anglo-Saxon England, although the former i s not simply the mirror  image o f the l a t t e r .  of the p a t t e r n  The wider l i t e r a r y  implications  seen i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y cannot be d e a l t  with e x t e n s i v e l y w i t h i n the r a t h e r l i m i t e d scope of t h i s study.  However, I hope t o g i v e  development t r a c e d  some i n d i c a t i o n t h a t the  i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y i s not an i s o l a t e d  phenomenon, but has d i s c e r n i b l e l i n k s w i t h o t h e r European literature,  and, hence, has r a m i f i c a t i o n s t h a t go f a r  beyond the s p a t i a l and temporal boundaries of Anglo-Saxon England.  17 Footnotes "''In Chapter V, which focusses on these two poems, I , s h a l l d e a l f u l l y with the doubts r a i s e d as to whether these are, as most commonly accepted, love poems with female speakers. 2 London and New  York,  1957.  3 In The Importance of Women i n Anglo-Saxon Times; The C u l t u s of St. Peter and St. Paul; and Other Addresses, SPCK S t u d i e s i n Church H i s t o r y (London, 1919), pp. 11-39. In The Anglo-Saxons: S t u d i e s presented D i c k i n s , ed. Peter Clemoes (London, 1959), pp.  to Bruce 53-69.  4  5  M e d i a e v a l Scandinavia,  4 (1971), 66-79.  Doctoral dissertation. Santa Barbara, 1973. 7  U n i v e r s i t y of  J o u r n a l of the H i s t o r y of Ideas,  16  California,  (1955), 113-18.  Q  M.  Litt.  thesis.  T r i n i t y College, Dublin,  1959.  9 J o u r n a l of the Rutgers U n i v e r s i t y L i b r a r y , 34 (1971), 46-51. ^ S t u d i e n zur e n q l i s c h e n P h i l o l o g i e , ed. Morsbach, 4 ( H a l l e , 1899) . '''"'"See Vorwort, pp.  Lorenz  vii-ix.  12 Roeder notes t h a t the p i c t u r e presented i n the poetry i s d i f f e r e n t , f o r i n s t a n c e , from t h a t which emerges from the laws, but s t i l l b e l i e v e s t h a t the p o e t r y can be used as 'evidence' i n the same way as the laws. See pp. 5-6. 13 Doctoral dissertation. Fordham U n i v e r s i t y , New York, 1942. 14  M.A. t h e s i s .  Leeds,  1954.  15 Zurich,  1902  (published d i s s e r t a t i o n ) .  16 Doctoral dissertation.  Toronto,  1962.  17 Doctoral dissertation. U n i v e r s i t y of C a l i f o r n i a , Berkeley, 1968. 18 A d i r e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p i s p o s i t e d by T. B. Haber, A Comparative Study of Beowulf and the Aeneid ( P r i n c e t o n ,  18 1931), but most s c h o l a r s would go no f u r t h e r than t o suggest a r a t h e r g e n e r a l i n f l u e n c e , i f any. 19 It i s v e r y u n l i k e l y that M i l t o n was a c t u a l l y i n f l u e n c e d by Genesis B. This i s s u e w i l l be d e a l t with i n Chapter V I . "The F a l l of Man i n Genesis B and the Mystere d'Adam," Studies i n Old E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e i n Honor of A r t h u r G. Brodeur, ed. S t a n l e y B. G r e e n f i e l d (Eugene, 1963) , pp. 189-99. 21  "Two  English Frauenlieder,"  CL, 14  (1962), 106-17.  22 Neophil,  " E r o t i c 'Women's Songs' i n Anglo-Saxon 59 (1975), 451-62.  23  See Davidson, p.  453.  England,"  19  CHAPTER I THE  SOCIAL STATUS OF WOMEN IN ANGLO-SAXON  ENGLAND  Since the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f women c h a r a c t e r s i n Anglo-Saxon p o e t r y must bear a r e l a t i o n t o the s o c i a l r e a l i t i e s o f the p e r i o d , the o b j e c t of the present  chapter  w i l l be t o e s t a b l i s h those r e a l i t i e s i n order t h a t the p r e c i s e nature o f the p o e t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n , i n i t s r e l a t i o n to the h i s t o r i c a l background, can subsequently In t h i s chapter,  be d e f i n e d .  I s h a l l examine contemporary evidence i n  order t o demonstrate what the s o c i a l p o s i t i o n o f Anglo-Saxon women was.  'Evidence' here means mainly l i t e r a r y , but  non-poetic,  material: legal, h i s t o r i c a l ,  works.  and h a g i o g r a p h i c  The exact r e l a t i o n of h i s t o r i c a l f a c t t o p o e t i c  c r e a t i o n w i l l o n l y appear l a t e r on, f o r p o e t r y does n o t simply reproduce some way. spheres  h i s t o r i c a l f a c t , but responds t o i t i n  As Dorothy Whitelock  has p o i n t e d out, the two  o f h i s t o r y and p o e t r y cannot simply be used as  mutual sources of i n f o r m a t i o n , on the assumption t h a t what h o l d s good f o r one a l s o h o l d s good f o r the other."*"  The  long span o f the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d and the u n c e r t a i n t y i n d a t i n g Old E n g l i s h poems make i t d i f f i c u l t  to r e l a t e  s p e c i f i c works t o p a r t i c u l a r h i s t o r i c a l events.  Also, Old  20 E n g l i s h poetry, which mainly d e p i c t s the h e r o i c world o f the comitatus, tends t o be l i m i t e d and r e t r o s p e c t i v e i n i t s r e f l e c t i o n of s o c i e t y .  A l l these f a c t o r s must be  borne i n mind when c o n s i d e r i n g the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the p o e t r y and the h i s t o r i c a l c o n d i t i o n s o f the p e r i o d from which i t stems. Anglo-Saxon custom and o p i n i o n w i t h r e g a r d t o women 2 must be r e c o n s t r u c t e d from sources o f v a r i o u s k i n d s . of these a r e i n O l d E n g l i s h ,  Some  some i n L a t i n ; but, f o r the  purposes o f the present chapter, the language o f the source i s immaterial.  A v a l u a b l e fund o f i n f o r m a t i o n i s p r o v i d e d  by the laws o f v a r i o u s k i n g s , i n which contemporary custom can be i n f e r r e d from the r e g u l a t i o n s and r e s t r i c t i o n s on conduct.  There are a l s o e v i d e n t i a l ,  imposed  as opposed t o  p r e s c r i p t i v e , l e g a l documents: r e c o r d s o f v a r i o u s l e g a l  trans-  a c t i o n s , which f r e q u e n t l y shed l i g h t on the p o s i t i o n o f women. Some evidence o f the contemporary c l i m a t e of o p i n i o n i s p r o v i d e d by the p e n i t e n t i a l l i t e r a t u r e .  The p e n i t e n t i a l s ,  manuals t o guide p r i e s t s i n the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of penances, occupy an u n o f f i c i a l p o s i t i o n i n the l i t e r a t u r e of the 3  Church,  but were widely used, and r e f l e c t a t t i t u d e s h e l d  in certain e c c l e s i a s t i c a l quarters.  The annals o f the  p e r i o d , n o t a b l y the Anglo-Saxon C h r o n i c l e , from time t o time make mention o f prominent women.  Biography i n the  Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d , even when i t r e l a t e s t o s e c u l a r persons, i s very much i n f l u e n c e d by the h a g i o g r a p h i c t r a d i t i o n .  The  v i t a i s , by and l a r g e , the medium which comes c l o s e s t t o  connected h i s t o r y , but s i n c e the aim of hagiography i s the promotion o f the f a i t h ,  r a t h e r than the p r e s e r v a t i o n o f  f a c t , biography a t t h i s p e r i o d tends t o m i r a c l e r a t h e r than o b j e c t i v e d e t a i l .  Nevertheless,  and eulogy  the L a t i n prose  l i v e s of Anglo-Saxons a r e r e l a t i v e l y sober, o f t e n  very  4  circumstantial,  and can be most i l l u m i n a t i n g .  H i s t o r i a E c c l e s i a s t i c a , which i n c o r p o r a t e s both  annals  and s a i n t s ' l i v e s ,  Bede s 1  material  from  i s unique i n g i v i n g us  something c l o s e t o the modern n o t i o n o f ' h i s t o r y ' — b u t even Bede does not,  by modern standards, p r o v i d e  accuracy.  Finally,  there a r e a number o f L a t i n l e t t e r s  which g i v e  some i n c i d e n t a l l i g h t on the p o s i t i o n of women.  Apart from these w r i t t e n sources, o n l y s c a t t e r e d data, and  such as t h a t provided  archaeological finds.  conclusions  s o r t s , we have  by place-names  In d i s c u s s i n g the i n f o r m a t i o n  to be gleaned from the v a r i o u s what g e n e r a l  of v a r i o u s  objective  sources,  I aim t o show  can be drawn f o r the Anglo-Saxon  p e r i o d as a whole, what evidence there  i s of significant  change i n the p o s i t i o n o f women d u r i n g t h i s p e r i o d , and what d i f f e r e n c e e x i s t s between Anglo-Saxon and Norman times. It i s the p r e v a i l i n g o p i n i o n that women i n the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d had a much more advantageous p o s i t i o n i n s o c i e t y than they h e l d particular, regard and  i n the l a t e r Middle A g e s .  5  In  s c h o l a r s have c i t e d the p o s i t i o n o f women w i t h  to l i t i g a t i o n ,  property-holding,  and i n h e r i t a n c e ,  have argued that the Anglo-Saxon woman c o u l d appear i n  court and t e s t i f y o r conduct a s u i t ,  could hold p r o p e r t y i n  her own r i g h t ,  and could i n h e r i t o r bequeath i t , i n c o n t r a s t  t o the women o f Norman times and l a t e r , p r i v i l e g e s were c u r t a i l e d .  f o r whom these  The evidence on which these  statements a r e based, c h i e f l y w i l l s and l a w s u i t s , i s a l l l a t e i n the p e r i o d , which makes i t s v a l i d i t y f o r the 7  Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d as a whole somewhat suspect.  Moreover,  there i s no agreement as t o when the supposed post-Conquest change i n women's s t a t u s took p l a c e o r how i t itself.  Florence  Buckstaff  manifested  i s o f the o p i n i o n t h a t the  change a f t e r the Conquest was a gradual  one, and s t r e s s e s  t h a t the queens o f W i l l i a m I and Henry I had c o n s i d e r a b l e a u t h o r i t y and independence.  On the o t h e r hand,  Betty  Bandel p o i n t s a sharp c o n t r a s t between the m a t t e r - o f - f a c t p r e s e n t a t i o n of i E t h e l f l a e d ' s m i l i t a r y campaigns i n the Abingdon C h r o n i c l e and the c r i t i c i s m of the a g g r e s s i v e g  M a t i l d a i n the c h r o n i c l e s o f t h e t w e l f t h century.  Doris  Stenton a l s o sees a sharp drop i n women's s t a t u s a f t e r the Conquest, and b e l i e v e s t h a t Magna Carta marked the beginning  o f a r e t u r n i n g upward t r e n d . ^  A l l o f these  w r i t e r s a r e i n f l u e n c e d by t h e i r d e s i r e t o s t r e s s the depressed p o s i t i o n of women i n f e u d a l times,  a position  which appears more s t r i k i n g i f i t can be c o n t r a s t e d  with  the s i t u a t i o n o f women i n the Anglo-Saxon e r a . In a s s e s s i n g the h i s t o r i c a l evidence, convenient t o c o n s i d e r  i t w i l l be  the v a r i o u s k i n d s of t e x t s i n t u r n .  I begin w i t h the ' p r e s c r i p t i v e ' l e g a l documents, i . e . , the laws.  The c h a r a c t e r o f the Anglo-Saxon law-codes suggests  23 t h a t they were not intended to c o n s t i t u t e a complete statement  of the law, but to r e g u l a t e and modify a  p r e - e x i s t i n g body of custom. Law,  W i l l i a m Holdsworth  In h i s H i s t o r y of E n g l i s h  observes:  These codes, l i k e the Leges Barbarorum of the c o n t i n e n t , enacted the customary law of the t r i b e . . . . They take f o r granted a mass of unwritten custom, the contents of which can o n l y be guessed at from i n c i d e n t a l h i n t s , from f o r e i g n a n a l o g i e s and from l a t e r s u r v i v a l s . H The Anglo-Saxon laws c o n s i s t of t e r s e and o f t e n m y s t i f y i n g r e g u l a t i o n s , l a r g e l y s t a t i n g the compensations payable f o r v a r i o u s k i n d s of t h e f t and  injury.  The  circumstances  to  which each r e g u l a t i o n a p p l i e s are not d e s c r i b e d f u l l y , merely a l l u d e d t o , as i f they were a l r e a d y known. remains unstated, The  and much has to be  but  Much  inferred.  laws i n g e n e r a l are concerned  with the bulk of  the p o p u l a t i o n , which means t h a t they apply w i t h most frequency  t o members of the c e o r l i s c c l a s s .  However, they  r e f l e c t v e r y c l e a r l y the d i v i s i o n of Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y i n t o w e l l marked l a y e r s . the a r i s t o c r a t ceorl.  The major d i v i s i o n i s between  (the e o r l c u n d or gesiocund  Beneath these two  man)  and  the  c l a s s e s i s the f u r t h e r c l a s s of  12 slaves. reckoned  In the Anglo-Saxon laws, a c c o r d i n g to h i s c l a s s .  w e r g i l d of 1200  shillings,  and  c l a s s of men  100  Thus, the nobleman has  the c e o r l of 200  Kent, where the s h i l l i n g had are 300  a man's worth i s  s h i l l i n g s (in  a h i g h e r value, the amounts  respectively).  Sometimes an  w i t h a w e r g i l d of 600  intermediate  shillings i s referred  a  24 to.  J u s t as t h e nobleman's w e r g i l d i s s i x times the v a l u e  of the c e o r l ' s , the former's a u t h o r i t y o f the l a t t e r i s .  oath has s i x times the S t i l l higher values are placed  on the w e r g i l d o r oath o f the h i g h e r c l e r g y and s t a t e 13 officials,  w i t h the k i n g r a n k i n g h i g h e s t of a l l .  The  laws p e r t a i n i n g s p e c i f i c a l l y t o women a r e  conceived i n the l i g h t of t h i s s t r a t i f i c a t i o n .  Most of  these laws have t o do w i t h the sexual v i o l a t i o n o f women. The g r a v i t y of the o f f e n c e i s reckoned  i n proportion to  the rank o f the woman's g u a r d i a n : her master, husband, o r father.  Thus, i n the Laws of E t h e l b e r t of Kent  (c. 600)  50 s h i l l i n g s compensation i s payable f o r v i o l a t i o n of a female  s l a v e b e l o n g i n g t o the k i n g , 12 s h i l l i n g s f o r  v i o l a t i o n o f the s l a v e of an e o r l ,  and 6 s h i l l i n g s f o r  f o r commission o f the same o f f e n c e with the s l a v e of a ceorl.  1 4  In the Laws of A l f r e d  (871-99),  there i s a  s i m i l a r g r a d a t i o n o f p e n a l t i e s payable f o r s e x u a l i n t e r f e r e n c e with the wife o f a twelfhynd man, a syxhynd man, 15  and a c e o r l i s c man, r e s p e c t i v e l y . Sexual r e l a t i o n s w i t h a b e t r o t h e d woman a r e p u n i s h a b l e by f i n e s determined by 16 her f a t h e r ' s rank.  Abduction  i s p u n i s h a b l e by the same f i n e , illicit  of a nun from a monastery 120 s h i l l i n g s , payable f o r  sexual r e l a t i o n s w i t h a twelfhynd woman e i t h e r 17  married o r b e t r o t h e d .  And m o l e s t a t i o n of a nun, i . e . ,  s e i z i n g her by h e r c l o t h i n g o r h e r b r e a s t , i s t o be IQ  compensated a t double the r a t e f o r a l a y person.  Alfred  here seems t o r e f e r t o a c e o r l i s c woman, s i n c e the p e n a l t i e s  f o r various kinds  of molestation  of a woman o f t h i s c l a s s 19  are set out a l i t t l e  e a r l i e r i n the law code.  f i n e s a r e payable t o the i n j u r e d p a r t y ,  A l l these  who i n a l l cases  i s the woman's guardian:.her master i f she i s a s l a v e , her husband i f she i s married, and h e r f a t h e r o r male 20 r e l a t i v e i f she i s betrothed. her g u a r d i a n s h i p  i s shared.  I f the woman i s a nun, The f i n e t o be exacted f o r  abduction o f a nun i s t o be p a i d biscepe  7 pa^re  probably,  c i r i c a n hlaforde,  " h e a l f cyninge, h e a l f <3e Sone munuc [more 21  'mynecynne' o r 'nunnan'] age."  t h a t i n a l l these examples the o f f e n c e not  a t t a c h p r i m a r i l y t o the woman.  I t i s noteworthy  and the g u i l t do  She i s the v e h i c l e , 22  r a t h e r than e i t h e r the o f f e n d i n g o r the i n j u r e d p a r t y . The  statements o f t h e law codes r e g a r d i n g the  p o s i t i o n of women i n marriage do not make d i s t i n c t i o n s between the c l a s s e s , but seem t o be d i r e c t e d  chiefly  towards the c e o r l i s c c l a s s . The word c e o r l appears frequently,  sometimes merely meaning  'husband,' but o f t e n  meaning a man of the lower f r e e c l a s s . r e g u l a t i n g the a d m i n i s t r a t i o n property  A law of Ine  of a f a t h e r l e s s c h i l d ' s  r e f e r s t o the f r u m s t o l ,  which suggests a p i e c e  of land, but the mention o f p r o v i d i n g a cow f o r i t i n summer and an ox i n winter i n d i c a t e s the k i n d o f small 23 property  t h a t would support a s i n g l e f a m i l y .  Laws, the q u e s t i o n  of the degree of a woman's independence  from her husband i s r a i s e d with r e f e r e n c e and  In Cnut's  to a ceorl's cot  the o b j e c t s over which h i s wife has c h a r g e . ^  4  These  26 details,  again,  suggest a s m a l l , s e l f - s u p p o r t i n g household.  Since the laws make no statement o f a d i f f e r e n t k i n d o f r e l a t i o n s h i p between wives and husbands o f h i g h e r class, but,  o r lower  we may take i t t h a t t h e i r a p p l i c a t i o n i s g e n e r a l ;  nevertheless,  t h e i r preoccupation  with the c e o r l i s c  25 c l a s s should be borne i n mind. As we have seen, t h e r e s t r a t i f i c a t i o n evident  i s , underlying the s o c i a l  i n these  laws, a g e n e r a l  t h a t t h e woman i s o n l y t h e v e h i c l e i n these not one o f the main p a r t i e s concerned.  assumption  o f f e n c e s , and  The view of woman  as o b j e c t i m p l i e d here i s p a r t i c u l a r l y marked i n the earliest  (written)  code o f laws, those o f E t h e l b e r t .  Laws o f E t h e l b e r t regard  The  a woman merely as a r a t h e r  valuable piece of property.  They speak, f o r i n s t a n c e , o f  buying a w i f e : G i f mon maegp gebiged, c e a p i geceapod sy, g i f h i t unfacne i s . G i f h i t ponne facne i s , e f [ t ] paer aet ham gebrenge,7 him man h i s scaet agefe.26 Another c l a u s e speaks o f t a k i n g a maiden away by f o r c e ?7 from her  'owner' (aqende).  An e a r l i e r s e c t i o n i n the  same laws shows t h a t a w i f e was thought o f as a r e p l a c e a b l e item: G i f friman wi<3 f r i e s mannes w i f g e l i g e p , h i s wergelde abicge 7 ooer w i f h i s agenum scaette begete 7 6aem oSrum aet pam [ham?] gebrenge.28 The  Laws o f Ine o f Wessex, which date from between 688 and  694, kind:  speak o f buying a w i f e as a b a r g a i n  o f much the same  G i f raon wif gebycge, 7 s i o g y f t f o r S ne cume, a g i f e baet feoh 7 f o r g i e l d e 7 gebete pam byrgean, swa h i s borgbryce s i e . 2 9 The e a r l y Anglo-Saxon view of marriage between the bridegroom her guardian, was  as a b a r g a i n  and the b r i d e ' s r e l a t i v e s ,  notably  s t r e s s e d by F r i t z Roeder i n h i s monograph  Die F a m i l i e b e i den  Anqelsachsen:  . . . s i e [ t h e b r i d e ] kann i h r e Sache n i c h t s e l b s t fiihren, da s i e n i c h t befugt i s t , i n e i g e n e r Person R e c h t s g e s c h a f t e a b z u s c h l i e s s e n , sondern F u r s p r e c h e r bedarf, . . . An i h r e r S p i t z e s t e h t das Familienoberhaupt, das jedesmal der r e c h t l i c h e V e r l o b e r des Madchens i s t , w e i l i n s e i n e r Hand d i e Geschlechtsmundschaft r u n t ; daher h e i s s t e r auch JEcfelb's Ges. 82 . . . 'se aqende . . . und zwar "der Vormundschaft iiber d i e Jungfrau, " dessen ' E i n w i l l i g u n g zur Ehe man durch den B r a u t s c h a t z erkaufen muss.30 The  l a t e r laws do not speak s p e c i f i c a l l y of buying  a wife, but t h e r e i s s t i l l partnership.  no sense of marriage  as an  In the matter of m a r i t a l f i d e l i t y ,  a marked d i s c r i m i n a t i o n a g a i n s t women.  equal  there i s  The Laws of Cnut  (1020-23) a s s i g n a b r u t a l punishment f o r a w i f e ' s infidelity: G i f be cwicum c e o r l e wif h i be oSrum were f o r l i c g e , 7 h i t open weor<5e, geweorSe heo to woruldsceame sydSan hyre s y l f r e , 7 haebbe se r i h t w e r e a l l pet heo ahte; 7 heo p o l i g e nasa 7 earena.31 In c o n t r a s t , a husband's i n f i d e l i t y i s p u n i s h a b l e by i n s e r i o u s cases property),  ( i n c e s t can be punished  by f o r f e i t  and merely by r e l i g i o u s penance i n minor  fine of cases  3 2  (i.e.,  a d u l t e r y w i t h a s l a v e o r a concubine).  Thus,  male a d u l t e r y i s c e r t a i n l y regarded as m o r a l l y r e p r e h e n s i b l e , 3 3  but i s t r e a t e d much l e s s h a r s h l y .  28 The degree to which a wife i s regarded  as an  independent being or merely an appendage of her husband i s i n d i c a t e d i n the laws which d e a l w i t h a w i f e ' s c o m p l i c i t y i n her husband's o f f e n c e s .  The Laws of Ine and Cnut d e a l  with the problem of b r i n g i n g home s t o l e n goods (meat) . The r e l e v a n t s e c t i o n of I n e s 1  Laws s t a t e s :  G i f c e o r l ceap f o r s t i l d ' 7 b i r e S i n t o h i s aerne, 7 befehS paerinne mon, ponne b i S se h i s dael synnig butan bam wife anum, forSon h i o s c e a l h i r e ealdore h i e r a n : g i f h i o dear mid aoe gecySan, past h i o baes f o r s t o l e n a n ne o n b i t e , nime h i r e S r i d d a n sceat.34 Cnut's Laws make the f o l l o w i n g p r o v i s i o n s : And gyf hwylc man f o r s t o l e n pinge ham to h i s cotan b r i n g e 7 he arasod wurSe, r i h t i s , past he haebbe paet he aeftereode. 7 butan h i t under paes w i f e s caeglocan gebroht waere, s i heo claene. Ac paere caegean heo s c e a l weardian, paet i s hyre hordern 7 hyre c y s t e 7 hyre tege: gyf h i t under pyssa aenigum gebroht byc5, ponne byS heo s c y l d i g . .7 ne maeg nan wif hyre bondan forbeodan, past he ne mote i n t o h i s coton g e l o g i a n past paet he w y l l e . ^ The  l a t e r laws proceed  from the same premise as the  ones: t h a t a w i f e i s subordinate to her husband. means t h a t she has no power to gainsay him, committing  a crime.  5  earlier  This  even when he i s  But i n Cnut's Laws t h e r e i s an emphasis  on the w i f e ' s a u t h o r i t y over at l e a s t a p a r t of the house. Roeder p o i n t s out t h a t there i s a s t r o n g  resemblance  between the p o s i t i o n of a wife i n r e l a t i o n to her husband and  t h a t of a thane i n r e l a t i o n to h i s l o r d : In beiden L e b e n s v e r h a l t n i s s e n i s t d i e e i n e P a r t e i .zum Schutz und U n t e r h a l t der anderen, d i e s e dagegen zu v o l l i g e r , p e r s o n l i c h e r Hingabe, ohne dass f u r s i e etwas Driickendes oder gar Herabsetzendes i n i h r e r Unterordnung lage, v e r p f l i c h t e t . 3 6  29 Roeder supports t h i s statement by an i n t e r e s t i n g between the l a t e Old E n g l i s h  (c. 1000)  comparison  document known as  Be Wifmannes Beweddunge and the thane's oath of a l l e g i a n c e to h i s l o r d .  Roeder notes that j u s t as i n the former the  w i f e ' s acceptance of her s u i t o r i s expressed by the term " w i l l a n geceosan," thane's oath. his  the same formal term i s used i n the  Similarly,  l o r d on c o n d i t i o n t h a t  the thane pledges a l l e g i a n c e to "he me healde, swa i c e a r n i a n  w i l l e , " whereas i n Be Wifmannes Beweddunge, the must pledge  "Set he hy aefter  wer h i s wif s c e a l . "  bridegroom  Godes r i h t healdan w i l l e ,  swa  I quote the thane's oath as reproduced  by Roeder: £>us man s c e a l swerigean hyld-a5as. On bone D r i h t e n pe pes haligdom i s f o r e h a l i g , i c w i l l e beon N. h o l d and getriwe, and e a l l u f i a n past he lufa<5, and e a l ascunian baet he ascunaS, aefter Godes r i h t e and aefter worold gerysnum, and naefre w i l l e s ne gewealdes, wordes ne weorces, owiht don, baes him laSre bi5, wi5 bam, be he me healde, swa i c e a r n i a n w i l l e , and e a l l paet laeste, paet uncer formael waes, pa i c t o him gebe"ah and h i s w i l l a n geceas.37 Thus, the husband's s t a t u s with regard t o h i s wife i s one of g u a r d i a n s h i p , but her p o s i t i o n i s not one of servitude.  To a c e r t a i n extent, too, the wife remains i n  the g u a r d i a n s h i p of her blood k i n , who  retain  responsibility  f o r her i n s p e c i f i c cases, n o t a b l y of crimes committed e i t h e r by her or a g a i n s t her.  T h i s i s s u e i s r a i s e d i n Be  Wifmannes Beweddunge: G i f hy man bonne ut of lande laedan w i l l e on oSres pegnes land, bonne biS h i r e raed, paet f r y n d ba forword habban, baet h i r e man nan woh to ne do, and g i f heo g y l t gewyrce, baet hy moton beon bote n y s t , g i f heo naefo of hwam heo b e t e . 3 8  30 Another p i e c e of evidence c i t e d by Roeder i n t h i s i s found i n the Laws of Henry I.  context  This c o m p i l a t i o n i s  l a r g e l y based on pre-Conquest m a t e r i a l , but, o b v i o u s l y , i t s date makes i t u n r e l i a b l e as an i n d i c a t i o n of Anglo-Saxon custom.  Roeder quotes the Leges H e n r i c i ,  70, sec. 12,  which s t a t e s t h a t i f a woman commits homicide the respons i b i l i t y l i e s w i t h h e r s e l f , her o f f s p r i n g , and her k i n , 39 but  not w i t h her husband.  Taken i n c o n j u n c t i o n with the  passage from Be Wifmannes Beweddunge, t h i s c l a u s e i s ... .40 significant. The f a c t that the wife remains t o a c e r t a i n extent a member of her own k i n group does not i n i t s e l f any degree of autonomy  indicate  on her p a r t , but i t does suggest  t h a t her husband's g u a r d i a n s h i p over her i s q u a l i f i e d i n c e r t a i n ways.  An area i n which some a u t h o r i t y i s accorded  to her i n r e l a t i o n to her husband and t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e k i n i s t h a t of charge of the c h i l d r e n .  The woman's r i g h t s i n  t h i s r e s p e c t were r e c o g n i s e d from the e a r l i e s t p e r i o d .  The  Laws of E t h e l b e r t make p r o v i s i o n f o r the event of a s e p a r a t i o n between husband and wife  (there i s no mention  of what the circumstances might be, but the s e p a r a t i o n appears t o be an honourable one), and the wife has some choice i n d e c i d i n g whether the c h i l d r e n s h a l l  accompany  her: G i f mid bearnum bugan w i l l e , h e a l f n e scaet age. G i f c e o r l agan w i l e : swa an bearn [ i . e . , i f the husband d e s i r e s t o have the c h i l d r e n ] . 4 1 The passage does not s t a t e whether the husband has the  31 f i n a l decision. Kent  Both the Laws o f Hlothhere and E a d r i c o f  (673-85?) and those o f Ine s t i p u l a t e t h a t the c h i l d  s h a l l accompany i t s mother i f the f a t h e r d i e s . e v i d e n t l y the mother i s not considered  But  capable o f managing  a f f a i r s h e r s e l f , f o r i t i s s t a t e d that the p a t e r n a l k i n are t o a c t as p r o t e c t o r s and t o be r e s p o n s i b l e f o r 42 managing the p r o p e r t y . In connection  w i t h the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s o f the k i n  group, i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t the p a t e r n a l k i n has a more important p l a c e than the maternal.  T h i s emerges  from the above laws governing the p r o t e c t i o n o f f a t h e r l e s s children.  I t i s a l s o r e f l e c t e d i n the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f  the k i n t o pay the w e r g i l d  f o r one of t h e i r members, and  to support him as o a t h - h e l p e r s .  A clause  i n A l f r e d ' s Laws  suggests t h a t i n normal circumstances the p a t e r n a l k i n 4 p a i d two-thirds o f the w e r g i l d and the maternal o n e - t h i r d . The same p r o p o r t i o n occurs i n a law of i E h e l s t a n p r o v i d i n g f o r two compurgators from the f a t h e r ' s k i n and one from 44 the mother's.  The r e l a t i v e s on the male s i d e a r e  p r e f e r r e d over r e l a t i v e s on the female s i d e , but the l a t t e r have a d e f i n i t e p l a c e .  T h i s a t t i t u d e undoubtedly has  some c o r r e l a t i o n with s o c i e t y ' s view of the r e l a t i v e  status  of men and women g e n e r a l l y , although i n these cases the a c t u a l persons i n v o l v e d , whether maternal o r p a t e r n a l r e l a t i v e s , would a l l be male. As  regards p r o p e r t y - h o l d i n g  and i n h e r i t a n c e , the  Anglo-Saxon laws do not g i v e women a p a r t i c u l a r l y  advantageous p o s i t i o n . suggest  Most of the statements i n the laws  a j o i n t p r o p e r t y o f husband and wife, i n which the  wife has c e r t a i n r i g h t s i f she l o s e s her husband by death or s e p a r a t i o n . for  The law o f Cnut which s e t s the punishment  a d u l t e r y r e f e r s t o the w i f e ' s f o r f e i t u r e o f a l l her  p r o p e r t y t o h e r husband, which suggests p r o p e r t y o f h e r own.  45  t h a t she had some  A l s o , there a r e frequent  references  i n Anglo-Saxon w i l l s and other l e g a l documents t o settlement of  p r o p e r t y on women.  But the i n d i c a t i o n s a r e t h a t d u r i n g  the husband's l i f e t i m e such property, possessions,  was administered  a s i d e from p e r s o n a l  by h i m . ^ 4  I t appears from the Laws of E t h e l b e r t t h a t a man's wife has r i g h t s i n the j o i n t p r o p e r t y o n l y by v i r t u e o f being the mother of h i s c h i l d r e n .  She i s e n t i t l e d t o h a l f  the p r o p e r t y i f she i s h o l d i n g i t on b e h a l f o f the c h i l d r e n ; having borne a c h i l d i t s e l f e n t i t l e s her t o some r i g h t s ; if  ;  she has borne no c h i l d r e n ,  she gets  nothing:  G i f heo cwic bearn gebyrep, h e a l f n e scaet age, g i f c e o r l aer swyltep. .Gif mid bearnum bugan w i l l e , h e a l f ne scaet age. G i f c e o r l agan w i l e : swa an bearn. G i f heo bearn ne gebyrep, f aederingmagas f i o h agan 7 morgengyfe.47  That she should l o s e her m o r n i n g - g i f t T h i s i s the g i f t  i sespecially  striking.  g i v e n by the husband t o h i s wife on the  morning a f t e r the wedding and intended  f o r h e r e s p e c i a l use  r a t h e r than as p a r t of the j o i n t p r o p e r t y .  In the case of  wealthy women o f the l a t e r p e r i o d , the m o r n i n g - g i f t was 48 l i k e l y t o take the form o f a landed e s t a t e .  33 Cnut's Laws s t a t e , somewhat vaguely, t h a t i f a man dies intestate . . . beo be h i s [ t h e man's l o r d ' s ] d i h t e seo aeht g e s c y f t swy5e r i h t e wife 7 cildum 7 nehmagum, aelcum be paere pe him t o gebyrige.49 D i r e c t statements of the widow's p o r t i o n are absent from the other  laws, but the p r o v i s i o n i n the c l a u s e o f Ine  quoted above t h a t the wife of a t h i e f s h a l l , implicated,  r e t a i n her "chriddan  sceat"^  suggests t h a t  under West Saxon, as d i s t i n c t from K e n t i s h , was e n t i t l e d to o n e - t h i r d  i f not  law the widow  of the j o i n t p r o p e r t y .  None o f  the Anglo-Saxon codes g i v e s any i n d i c a t i o n t h a t the widow's r i g h t t o i n h e r i t under the law was any s t r o n g e r  than t h a t  of the widow of f e u d a l times, who was e n t i t l e d t o o n e - t h i r d of h e r husband's property, The  whether he made a w i l l o r not. " " 5  e a r l y laws make no mention of a woman's  choice  i n marriage, although i t i s not s p e c i f i c a l l y s t a t e d no choice  i s a v a i l a b l e t o her.  1  that  By the time of Cnut's Laws  the woman's r i g h t o f choice has become a w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d concept, and t h e r e  i s a sense of the i m p r o p r i e t y  of 'buying'  a'wife, which was taken f o r granted i n E t h e l b e r t s 1  code:  7 na nyde man naSer ne w i f ne maeden t o pam, pe hyre s y l f r e m i s l i c i e , ne wi3 s c e a t t e ne s y l l e , butan he hwaet agenes Sances gyfan wylle.52 On the whole, the l a t e r codes show an a p p r e c i a t i o n of female autonomy absent from the e a r l y laws, but there is s t i l l  no i n d i c a t i o n o f female e q u a l i t y .  Ethelred's  codes  (that i s s u e d  One of  i n 1008) makes c e r t a i n  p r o v i s i o n s f o r widows which suggest t h a t they are  34 under the g e n e r a l g u a r d i a n s h i p of the s t a t e , r a t h e r than the immediate  g u a r d i a n s h i p of t h e i r k i n , and t h e r e f o r e i n  a much f r e e r ,  i f p o t e n t i a l l y dangerous,  position:  7 sy aelc wydewe, pe hy s y l f e mid r i h t e gehealde, on Godes gricfe 7 on pass cynges.53 The next c l a u s e imposes a c e r t a i n  restriction:  7 s i t t e aelc [wydewe] X I I mona$ werleas; ceose syScTan paet heo s y l f w i l l e . 54 T h i s mixture of l i b e r a l i s m tempered i s a l s o apparent i n C n u t s Laws. 1  with s e v e r i t y  The b r u t a l i t y o f the  c l a u s e which punishes a w i f e ' s i n f i d e l i t y with m u t i l a t i o n i s p r o b a b l y t o be a t t r i b u t e d t o the i n f l u e n c e of 55 Scandinavian laws and a ruder system of j u s t i c e . harshness c o n t r a s t s s h a r p l y w i t h the humanity  This  of the c l a u s e  s t r e s s i n g a woman's r i g h t s i n choosing a marriage p a r t n e r . Again, t h e r e i s a r a t h e r q u a l i f i e d l i b e r a l i s m i n Cnut's v e r s i o n of E t h e l r e d s law on the remarriage of widows. 1  The  p e n a l t i e s f o r i n f r i n g e m e n t of the twelve-month w a i t i n g period are quite severe: 7 g i f heo binnan geares faece wer geceose, bonne p o l i g e heo paere morgengyfe 7 e a l r a paera aehta, pe heo burn asrran wer haefde; 7 f o n pa nehstan f r y n d to Sam lande 7 t o pam aehtan, pe heo aer haefde.56 However, t h e r e i s one t e x t , Be Wifmannes Beweddunge, which,  i n comparison  g i v e s a markedly i s here grouped  t o the Anglo-Saxon  laws as a whole,  f a v o u r a b l e p o s i t i o n t o women. with the law-codes because,  T h i s work  although i t i s  not s t r i c t l y a s e t of laws, i t i s , l i k e them, a p r e s c r i p t i v e l e g a l document.  E x a c t l y what i t s l e g a l a u t h o r i t y was i s not  35 c l e a r , but i t s tenor  suggests a statement of what i s  d e s i r a b l e r a t h e r than o b l i g a t o r y .  The t e x t o u t l i n e s t h e 57  formal  procedure t o be f o l l o w e d  i n the b e t r o t h a l .  Liebermann, i n h i s e d i t i o n o f the Anglo-Saxon laws, i s i n c l i n e d t o regard but  t h i s work as l a t e , between 970 and 1030,  t h i s i s mainly because i t shows a l i b e r a l i s m towards  women more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the l a t e r The  negotiations  described  period.  i n Be Wifmannes  Beweddunge a r e much more advantageous t o the woman than the s t i p u l a t i o n s set out i n the law-codes, e s p e c i a l l y the e a r l y ones.  The p r o s p e c t i v e  only i f i t p l e a s e s he  husband i s t o make h i s s u i t  the woman, as w e l l as h e r kinsmen, and  i s t o pledge "paet  he on c^a wisan h i r e geornige, d'et he 58 hy aefter Godes r i h t healdan w i l l e , swa wer h i s w i f sceal." The b a l d ceap o f E t h e l b e r t \ s Laws has become a g i v i n g o f •K 59 recompense f o r r e a r i n g the b r i d e ("oaet f o s t e r l e a n " ) , and  there  i s an a d d i t i o n a l payment made t o h e r p e r s o n a l l y  by the bridegroom f o r a c c e p t i n g  him ("wi(5 pam &et heo h i s  60 w i l l a n geceose"). 5aet  I f she o u t l i v e s him,  "ponne i s r i h t ,  heo sy h e a l f e s y r f e s wyrcfe—7 e a l l e s , g i f hy c i l d fi  gemaene h a b b a n — , bute heo e f t waer The  1  ceose. "  Anglo-Saxon laws i n v o l v i n g women a r e confined  t o the area o f marriage and sexual o f f e n c e s .  The bulk o f .  the laws, d e a l i n g with the p e n a l t i e s f o r v a r i o u s and  crimes  the o r g a n i s a t i o n o f trade and commerce, suggest an  e n t i r e l y male world of a f f a i r s .  The e a r l y laws make i t  c l e a r t h a t a woman passes from the g u a r d i a n s h i p  o f one man  36 t o t h a t of another. manner of her l i f e apparently,  A woman's choice  i n determining the  i s l i m i t e d t o the o p t i o n , not,  allowed her i n the e a r l i e s t p e r i o d , o f r e f u s i n g  the husband chosen f o r her. a f t e r about 1000, there  By the l a t e s t p e r i o d , i . e . ,  i s some suggestion  t h a t the widow  may remain independent: she can choose "past wylle."  6 2  heo s y l f  But there i s an i n d i c a t i o n t h a t the usual  a l t e r n a t i v e t o marriage i s the r e l i g i o u s l i f e , an  independent p o s i t i o n i n the world.  rather  than  One of Cnut's laws 63  s t a t e s : "7 na hadige man aefre (i.e.,  wuduwan t o h r a e d l i c e "  "do not too q u i c k l y make a widow a nun"), which  suggests c o n s i d e r a b l e  pressure  i n that d i r e c t i o n , from  the f a m i l y , o r the Church, o r both. Apart from the laws, c e r t a i n other  l e g a l documents  shed l i g h t on the s o c i a l p o s i t i o n of women. comprise c h a r t e r s , w r i t s , marriage c o n t r a c t s , and  wills.  The f i r s t  These documents lawsuits,  two c a t e g o r i e s are of such a nature  t h a t the o n l y i n f o r m a t i o n  they o f f e r t o the present  purpose i s i n the form of names.  Thus, c h a r t e r s add t o  the evidence o f c h r o n i c l e s and other r e c o r d s  by mentioning  r o y a l women as abbesses i n charge of monasteries i n the 64 seventh, e i g h t h ,  and e a r l y n i n t h c e n t u r i e s .  Also,  kings'  wives, and more r a r e l y other members of the r o y a l f a m i l y , o c c a s i o n a l l y appear among the eminent men of the kingdom 65 as witnesses t o c h a r t e r s . T h i s i s c o n t r i b u t i n g evidence that women of the h i g h e s t rank took some p a r t i n p u b l i c « . 66 affairs.  The Two  other kind's o f l e g a l records a r e more f r u i t f u l .  l a t e Anglo-Saxon marriage c o n t r a c t s a r e p a r t i c u l a r l y  interesting.  Both date from the f i r s t  e l e v e n t h century,  q u a r t e r of the  both a r e s h o r t , c o n s i s t i n g o f o n l y two  or three paragraphs, and both a r e c h i e f l y noteworthy f o r t h e i r r e c o r d of land s e t t l e m e n t s . i n v o l v e d a r e of h i g h rank. settlements  C l e a r l y , the persons  The women endowed by these  r e c e i v e much b e t t e r p r o v i s i o n than t h a t  s t i p u l a t e d i n the laws, and somewhat b e t t e r even than t h a t i n d i c a t e d i n Be Wifmannes Beweddunqe.  In one o f these  marriage c o n t r a c t s , that between W u l f r i c and Archbishop Wulfstan's s i s t e r ,  the l a d y i s g i v e n an e s t a t e t o d i s p o s e  of as she p l e a s e s ,  i n a d d i t i o n t o other land and s u b s t a n t i a l  67 gifts.  In the other c o n t r a c t , the K e n t i s h marriage  agreement, the lady f a r e s even b e t t e r .  She r e c e i v e s  immediate endowments of a very p l e n t i f u l k i n d , and a l s o the agreement i s made t h a t whichever o f the couple 68  l i v e s the  longer s h a l l succeed t o the whole p r o p e r t y . There a r e two l a w s u i t s i n which women p l a y a prominent p a r t : one r e c o r d s a d i s p u t e between a c e r t a i n 69 Wynflaed and Leofwine, the other a d i s p u t e between a 70 mother and son.  In h e r e d i t i o n of these documents, Agnes  Robertson suggests a date between 990 and 992 f o r the f i r s t , between 1016 and 1035 f o r the second. the ownership of land.  Both d i s p u t e s  In the case of Wynflaed,  appears on h e r own b e h a l f i n court and produces to  support  her.  concern  a woman witnesses  These i n c l u d e persons of very h i g h rank,  38 both men and women.  Wynflaad  was attempting t o recover  an e s t a t e s e i z e d from her by Leofwine. own  case—and  a p p a r e n t l y won i t .  She fought h e r  In the other case, a  woman v i n d i c a t e s h e r r i g h t t o d i s i n h e r i t her own son when bequeathing  her land.  These documents i n d i c a t e t h a t , i n  these two l a w s u i t s at l e a s t , women were a b l e t o secure t h e i r r i g h t s w i t h v i g o u r and independence.  The f a c t t h a t  t h e r e i s no mention of a husband i n e i t h e r case makes i t likely for  t h a t these women were widows, and thus f r e e r t o a c t  themselves.  I t should be noted t h a t the unnamed  woman who cut her son out of her w i l l d i d not a c t u a l l y go to  c o u r t h e r s e l f ; the o f f i c i a l s came t o v i s i t her.  More-  over, the prominence of T h u r k i l l the White i n the account, and the f a c t t h a t h i s w i f e was the b e n e f i c i a r y i n the contested w i l l , man  make i t l i k e l y  i n the d i s t r i c t ,  t h a t T h u r k i l l was a powerful  and t h i s may have had something t o do  w i t h the outcome of the case. The for  case of Wynflaed  i s the major p i e c e o f evidence  the Anglo-Saxon woman's r i g h t t o p l e a d h e r own l a w s u i t .  In  the other case d e s c r i b e d , the woman made h e r defence out  of  court.  prominently  There a r e other l a w s u i t s i n which women a r e involved.  E a d g i f u , the wife  An example i s the d i s p u t e between  ( l a t e r the widow) o f Edward the E l d e r , 71  and a c e r t a i n Goda, over the ownership o f l a n d .  The r e c o r d  d e s c r i b e s a d i s p u t e l a s t i n g many years and i n v o l v i n g s e v e r a l appeals t o the k i n g and the witan.  The d i s p u t e was f i n a l l y  s e t t l e d i n E a d g i f u ' s favour i n the r e i g n of Edgar, her  grandson.  The account  does not s p e c i f y whether or not  E a d g i f u a c t u a l l y appeared  i n c o u r t , but does r e f e r t o the  i n t e r c e s s i o n of Byrhsige D y r i n c g and E a d g i f u ' s f r i e n d s . The  case shows t h a t E a d g i f u h e l d or claimed land i n her  own  right,  even during the l i f e t i m e of her husband, and  t h a t she pursued l o o k s as i f ,  her c l a i m with v i g o u r and t e n a c i t y ; but i t  t o some extent at l e a s t ,  she stood i n the  background, and needed the a s s i s t a n c e of male f r i e n d s r e l a t i v e s t o make her c l a i m e f f e c t i v e . e v e n t u a l l y won  Although  and  she  her case, she gave the l a n d t o the Church,  which h i n t s t h a t p r e s s u r e from e c c l e s i a s t i c a l q u a r t e r s had  something t o do w i t h her f i n a l success.  There i s the  same i m p l i c a t i o n i n the case of the widow of J E t h e r i c  of  72 Boccing.  She appealed t o King E t h e l r e d and the witan to  l e t her husband's w i l l stand; i . e . , she wished t h a t her husband, who  had d i e d i n bad favour, should be  Her appeal was iElfric,  made through her f o r e s p e c a ,  and her s u i t was  rehabilitated.  Archbishop  granted i n c o n s i d e r a t i o n of her  donating her m o r n i n g - g i f t to the Church. The above l a w s u i t s a l l concern wealthy are a l s o widows (Eadgifu was  women  who  a widow through most of the  d u r a t i o n of the d i s p u t e and at the f i n a l settlement)-.  These  women took an a c t i v e p a r t i n conducting t h e i r a f f a i r s ,  and  were not b a r r e d from appearing on t h e i r own  behalf i n court;  but i t seems to have been more l i k e l y t h a t an  influential  male f r i e n d or r e l a t i v e would present the case t o the j u d i c i a l body: i n these i n s t a n c e s , the witan.  40 The  Anglo-Saxon w i l l s r e c o r d the  p r o p e r t y , c h i e f l y land, but various beneficiaries.  disposal  a l s o money and  valuables,  These documents are  o r a l agreements, r a t h e r than w i l l s i n the  of  the  to  records  of  s t r i c t modern  73 sense,  but  t h i s does not  Whitelock p r i n t s these, ten  are  f o r the  thirty-nine  made by  wives j o i n t l y .  By  eldest  a f f e c t t h e i r v a l u e as  son,  and but  w i l l s i n her  collection.  women, and  f o u r by husbands  large,  best p r o v i s i o n  the  younger sons and  no mention i s made of a husband i n the u n l e s s i n connection with h i s are  widows.  'soul,  o n l y w i t h the  fact  M i c h a e l Sheehan, i n h i s  latter.  the  study  occasionally  l i f e t i m e of t h e i r husbands, 74  consent of the  that  1  but  When husbands w i l l  e s t a t e s to t h e i r wives, r e s t r i c t i o n s are on  The  also  women s w i l l s ,  of medieval w i l l s , observes t h a t women may have made w i l l s i n the  and  i s made  suggests that  1  Of  daughters are  p r o v i d e d with e s t a t e s as w e l l as v a l u a b l e s .  testatrices  evidence.  usually  placed  the  widow's r i g h t to d i s p o s e of them, although 75 o c c a s i o n a l l y she i s allowed f r e e d i s p o s a l . One  w i l l which i s of e s p e c i a l  interest  i s that  of  w i l l s described  in  76 King A l f r e d . the  I t i s e a r l i e r than the  p r e v i o u s paragraph, and  instructions reflections  are  filled  i n the  l e s s e r persons, the money among h i s  out  Alfredian  in a different  with personal explanations manner.  w i l l of A l f r e d  of the  L i k e the  distributes  sons, daughters, and  The' more noteworthy s e c t i o n  style; i t s  other k i n  will  i n the  and  w i l l s of estates and  and  friends.  present  c o n n e c t i o n i s t h a t i n which A l f r e d asks the r e c i p i e n t s o f h i s bocland  t o pass i t on t o t h e i r sons and keep i t "on pa  waepnedhealf e" and not "on pa s p i n l h e a l f e. "  He s t a t e s  t h a t such has been the p r a c t i c e of h i s g r a n d f a t h e r . passage i n d i c a t e s a p r e f e r e n c e f o r male h e i r s .  This  The words  have the a i r of a s p e c i a l , but not a remarkable,  request.  It looks as i f A l f r e d i s t r y i n g t o c o n s o l i d a t e r e s o u r c e s i n male hands, very l i k e l y as a m i l i t a r y p r e c a u t i o n . The w i l l s and l a w s u i t s , then, p r i n c i p l e o f male primogeniture,  i n d i c a t e that the  which dominates the  t r a n s m i s s i o n o f p r o p e r t y i n l a t e r times, has no o v e r r i d i n g f o r c e i n Anglo-Saxon i n h e r i t a n c e . not only wives and daughters, other i n t e r e s t e d persons. l a w s u i t s suggests had  T h i s freedom b e n e f i t s  b u t a l s o younger sons, and  The evidence  t h a t women from the w e a l t h i e s t f a m i l i e s  some independent p r o p e r t y r i g h t s .  t r u e o f widows.  o f the w i l l s and  As the evidence  This i s e s p e c i a l l y  i s late,  i t may w e l l be  that i n e a r l i e r times even widows of h i g h rank d i d not have t h i s freedom.  I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t the l a t e  Anglo-Saxon laws a l s o suggest  a stronger p o s i t i o n f o r  widows than other women, whereas i n the e a r l i e s t  laws  widows continued t o be s u b j e c t t o the g u a r d i a n s h i p  (mund)  77 of another person.  The s t a t u s of women i n post-Conquest  l e g i s l a t i o n resembles t h a t i n the l a t e Anglo-Saxon law-codes, e s p e c i a l l y i n the s t r o n g e r p o s i t i o n of widows r e l a t i v e t o other women. °  Although  the marriage  show t h a t some wealthy Anglo-Saxon women were more  contracts  g e n e r o u s l y endowed by t h e i r husbands than f e u d a l women were a b l e to be,  the Anglo-Saxon woman's degree of independence  i n her husband's l i f e t i m e was  p r o b a b l y no g r e a t e r  t h a t of the woman of f e u d a l times, who husband's d e c i s i o n s , was  represented  than  was  s u b j e c t to  her  by him  i n court,  and 79  could not dispose  of her p r o p e r t y  I s h a l l now the p e n i t e n t i a l s .  without h i s consent.  t u r n to a d i f f e r e n t type o f  record,  These documents have some a f f i n i t i e s  w i t h the laws, i n t h a t both c o n s i s t of r e g u l a t i o n s governing conduct and  s e t t i n g punishments.  penitentials,  In c e r t a i n cases,  l i k e the laws, grade o f f e n c e s 80  the rank of the persons concerned.  the  according  However, the  status  of the p e n i t e n t i a l s i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of laws.  The  to  the  p e n i t e n t i a l s , which c o n s t i t u t e g u i d e l i n e s f o r  the use of p r i e s t s , do not n e c e s s a r i l y r e p r e s e n t o p i n i o n or widespread custom.  The  various  official  s e t s of  p e n i t e n t i a l codes are a s s o c i a t e d w i t h c e r t a i n e c c l e s i a s t i c s : Finnian,  Cummean, Theodore, e t c . , and  d i r e c t e d to the monastic l i f e . described  are e s p e c i a l l y  Many of the  offences  are those that would i n v o l v e monks.  Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d ,  For  the  the most important p e n i t e n t i a l i s t h a t  l i n k e d w i t h the name of Theodore of Tarsus, who  was  t o England as Archbishop of Canterbury i n 669.  This  document p u r p o r t s Umbrensis" who  sent  to be the work of a c e r t a i n " D i s c i p u l u s  compiled the pronouncements made by  81 Theodore.  The  P e n i t e n t i a l of Theodore i s p a r t i c u l a r l y  r e l e v a n t t o t h i s study because i t c o n t a i n s  two  sections  s p e c i f i c a l l y concerned  with  marriage.  In g e n e r a l , the P e n i t e n t i a l shows the same p r e f e r e n t i a l treatment  o f the husband i n the m a r i t a l  r e l a t i o n s h i p as appeared  i n the laws.  T h i s emerges v e r y  c l e a r l y i n those r e g u l a t i o n s which t r e a t husband and wife q u i t e d i f f e r e n t l y i n the same s i t u a t i o n .  Thus, Theodore's  P e n i t e n t i a l t e l l s us, " S i c u i u s uxor f o r n i c a t a f u e r i t  licet  d i m i t t e r e earn e t a l i a m a c c i p e r e . . . " b u t " M u l i e r i non l i c e t virum d i m i t t e r e l i c e t monasterio"  (i.e.,  s i t f o r n i c a t o r n i s i pro  she can o n l y d i v o r c e her husband f o r 82  a d u l t e r y i f she wishes t o e n t e r a monastery) .  Again:  "Muliere mortua l i c e t v i r o post mensem a l t e r a m a c c i p e r e mortuo v i r o post annum l i c e t m u l i e r i a l t e r u m [ a c c i p e r e ? ] virum."  tollere  In these cases, the moral standard  a p p l i e d t o the w i f e i s much s t r i c t e r .  It i s significant,  however, t h a t a woman i s c o n s i d e r e d e n t i t l e d t o more generous treatment  i f she d e c i d e s t o e n t e r a monastery.  T h i s b i a s a l s o appears i n a c l a u s e which allows a woman divorced f o r adultery to r e t a i n a quarter of her inheritance 84 if  she e n t e r s a monastery, b u t " s i non v u l t n i h i l  habeat."  The a u s t e r i t y a s s o c i a t e d with the Church, and e s p e c i a l l y w i t h monasticism,  makes i t s e l f  apparent i n  r e g u l a t i o n s which imply something unclean i n the male-female r e l a t i o n s h i p and i n the p h y s i c a l nature o f women.  Thus,  the P e n i t e n t i a l imposes c o n s i d e r a b l e r e s t r i c t i o n s on 85 marital intercourse,  and s t i p u l a t e s t h a t a f t e r having  i n t e r c o u r s e w i t h h i s w i f e a husband should wash b e f o r e he  44 enters a church,  and t h a t a husband should not see h i s  DC  w i f e naked.  Women a r e p r o h i b i t e d from e n t e r i n g a church 87  "menstruo tempore" and a f t e r c h i l d b i r t h .  Regulations  l i k e these r e p r e s e n t an a u s t e r i t y of o u t l o o k which f i n d s no c o u n t e r p a r t i n the s e c u l a r sources. However, i n c o n t r a s t t o the a n t i - f e m a l e b i a s o f the p r e v i o u s l y mentioned c l a u s e s , c e r t a i n passages i n the P e n i t e n t i a l show t h a t i n some r e s p e c t s the i n f l u e n c e o f the Church was a p o s i t i v e one.  In p a r t i c u l a r ,  the tendency  of the e a r l y laws t o regard women as marriageable i s countered  by c l a u s e s i n the P e n i t e n t i a l which  a woman's p o s i t i o n i n t h i s r e g a r d . to have " s u i c o r p o r i s potestatem"; or seventeen  objects safeguard  A g i r l of fourteen i s a t the age o f s i x t e e n  she may choose t o e n t e r a monastery i f she  wishes; and a f t e r t h i s age,  she i s not t o be married  against  88 her w i l l .  The P e n i t e n t i a l s emphasis upon a woman's 1  freedom o f c h o i c e i s e a r l i e r than anything comparable i n the laws,  and i n d i c a t e s t h a t the Church had a l i b e r a l i s i n g  i n f l u e n c e i n t h i s r e s p e c t , i f o n l y because o f i t s i n t e r e s t QQ  i n a l l o w i n g women t o become nuns.  On the other hand, the  sexual a u s t e r i t y and d i s t a s t e f o r women which c h a r a c t e r i s e the P e n i t e n t i a l a r e not c a r r i e d over i n t o the s e c u l a r w r i t i n g s , a r e u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y as a whole, and are nowhere t o be found The  i n the p o e t r y .  o t h e r h i s t o r i c a l evidence  f o r the p e r i o d comes  from n a r r a t i v e sources o f v a r i o u s k i n d s .  The c h i e f  contemporary r e c o r d o f Anglo-Saxon h i s t o r y i s the Anglo-Saxon  Chronicle.  Mention of women i n the C h r o n i c l e  most p a r t c o n f i n e d  i s f o r the  t o members of r o y a l f a m i l i e s and women  connected with the Church  ( i t i s known from other  t h a t these women were themselves u s u a l l y r o y a l ) . the C h r o n i c l e r e c o r d s  t h e foundation  sources Thus,  o f t h e monastery o f Qf)  E l y by St. i E t h e l t h r y t h  (Etheldreda)  i n 673,  and her  death i n 679, and a l s o the death o f H i l d , abbess of Whitby, i n 680.  There i s an e n t r y r e c o r d i n g t h a t Queen Seaxburh  reigned  f o r one year a f t e r the death of her husband, 92 Cenwalh, i n 672; under the year 697 i t i s noted that the 93 Mercians slew Osthryth, E t h e l r e d s queen; under 722 i t i s s t a t e d that Queen i E t h e l b u r h destroyed Taunton, which 94 1  Ine  (her husband) had b u i l t .  These l a c o n i c e n t r i e s  suggest t h a t r o y a l women c o u l d sometimes be a power i n t h e i r own r i g h t .  However, mention o f women as the moving  f o r c e s behind important p o l i t i c a l events i s r a r e .  Very  o c c a s i o n a l l y , women take a l e a d i n g r o l e i n power p o l i t i c s , but there  i s never any mention o f women o f l e s s than r o y a l  rank doing so. had  Female members of r o y a l f a m i l i e s e v i d e n t l y  a p o s i t i o n of considerable  formal prominence.  The  appearance o f the names of queens on r o y a l c h a r t e r s was mentioned e a r l i e r .  The Peterborough v e r s i o n o f the  Chronicle describes  i n some d e t a i l t h e f o u n d a t i o n  of the  abbey a t Medeshamstede (Peterborough), and s t a t e s t h a t the s i s t e r s o f King Wulfhere, along with h i s brother, present  were  a t the ceremony o f c o n s e c r a t i o n and witnessed t h e 95 foundation c h a r t e r . The f a c t that r o y a l women commonly  46 played a formal and o f f i c i a l p a r t i n p u b l i c a f f a i r s must have made i t p o s s i b l e f o r them t o t u r n t h e i r merely r o l e i n t o a more a c t i v e one i n c e r t a i n  formal  circumstances.  Such o c c a s i o n s , however, a r e mentioned v e r y  infrequently,  except where women a r e i n v o l v e d i n the founding and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n o f monasteries. There a r e t h r e e women i n the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d whose p a r t i n s e c u l a r p o l i t i c a l a f f a i r s i s s u f f i c i e n t l y conspicuous  and well-documented t o merit f u r t h e r  King A l f r e d ' s daughter  attention.  JEthelflaed, who was married t o  E t h e l r e d , Ealdorman o f Mercia, r u l e d M e r c i a f o r s e v e r a l y e a r s a f t e r h e r husband's death.  independently The  Abingdon v e r s i o n o f the C h r o n i c l e i n c o r p o r a t e s a set of Mercian annals  (the Mercian R e g i s t e r ) which g i v e s an  account o f i E t h e l f laed' s c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the campaign a g a i n s t the Danes.  E v i d e n t l y , i E t h e l f l a e d conducted a  m i l i t a r y campaign with as much a u t h o r i t y and d e c i s i o n as her b r o t h e r Edward  (the E l d e r ) , King o f the West Saxons,  or her f a t h e r A l f r e d .  She b u i l t a s e r i e s of f o r t s ,  stormed  c e r t a i n towns, and secured the submission o f others by the mere t h r e a t of h e r presence.  No other woman i n the  C h r o n i c l e i s d e s c r i b e d conducting a f f a i r s on equal terms w i t h men i n t h i s way. remarkable  woman.  i E t h e l f l a e d must have been a  However, she owed her p o s i t i o n o f power  t o the a c c i d e n t s of h i s t o r y : t h e r e seems t o have been no male a t the time who could command Mercian l o y a l t y . her death, her daughter  iElfwynn,  After  who was o b v i o u s l y not  made o f the same s t u f f , o n l y s u r v i v e d f o r a few months as l e a d e r o f the Mercians  b e f o r e Edward assumed complete  Q7  control. ' The  o t h e r two n o t a b l e women, known t o us from the  C h r o n i c l e , the Encomium Emmae Reginae, and o t h e r are i E l f g i f u  sources,  o f Northampton and Emma o f Normandy, t h e  m i s t r e s s and w i f e r e s p e c t i v e l y o f King Cnut.  Emma, although  not h e r s e l f an Anglo-Saxon, comes w i t h i n the scope o f t h i s e n q u i r y by being a queen o f Anglo-Saxon England. f i r s t married sons: Edward  She was  t o E t h e l r e d the Unready, by whom she had two (the Confessor)  and A l f r e d .  They were sent t o  Normandy d u r i n g the t r o u b l e d r e i g n o f E t h e l r e d , and were t h e r e a f t e r brought up a t the Norman c o u r t . r e l a t i o n s h i p with i E l f g i f u ,  which preceded "more Danico."  Cnut s 1  his  marriage,  was  a respectable l i a i s o n ,  his  two sons by her, Swein and Harold Harefoot,  Swein K i n g o f Norway under the regency  He acknowledged and made  of AClfgifu.  r u l e d w i t h such s e v e r i t y t h a t her r e i g n , " ^ E l f g i f u ' s  She time,"  became a p r o v e r b i a l e x p r e s s i o n f o r a time o f h a r d s h i p .  We  gather, r e a d i n g between the l i n e s i n the C h r o n i c l e , t h a t when Cnut d i e d i n 1035, iElfgifu  t h e r e was a s t r u g g l e between  and Emma as t o whether Harold Harefoot o r no  Harthacnut, at  first  Emma's son should become k i n g . °  successful.  He d e p r i v e d Emma o f the  Harold was royal  t r e a s u r e and drove her i n t o e x i l e , but not b e f o r e she had put up c o n s i d e r a b l e r e s i s t a n c e . Harold took  The C h r o n i c l e s t a t e s t h a t  " e a l l e pa b e t s t a n gaersuma  c5e heo ofhealdan ne  48 mihte, " but she "saet  peh f o r S baer  binnan [ i . e . ,  i n the  town o f Winchester] 5a h w i l e pe heo m o s t e . B e f o r e she l e f t , h e r son A l f r e d made h i s i l l - f a t e d v i s i t  t o England  which r e s u l t e d i n h i s murder by the f o l l o w e r s o f E a r l Godwine.  The C h r o n i c l e says A l f r e d came t o v i s i t h i s  mother, but probably he was sounding out h i s b r o t h e r Edward's chances i n the p o l i t i c a l  scene, a p i e c e o f  manoeuvering i n which Emma may w e l l have had foreknowledge. Harold o n l y r e i g n e d a s h o r t time before he d i e d and was succeeded by Harthacnut, who h i m s e l f d i e d i n 1042, whereupon Edward the Confessor  succeeded.  The C h r o n i c l e  d e s c r i b e s how a f t e r h i s a c c e s s i o n Edward d e p r i v e d h i s mother o f a l l h e r wealth "forSam heo h i t heold aer fasste  to  wiS h i n e . It i s c l e a r t h a t both i E l f g i f u  i n f l u e n t i a l women.  .asifgifu  and Emma were  imposed a severe  regime on  Norway, and Emma e x e r c i s e d h e r s e l f i n the s t r u g g l e over the s u c c e s s i o n a f t e r Cnut's death.  The C h r o n i c l e ' s  d e s c r i p t i o n s of her behaviour suggest t h a t she too was a hard and t e n a c i o u s woman. t r e a s u r e t h a t she t r i e d  A l s o , the r e f e r e n c e s t o the  so hard  t o keep i n d i c a t e t h a t she  l i v e d with c o n s i d e r a b l e independent s t a t e . neither i E l f g i f u  Nevertheless,  nor Emma sought power i n h e r own r i g h t .  They aimed a t w i e l d i n g power through t h e i r sons, u n l i k e i E t h e l f laed, who r u l e d the Mercians on h e r own b e h a l f . Although i E t h e l f l a e d i s e x c e p t i o n a l , she has c o u n t e r p a r t s i n other p e r i o d s .  M a t i l d a i s the obvious comparison from  49 the Norman e r a .  She, a l o n g w i t h E l e a n o r o f A q u i t a i n e ,  and other g r e a t l a d i e s ,  i s c i t e d by D o r i s Stenton as  evidence t h a t women continued t o take p a r t i n m i l i t a r y 102 s t r u g g l e s f o r power a f t e r the Conquest. One  o f our most important n a r r a t i v e sources of  i n f o r m a t i o n about women i s Bede's E c c l e s i a s t i c a l H i s t o r y of the E n g l i s h People, completed  about  731.  Bede s 1  p r e s e n t a t i o n o f e c c l e s i a s t i c a l women tends t o the h a g i o g r a p h i c s t y l e , and m i r a c l e s and v i s i o n s a r e f r e q u e n t ; but the e x i s t e n c e of these women and the main events a s s o c i a t e d with them need not be doubted.  The most  important c o n t r i b u t i o n o f the H i s t o r y t o t h i s study i s i t s p l e n t i f u l evidence that i n the e a r l y Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d women p l a y e d a prominent  part i n organised r e l i g i o n .  After  the Conversion, i t became the p r a c t i c e f o r female members of r o y a l f a m i l i e s t o found monasteries which housed both men  and women.  The double monastery i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c  of the Anglo-Saxon age p r e c e d i n g the Danish  invasions.  S i n g l e e s t a b l i s h m e n t s e x i s t e d f o r men, b u t a l l the houses f o r women seem t o have been o f the double type, p r e s i d e d over by an abbess.  Whitelock s t a t e s i n h e r survey of  Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y t h a t t h e double monastery was 103 " p r i m a r i l y f o r nuns."  The double monastery with an  abbess a t i t s head o f f e r e d a unique o p p o r t u n i t y f o r women to exercise authority.  The monasteries f e l l  into  decay  d u r i n g t h e Danish i n v a s i o n s ; and, when they were founded again l a t e r , a l l o f them were s i n g l e houses.  The abbesses  50 of the nunneries that grew up from the time o f A l f r e d on never had the same s t a t u s as the women who headed the double monasteries of the e a r l y p e r i o d . The most famous of these r o y a l abbesses of Whitby, of whom Bede speaks a t l e n g t h . " ^  i s Hild  Through t h e  4  u s u a l examples o f r e l i g i o u s d e v o t i o n and s p e c i a l grace emerges a woman o f very unusual a b i l i t y , up t o and a p p l i e d t o f o r a d v i c e :  whom k i n g s looked  "Tantae autem e r a t  p r u d e n t i a e , ut non solum mediocres quique i n n e c e s s i t a t i b u s s u i s sed etiam reges e t p r i n c i p e s nonnumquam ab ea c o n s i l i u m quaererent e t i n v e n i r e n t . F i v e became b i s h o p s . H i l d  men t r a i n e d under h e r  was abbess a t the time o f the  Synod o f Whitby i n 664, when i t was decided t o f o l l o w the p r a c t i c e s o f t h e Roman r a t h e r than the C e l t i c Church.  She  thus p a r t i c i p a t e d i n a h i s t o r i c d e c i s i o n , although Bede does not r e c o r d t h a t she took p a r t i n any o f t h e d i s c u s s i o n 107 at the synod. Among o t h e r women who appear should be mentioned  JEthelthryth,  and foundress of E l y . achievement  i n the pages o f Bede  wife of King  Ecgfrith  F o r Bede, i E t h e l t h r y t h s major 1  was h e r p r e s e r v a t i o n o f her v i r g i n i t y  twelve y e a r s o f marriage.  through  A f t e r t h i s h e r husband  r e l u c t a n t l y gave h i s consent t o h e r t a k i n g the v e i l . i n c l u d e s a poem comparing  h e r w i t h the v i r g i n martyrs, and  d e s c r i b i n g how a f t e r h e r death her body remained 1  because  Bede  she had p r e s e r v e d h e r c h a s t i t y .  uncorrupted  OP.  Elsewhere i n  the H i s t o r y , Bede d e s c r i b e s how the body o f i E t h e l b u r h was  51 m i r a c u l o u s l y preserved  f o r the same reason.  109  The  r e l i g i o u s z e a l o f these women and t h e i r p r e s e r v a t i o n o f t h e i r v i r g i n i t y a r e the f e a t u r e s s t r e s s e d by Bede, but i t i s e v i d e n t t h a t r e l i g i o u s d e d i c a t i o n c o u l d go hand i n hand with a s t r o n g o r g a n i s i n g a b i l i t y ,  thereby  enabling  a r i s t o c r a t i c women l i k e H i l d and i E t h e l t h r y t h t o e x e r c i s e powers o f l e a d e r s h i p and a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . The k i n d o f p r e s e n t a t i o n found i n the more r e a l i s t i c s a i n t s ' l i v e s i s very l i k e t h a t i n Bede's accounts of h o l y women.  Two v i t a e i n p a r t i c u l a r a r e i l l u s t r a t i v e  of the i n f l u e n t i a l p o s i t i o n h e l d by abbesses i n the e a r l y Anglo-Saxon Church.  One i s the L i f e of Bishop W i l f r i d ,  by Eddius Stephanus, which i s i n t e r e s t i n g i n t h a t one of the i n c i d e n t s a s s o c i a t e d with W i l f r i d ' s c a r e e r i n v o l v e d the a l t e r a t i o n of the d e c i s i o n o f a synod because o f t h e i n t e r v e n t i o n o f Abbess ASlfflaed . ® 1 1  W i l f r i d had been out  of favour with King A l d f r i t h o f Northumbria, and had been dispossessed  of h i s sees o f Ripon and Hexham.  q u e s t i o n was c a l l e d t o c o n s i d e r W i l f r i d ' s  The synod i n  reinstatement,  a f t e r many y e a r s .  The othe r s present  reinstate Wilfrid,  but AClfflaad, the s i s t e r o f A l d f r i t h ,  turned  the d e c i s i o n by r e p o r t i n g her b r o t h e r ' s dying  i n which he expressed On  were u n w i l l i n g t o  h i s d e s i r e t o make peace with  speech, Wilfrid.  t h i s o c c a s i o n , ASlfflaed was a r e s p e c t e d member o f the  synod, along w i t h t h e k i n g  (Osred, A l d f r i t h ' s son), and  v a r i o u s prominent members of the Church and s t a t e .  It i s  s i g n i f i c a n t , however, t h a t i E l f f l a e d ' s words c a r r i e d weight  because she r e p o r t e d the wish o f a k i n g . The  other s a i n t ' s l i f e  L i f e of L e o f q y t h  t o be mentioned here  ( V i t a Leobae) by Rudolf of F u l d a .  i s the The  1 1 1  s u b j e c t o f t h i s work i s an E n g l i s h nun o f the e i g h t h century who went out t o a s s i s t Boniface i n h i s mission t o the heathen Germans and was made by him abbess of a monastery a t Tauberbischofsheim.  Rudolf's L i f e gives a  p o r t r a i t o f L e o f g y t h very much i n the t e n o r o f Bede's d e s c r i p t i o n s o f H i l d and i E t h e l t h r y t h ,  stressing  Leofgyth's  r e l i g i o u s d e v o t i o n and the a f f e c t i o n w i t h which she was regarded by h e r s u b o r d i n a t e s .  A l s o , Rudolf's account i s  a f u r t h e r i l l u s t r a t i o n o f the prominent p a r t played by Anglo-Saxon women i n the expansion  of the Church.  We know o f L e o f g y t h not o n l y from Rudolf's  account  but a l s o from a s u r v i v i n g l e t t e r w r i t t e n by h e r t o 11?  Boniface.  She requests B o n i f a c e t o t h i n k o f h e r and  remember h e r i n h i s p r a y e r s , sends a small g i f t  and some  v e r s e s , t o which she r e f e r s d e p r e c a t i n g l y , and asks him to correct her L a t i n . Boniface:  Other women a l s o corresponded  with 113  Bucge, Ecgburh, Eangyth, Eadburh, and Cena.  A l l these women were nuns, and most of them became abbesses.  T h e i r l e t t e r s p r o v i d e a v a l u a b l e s i d e l i g h t on  the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the E n g l i s h abbesses and a prominent e c c l e s i a s t i c l i k e B o n i f a c e . these women w r i t e shows a mixture a f f e c t i o n w i t h exaggerated  The s t y l e i n which  of r a t h e r p a s s i o n a t e  deference.  Ecgburh says t h a t  when she f e e l s the bond of h i s l o v e "quasi quiddam m e l l i t a e  53 d u l c e d i n i s meis v i s c e r i b u s h i e sapor i n s i d e t . "  Eangyth  begins a l e t t e r w i t h a most e l a b o r a t e s a l u t a t i o n : Benedicto i n Deo i n f i d e ac d i l e c t i o n e v e n e r a b i l i Uuynfrido cognomento B o n i f a t i o p r e s b i t e r a t u s p r i v i l e g i o p r e d i t o e t v i r g i n a l i s castimoniae f l o r i b u s velud l i l i a r u m s e r t i s coronato nec non d o c t r i n e s c i e n t i a e r u d i t o Eangyth i n d i g n a a n c i l l a a n c i l l a r u m Dei e t nomine a b b a t i s s a e s i n e merito f u n c t a . . . .115 B o n i f a c e and h i s successor, L u l , who u s u a l l y r e f e r t o themselves  by the b r i e f d e s i g n a t i o n "exiguus  servus," o r  s i m i l a r term, i n the s a l u t a t i o n s which head t h e i r own l e t t e r s , a r e much l e s s e f f u s i v e .  The s t y l e o f the abbesses'  l e t t e r s suggests t h a t the r e l a t i o n s h i p of these women t o Boniface, though i n t i m a t e , was one of i n f e r i o r s t o a superior. The  l e t t e r s of B o n i f a c e h i m s e l f g i v e i n d i c a t i o n s  of contemporary a t t i t u d e s t o women. iEthelbald  In h i s l e t t e r t o  o f Mercia, B o n i f a c e upbraids t h e k i n g f o r ll 6  f o r n i c a t i o n w i t h nuns. nuns as the worst  B o n i f a c e regards d e f i l e m e n t o f  s i n of t h i s  type:  Nam hoc peccatum duplex esse non dubium e s t . Ut v e r b i g r a t i a dicamus, c u i u s v i n d i c t e reus s i t puer apud dominum suum, q u i uxorem domini s u i a d u l t e r i s v i o l a v e r i t : quanto magis i l l e , q u i sponsam C h r i s t i c r e a t o r i s c a e l i e t t e r r a e p u t r e d i n e suae l i b i d i n i s conmaculaverit . . .117 These words r e v e a l the sense of h i e r a r c h y deeply i n the Anglo-Saxon way o f t h i n k i n g .  engrained  Women were p a r t o f  t h i s h i e r a r c h y by being a t t a c h e d t o men o f v a r i o u s ranks, 118 but the nun was the b r i d e o f C h r i s t . L a t e r i n the same l e t t e r ,  B o n i f a c e speaks w i t h  a p p r o v a l o f the customs o f the heathen Germans.  When a  54 w i f e i s g u i l t y o f a d u l t e r y , she i s whipped h a l f - n a k e d through  the s t r e e t s by the other matrons of the town.  B o n i f a c e ' s approval i s an i l l u s t r a t i o n o f the Church's s e v e r i t y towards female u n c h a s t i t y , and h i s f u l m i n a t i o n s a g a i n s t f o r n i c a t i o n a r e i n a way the c o u n t e r p a r t t o Bede's c e l e b r a t i o n of v i r g i n i t y .  The same concern  i n B o n i f a c e ' s l e t t e r t o Archbishop complains  Cuthbert,  a l s o appears i n which he  o f the dangers which beset women on the  p i l g r i m a g e t o Rome: they u s u a l l y end up as p r o s t i t u t e s i n one  of the towns en r o u t e . The  c o n c l u s i o n s drawn from a l l t h e v a r i o u s k i n d s  119 of sources  can now be brought t o g e t h e r .  A clear picture  emerges, although the c i r c u m s t a n t i a l d e t a i l s a r e m i s s i n g . I t i s e v i d e n t t h a t the u s u a l p o s i t i o n f o r Anglo-Saxon women was not one of independence.  Their subordination  to f a t h e r s , husbands, o r male r e l a t i v e s appears c l e a r l y i n the laws. marriage  The o t h e r s o u r c e s — p e n i t e n t i a l s , w r i t s , c h a r t e r s , contracts, lawsuits, w i l l s , h i s t o r i e s ,  l e t t e r s — s u p p o r t the evidence qualification.  vitae,  of the laws w i t h some  The p e n i t e n t i a l s show a r a t h e r severe  a t t i t u d e t o women, but a t the same time emphasise t h a t they should be t r e a t e d as persons remaining  with c e r t a i n r i g h t s .  The  sources i n d i c a t e t h a t i n most circumstances men  dominate a f f a i r s , but t h a t t h e r e a r e s p e c i a l cases i n which c e r t a i n c a t e g o r i e s of women have t h e power of independent a c t i o n . the evidence  The c o l l e c t i v e impression c r e a t e d by  of v a r i o u s k i n d s i s t h a t women's p o s i t i o n ,  55 though not debased, was markedly r e s t r i c t e d . The g e n e r a l l y dependent p o s i t i o n o f Anglo-Saxon women i s q u a l i f i e d by two f a c t o r s : f i r s t ,  the p o s i t i o n o f  women improved i n the course of the p e r i o d ; second, throughout the p e r i o d , the r e l a t i v e dependence varied according t o t h e i r c l a s s . t h e r e was an o v e r a l l improvement  of women  The laws i n d i c a t e t h a t i n the s t a t u s of women i n  the course o f the Anglo-Saxon e r a .  Whereas the Laws o f  E t h e l b e r t i n d i c a t e that i n 600 A.D. Anglo-Saxon women were regarded as c h a t t e l s ,  the Laws of Cnut show t h a t i n the  e l e v e n t h century women, though s t i l l  f a r from equal, were  regarded as persons w i t h an i d e n t i t y of t h e i r own. widows who p r o f i t e d most from t h i s improvement  It i s  i n status.  Whereas unmarried g i r l s and married women continued  subject,  though l e s s so, t o the d e c i s i o n s of f a t h e r s and husbands, r e s p e c t i v e l y , widows achieved a l i m i t e d degree of independence.  T h i s o v e r a l l improvement  p o p u l a t i o n as a whole.  a p p l i e d t o the  In f a c t , the r i s e i n the s t a t u s of  women d u r i n g the f i v e hundred y e a r s o f the recorded Anglo-Saxon e r a makes the d i f f e r e n c e between the e a r l y and l a t e Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d i n t h i s r e s p e c t much g r e a t e r than t h a t between  the l a t e Anglo-Saxon and the post-Conquest e r a .  Wealthy women b e n e f i t e d e s p e c i a l l y from the g e n e r a l improvement  i n women's c o n d i t i o n .  T h i s f a c t emerges from  the more advantageous p o s i t i o n accorded women i n the l a r g e land s e t t l e m e n t s mentioned by w i l l s ,  marriage c o n t r a c t s ,  and l a w s u i t s , i n c o n t r a s t t o the l e s s f a v o u r a b l e p o s i t i o n  56 assigned t o the g e n e r a l i t y of women i n the laws. wealthy widows o f the l a t e p e r i o d  Thus,  a r e the Anglo-Saxon  women who came c l o s e s t t o a c h i e v i n g  independence.  Female members of r o y a l f a m i l i e s belong t o a s p e c i a l category.  Annals and h i s t o r i e s show t h a t  i t was not  normal f o r them t o manage a f f a i r s , but t h a t ,  occasionally,  d o u b t l e s s because o f the s p e c i a l mystique attached t o royalty,  they were allowed t o assume c o n t r o l .  Mostly,  they acted as figureheads, w i t n e s s i n g documents and appearing on p u b l i c o c c a s i o n s , but, i n r a r e cases, they a c t u a l l y took up the r e i n s o f power: they l e d armies and r u l e d kingdoms. Thus, r o y a l women were prominent, though mainly inactive,  i n secular a f f a i r s .  However, t h e i r s p e c i a l  p r e s t i g e d i d r e g u l a r l y l e a d them t o p o s i t i o n s o f a u t h o r i t y connected with the Church.  Such p o s i t i o n s , though  cut o f f from the world, i n f a c t , i n the e a r l y enabled them t o w i e l d  very great  of double monasteries.  period,  i n f l u e n c e as the abbesses  Prominent male c l e r i c s ,  as nuns, were a s s o c i a t e d  formally  as w e l l  w i t h these i n s t i t u t i o n s , and,  hence, the abbesses i n charge occupied p o s i t i o n s of g r e a t importance.  When, l a t e r , nuns were housed i n e x c l u s i v e l y  female convents, the abbesses l o s t the l a r g e r enjoyed by t h e i r p r e d e c e s s o r s . abbesses o f the e a r l y p e r i o d the  senior The  influence  However, even the g r e a t  were not of equal s t a t u s  with  (male) f u n c t i o n a r i e s of Church and s t a t e . generally  i n f e r i o r s t a t u s o f Anglo-Saxon women  i s q u a l i f i e d , then, by an o v e r a l l improvement  i n their  s t a t u s , by the more independent p o s i t i o n of wealthy widows i n the l a t e p e r i o d , women.  and by the s p e c i a l p o s i t i o n of r o y a l  N e v e r t h e l e s s , f o r the most p a r t women i n Anglo-Saxon  times were s u b j e c t  t o men's governance and were not able t o  take an a c t i v e r o l e o u t s i d e  the home.  Harshness t o women  i s seen e s p e c i a l l y i n the area o f o f f e n c e s a g a i n s t the sexual code, and t h i s s e v e r i t y i s r e i n f o r c e d by the a t t i t u d e of the Church.  The only women who a t t a i n e d p u b l i c  at any time i n the p e r i o d  authority  were e i t h e r o f r o y a l blood o r 120  c l o s e l y l i n k e d with r o y a l t y . of s c h o l a r s  In s p i t e of the tendency  t o s t r e s s the independence of the Anglo-Saxon  woman, the t y p i c a l woman o f t h a t e r a was anything but independent.  The arguments f o r the independence of  Anglo-Saxon women have been c h i e f l y based on the evidence of the w i l l s and l a w s u i t s ,  evidence p e r t a i n i n g  widows i n the t e n t h and e l e v e n t h c e n t u r i e s , demonstrated, a r e d e c i d e d l y  atypical.  t o wealthy  who, as I have  F o r the most p a r t ,  Anglo-Saxon women were not allowed t o make f o r themselves the major d e c i s i o n s  a f f e c t i n g the course o f t h e i r l i v e s .  The ways i n which t h i s s t a t e o f a f f a i r s i n f l u e n c e s characterisation  i n the p o e t r y w i l l emerge i n the  succeeding c h a p t e r s .  their  58 Footnotes "Anglo-Saxon Poetry and the H i s t o r i a n , " TRHS, 4 t h s e r i e s , 31 (1949), 75-94. T h i s tendency i s the weakness of R o e d e r s study. See I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 5. 1  1  2 In t h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n , the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d i s taken t o mean t h e time from the settlement t o the Norman Conquest, b u t most of t h e d i s c u s s i o n w i l l n e c e s s a r i l y apply t o the p e r i o d a f t e r 600, when w r i t i n g begins as a r e s u l t o f t h e Conversion. 3 The system o f p r i v a t e penance a s s o c i a t e d w i t h t h e p e n i t e n t i a l s sometimes r e c e i v e d o f f i c i a l censure, p a r t l y because o f the v a r i a t i o n between the d i f f e r e n t p e n i t e n t i a l s , and p a r t l y because a need was f e l t f o r t h e o l d system o f p u b l i c penance f o r p u b l i c o f f e n c e s . The p e n i t e n t i a l s were condemned by synods a t Chalon i n 813 and a t P a r i s i n 829. See Medieval Handbooks o f Penance, eds. J . T. M c N e i l l and H. M. Gamer (New York: Columbia U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1938; rep. Octagon Books, 1965), p. 27. 4 In c o n t r a s t with the h i g h l y f i c t i t i o u s , " e p i c a l " s a i n t s ' l i v e s , d i s c u s s e d i n Chapter IV. 5 See Bandel, "The E n g l i s h C h r o n i c l e r s ' A t t i t u d e toward Women," p. 114; F l o r e n c e G r i s w o l d B u c k s t a f f , "Married Women's P r o p e r t y i n Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Norman Law and the O r i g i n o f the Common Law Dower," Annals o f the American Academy o f P o l i t i c a l and S o c i a l Sciences, 4 (1893-94), 264; D. M. Stenton, The E n g l i s h Woman i n H i s t o r y , p. 348. See a l s o I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. 3-5, above. See  Buckstaff,  p.  251.  7 One p a r t i c u l a r l y s t r i k i n g p i e c e o f evidence, c i t e d by both D o r i s Stenton and her husband, F. M. Stenton, i s s l i g h t l y post-Conquest, and appears i n Domesday Book. This i s the r e f e r e n c e t o a c e r t a i n Asa i n Y o r k s h i r e , who "held her land separate and f r e e from the l o r d s h i p o f B e r n u l f her husband." See D. M. Stenton, pp. 27-28, and, f o r a f u l l e r account, F. M. Stenton, "The H i s t o r i c a l Bearing of Place-Name S t u d i e s : The P l a c e o f Women i n Anglo-Saxon S o c i e t y , " TRHS, 4 t h s e r i e s , 24 (1943), 11-12. The value of t h i s p i e c e o f evidence i s l i m i t e d not only by i t s l a t e n e s s , but a l s o by i t s o r i g i n i n the Danelaw, which r a i s e s the q u e s t i o n o f p o s s i b l y g r e a t e r freedom f o r women i n the area o f Scandinavian i n f l u e n c e . Buckstaff,  p.  256.  Bandel, pp. 115-18.  59 10  D.  i:L  M. Stenton, p.  Volume I I , 4th ed.  51. (London,  1936) , 19.  12 For a convenient summary o f the d i v i s i o n s of Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y , see Whitelock, The Beginnings of E n g l i s h S o c i e t y , The P e l i c a n H i s t o r y o f England, 2 (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1952; rev. 1965), pp. 83-84. A more thoroughgoing i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the i s s u e s i n v o l v e d i s undertaken by H. M. Chadwick, S t u d i e s on Anglo-Saxon I n s t i t u t i o n s (Cambridge, 1905; r e i s s u e d New York, 1963). See e s p e c i a l l y Chapters I I I , IV, and X. 13 Only the b r i e f e s t d e s c r i p t i o n i s g i v e n here, and no account i s taken of the v a r i o u s c o m p l i c a t i o n s . These problems are d i s c u s s e d f u l l y by Chadwick. 14 See the Laws of E t h e l b e r t , s e c t i o n s 10, 14, and 16, i n Die Gesetze der Anqelsachsen, ed. F. Liebermann ( H a l l e , 1903-16; rep. 1960), v o l . I. In sec. 10, the g e n e r a l term maeqdenman i s used f o r the s l a v e , i n sees. 14 and 16 the more s p e c i f i c term b i r e l e (server o f d r i n k ) . Sees. 11 and 16 a l s o make p r o v i s i o n f o r lower f i n e s payable f o r v i o l a t i o n of more menial s l a v e s . A l l subsequent c i t a t i o n s of the Anglo-Saxon laws are taken from Liebermann s e d i t i o n . 15 A l f r e d , sec. 10. 1  l fi  I b i d . , ;secs. 18.1,  2, and  3.  17 I b i d . , sec. 8. • ^ I b i d . , sec. 18. 19 I b i d . , sees. 11-11.5. 20 The law s t a t e s t h a t the f i n e i s payable t o "pam byrgean" (18.1), meaning the person r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the c o n t r a c t of b e t r o t h a l . T h i s suggests the woman's l e g a l guardian. The Laws of E t h e l b e r t a l s o enumerate f i n e s f o r breach of g u a r d i a n s h i p over ( i . e . , sexual i n t e r f e r e n c e with) widows a c c o r d i n g t o t h e i r rank. A d i s t i n c t i o n i s made between breach of mund ( t h i s o f f e n c e i s , presumably, simply s e x u a l v i o l a t i o n ) and a c t u a l t a k i n g of a woman who does not belong to one (presumably, f o r c e d marriage) . The l a t t e r o f f e n c e i s s u b j e c t to twice as h i g h a f i n e as the former. See E t h e l b e r t , sees. 75, 75.1, and 76. 21 A l f r e d , sec. 8. 22 T h i s does not n e c e s s a r i l y mean t h a t the woman does not s u f f e r by law. The abducted nun mentioned i n A l f r e d ' s  60 Laws i s t o have none of h e r husband's i n h e r i t a n c e , and n e i t h e r i s h e r c h i l d (sees. 8.1 and 8.2). And, as we s h a l l see l a t e r , there are l e g a l p e n a l t i e s f o r u n f a i t h f u l wives. But the emphasis i n the laws c i t e d above i s on the g u i l t or i n j u r y i n v o l v i n g the male p a r t i e s . The abducted nun i s d e p r i v e d of h e r husband's i n h e r i t a n c e because h e r marriage i s regarded as dubious, i f not e x a c t l y i n v a l i d . 23 Ine, 24  sec.  38.  Cnut, I I , sees. 76, 76.1, 76.1a, and 76.1b:  25 Cf. Roeder's statement t h a t the laws and the p o e t r y complement one another, i n t h a t they d e a l w i t h d i f f e r e n t s e c t i o n s o f s o c i e t y . See p. 6 and pp. 89-90. 26 E t h e l b e r t , sees. 77 and 77.1 27 28 29  Ibid.,  sec. 82.  Ibid.,  sec.  Ine,  sec.  31,  31.  30 Roeder, p. 23. See a l s o p. 31. Roeder s t r e s s e s t h a t the ceremony i s a c i v i l c o n t r a c t . I do n o t propose to d i s c u s s here the d i s t i n c t i o n between the b e t r o t h a l and the wedding, s i n c e a d e c i s i o n on t h i s s u b j e c t does not a f f e c t any c o n c l u s i o n drawn about the p o s i t i o n of women. I t i s , i n f a c t , very d i f f i c u l t t o d i s t i n g u i s h between the two, and the sharp l i n e drawn by Roeder i s not c o n v i n c i n g . The passage quoted i s taken from h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f b e t r o t h a l , H i s d i s t i n c t i o n between the e n t i r e l y c i v i l nature of the b e t r o t h a l c o n t r a c t and t h e church b l e s s i n g attached t o the wedding i t s e l f i s a c c e p t a b l e — a n d s i g n i f i c a n t . Roeder notes t h a t even i n the l a t t e r case the r e l i g i o u s element i s not e s s e n t i a l , and s t a t e s "dass d i e Ehe i n d e r That . . . j u r i s t i s c h g e s c h l o s s e n i s t , d e r P r i e s t e r aber h i e r a n keinen T e i l hat, sondern d e r v o l l z o g e n e n . E h e s c h l i e s s i n g nur den k i r c h l i c h e n segen e r t e i l t " (p." 58) . 31 Cnut, I I , sec. 53. T h i s law has a Scandinavian parallel. See Roeder, p. 136. S e e Cnut, I I , sees. 50, 50.1, and 54.1. 3 2  54,  51,51.1,  52,  52.1,  33 Roeder p o i n t s out a s i m i l a r i n e q u i t y i n the a t t i t u d e t o u n f a i t h f u l n e s s on t h e p a r t o f betrothed persons. He c i t e s sec. 18 o f A l f r e d ' s Laws (mentioned above), which a s s i g n s f i n e s payable f o r sexual misconduct with a betrothed woman. Roeder notes t h a t the laws c o n t a i n no c l a u s e about a betrothed man, and b e l i e v e s t h a t t h i s i s t o  61 be e x p l a i n e d by a s o c i a l a t t i t u d e "die u r s p r u n g l i c h dem Mann e r l a u b t e , i n Konkubinat und V i e l w e i b e r e i zu l e b e n " (p. 38) . Again, Roeder b e l i e v e s the f a c t t h a t o n l y the wife i s s e v e r e l y punished f o r i n f i d e l i t y stems from the e a r l y concept of the married woman as her husband s p r o p e r t y (p. 133, see a l s o p. 136) . 1  ^ I n e , sec. 4  57.  35  Cnut, I I , sees. 76,  76.1,  76.1a, and  76.1b.  36 Roeder, p.  84.  37  I b i d . , pp. 83-84. Roeder i s here quoting from Schmid, Die Gesetze der Angelsachsen, 2nd ed. ( L e i p z i g , 1858), p. 404 (Anhang X, Kap. 1). 38 BWW, sec. 7. P r i n t e d i n Liebermann, I, 442. BWW i s d i s c u s s e d more f u l l y l a t e r i n the chapter. See Roeder, p. 89. The passage runs: "Similiter s i mulier homicidium f a c i a t , i n earn v e l progeniem v e l parentes e j u s v i n d i c e t u r , v e l inde componat; non i n virum suum, seu c l i e n t e l a m innocentem . . . ." 40 The f a c t that the wife belongs to a d i f f e r e n t k i n from her husband i s p o i n t e d out by L o r r a i n e Lancaster, who s t r e s s e s the b i l a t e r a l (rather than p a t r i l i n e a l ) nature of the Anglo-Saxon k i n group, " K i n s h i p i n Anglo-Saxon S o c i e t y , " B r i t i s h J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y , 9 (1958), 230-50, and 359-77. 41 E t h e l b e r t , sees. 79 and 80. 42 H l o t h h e r e and E a d r i c , sec. 6; Ine, sec. 38. 43 A l f r e d , sec. 27. A l s o c f . A l f r e d , sec. 8.3, which i m p l i e s t h a t p a r t of the w e r g i l d was p a i d to the maternal, p a r t to the p a t e r n a l k i n . Presumably the p r o p o r t i o n s would be the same. 44 i E t h e l s t a n , I I , sec. 11. 45 Cnut, I I , sec. 53. 46 Cf. n. 7. The r e f e r e n c e to Asa's h o l d i n g her land separate from the l o r d s h i p of her husband suggests t h a t such a degree of independence was unusual. 47 E t h e l b e r t , sees. 78-81. See Anglo-Saxon W i l l s , ed. Whitelock (Cambridge, 1930), passim.  62 4 9  Cnut,  50  I I , sec.  70.1.  T  Ine,  sec.  57.  5 1  S e e Buckstaff,  5 2  Cnut,  5 3  V  I I , sec.  Ethelred,  pp.  251  and  260.  74.  sec.  21.  54 I b i d . , sec. 21.1. Roeder suggests t h a t the reason f o r a twelve-month w a i t i n g p e r i o d b e f o r e a widow can remarry i s the p o s s i b i l i t y of a posthumous c h i l d (pp. 139-40). S e e n.  5 5  31.  56 Cnut, I I , sees. 73 and  73a.  57 Be Wifmannes Beweddunge, l i k e the marriage c o n t r a c t s , d e a l s mainly w i t h p r e l i m i n a r i e s , and hence p e r t a i n s to the b e t r o t h a l more than the marriage ceremony i t s e l f , but no sharp d i s t i n c t i o n i s made between the two. Cf. n. 30. Sec. 8 of BWW e v i d e n t l y r e f e r s to the a c t u a l wedding, f o r which the word used i s g i f t — t h e "givingV of the b r i d e . C O  BWW,  sec.  1.  59 Ibid.,  sec.  2.  ^ I b i d . , sec.  3.  6 l  Ibid.,  sec.  4.  62 V Ethelred, ^ Ibid., 3  sec.  sec. 21.1,  and  Cnut, I I , sec.  73.  73.3.  64 Cf. E n g l i s h H i s t o r i c a l Documents, I, c. 500-1042 (London, 1955), t r a n s . Whitelock, 446. Here Whitelock t r a n s l a t e s a c h a r t e r i n which Nothhelm, King of the South Saxons, g r a n t s land to h i s s i s t e r Notgyth f o r the founding of a monastery (c. 692) . S e e EHD, I, 440-56, passim. 6 5  ^The s p e c i a l p o s i t i o n accorded to queens was not p e c u l i a r to the Anglo-Saxons. The wives of the post-Conquest k i n g s , down to Eleanor of A q u i t a i n e , the wife of Henry I I , acted as c h a n c e l l o r s f o r t h e i r husbands and i s s u e d w r i t s d u r i n g t h e i r absence on m i l i t a r y campaigns. I am indebted f o r t h i s and other i n f o r m a t i o n p e r t a i n i n g to the post-Conquest p e r i o d to Donna Gordon and her paper "The S o c i a l Status of Women i n Post-Conquest England, 1066-1216,"  63 presented t o the G u i l d f o r Medieval and Renaissance at the U n i v e r s i t y of A l b e r t a , November 21, 1974.  Studies  ft n  T h i s marriage c o n t r a c t i s p r i n t e d i n Anglo-Saxon C h a r t e r s , ed. and t r a n s . Agnes Robertson (Cambridge, 1956), p. 148. 6 8  Ibid.,  p.  150.  6 9  Ibid.,  pp.  136-38.  7 0  Ibid.,  pp.  150-52.  71 P r i n t e d i n Essays i n Anglo-Saxon Law, by Adams, Lodge, Young, and L a u g h l i n (Boston, 1876), pp. 342-47. Among the cases found i n t h i s volume are s e v e r a l which i n v o l v e women p r i m a r i l y or i n c i d e n t a l l y , i n c l u d i n g the d i s p u t e s d e s c r i b e d above. The date 961 i s assigned t o the r e c o r d of the d i s p u t e between E a d g i f u and Goda. 72 I b i d . , pp. 362-63. The case i s dated " a f t e r 1000. " 73 Whitelock, Anglo-Saxon W i l l s . See G e n e r a l P r e f a c e , by H. D. H a z e l t i n e , pp. v i i - x i . 74 In support of t h i s statement, he c i t e s the mention i n the Ramsey Chronicon of the death-bed w i l l of Thurgunt, made "permittente v i r o suo T h u r k i l l o . " Sheehan comments on the w i l l s made j o i n t l y by husband and w i f e : "However, the manner i n which the t e x t of the w i l l s l i p s from the f i r s t person p l u r a l to the t h i r d person s i n g u l a r masculine, or from the t h i r d person p l u r a l t o the d i r e c t words of the husband, i n d i c a t e s the prominent p a r t the l a t t e r p l a y e d i n the transaction." The W i l l i n Medieval England  (Toronto, 1963), pp. 70-71.  75 Cf.  L a n c a s t e r , p.  363.  76 P r i n t e d i n S e l e c t E n g l i s h H i s t o r i c a l Documents of the N i n t h and Tenth C e n t u r i e s , ed. F. E. Harmer (Cambridge, 1914), pp. 15-19. 77 See E t h e l b e r t s Laws, sees. 75, 75.1, and 76, and c f . n. 20. Cf. a l s o Roeder, pp. 141-42, and 146. See Roeder, pp. 159-61 on the change i n the s t a t u s of women i n the course of the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d . 78 B u c k s t a f f r e f e r s t o the Charter of L i b e r t i e s of Henry I, which guarantees the i n h e r i t a n c e r i g h t s of widows, i n c l u d i n g c h i l d l e s s widows, and p r o t e c t s them a g a i n s t f o r c e d marriage (pp. 256-57), although she regards t h i s as 1  64 a promise u n f u l f i l l e d . D. M. Stenton observes that Magna C a r t a confirms t h e widow's r i g h t t o the land she brought t o the marriage and h e r r i g h t not t o be c o n s t r a i n e d t o remarry (pp. 50-51). C f . B u c k s t a f f , p. 253.  7 9  80 See t h e P e n i t e n t i a l o f Theodore, I: XIV, sees. 9-12. Here, the v i o l a t i o n o f a s l a v e i n c u r s a much l i g h t e r penance than v i o l a t i o n o f a f r e e woman, w h i l e i n the l a t t e r case the penance i s graded i n ascending stages, a c c o r d i n g t o whether the woman i s married, a v i r g i n , o r a nun. A l l r e f e r e n c e s t o the P e n i t e n t i a l o f Theodore a r e made t o the U t e x t as p r i n t e d by P. W. F i n s t e r w a l d e r , D i e Canones Theodori C a n t u a r i e n s i s und i h r e U b e r l i e f e r u n q s f o r m e n (Weimar, 1929). F i n s t e r w a l d e r compares the v a r i o u s groups of manuscripts, and p r i n t s f o u r t e x t s , o f which the U i s by f a r the f u l l e s t . I t i s the U group of manuscripts on which M c N e i l l bases h i s t r a n s l a t i o n i n h i s Medieval Handbooks o f Penance. 8 1  82  8 3  S e e M c N e i l l , p. 180. Theodore, Ibid.,  I I : X I I , sees. 5-6.  s e c 10.  C f . n. 54, above.  84 I b i d . , sec. 11. 85 I b i d . , I : XIV, sees. 19-23. S i m i l a r attempts t o l i m i t m a r i t a l i n t e r c o u r s e can be seen i n the h o m i l i e s . Cf. Roeder, p. 132. 8 6  Ibid.,  I I : XII, sees. 30-31.  87  I b i d . , I : XIV, sees. 17-18. Roeder quotes c o r r e s p o n d i n g r e s t r i c t i o n s from the Canons o f Gregory on m a r i t a l i n t e r c o u r s e d u r i n g menstruation o r a f t e r conception, but regards these as " r e i n s a n i t a r e " r e g u l a t i o n s (pp. 132-33) T h i s s t r a i n i n the p e n i t e n t i a l s i s t o be a t t r i b u t e d t o the i n f l u e n c e o f the Mosaic Law. C f . Roeder, pp. 150 and 174-75. 88 Theodore, I I : X I I , sees. 36-37. The ages vary w i t h i n a few y e a r s i n the d i f f e r e n t manuscripts. 89 Roeder b e l i e v e s t h a t i n some r e s p e c t s the Church r e f i n e d Anglo-Saxon mores and i n t r o d u c e d a h i g h e r c u l t u r a l i d e a l (p. 161). S e v e r a l o f E t h e l r e d ' s codes, i n c l u d i n g the code of 1008, which s t r e s s e s the r i g h t s o f widows, show marked e c c l e s i a s t i c a l i n f l u e n c e . See pp. 33-34, above, and c f . Whitelock's remarks, EHD, I, p. 405. 90 Two Saxon C h r o n i c l e s P a r a l l e l , eds. C. Plummer and  65 J . E a r l e (Oxford, 1892-99; rep. 1952), I, 34 and 35. J E t h e l t h r y t h was the daughter o f King Anna of East A n g l i a and the w i f e of E c g f r i t h of Northumbria. 91 I b i d . , pp. 38-39. H i l d was a member of the Northumbrian r o y a l f a m i l y . 92 I b i d . , pp. 34-35. Cenwalh was King of Wessex. 93  I b i d . , p. 41. E t h e l r e d was King of Mercia; thus, O s t h r y t h was k i l l e d by her own s u b j e c t s . 94 I b i d . , p. 43. A r e f e r e n c e t o events i n Wessex. 95 I b i d . , pp. 30-32. 9 6  Ibid.,  pp. 93-95, 98-101, and 105.  9 7  Ibid.,  p. 105.  9 8  Ibid.,  pp. 158-61.  "ibid.,  pp. 158-59.  I b i d . , pp. 162-63. ^•*"In connection w i t h E l e a n o r ' s independence, i t may be noted here that she continued t o h o l d A q u i t a i n e , i n h e r i t e d from h e r f a t h e r , i n her own r i g h t . Cf. n. 66, above. 102 D. M. Stenton, pp. 37-38. 103 Beginnings of E n g l i s h S o c i e t y , p. 171. 1 0 0  ^ ^ B e d e ' s E c c l e s i a s t i c a l H i s t o r y , eds. B. Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford, 1969), pp. 404-14. T h i s e d i t i o n g i v e s the L a t i n t e x t with f a c i n g E n g l i s h t r a n s l a t i o n . H i l d was the p a t r o n e s s of the poet Caedmon. The account of the a n g e l i c i n s p i r a t i o n o f Caedmon, the cowherd, to s i n g the C r e a t i o n , i s one of the most famous passages i n Bede. 1 0 5  Ibid.,  p. 408.  Ibid. 1 0 7  Ibid.,  pp. 296-308.  1 0 8  Ibid.,  pp. 396-400.  1 0 9  Ibid.,  p. 240.  66 See C l i n t o n A l b e r t s o n , S.J., Anglo-Saxon S a i n t s and Heroes (Fordham U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1967), pp. 155-56. A l b e r t s o n t r a n s l a t e s e x t r a c t s from a number of A n g l o - L a t i n saints' lives. See a l s o h i s note 121, p. 156, where he c i t e s the numerous r o y a l women who e x e r c i s e d t h e i r influence i n W i l f r i d ' s career. 15,  '^"''Edited by G. Waitz i n Mon. Germ. H i s t . , S c r i p t o r e s , p t . 1 (1887; rep. 1963), 118-31. 112  Die B r i e f e des H e i l i g e n : B o n i f a t i u s und L u l l u s , ed. M. Tangl (Mon. Germ. H i s t . , E p i s t o l a e S e l e c t a e , 1, 1916; rep. 1955), pp. 52-53. I b i d . , pp. 7-15, 18-28, 47-49, 52-60, 137-38, and 214-18. 1 1 3  1 1 4  Ibid.,  pp. 18-19.  l l 5  Ibid.,  p. 21.  l l 6  Ibid.,  pp. 146-55.  1 1 7  Ibid.,  p. 148.  118 Cf. A l f r e d ' s laws on t h e f o r c e d marriage o f nuns on i n s u l t t o nuns, A l f r e d , sees. 8 and 18. 119 The n o n - l i t e r a r y sources of i n f o r m a t i o n about the p o s i t i o n of women a r e scanty i n the extreme. Archaeological c o n f i r m a t i o n o f the prominence of k i n g s ' wives and the f a c t t h a t they o c c a s i o n a l l y assumed r e a l power i s t o be found i n the appearance of the head o f Cynethryth, wife of O f f a of Mercia, on two s i l v e r pennies from h i s r e i g n . See D. M. Stenton, pp. 2-3. I t has been argued by S i r Frank Stenton t h a t the place-names o f England p r o v i d e evidence f o r female ownership o f land i n the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d , TRHS, 4th s e r i e s , 24 (1943), 1-13. But we a r e not r e a l l y j u s t i f i e d i n drawing such a c o n c l u s i o n . A l l t h a t place-name evidence proves i s that t h e person whose name i s preserved was considered worthy of commemoration. 120 It i s p o s s i b l e t h a t t h i s statement does not apply t o a l l o f the abbesses; c e r t a i n l y , a l l o f them were aristocratic. and  67  CHAPTER I I CHARACTER-TYPES IN THE POETRY Although  t h e s u b j e c t s of Anglo-Saxon p o e t r y a r e  mainly h e r o i c and m i l i t a r y , and thus c o n s t i t u t e a somewhat restricted,  c o n s e r v a t i v e , and i d e a l i s e d view o f the upper  echelons o f s o c i e t y , the a t t i t u d e s t o be found  i n the  p o e t r y run p a r a l l e l t o those i n the h i s t o r i c a l  sources.  J u s t as the h i s t o r i c a l documents show Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y to be male dominated and r i g i d l y s t r a t i f i e d , of the p o e t r y i s almost  the atmosphere  e x c l u s i v e l y male, and the c h a r a c t e r s  are mainly d e f i n e d by the standard r o l e s which they As f a r as the women c h a r a c t e r s a r e concerned,  fulfil.  the p o e t r y  g i v e s a r i s t o c r a t i c women the same s i g n i f i c a n t b u t r e s t r i c t e d ceremonious r o l e that they played i n the h i s t o r i c a l  world.  The e x c e p t i o n t o t h i s s t a t e of a f f a i r s i s t o be found i n *  the r e l i g i o u s f i e l d ,  where i n the poetry, as i n the e a r l y  h i s t o r y o f t h e p e r i o d , an a c t i v e p a r t i s given t o c e r t a i n l e a d i n g women.  What we do not f i n d  i n the p o e t r y a r e the  independent a r i s t o c r a t i c women who p l a y an a c t i v e p a r t i n secular l i f e .  The r u l i n g queens who crop up o c c a s i o n a l l y  i n the C h r o n i c l e and o t h e r h i s t o r i c a l accounts have no c o u n t e r p a r t i n the p o e t r y .  N e i t h e r do we f i n d the wealthy  widows o f the l a t e p e r i o d , who, as evinced by w i l l s and  68 l a w s u i t s , were a b l e t o manage and dispose o f t h e i r own property.  The poetry, c o n s e r v a t i v e i n c h a r a c t e r , and  stemming mainly  from the e a r l y and middle  c e n t u r i e s o f the  Anglo-Saxon e r a , r e f l e c t s , w i t h s t y l i s a t i o n ,  the t y p i c a l  s o c i a l s i t u a t i o n s of the e a r l i e r p e r i o d . The  female c h a r a c t e r s o f O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y  fall  i n t o s e v e r a l s h a r p l y d e f i n e d c a t e g o r i e s , t o be r e l a t e d t o other e q u a l l y w e l l d e f i n e d male types.  The l a t t e r a r e  more numerous and prominent: t h e i d e a l k i n g (Scyld, Beowulf I) ; the hero leader  (Hrothgar,  (Beowulf, Finn, Waldere) ; the aged  Byrhtnoth);  the wicked k i n g  (Heremod,  Nebuchadnezzar); the man o f God (Guthlac, Andrew, D a n i e l ) ; the e x i l e ,  a type t o be s u b d i v i d e d i n t o the wicked o u t c a s t  (Satan, G r e n d e l ) , and the wise s o l i t a r y the S e a f a r e r ) . frequency:  (the Wanderer,  Only two female types occur w i t h any  the i d e a l queen  h o l y woman ( J u d i t h ,  ( E a l h h i l d , Wealhtheow), and the  J u l i a n a , Helena).  1  These two types  share some of t h e i r major q u a l i t i e s w i t h t h e i r male c o u n t e r p a r t s , b u t a l s o possess characteristics.  c e r t a i n markedly d i f f e r e n t  There a r e h i n t s of a s t e r e o t y p e f o r the  good c e o r l i s c woman which merges i n t o that of the i d e a l queen, and a l s o o f a c o n t r a s t i n g s t e r e o t y p e f o r the female slave.  Thryth i n Beowulf may be an i s o l a t e d example o f  the type of the bad queen.  In c o n t r a d i s t i n c t i o n t o these  v e s t i g i a l types, the female e x i l e s i n The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer seem t o r e p r e s e n t a conscious attempt t o adapt the s t a n d a r d i s e d f i g u r e o f the male e x i l e t o a female  69 situation. The  v a s t m a j o r i t y of the c h a r a c t e r s i n Old E n g l i s h  p e e t r y are d e r i v e d from one  of the f a m i l i a r  T h e i r a c t i o n s are p r e d i c t a b l e , and anything  to s u r p r i s e us.  most powerful  and  stereotypes.  they h a r d l y ever  T h i s i s t r u e even of some of  sophisticated poetic creations.  of the more memorable c h a r a c t e r s , such as Beowulf Byrhtnoth,  combine more than one  With very  and but  few  the c h a r a c t e r s of Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y embody a  c e r t a i n r e s t r i c t e d range of human q u a l i t i e s ,  and  can  be  d e s c r i b e d f a i r l y completely  by l i s t i n g the p r e s c r i b e d  q u a l i t i e s a p p l i e d to them.  A b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the  various character-types simple,  the  Some  of the s t e r e o t y p e s ,  they are i n no sense i n d i v i d u a l i s e d . exceptions,  do  will  i l l u s t r a t e the, u s u a l l y r a t h e r  p r i n c i p l e s on which c h a r a c t e r s are formed i n Old  E n g l i s h poetry.  I s h a l l begin with the male types,  and  then proceed to the female. The  type of the i d e a l k i n g , to which the  queen i s a counterpart, E n g l i s h , although  ideal  i s not expanded much per se i n Old  the q u a l i t i e s a s s o c i a t e d with t h i s  type  p l a y a p a r t i n the d e l i n e a t i o n of v a r i o u s major f i g u r e s , such as Hrothgar.  The obvious example of the good k i n g  i s S c y l d S c e f i n g , the eponymous ancestor  of the Danish  S c y l d i n g dynasty.  i s described  Scyld's g l o r i o u s l i f e  b r i e f l y but e v o c a t i v e l y at the beginning  of Beowulf.  His  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e s as k i n g are h i s m i l i t a r y dominance (he r e p e a t e d l y d e p r i v e s h i s enemies of t h e i r mead-benches  70 [11. him  4-6a];  o  and he f o r c e s the surrounding t r i b e s t o pay  t r i b u t e [11. 9 - l l a ] ) , h i s s p l e n d i d s t a t e  ( i n d i c a t e d by  the magnificence o f h i s f u n e r a l ) , and the a f f e c t i o n w i t h which he i s regarded by h i s men  (11. 29 and 49b-50a).  An  e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e o f the i d e a l k i n g which i s not s p e c i f i c a l l y mentioned i n the ease o f S c y l d , but i s the s a l i e n t q u a l i t y of h i s son (the f i r s t is generosity  to h i s followers.  Beowulf o f the poem) ,  Beowulf I ensures h i s  men's f u t u r e l o y a l t y i n b a t t l e by d i s p e n s i n g g i f t s "on faeder  [bea]rme"  (1. 21) .  The same requirement i s made of  an i d e a l k i n g as of a good p r i n c e l i k e the f i r s t  Beowulf.  H i s more famous namesake i s presented i n the f i r s t h a l f o f the poem as the embodiment of the i d e a l hero. characters  The  who conform t o t h i s type are endowed not merely  with courage and d a r i n g , but with a s p e c i f i c  assertiveness.  T h e i r s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e i s exuberant and outspoken; i t amounts t o b o a s t f u l n e s s of t h a t q u a l i t y .  without the negative  Beowulf's proud bearing  connotations  on h i s f i r s t  i n t r o d u c t i o n t o Hrothgar's c o u r t i s the e x e m p l i f i c a t i o n of t h i s c o n f i d e n c e .  He makes h i s beot t o d e f e a t  or d i e (11. 435-55 and 601b-06). of l o y a l t y t o Beowulf  3  Wiglaf s 1  later declaration  (11. 2633-60 and 2663-68) i s  c h a r a c t e r i s e d by the same h e r o i c d e t e r m i n a t i o n . no female e q u i v a l e n t The in  Grendel  to t h i s  There i s  type.  c l a s s i c p o r t r a y a l o f the hero i s t o be found  the b a t t l e l a y s : Waldere, The F i g h t a t Finnsburh, The  B a t t l e o f Maldon, and The B a t t l e o f Brunanburh.  The v a r i o u s  aspects of the h e r o s code are found c o l l e c t e d together i n 1  W i g l a f s speeches and s c a t t e r e d through the v a r i o u s speeches 1  of  Byrhtnoth's r e t a i n e r s i n Maldon: the reminder of the  beot spoken i n the h a l l  (Beowulf,  11. 2633-38a; Maldon,  212-14); the a f f e c t i o n f o r the l o r d  (Beowulf,  11.  1. 2663;  Maldon, 11. 224b-25 and 317b-19); the d i s g r a c e of r e t u r n i n g home without avenging him 11. 220-23a and 249-52a). which makes i t s e l f speech  (Maldon,  felt  (Beowulf,  11. 2353-56a; Maldon,  The s t r e n g t h of the k i n s h i p bond,  i n the c l o s i n g l i n e s of i E l f w i n e ' s  1. 225) , appears more i n d i r e c t l y i n the  Beowulf poet's i n t r o d u c t i o n of W i g l a f : " s i b b aefre wiht onwendan bam  pe wel penceS"  (11. 2600b-01).  ne maeg Wiglaf,  Byrhtnoth's companions, F i n n and h i s w a r r i o r s , Waldere, and the triumphant E n g l i s h a t Brunanburh are a l l characterised  with  s t r o n g , simple s t r o k e s , and without  i n t e r n a l c o n f l i c t or complexity.  T h e i r moral p o s i t i o n i s  c l e a r and a s s u r e d : a b s o l u t e and u n f l i n c h i n g l o y a l t y to l e a d e r or cause, and the aim of the poets i s e v i d e n t l y t o rouse a corresponding m a r t i a l s p i r i t  in their  C o n t r a s t i n g w i t h the type of the hero i s t h a t of the aged l e a d e r . female e q u i v a l e n t . of  (normally young)  Again, the type has  no  The most conspicuous r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s  t h i s c a t e g o r y are Hrothgar, Beowulf i n o l d age,  Byrhtnoth. of  audience.  and  These c h a r a c t e r s are surrounded w i t h an aura  melancholy;  they are faced with death or d e f e a t , and  respond not with d e f i a n c e , but with r e s i g n a t i o n .  Swift  a c t i o n i s r e p l a c e d by r e f l e c t i v e n e s s : Hrothgar m o r a l i s e s ,  /  and Beowulf muses on h i s past l i f e .  There a r e no extended  r e f l e c t i o n s i n Maldon, but B y r h t n o t h s  dying prayer (11.  173-80) has the same pensive q u a l i t y .  Though courageous,  1  these f i g u r e s a r e c h a r a c t e r i s e d by a mildness and s e n s i b i l i t y t h a t c o n t r a s t s h a r p l y with the s e l f - a s s e r t i o n of the p r e v i o u s type. f o r h i s thanes, (11. 1876b-77).  Hrothgar  i s r e p e a t e d l y seen  and he sheds t e a r s a t Beowulf's departure Beowulf i s e u l o g i s e d i n the f i n a l  of the poem as "manna m i l d u s t ond mon (5w) aerust, l i o o s t ond l o f g e o r n o s t " (11. 3181-82). moncSwaerust"  grieving  lines  / leodum  " M i l d u s t ond  s c a r c e l y a p p l i e s t o him as a young man.  aged Beowulf prepared t o Byrhtnoth's,  t o die. w i t h a q u i e t d i g n i t y  The  similar  and b o t h u t t e r speeches which begin by  thanking God f o r h i s favour  (Beowulf,  1. 2794; Maldon,  1. 173) . More complex e f f e c t s a r e sometimes achieved not by a departure from, but by a combination  o f the s t e r e o t y p e s  In The B a t t l e of Maldon, Byrhtnoth s h i f t s from the d e f i a n t w a r r i o r h u r l i n g i n s u l t s a t the Danes t o the o l d man f a c i n g death w i t h q u i e t r e s i g n a t i o n . added t r a g i c dimension  The e f f e c t i s t o g i v e an  to h i s character.  The same i s t r u e  of Beowulf, a c h a r a c t e r presented e x p a n s i v e l y and w i t h depth, but with almost no i n d i v i d u a l i s a t i o n .  4  In Beowulf,  the t o t a l c h a r a c t e r emerges from the j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f the young hero i n the f i r s t h a l f o f the poem with the o l d man i n the second.  There i s a b s o l u t e l y no t r a n s i t i o n between •  the two, and the d i s c r e p a n t h a l v e s a r e bound together not  73 by u n i f y i n g q u a l i t i e s p e c u l i a r t o the hero, and  but by a p i e t y  c o u r t e s y which i n f o r m the whole poem, and c h a r a c t e r i s e  the .utterances of the poet  as w e l l as those of h i s main  actor. The melancholy r e f l e c t i v e n e s s of the aged l e a d e r i s a f e a t u r e shared by another exile.  s t a n d a r d i s e d type:  the  Here we have a c h a r a c t e r - t y p e o r i g i n a l l y male,  which has  a l s o been extended to female c h a r a c t e r s .  s t a t e of e x i l e i s the epitome of misery poetry,  f o r the way  The  i n Old E n g l i s h  of l i f e r e f l e c t e d i n the p o e t r y  centres  on the c l o s e - k n i t group of the t r i b e or the comitatus,  and  an o u t s i d e r from the group i s i n a p o s i t i o n of e s p e c i a l distress.  The  "locus c l a s s i c u s " f o r the  f e a t u r e s of e x i l e i s The Wanderer.  characteristic  Here we  f i n d numerous  m o t i f s t h a t occur i n e x i l i c s i t u a t i o n s i n other poems: the l o s s of one's l o r d , the wandering through a h o s t i l e n a t u r a l environment, the thought of the j o y s of comradeship i n the hall,  etc.  The  speaker d e s c r i b e s h i m s e l f as hean  earm (1. 40), and wineleas  (1. 45) , an anhaga  He must " t r e a d the t r a c k s of e x i l e " 1. 5).  These e x p r e s s i o n s ,  and  they  deprivation,  the  recur Stanley  B.  the f o r m u l a i c e x p r e s s i o n of the  e x i l e theme i n t o f o u r a s p e c t s : s t a t u s , i l l u s t r a t e d by e x p r e s s i o n s as "wineleas  40) .  ("wadan wraeclastas'> "  whenever the s i t u a t i o n of an e x i l e i s evoked. classified  (11. 1 and  and o t h e r s l i k e them, are  t y p i c a l terms a s s o c i a t e d with e x i l e ,  G r e e n f i e l d has  (1. 23),  guma" (e.g., Wanderer, 1.  i l l u s t r a t e d by formulas  such  45);  i n v o l v i n g verbs  of  74 bereavement  (e.g.,  "edle bidaeled,"  Wanderer, 1. 20);  state  of mind, expressed by combinations of the a d j e c t i v e s f o r wretchedness; and  movement i n or i n t o e x i l e , e s p e c i a l l y  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the image of the o r i g i n a l l y purely  " t r a c k s of e x i l e . "  s o c i a l concept of e x i l e i s extended to  the C h r i s t i a n concept of e x i l e i n the world heaven or paradise)  or from God's favour.  (i.e., The  from  former  a p p l i e s t o the wise s o l i t a r i e s l i k e the Wanderer, l a t t e r to the s i n f u l e x i l e s l i k e Satan and The  The  5  s i n f u l e x i l e has  and  Grendel.  a f f i n i t i e s w i t h the wicked  k i n g , a type l a r g e l y c o n s t i t u t e d by negating the good q u a l i t i e s of the i d e a l k i n g and  or p e r v e r t i n g  the hero.  There  i s some s l i g h t evidence f o r a female v e r s i o n of t h i s The by  f i g u r e s corresponding to t h i s category are c r u e l t y and  the p r i d e that goes b e f o r e  a fall,  H o l o f e r n e s i n J u d i t h , and Nebuchadnezzar  Belshazzar  in Daniel.  as  i n t o v i o l e n c e , oppression,  reversed  Although God men  and  a u t h o r i t y , and  has  and  sinful pride.  Heremod shows a l l these  advanced him  (11. 1716-18a), he has  the  self-esteem Also,  e s s e n t i a l a t t r i b u t e of g e n e r o s i t y has  t o meanness.  and  These c h a r a c t e r s have p e r v e r t e d  h e r o i c q u a l i t i e s of s t r e n g t h ,  good k i n g ' s  type.  characterised  evidenced by Heremod i n Beowulf, Eormanric i n Deor Widsith,  the  the  been  features.  i n s t r e n g t h beyond a l l other  misdirected  his gifts,  has  become b l o o d t h i r s t y (1. 1719), s l a y s h i s r e t a i n e r s i n f i t s o f rage  (11. 1713-14a), and  (11. 1719-20a).  r e f u s e s to d i s t r i b u t e r i n g s  He becomes so i n t o l e r a b l e t h a t he i s  f i n a l l y e x p e l l e d from h i s kingdom. '  The Deor poet speaks o f  Eormanric as "grim c y n i n g " (1. 23) and r e f e r s t o h i s "wylfenne  gepoht"  (1. 22a) .  "wrapes wasrlogan"  (1. 9) .  In W i d s i t h he i s termed The p e r v e r s i o n o f good q u a l i t i e s  which i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h i s type i s demonstrated i n the d e p i c t i o n o f H o l o f e r n e s storming and y e l l i n g a t h i s feast  ( J u d i t h , 11. 23-25).  T h i s raucous o c c a s i o n i s a  c o r r u p t i o n of the f e s t i v i t i e s i n the meadhall  which the  Anglo-Saxon poets u s u a l l y c e l e b r a t e i n the warmest  terms.  H o l o f e r n e s ' f e a s t i s the a n t i t h e s i s o f t h e j o y f u l and courteous f e a s t s i n Beowulf. punished  f o r h i s arrogance,  H o l o f e r n e s was, o f course, and so were the o t h e r two  b i b l i c a l t y r a n t s of O l d E n g l i s h P o e t r y : Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar.  T h e i r s i n f u l p r i d e i n t h e i r own e a r t h l y  magnificence was f i n a l l y humbled by the God o f I s r a e l whom they had d e s p i s e d . The arrogant presumption  of these t y r a n t s i n the  b i b l i c a l p o e t r y forms a c o n t r a s t w i t h the s t e a d f a s t h u m i l i t y o f the champions^ of God.  These f i g u r e s can be  d i v i d e d i n t o two c a t e g o r i e s a c c o r d i n g t o t h e i r sex.  The  female s a i n t s o r h o l y women share some o f the q u a l i t i e s o f t h e i r male c o u n t e r p a r t s , but a r e a l s o t y p i f i e d by a d d i t i o n a l , q u i t e separate c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s .  C h i e f among  the p a t r i a r c h s and male s a i n t s of O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y a r e Moses i n Exodus, Andrew i n Andreas,  and G u t h l a c and D a n i e l  i n the poems which bear t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e names.  A l l these  persons combine q u a l i t i e s of l e a d e r s h i p with a c e r t a i n  76  isolation, physical, spiritual,  o r both.  s p e c i a l wisdom, and s p e c i a l grace perform  miracles.  They a r e granted  to know the f u t u r e o r  Andrew i s favoured with some r a t h e r  s p e c t a c u l a r m i r a c l e s and p e r s o n a l c o n v e r s a t i o n s with God, who appears t o him i n human form. hi.s hand t o p a r t the Red Sea.  Moses s t r e t c h e s out  D a n i e l does not perform  m i r a c l e s , but he i s s e t apart by the wisdom which  enables  him t o i n t e r p r e t Nebuchadnezzar's p r o p h e t i c dreams, and the w r i t i n g on the w a l l . evening  Guthlac  i s v i s i t e d morning and  by an angel who teaches him t o read men's s e c r e t  thoughts.  As he l i e s dying, a l i g h t from heaven shines  around him, and a sweet vapour r i s e s from h i s mouth. A l l these men a r e l e a d e r s and t e a c h e r s ; even Guthlac, the hermit,  g i v e s i n s t r u c t i o n and moral l e a d e r s h i p t o the  d i s c i p l e who v i s i t s him. Almost a l l c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y can be r e l a t e d t o an u n d e r l y i n g p a t t e r n o f l i n k i n g and contrasting stereotypes. the e s p e c i a l concern  The female c h a r a c t e r s , which a r e  o f t h i s study,  background, and understood  must be s e t a g a i n s t  i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n t o the o v e r a l l  p a t t e r n of, mainly male, s t e r e o t y p e s . r o l e s f o r women a r e t o be found  Few s i g n i f i c a n t  i n the c u l t u r a l m i l i e u o f  the p o e t r y : the a r i s t o c r a t i c , male world whose l i f e The  this  o f the comitatus,  c e n t r e s on the meadhall and t h e b a t t l e f i e l d .  c h a r a c t e r q u a l i t i e s t o be found  i n the major  stereotypes  are chosen f o r the sake o f t h e i r a p p l i c a b i l i t y t o r e t a i n e r or l o r d .  Such q u a l i t i e s ,  as we have seen, are l e a d e r s h i p  (good or bad),  strength  (whether i t be d e d i c a t e d  or wanton v i o l e n c e ) , g e n e r o s i t y and p r i d e i n achievement or s i n f u l arrogance). found behind  courage  (and i t s converse,  meanness),  (whether h e r o i c s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e  The  same a t t i t u d e of mind to be  the Anglo-Saxon laws, with t h e i r  d i v i s i o n s between the c l a s s e s of s o c i e t y and  sharp their  s p e c i f i c a t i o n of the r u l e s f o r each c l a s s , l i e s behind c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n the poetry, q u a l i t i e s i s considered character-type.  The  the  where a f i x e d range of  a p p r o p r i a t e to a c e r t a i n  l i t e r a r y c h a r a c t e r s are v i s u a l i s e d i n  terms of t h e i r r o l e s as e i t h e r members of or l e a d e r s of a band of w a r r i o r s , or, i n the case of the e x i l e , d e f i n e d by the very f a c t of being excluded There are o n l y one  or two  are  from t h a t group.  female s t e r e o t y p e s which can  have a p l a c e i n such a m i l i e u .  The p a r t s t h a t remain  a v a i l a b l e to women c h a r a c t e r s are e i t h e r r a t h e r parts accessory  they  to the comitatus  slight  group, or a f e m i n i s a t i o n  of male r o l e s . In the former category  comes the type of the good  queen, t h a t i s , the l e a d e r ' s w i f e who  has  to p l a y i n the f e s t i v i t i e s of the h a l l .  a ceremonial She  corresponds  t o the h i s t o r i c a l queens i n the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d , as we know from the C h r o n i c l e and  This  character-type  any v i r t u o u s noblewoman regarded  a formal appurtenance of the meadhall l i f e . some scanty evidence  who,  from c h a r t e r s , r e g u l a r l y  played a formal p a r t i n p u b l i c a f f a i r s . i n c l u d e s by extension  of a "bad  part  as  There i s a l s o  queen" type, "the a n t i t h e s i s  78 of the good queen, as Heremod i s a n t i t h e t i c a l t o S c y l d . And  there a r e minimal t r a c e s o f a servant  type,  c o n t r a s t i n g with the type of the noblewoman. no Amazons i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y : no female  also  There a r e counterpart  of the male r o l e s i n which p h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h i s an important constituent. has  The moral s t r e n g t h of the s p i r i t u a l  i t s female c o u n t e r p a r t  lengthy  i n the woman s a i n t .  treatment o f t h i s type  leader  The f a i r l y  ( i t i s the s u b j e c t o f t h r e e  long poems) i n a poetry which s c a r c e l y abounds i n female characters,  i s , o f course.,  t o be a t t r i b u t e d t o the  i n f l u e n c e o f the Church r a t h e r than the n a t i v e h e r o i c tradition.  Finally,  s t r i k i n g adaptation  there i s , i n two short poems, a o f the e x i l e theme t o the s i t u a t i o n  of women c h a r a c t e r s . Examples of the i d e a l queen a r e Wealhtheow and Hygd i n Beowulf, E a l h h i l d i n W i d s i t h , sinchroden  and the nameless  l a d y i n The Husband's Message.  T h i s type i s  d e f i n e d as much by the r o y a l p o s i t i o n and the formal f u n c t i o n s t h a t go with i t as by p e r s o n a l  qualities.  One  of the two Old E n g l i s h gnomic poems, c o l l e c t i o n s of aphorisms which l a r g e l y c o n s i s t i n d e f i n i n g the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c q u a l i t i e s of things, contains a d e s c r i p t i o n , much longer of a queen. him  than the u s u a l gnomic d e f i n i t i o n ,  of the nature  She i s bought by h e r husband; she j o i n s w i t h  i n being generous with g i f t s t o the r e t a i n e r s , and  g i v i n g them c o u n s e l ;  she i s c h e e r f u l , wise, and w e l l  at banquets she o f f e r s the cup f i r s t t o her husband  loved;  79 (Maxims I, 11. 81-92). essence of  As set out i n t h i s d e f i n i t i o n ,  the  of the queen i s c o n s t i t u t e d by her being the l a d y  the comitatus,  the complement of i t s l o r d .  She  shares  her husband's p r e s c r i b e d q u a l i t i e s of g e n e r o s i t y , kindliness,  and p o p u l a r i t y , but h i s more a g g r e s s i v e  qualities  are r e p l a c e d i n her by wisdom and good c o u n s e l . The v a r i o u s good queens i n Old E n g l i s h poetry a l l be r e l a t e d to the archetype  i n Maxims I.  Hygelac's  w i f e Hygd i s w i s e — i n s p i t e of her young years,  and  generous  i n The  (Beowulf, 11. 1926b-31a).  The  can  speaker  Husband's Message assures the l a d y t h a t she w i l l be r e u n i t e d w i t h her husband and they w i l l  ". . . aetsomne  ond gesibum s [ i n c b r y t n i a n ] , / naeglede  . . . secgum  beagas"  (11.  o  33-35a).  In Beowulf i t i s Wealhtheow w i t h whom ceremony  and c o u r t e s y are e s p e c i a l l y a s s o c i a t e d i n the scenes.  On  two  comes forward,  banqueting  o c c a s i o n s , the poet d e s c r i b e s how o f f e r s the cup to Hrothgar  first  she (i.e.,  presumably, b e f o r e she c a r r i e s i t to the o t h e r s i n the hall),  and b i d s him be i n good s p i r i t s  H62b-71a) . Again,  She  i s c l e a r l y performing  i t i s she who  (11. 612b-18a and a f i x e d ceremony.  f o r m a l l y p r e s e n t s Beowulf with the  g i f t s g i v e n him a f t e r the defeat of G r e n d e l . However, Wealhtheow, though d i r e c t l y based on simple  the  s t e r e o t y p e of the i d e a l queen, i s the v e h i c l e f o r  one of the Beowulf poet's  subtlest effects.  The  poet  b r i n g s her c o u r t e s y and d i s c r e t i o n i n t o p l a y w i t h h i n t s of  the f u t u r e d i s a s t e r t h a t awaits her f a m i l y , as  she  80 expresses her confidence t h a t her nephew H r o t h u l f w i l l good t o her sons.  Thus, the c o n v e n t i o n a l f i g u r e of the  courteous queen i s used  i n r a t h e r a s p e c i a l way.  other, more b r i e f l y presented, are a l s o caught  be  Two  r o y a l l a d i e s i n Beowulf  up i n d i s a s t e r : Wealhtheow s 1  daughter  Freawaru, and H i l d e b u r h i n the Finnsburh episode. the three women are p a r a l l e l f i g u r e s , used w i t h  Indeed,  cumulative  e f f e c t i n the development of one of the t r a g i c themes i n Beowulf, and v e r y f a r removed from the s t a t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n of q u e e n l i n e s s found i n Hygd, i n The Husband's Message, 9 i n W i d s i t h , and The  i n Maxims I.  c h a r a c t e r of T h r y t h or Mod thryth"'"^ i n Beowulf  i s s p e c i f i c a l l y c o n t r a s t e d with the i d e a l i s e d Hygd. i s e v e r y t h i n g t h a t a good queen should not be: and d i s r u p t i v e , man  Thryth  violent  i n s t e a d of g e n t l e and r e c o n c i l i n g .  I f any  so much as dares t o look at her, he must d i e .  F o r t u n a t e l y , T h r y t h i s f i n a l l y married and reformed the h e r o i c O f f a .  by  Thryth i s the o n l y c h a r a c t e r of her k i n d  i n Old E n g l i s h poetry, but her resemblance to the arrogant p r i n c e s s of f o l k t a l e , and t o such f i g u r e s as A t a l a n t a , and  B r u n h i l d of the N i b e l u n q e n l i e d , i n h e r o i c legend  suggests t h a t she i s p r o b a b l y the o n l y s u r v i v i n g r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of an e s t a b l i s h e d type."'""'" o p p o s i t i o n to Hygd corresponds  A l s o , her d i r e c t  to the r e g u l a r p a t t e r n s of  Old E n g l i s h poetry, i n which the c h a r a c t e r - t y p e s are c r e a t e d l a r g e l y on the b a s i s of c o n t r a s t . resemblance,  T h r y t h bears  i n name as w e l l as c h a r a c t e r , to the  wicked  81 D r i d a o r Quendrida i n the ( l a t e r ) L a t i n account  o f the  1 o  l i f e o f O f f a o f Mercia.  The o n l y other wicked woman  i n Old E n g l i s h poetry i s G r e n d e l s 1  case.  mother, who i s a s p e c i a l  C h a r a c t e r i s e d i n p a r t as demon-exile, i n p a r t as  l o y a l avenger, she i s a s t r i k i n g example o f the v i v i d e f f e c t s which can be c r e a t e d by combining d i f f e r e n t s t e r e o t y p e s , but there i s nothing d i s t i n c t i v e l y  feminine  about h e r . The  type o f the s e r v a n t - g i r l was probably  used f o r i n c i d e n t a l r e f e r e n c e and never regarded central interest.  That  only as of  such a type e x i s t e d i s t o be  i n f e r r e d from two c u r s o r y r e f e r e n c e s i n the R i d d l e s t o 13 dark-haired  (female) Welsh s l a v e s .  The r e f e r e n c e s a r e  contemptuous, and o b v i o u s l y a c o n t r a s t i s intended between the d a r k - h a i r e d  (and hence ugly) menials  and t h e  f a i r - h a i r e d noblewomen who r e p r e s e n t i d e a l s o f beauty and  grace. The  l i e s behind  strong background o f L a t i n t r a d i t i o n which i t e x p l a i n s t h e f a c t t h a t the woman s a i n t i s  the most h i g h l y developed  of the female c h a r a c t e r - r o l e s .  R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f t h i s type c o n s t i t u t e the main f i g u r e s i n three long O l d E n g l i s h poems: J u l i a n a , Elene, and Judith.  S t r i c t l y speaking,  but the treatment  J u d i t h i s not a s a i n t a t a l l ,  of her i n the poem i s o b v i o u s l y indebted  to h a g i o g r a p h i c t r a d i t i o n .  J u s t as the same q u a l i t i e s  are a t t r i b u t e d t o Old-Testament p a t r i a r c h s and C h r i s t i a n (male) s a i n t s , J u d i t h i s presented along the same l i n e s as  82 Helena and  Juliana.  L i k e the male s a i n t s , t h e i r female  counterparts  are both set apart by e s p e c i a l h o l i n e s s and an a u t h o r i t y t h a t expresses i t s e l f others.  The  endowed w i t h  i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s with  miraculous element c o n v e n t i o n a l l y  associated  w i t h the s a i n t i s the most s t r o n g l y marked i n J u l i a n a , where the h e r o i n e (although  i s d i v i n e l y preserved  she does f i n a l l y  as i n D a n i e l ,  from her  s u f f e r martyrdom) .  torments  In J u l i a n a ,  the f i r e prepared f o r the v i r t u o u s  (the  s a i n t i n J u l i a n a , the Three H o l y C h i l d r e n i n Daniel) upon the wicked.  In Elene,  turns  the miraculous element i s more  c l o s e l y connected with J u d a s - C y r i a c u s than w i t h Helena h e r s e l f , but  i t i s at her b i d d i n g  m i r a c l e t o r e v e a l the b u r i e d Judith's  t h a t Judas prays f o r a  c r o s s , and  l a t e r the  nails.  single-handed triumph over H o l o f e r n e s i s not  p r e c i s e l y a m i r a c l e , but d i r e c t i n t e r v e n t i o n of As  i t i s presented as due  to  the  God.  f o r the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c q u a l i t y of  leadership,  Helena i s t r e a t e d as the l e a d e r of her people i n the account of the Greeks' e x p e d i t i o n J u d i t h i s a m a r t i a l heroine I s r a e l i t e s w i t h confidence a way  who and  i n s p i r e s the  over o t h e r s  cross. fearful  leads them to v i c t o r y i n  s i m i l a r to Moses i n Exodus.  representative  to f i n d the  J u l i a n a i s not  a  of her people, but her n a t u r a l a u t h o r i t y  i s stressed.  of her f a t h e r and  She  s u i t o r , and  complaining the f i e n d sent  responds b o l d l y to the  threat  reduces t o h e l p l e s s  from h e l l t o tempt her.  Judith'  83 s l a y i n g o f H o l o f e r n e s i s not i n i t s e l f a g r e a t f e a t , s i n c e he i s i n a stupor a t the time, but i t i s presented as an a c t of f i e r c e d e t e r m i n a t i o n with an emphasis on the gory details.  Helena  rebukes the Jews i n a s e r i e s o f vehement  speeches,  f i n a l l y t h r e a t e n i n g them w i t h v i o l e n t death i f  they continue t o o b s t r u c t her e n q u i r i e s . In a l l these r e s p e c t s , the female  s a i n t s embody  the same c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s as t h e i r male c o u n t e r p a r t s . t h e i r q u a l i t i e s of l e a d e r s h i p and courage, both male and female,  In  the s a i n t s ,  are conceived along the same l i n e s  as the f i g u r e s i n the n a t i v e t r a d i t i o n o f w a r r i o r p o e t r y . But a t the same time as the poets s t r e s s the m i l i t a n t nature of the female feminine beauty  s a i n t s , they emphasise t h e i r  and charm.  Reference  idealised  i s made t o J u d i t h ' s  c u r l i n g h a i r when she i s i n the very a c t of k i l l i n g Holofernes  (11. 1036-04).  Helena  i n the midst o f the Greek  army i s d e s c r i b e d as s i n c g i m (1. 264). J u l i a n a ' s beauty rouses wonder i n the crowd bridegroom  c a l l s her "sunnan scima"  her r a d i a n c e  (glaem,  h e r o i n e ' s beauty and,  (11. 162b-63a).  of course,  1. 167) .  Her p r o s p e c t i v e  (1. 166) and speaks o f  T h i s emphasis on the  suggests a l i n k with the i d e a l queen., i s a l s o indebted t o the C h r i s t i a n  tradition  of v i r g i n s a i n t s stemming i n p a r t from v e n e r a t i o n o f the V i r g i n Mary h e r s e l f . Helena,  However, i n J u d i t h , J u l i a n a , and  the combination  of two p r e s c r i b e d s e t s of q u a l i t i e s ,  the manly h e r o i c and the d e l i c a t e feminine, i s i n c o n s i s t e n t . I t i n v o l v e s a departure from r e a l i t y ,  and the r e s u l t s a r e  84 rather  stilted. Although the same v e n e r a t i o n  o f the V i r g i n and o f  women s a i n t s ( u s u a l l y v i r g i n s ) , which l i e s behind the three saint-poems i s a l s o connected with the v e n e r a t i o n accorded t o the r e a l - l i f e abbesses o f the Anglo-Saxon p e r i o d , the p o e t i c s a i n t s a r e not the d i r e c t of t h e i r r e a l - l i f e c o u n t e r p a r t s  reflection  i n the same way as the  queens of Anglo-Saxon h e r o i c p o e t r y r e f l e c t the p o s i t i o n of r e a l queens.  There i s something i n h e r e n t l y u n r e a l and  unworldly about Helena, J u l i a n a , and J u d i t h . character-type  of the female s a i n t does not a l l o w f o r t h e  more p r a c t i c a l q u a l i t i e s shine through the,  (e.g., H i l d s 1  admittedly  which  f o r the poetic  i s based, not on a s t y l i s a t i o n of r e a l i t y ,  but on a h y p o t h e t i c a l The  "prudentia")  s t y l i s e d , p r e s e n t a t i o n of  Anglo-Saxon abbesses i n the prose, presentation  The  ideal.  two poems about women e x i l e s show a much more  remarkable a d a p t a t i o n  o f a male r o l e t o a female s i t u a t i o n .  Here the p l o t s a r e not f o l l o w i n g L a t i n sources and prescribed traditions.  Their adaptation  independent, and more t r u e t o l i f e .  i s f r e e r , more  The o n l y poems i n O l d  E n g l i s h which employ a female n a r r a t o r a r e these two ' e l e g i e s ' : The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer.  These  poems d e s c r i b e the misery of s e p a r a t i o n from loved ones i n terms d e r i v e d from the same f o r m u l a i c t r a d i t i o n as the e l e g i e s with male speakers, n o t a b l y Seafarer.  The Wanderer and The  But i n The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer  85 the reason l o r d and  f o r the speaker's  g r i e f i s s e p a r a t i o n , not  comrades, but from husband or l o v e r .  f a c t t h a t a l o v e - r e l a t i o n s h i p presented  The  from the  from  very  feminine  p o i n t of view appears o n l y i n these two poems has meant that many s c h o l a r s have not acknowledged them as love spoken by women.  The Wife's Lament was  originally  c o n s i d e r e d the lament of a male e x i l e , and t h i s pretation i s s t i l l was  at f i r s t  defended by some.  regarded  s c h o l a r s now  lyrics  Wulf and  interEadwacer  as a r i d d l e , though n e a r l y a l l  accept i t as a l o v e l y r i c .  However, t h e r e i s  a v i t a l d i f f e r e n c e between these two poems and the other elegies,  i n t h a t a more i n t i m a t e and p e r s o n a l atmosphere  pervades i n the l o v e l y r i c s .  The  emphasis here i s on a  r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h one o t h e r person r a t h e r than with a group, and the i n t e n s i t y of p a s s i o n i s not subdued by g e n e r a l i s e d reflection,  as i t i s i n the e l e g i e s w i t h male  speakers.  Thus, the tone of the l o v e poems i s q u i t e d i f f e r e n t : more poignant  both  and more p a s s i o n a t e .  Very few of the c h a r a c t e r s i n Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y f a i l to conform t o one  s t e r e o t y p e or another.  Some of the  more s t r i k i n g c h a r a c t e r s are c r e a t e d by p u t t i n g t o g e t h e r 14  two  different  stereotypes.  out as i n d i v i d u a l s are r a r e . stylised  figure.  I f we  But the c h a r a c t e r s who  stand  Even Beowulf i s a h i g h l y  look f o r e x c e p t i o n s , we  find  the  o c c a s i o n a l case of a c h a r a c t e r momentarily brought to v i v i d l i f e by a touch of humour or human weakness, or, on a more s u s t a i n e d l e v e l , deepened by the suggestion of i n n e r  86 c o n f l i c t and  struggle.  the longest,  and  poem, p r o v i d e s h i s pedestal  I t i s not remarkable that Beowulf,  perhaps the most s o p h i s t i c a t e d Old  an  i n s t a n c e of each.  Beowulf descends from  f o r a moment when he a d m i n i s t e r s  rebuke to U n f e r t h :  "'Hwaet,  / beore druncen ymb  English  a tart  pu worn f e l a , wine min Unfer<3,  Brecan spraece "  (11. 530-31) ^  1  A  l i v e l y passage of a very d i f f e r e n t k i n d i s the d e s c r i p t i o n of Hengest i n the Finnsburh episode, f o r c e d to  follow  h i s l o r d ' s s l a y e r , and brooding a l l the winter,  torn  h i s f r u s t r a t e d longing  f o r vengeance.  passages, but they are  exceptional.  These are  by  vivid  However, a c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the examples of female characterisation in p a r t i c u l a r reveals a surprising proportion  of f i g u r e s who  s i g n i f i c a n t way.  The  depart from the norms i n some  three h a p l e s s  queens i n Beowulf have  a t r a g i c dimension which transcends t h e i r  traditional  q u a l i t i e s as g r a c e f u l helpmeets.  female e x i l e s  show a k i n d of p e r s o n a l male c o u n t e r p a r t s .  passion  The  not to be found i n t h e i r  In t,hese cases,  t u r n i n g t o female c h a r a c t e r s  two  the poets seem t o  be  f o r s p e c i a l e f f e c t s , and  using them to go beyond the r i g i d l i n e s of convention. Two  f u r t h e r instances  s p e c i a l a t t e n t i o n : Eve  of female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n merit i n Genesis B and  Mary ,in C h r i s t I.  Here we have examples of c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n which does not merely transcend  the s t e r e o t y p e s ,  but v i r t u a l l y  ignores  them a l t o g e t h e r . In the temptation scene of Genesis B and  in Division  87 V I I of C h r i s t wife presented  I, we have a c o n v e r s a t i o n between husband and i n human, domestic terms.  The former scene  i s a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f the s t r u g g l e between Adam and Eve, when Eve, having  sinned h e r s e l f ,  to eat the f a t a l apple. m o t i f of the "doubting that h i s betrothed In each case,  i s tempting  h e r husband  The l a t t e r scene c o n t a i n s the o f Mary," i n which Joseph, aware  i s with c h i l d ,  accuses  her o f u n c h a s t i t y .  the s i t u a t i o n i s one i n which the l a r g e - s c a l e  h e r o i c a n t i t h e s e s have no p l a c e , f o r the poet  i s rendering  a p e r s o n a l c o n v e r s a t i o n between two o r d i n a r y people.  Much  of the f o r m a l i t y of the O l d E n g l i s h p o e t i c s t y l e remains, but n e v e r t h e l e s s these scenes have an intimacy and immediacy unusual  i n Old E n g l i s h verse.  passages have a strong dramatic  quality,  Moreover,  both  and t h e r e i s  c o n s i d e r a b l e p s y c h o l o g i c a l r e a l i s m i n the way i n which the t e n s i o n s o f the s i t u a t i o n are conveyed. scene a c t u a l l y uses the dramatic connections  are omitted  form: the n a r r a t i v e  i n order t o make the c o n f r o n t a t i o n  between the two speakers makes a b o l d departure  The C h r i s t I  more v i v i d .  The Genesis  B scene  of a d i f f e r e n t k i n d , i n making Eve  s i n with good i n t e n t i o n s .  In both passages, the male  c h a r a c t e r ' s s t a t e of mind i s of g r e a t e r complexity, he i s t o r n by c o n f l i c t i n g impulses,  because  but i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t  t h a t the o c c a s i o n f o r t h i s c o n f l i c t i s a domestic confrontation.  Though the mental s i t u a t i o n o f the male  c h a r a c t e r i s more complex, the p e r s o n a l i t y o f the female c h a r a c t e r i s more powerful.  In both  scenes,  the more  88 p e r s u a s i v e argument i s g i v e n t o the women: t o Mary i n C h r i s t  I and t o Eve i n Genesis B. and  The e f f e c t i s extremely  lively,  the use of female f i g u r e s t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t  e s t a b l i s h e d by convention,  i . e . , from the r a t h e r f l a t  p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e good queen o r the more vigorous, b u t u l t i m a t e l y unconvincing  p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e female s a i n t s .  With regard t o the female as w e l l as t h e male c h a r a c t e r s o f O l d E n g l i s h poetry, there a r e c e r t a i n well-marked types t o which most of the persons p o e t r y conform.  i n the  The use o f s t e r e o t y p e s does not i n i t s e l f  make c h a r a c t e r s c o l d and l i f e l e s s , but can g i v e them the f o r c e of f a m i l i a r a s s o c i a t i o n s and emotions s t r o n g l y f e l t . Beowulf and Byrhtnoth a r e compelling c h a r a c t e r s i n t h e i r way,  but they have a c e r t a i n r i g i d i t y and l i m i t a t i o n .  female s t e r e o t y p e s , however, have l i t t l e  inherent  The  appeal  to the i m a g i n a t i o n : the c o n v e n t i o n a l queens a r e p a s s i v e , and the women s a i n t s j a r r i n g and i n c o n s i s t e n t . it  Nevertheless,  i s among the female c h a r a c t e r s , o r i n c l o s e a s s o c i a t i o n  w i t h them, t h a t the most s e a r c h i n g and s u b t l e treatment of c h a r a c t e r takes p l a c e .  May t h i s not be simply because the  female c h a r a c t e r s a r e f r e e o f the weight o f convention? With the e x c e p t i o n o f the s a i n t s , developed  the one s u b s t a n t i a l l y  female type, the female c h a r a c t e r s belong  i n c i d e n t a l s and the byways o f . t h e p o e t r y .  t o the  There a r e no  prominent and a c t i v e r o l e s f o r them t o f u l f i l ,  and f o r t h i s  v e r y reason they a r e a v a i l a b l e f o r a d i f f e r e n t k i n d of e x p l o r a t i o n : i n the area o f s u f f e r i n g and thought  rather  89 than a c t i o n , and of p r i v a t e r a t h e r than p u b l i c experience. In the f o l l o w i n g chapters, I s h a l l examine the v a r i o u s k i n d s of female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n turn,  i n order to  develop the i m p l i c a t i o n s of t h i s h y p o t h e s i s i n more detail.  90 Footnotes "'"A c l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the v a r i o u s male types i s i n c i d e n t a l l y suggested by G. N. Garmonsway, a t the beginning of h i s essay "Anglo-Saxon H e r o i c A t t i t u d e s , " F r a n c i p l e g i u s : Medieval and L i n g u i s t i c S t u d i e s i n Honor of F r a n c i s Peabody Maqoun, J r . , eds. J . B., B e s s i n g e r and R. P. Creed (New York, 1965), p. 139. However, Garmonsway i s t h i n k i n g of a s p e c t s of the hero, r a t h e r than of a g e n e r a l classification: "Many d i f f e r e n t a t t i t u d e s and types of v a l o r and h e r o i c s e l f - a s s e r t i o n are graded b e f o r e our eyes, e x h i b i t e d as p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s of the i d e a l hero, the aged wise k i n g , the young r e c k l e s s w a r r i o r , the f a i t h f u l c o u n c i l o r , the f a i t h f u l r e t a i n e r , and o t h e r s t h a t are r e a d i l y apparent." In "The Main L i t e r a r y Types of Men i n the Germanic Hero-Sagas," JEGP, 14 (1915), 212-25, Grace von Sweringen attempted a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n based on the v e r s i o n s of Germanic legends p r e s e r v e d i n v a r i o u s languages. Her c a t e g o r i e s are: the l o v e r , the h o s t i l e kinsman, the avenger (comprising the subtypes of the kinsman, the son, the b r o t h e r , and the v a s s a l ) , the t u t o r , v i c t i m s of f a t e , the t r a i t o r , the k i n g . Von Sweringen does not e v a l u a t e the e s s e n t i a l f e a t u r e s of each type, but merely l i s t s the persons who belong t o i t , g i v i n g a summary of the s i t u a t i o n i n which they are involved. She l i s t s female c h a r a c t e r s i n the same way i n her e a r l i e r a r t i c l e "Women i n the Germanic Hero-Sagas," JEGP, 8 (1909), 501-12. 2 Except where otherwise s t a t e d , a l l c i t a t i o n s of Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y are taken from the c o l l e c t e d e d i t i o n of G. P. Krapp and E. V. K. Dobbie, The Anglo-Saxon P o e t i c Records, 6 v o l s . (New York, 1931-53). H e r e a f t e r r e f e r r e d to as ASPR. 3 The concept of p r i d e as a necessary i n g r e d i e n t i n the h e r o i c c h a r a c t e r i s d i s c u s s e d by L e v i n Schucking i n h i s monograph H e l d e n s t o l z und Wlirde im A n g e l s a c h s i s c h e n , Abhandlunq der P h i l . - h i s t . K l a s s e der sachs. Akademie der Wissenschaften, 42, no. 5 ( L e i p z i g , 193 3). Schucking enumerates the q u a l i t i e s of the hero and the method of p r e s e n t i n g them, most f r e q u e n t l y i n speeches. He d i s t i n g u i s h e s between two k i n d s of p r i d e : the h e r o i c ( a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the j u s t i f i a b l e boast or b e o t ) , and the s i n f u l ( a s s o c i a t e d with the v a i n g l o r i o u s boast or q y l p ) , pp. 6-9. 4 j . R. R. T o l k i e n a t t r i b u t e s the t r a g i c q u a l i t y t o a f a t a l f l a w i n both Byrhtnoth and Beowulf: h e r o i c "excess," "Ofermod," Essays and S t u d i e s , n.s., 6 (1953), 13-18. S i m i l a r l y , E. G. S t a n l e y regards Beowulf as a v i r t u o u s pagan g u i l t y of a v a r i c e and v a i n g l o r y , "Haethenra Hyht i n  91 Beowulf," S t u d i e s i n Old E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e i n Honor of A r t h u r G. Brodeur, ed. S. B. G r e e n f i e l d (Eugene, Oregon, 1963), p. 147. Another c r i t i c who a t t r i b u t e s the t r a g i c q u a l i t y of Beowulf's s i t u a t i o n t o a f a t a l f l a w i s Margaret Goldsmith; she regards both Beowulf and Hrothgar as v i c t i m s of p r i d e , "The C h r i s t i a n P e r s p e c t i v e i n Beowulf," CL, 14 (1962) , 71-80. 5  "The Formulaic E x p r e s s i o n of the Theme of ' E x i l e ' i n Anglo-Saxon Poetry," Speculum, 30 (1955), 200-06. The type of the wise s o l i t a r y i s t o be found not o n l y i n The Wanderer and The S e a f a r e r , but a l s o i n the n a r r a t o r s of o t h e r e l e g i a c poems: Deor, R e s i g n a t i o n , and The Rhyming Poem. Hrothgar i n t e r s p e r s e s the above d e s c r i p t i o n of Heremod w i t h e x i l i c touches: "'. . . h e ana hwearf, / maere peoden, mondreamum from'" (11. 1714b-15); "'dreamleas gebad'" (1. 1720). The c l o s e connection of the wicked t y r a n t with the e x i l e t h a t he subsequently becomes i n h i s punishment i s a l s o to be seen i n Nebuchadnezzar, who i n h i s b e s t i a l s t a t e i n the w i l d e r n e s s i s d e s c r i b e d as "wundorlic wrecca" (Daniel, 1. 633). I quote R. F. L e s l i e ' s Three Old E n g l i s h E l e g i e s (Manchester, 1961) at t h i s p o i n t i n s t e a d of Krapp's and Dobbie's c o l l e c t e d e d i t i o n , s i n c e L e s l i e s u p p l i e s the words necessary t o complete the sentence. The manuscript i s damaged here, but c l e a r l y the r e f e r e n c e i s t o persons g i v i n g out t r e a s u r e t o g e t h e r , whether or not we accept the words " s i n e b r y t n i a n " suggested by L e s l i e . 9 A f i g u r e somewhat resembling the unfortunate queens i n Beowulf i s Beaduhild i n Deor. L i k e them, she i s f o r c e d to s u f f e r misery because of a feud. Weland wreaks vengeance on her f a t h e r , Nithhad, by k i l l i n g h i s sons, and r a p i n g Beaduhild, who bears him a son. U n l i k e the Beowulf poet, the author of Deor does not e x p l o i t the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of t h i s s i t u a t i o n , but merely a l l u d e s t o i t very b r i e f l y as one of h i s examples of m i s f o r t u n e . 8  "^The r e a d i n g i s u n c e r t a i n . See Klaeber, Beowulf and the F i g h t a t Finnsburg, 3rd ed. (Boston, 1950), pp. 198-99. "'"•'"Cf. Klaeber, who sees i n the T h r y t h d i g r e s s i o n the "Taming of the Shrew" motif, e d i t i o n , p. 195. Thryth may a l s o be compared with the u n r e g e n e r a t e l y wicked Queen Semiramis, i n A l f r e d ' s t r a n s l a t i o n of O r o s i u s . 12 The V i t a Duorum Offarum, w r i t t e n c. 1200. In t h i s work, the name of the woman a s s o c i a t e d w i t h O f f a I I seems  92 t o d e r i v e from a c o n f u s i o n between the legendary Thryth and the h i s t o r i c a l wife of O f f a of Mercia (Offa I I ) , Cynethryth. See Klaeber, e d i t i o n , pp. 196-98, and E d i t h R i c k e r t , "The Old E n g l i s h O f f a Saga," MP, 2 (1904-05), 29-76 and 321-76. 13 1. 6,  See R i d d l e 12, "wonfah Wale."  1. 8,  "wonfeax Wale"; R i d d l e  52,  B e o w u l f and Byrhtnoth have a l r e a d y been mentioned as c h a r a c t e r s who combine s t e r e o t y p e s a s s o c i a t e d with youth and age r e s p e c t i v e l y . In Ongentheow, the Beowulf poet c r e a t e s a c h a r a c t e r who does not merely pass from the d e f i a n c e of youth to the r e s i g n a t i o n of age, but i s s t r i k i n g because he i s aged and a g g r e s s i v e at the same time: " e a l d and e g e s f u l l " (1. 2929). Grendel's mother, as noted above, a l s o p r e s e n t s an unusual and e f f e c t i v e combination of s t e r e o t y p e s . 14  l ^ C f . the l i n e s i n Andreas where the hero shows a l i t t l e cowardice and suggests t h a t God send an angel, r a t h e r than h i m s e l f , t o rescue Matthew from the c a n n i b a l s of Mermedonia (11. 190-201).  93  CHAPTER I I I FROM THE PROVERBIAL POETRY TO BEOWULF: THE TRADITIONAL FIGURE OF THE IDEALISED WOMAN AND ITS EXTENSION We have seen t h a t t h e r e i s one h i g h l y developed female s t e r e o t y p e i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y : the s a i n t .  The  p r e s c r i b e d l i n e s of c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n f o r t h i s type a r e very r i g i d ,  and have t o do w i t h moral e d i f i c a t i o n r a t h e r  than f a i t h f u l n e s s t o human nature.  The o t h e r main female  s t e r e o t y p e , the elements of which a r e e q u a l l y standard, but more sketchy,  i s the i d e a l i s e d queen.  The good queen  i s the female s t e r e o t y p e most commonly found poetry, but, as noted  i n the s e c u l a r  i n the p r e v i o u s chapter, there a r e  h i n t s of o t h e r t y p e s : the bad queen, and the s e r v a n t - g i r l . F u r t h e r , these types a r e based on p r o v e r b i a l q u a l i t i e s , good and bad, a s s o c i a t e d w i t h women.  The f i g u r e of the  good queen merges i n t o t h a t o f the good woman, o r the d e s i r a b l e woman, and the i d e a l woman i s d e f i n e d , both p o s i t i v e l y and n e g a t i v e l y , by the ways i n which she f u l f i l s her s o c i a l f u n c t i o n . simplest  The d e f i n i t i o n i s found a t i t s  i n the p r o v e r b i a l p o e t r y of the Anglo-Saxons: the  R i d d l e s and the Maxims (the two gnomic poems) . There i s another group o f p r o v e r b i a l poems, the  94 Charms—incantations but these  t o cure s i c k n e s s o r a v e r t  misfortune,  c o n t a i n no r e a l female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n .  What  we do f i n d i n the Charms are h i n t s a t the e x i s t e n c e o f powerful  s u p e r n a t u r a l women.  The "hags" i n "For a Sudden  S t i t c h " r i d e l o u d l y over a h i l l ,  t o shoot spears  person a f f l i c t e d with the s t i t c h .  In "For  Land, " "there i s an i n v o c a t i o n t o Erce,  a t the  Unfruitful  "eorpan modor, "  who may be the e q u i v a l e n t o f the Germanic f e r t i l i t y goddess Nerthus mentioned by T a c i t u s .  These a r e s l i g h t i n d i c a t i o n s  t h a t , i n c o n t r a s t t o the p o e t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n of human women, who, i n a s e c u l a r context,  are normally  i n the framework o f p r e - C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n , women could be regarded  inactive,  supernatural  as a g g r e s s i v e beings.  There i s ,  perhaps, a l i n k here with the m i l i t a n t s a i n t s of the C h r i s t i a n poetry,  although,  of course  the s u p e r n a t u r a l  women o f pagan o r i g i n can be malevolent  as w e l l as  beneficent. U n l i k e the Charms, the R i d d l e s and Maxims do c o n t a i n a s p r i n k l i n g o f human, and s p e c i f i c a l l y , characterisation.  female,  These k i n d s of poetry do not lend  themselves t o extended treatment of c h a r a c t e r , but the l a t t e r two groups o f poems a r e o f i n t e r e s t i n the enquiry because they g i v e evidence  present  of a background of  thought which i s elsewhere u t i l i s e d i n a much more substantial piece of characterisation.  I r e f e r t o the  poem Beowulf, i n which the f i g u r e s of Wealhtheow, 1  and  Hildeburh,  Freawaru are based on the type o f the v i r t u o u s queen,  95 but go f a r beyond i t . To begin,  I s h a l l examine the R i d d l e s and Maxims.  Both o f these genres have t h e i r r o o t s i n f o l k wisdom, and the p r o v e r b i a l element i n them i s s t r o n g .  The R i d d l e s are  found i n two groups i n the Exeter Book, with a couple o f i s o l a t e d r i d d l e s o c c u r r i n g among the poems s e p a r a t i n g t h e 2 two  series.  Passages of gnomic p o e t r y are common i n O l d  E n g l i s h but here I s h a l l be concerned o n l y with the two e x c l u s i v e l y gnomic poems: Maxims I, i n the Exeter Book, and in  Maxims I I , sometimes r e f e r r e d t o (because o f i t s o r i g i n MS Cotton  T i b e r i u s B.i) as the Cotton Gnomes.  The O l d  E n g l i s h R i d d l e s are t o be a s s o c i a t e d with the groups o f L a t i n r i d d l e s composed by Anglo-Saxon s c h o l a r s i n the l a t e 4 seventh and e a r l y e i g h t h c e n t u r i e s .  Some of the R i d d l e s ,  such as 40 ("Creation") , 60 ("Reed") , and 85 ("Fish and River") e.g.,  a r e based on L a t i n o r i g i n a l s .  Other R i d d l e s ,  26 ("Book"), 47 ("Bookworm"), 48 and 59 ("Chalice"),  have s u b j e c t s with learned, e c c l e s i a s t i c a l  connotations.  In s p i t e o f t h i s learned i n f l u e n c e , there i s a prominent n a t i v e element, and the atmosphere of some o f the R i d d l e s is  more homely than t h a t o f most O l d E n g l i s h poetry.  The  s u b j e c t s a r e o f t e n o b j e c t s f a m i l i a r t o Anglo-Saxon d a i l y l i f e : horn, bow, plough, sun, water, e t c .  The Maxims  c o n s i s t o f p r o v e r b i a l statements d e f i n i n g the u n i v e r s a l and  e s s e n t i a l properties of things: "Frost s h a l l freeze,  f i r e melt wood," e t c . grasping  Both genres are concerned  with  i s o l a t a b l e and r e c u r r e n t f e a t u r e s o f l i f e .  They  96 break experience  down i n t o i t s elements, r a t h e r than  s y n t h e s i s i n g i t i n t o an i m a g i n a t i v e r e c r e a t i o n o f l i f e . Hence, a s u s t a i n e d p o r t r a i t o f c h a r a c t e r — s t e r e o t y p e d o r n o t — i s f o r e i g n t o t h e i r aim, and they c h a r a c t e r - t r a i t s only i n f l a s h e s .  present  Nevertheless,  they  show  us the elements o f female c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n which go t o make up a p r o v e r b i a l type. In the R i d d l e s , men and women f i g u r e much l e s s prominently  than o b j e c t s and n a t u r a l phenomena.  t r u e o f both the more e l a b o r a t e and a r t i s t i c  This i s  poems, such  as the Storm r i d d l e s , and the b r i e f e r and simpler ones. What c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n t h e r e i s i n the R i d d l e s i s mainly the p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n o f inanimate o b j e c t s .  Only r a r e l y  are the s u b j e c t s o f the r i d d l e s human, and then they a r e dehumanised. ("Lot  R i d d l e s 36 ("Homo, M u l i e r , Equus"), 46  and H i s Daughters") , 64 ("Man on Horseback with a  Hawk"), and 86 ("One-Eyed G a r l i c S e l l e r " ) ,  the only  r i d d l e s f o r which persons are g e n e r a l l y proposed as s o l u t i o n s , are a l l l i t t l e  more than problems o f i n g e n u i t y .  R i d d l e 36 p l a y s with l e t t e r s , 64 with runes.  46 and 86 with numbers, and  Sometimes the non-human s u b j e c t s o f the  r i d d l e s a r e d e f i n e d by means o f f a m i l y r e l a t i o n s h i p s ,  for  i n s t a n c e i n R i d d l e 72 ("Ox"): "sweostor min, / fedde mec [. . .] o f t i c feower teah / swaese bro£>or . . . " 5b-7a) .  Such f a m i l i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s a r e used  mechanically.  (11.  fairly  However, there a r e q u i t e a number o f r i d d l e s  i n which the p e r s o n i f i e d o b j e c t i s endowed with  thoughts  97 and  f e e l i n g s of s u r p r i s i n g vigour.  A particularly  striking  example i s the s h i e l d of R i d d l e 5: "Ic eom anhaga i s e r n e wund, / b i l l e gebennad, beadoweorca saed"  (11. 1-2) .  This  l o n e l y warrior, s u f f e r i n g through b a t t l e a f t e r b a t t l e , reminds us of the Wanderer, the Last S u r v i v o r and  the aged Beowulf h i m s e l f .  ( i n Beowulf) ,  The reed o f R i d d l e 60 and  the inkhorn o f R i d d l e 93 a r e a l s o v i v i d l y presented.  The  use of the f i r s t person c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f the R i d d l e s i s i n such poems much more than a grammatical p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n . The  o b j e c t s speak o f the v i c i s s i t u d e s o f t h e i r l i v e s i n a  way t h a t suggests r e a l f e e l i n g ,  and a genuine empathy on  the p a r t o f the poet. The  human background a g a i n s t which the s u b j e c t s  of the R i d d l e s are presented  i s not one i n which women  p l a y a l a r g e p a r t ; i t i s the male world mead h a l l .  The words " Ic seah i n h e a l l e " and paer haelecS 7  druncon" a r e r e c u r r e n t .  Even when another s e t t i n g i s  r e f e r r e d to, the terminology hall.  o f w a r r i o r s and  employed i s s t i l l  t h a t of the  T h i s i s t r u e o f R i d d l e 59, " C h a l i c e , " where the  o b j e c t i s d e s c r i b e d as a golden r i n g seen i n the h a l l . Again,  the b i b l e o f R i d d l e 67 i s found gold-adorned where  men d r i n k . The  u b i q u i t o u s h a l l - s e t t i n g i s the focus o f t h a t  r e l a t i o n s h i p between man and l o r d which pervades the Riddles.  I t i s a r e l a t i o n s h i p u n d e r l y i n g the whole o f O l d  E n g l i s h poetry,  and here i t p r o v i d e s t h e l i n k between t h e  v a r i o u s s o c i a l s t r a t a d e s c r i b e d i n the R i d d l e s , each l a y e r  98 having i t s s e r v a n t s and masters; i t i s a l s o the l i n k between the inanimate and the human realm.  The r e l a t i o n s h i p  between men and women i s but another aspect o f t h i s u n d e r l y i n g background  of thought.  The sun i s the s e r v a n t  of God and a f f l i c t s men w i t h i t s heat "ponne mec min f r e a feohtan hateb"  (Riddle 6, 1. 5) .  The sword o f R i d d l e 20  and the horn o f R i d d l e 80 a r e "frean minum l e o f " both poems) .  The plough serves the ploughman  11. 3 and 15) .  (1. 2 i n  (Riddle 21,  In e x a c t l y the same way, t h e wife i s the  l o y a l servant of her husband.  R i d d l e 61 ("Helmet")  d e s c r i b e s a noblewoman f o r m a l l y a t t e n d i n g her husband and g g i v i n g him h i s a r m o u r — i n  t h i s case, the helmet.  The  a t t i t u d e of d i g n i f i e d s e r v i c e bears out the p a r a l l e l between w i f e l y duty and t h a n e l y duty n o t i c e d i n Chapter I, where we found that the marriage pledge and t h e thane's oath of a l l e g i a n c e employed the same terminology.  The  r e l a t i o n s h i p o f w i f e t o husband i s o n l y a p a r t o f a world of e s s e n t i a l l y male l o y a l t i e s . The appearances and i n c i d e n t a l .  o f women i n t h e R i d d l e s a r e b r i e f  O c c a s i o n a l l y they a r e mentioned,  serving  mead, as one of the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c f e a t u r e s o f the scene i n the h a l l — a l o n g w i t h t h e cups, the benches, d r i n k i n g thanes.  and t h e  These female f i g u r e s a r e accompanied by  stock e p i t h e t s which r e f e r t o s o c i a l c l a s s and e x t e r n a l appearance.  Noblewomen, c e o r l i s c women, and s l a v e s  appear.  The two former c l a s s e s t o some e x t e n t merge i n t o one another i n an i d e a l i s e d type d e f i n e d by such e p i t h e t s as  99 wlonc and h w i t l o c c e d u .  R i d d l e 80 ("Horn") i s a good  example o f the p r e s e n t a t i o n of t h i s  type:  Cwen mec hwilum hwitloccedu hond on l e g e S , e o r l e s dohtor, peah h i o aepelu sy. (11. 3b-5) The queen i n these l i n e s i s i n t r o d u c e d so t h a t the s u b j e c t of  the r i d d l e ,  aristocracy.  the horn, may partake o f her d i g n i t y and R i d d l e 14, which has the same s o l u t i o n ,  l i k e w i s e r e f e r s t o a beaghroden maiden f i l l i n g (11. 9-10a).  R i d d l e 25 ("Onion") speaks o f a " f u l c y r t e n u  c e o r l e s dohtor, 45  the horn  / modwlonc meowle" (11. 6-7a), and R i d d l e  ("Dough") d e s c r i b e s a woman as hygewlonc and "beodnes  dohtor"  (1. 5 ) .  9  The hen o f R i d d l e 42 ("Cock and Hen")  i s p e r s o n i f i e d as h w i t l o c and wlanc i n the p r e v i o u s chapter,  As mentioned  the e x i s t e n c e o f a c o n t r a s t i n g  type, a d a r k - h a i r e d menial, suggested  (11. 3-4).  contemptuously d e s c r i b e d , i s  by a couple o f r e f e r e n c e s t o a "wonfeax Wale"  (Riddle 12, 1. 8; R i d d l e 52, 1. 6 ) .  1 0  A number o f the r i d d l e s i n which women appear c o n t a i n an obscene double-entendre:  R i d d l e s 25 ("Onion"),  44  ("Key"), 45 ("Dough"), 54 ("Churn"), 61 ("Helmet"),  62  ("Boring  T o o l " ) , and 63 ("Cup").  These r i d d l e s a r e  i n t e r e s t i n g i n t h a t they a r e the o n l y p l a c e s i n O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y which d e a l d i r e c t l y with sexual r e l a t i o n s . there i s no more r e a l c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n here than other of t h e R i d d l e s .  However, i n any  The obscene r i d d l e s g i v e a f a i r l y  mechanical account of sexual union,  and t h e i r p o i n t  lies  100 in and  the humorous c o n t r a s t between t h e i r r e s p e c t a b l e their  solutions  ( u s u a l l y much more obvious) obscene i m p l i c a t i o n s .  All  inall,  r o l e assigned  the R i d d l e s g i v e us glimpses of the  t o women.  They a r e seen t o be an i n t e g r a l  p a r t , but a d i s t i n c t l y minor p a r t , o f the s o c i a l m i l i e u presented i n the R i d d l e s .  Often they a r e l i t t l e  than p a r t o f t h e f u r n i t u r e .  more  The d e s c r i p t i o n s of women a r e  not o n l y i n c i d e n t a l , b u t a r e completely e x t e r n a l , and a r e reduced t o a very  few,  standard  features.  The f i g u r e s  of a r i s t o c r a t i c women lend grace t o the l i f e On  a coarser  l e v e l , women d e s c r i b e d  o f the h a l l .  by^similar  epithets  are found as sexual o b j e c t s i n the obscene r i d d l e s . And there a r e two scanty r e f e r e n c e s  t o female s l a v e s ,  again,  s e r v i n g as props i n the scenery, r a t h e r than p l a y i n g a central role.  In a l l these c a t e g o r i e s ,  t h e female f i g u r e  i s presented i n a very f u n c t i o n a l way, and h e r f u n c t i o n i s t h a t o f an accessory  t o the male world.  L i k e the R i d d l e s ,  the Maxims present  women b r i e f l y ,  e x t e r n a l l y , and i n terms of t h e i r s o c i a l f u n c t i o n s .  Both  Maxims I and Maxims II. are very l o o s e s t r u c t u r a l l y .  They  present  a s e r i e s of v i g n e t t e s l i n k e d together  by the  a s s o c i a t i o n s a r i s i n g from a l l i t e r a t i o n • a n d word r a t h e r than by l o g i c a l s e q u e n c e . successive half-line. introduced is  11  connotation  In Maxims I I the  images a r e very b r i e f , o f t e n c o n f i n e d  to a s i n g l e  A l a c o n i c comment on woman's s o c i a l r o l e i s q u i t e c a s u a l l y , v i a the f r e e a s s o c i a t i o n which  the poet's method o f working.  He r e f e r s t o the  101 rain-storm, world  s t i r r e d up w i t h wind, which descends on the  (one of the t y p i c a l n a t u r a l phenomena o f which the  poem i s f u l l ) ,  speaks of the t h i e f , whose nature i t i s t o  go about " i n dark weathers," a concept which r e l a t e s t o the storm, mentions the g i a n t t h a t d w e l l s i n s o l i t u d e i n the f e n , and then s t a t e s : faemne^ h i r e freond gesecean, paet h i man beagum gebicge.  Ides s c e a l dyrne craefte, g i f heo n e l l e on f o l c e gepeon (11. 43b-45a)  E v i d e n t l y , the woman who does not d e s i r e the normal arranged marriage, who does not wish "to be bought w i t h r i n g s , " i s a s o c i a l outcast.  She seeks her l o v e r s e c r e t l y  l i k e the t h i e f who goes i n darkness; she i s wretched, monstrous, fen.  and s e t apart  1 2  Structurally, II.  l i k e the g i a n t who l i v e s i n the  Maxims I i s even weaker than Maxims  I t i s awkward and j e r k y , and ends a b r u p t l y and  inconsequentially.  However, i t does g i v e g r e a t e r expansion  t o i t s gnomic themes.  The extended d e f i n i t i o n o f the  v i r t u o u s queen c i t e d i n the p r e v i o u s chapter occurs i n Maxims I.  Here, the t r a d i t i o n a l q u a l i t i e s found s c a t t e r e d  elsewhere a r e brought t o g e t h e r as the poet d e l i n e a t e s the queen's r e l a t i o n s h i p t o husband and r e t a i n e r s .  The  passage p r e s e n t s more e l a b o r a t e l y the k i n d o f gnomic d e f i n i t i o n of the f i t t i n g which i s found more t e r s e l y expressed elsewhere. poet i n c l u d e s  In another p a r t of the poem, the  " s i n e on cwene" (1. 126) and " s c e a l bryde  102 beag"  (1. 130) i n a l i s t o f v a r i o u s s e t s o f t h i n g s which  belong t o g e t h e r .  The gnomic.poetry  s e t s down i n the form  of a statement the k i n d s o f f e a t u r e s presented a p p o s i t i v e l y i n the R i d d l e s .  1 3  The most elemental r o l e o f both man and woman appears i n l i n e s 23b-25a: Tu beo<$ gemaeccan; s c e a l w i f ond wer i n woruld cennan bearn mid gebyrdum. Marriage and c h i l d b i r t h a r e juxtaposed w i t h l o s s and death as the poet d e s c r i b e s how the t r e e must l o s e i t s l e a v e s and mourn i t s branches must d i e (1. 27).  (11. 25b-26),  and the f a t e d man  Here the gnomes a r e concerned with the 14  n a t u r a l o r d e r a t i t s most rudimentary. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , the poet, l i k e the author o f Maxims I I , touches on the c o n t r a s t between the chaste and the  unchaste woman:  widgongel w i f word gespringeS, o f t hy mon wommum b i l i h S , haeleo* hy hospe maenaS, o f t hyre h l e o r abreopeS. (11.  64-65)  The aura o f d i s g r a c e t h a t surrounds the "widgongel w i f " i s captured q u i t e v i v i d l y here.  F u r t h e r on, the poet r e t u r n s ,  more f e e b l y , t o the same theme: "Wif s c e a l wip wer waere gehealdan, o f t h i mon wommum b e l i h 5 " ( l . 100). The p i c t u r e o f women which emerges from Maxims I and Maxims Old  I I has a f f i n i t i e s w i t h that t o be found i n the  I c e l a n d i c Havamal, "The Sayings o f Har" ("Har" b e i n g  Odin) .  Havamal, a c o l l e c t i o n o f p r o v e r b i a l s a y i n g s much  l i k e the O l d E n g l i s h gnomes,  i s the second poem i n the  103 c o l l e c t i o n which c o n s t i t u t e s the P o e t i c Edda, a group o f poems of which the f i r s t h a l f a r e on m y t h o l o g i c a l second on h e r o i c s u b j e c t s .  and the  The poems as a whole a r e o f  15 pagan o r i g i n .  L i k e the O l d E n g l i s h gnomic poems,  Havamal i s l o o s e and composite i n s t r u c t u r e .  Further,  the r a t h e r mundane and p r a c t i c a l a t t i t u d e t o women found i n Maxims I and 11 i s p a r a l l e l l e d  i n Havamal, with the  d i f f e r e n c e t h a t i n the l a t t e r poem the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f women becomes humorous and c y n i c a l .  The r e l a t i o n s h i p  between men and women i s here an ongoing b a t t l e of the sexes, i n which men o f t e n g e t the worst o f the encounter: Many a good maid, i f you mark i t w e l l , i s f i c k l e , though f a i r her word; t h a t I q u i c k l y found when the cunning maid I lured to lecherous love; every taunt and g i b e she t r i e d on me, and naught I had of her. (stanza 102) and: A man I saw s o r e l y bestead through a wicked woman's words; her b a l e f u l tongue d i d work h i s bane, though good and u n g u i l t y he was. (stanza 118). T h i s r a t h e r h a r s h p i c t u r e i s somewhat m i t i g a t e d  later:  if  thee l i s t t o g a i n a good woman's l o v e and a l l the b l i s s there be, thy t r o t h s h a l t pledge, and t r u l y keep: no one t i r e s o f the good he g e t s . (stanza 130) Although Havamal presents  a world-view i n many ways very  a k i n t o t h a t o f O l d E n g l i s h poetry, i n s t a n c e i n the w e l l known stanzas  as apparent, f o r on the t r a n s i t o r i n e s s  of w o r l d l y t h i n g s and the need t o win fame,  the  104 p r o v e r b i a l treatment  of women i n t h i s poem makes them much  more f o r m i d a b l e and s p i r i t e d c r e a t u r e s than the female f i g u r e s i n the O l d E n g l i s h Maxims and R i d d l e s . The note of c y n i c i s m which c h a r a c t e r i s e s Havamal i s absent unchaste to i t .  from Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y ; the r e f e r e n c e s t o women i n the Maxims a r e the c l o s e s t  approximation  There i s one r a t h e r s t r i k i n g passage i n Maxims I  which i s the r e v e r s e of c y n i c a l : the l i t t l e anecdote about the F r i s i a n w i f e .  T h i s passage p r o v i d e s a v i v i d  c r y s t a l l i s a t i o n o f the theme of w i f e l y duty expressed i n 17 g e n e r a l terms i n other p a r t s o f the poem.  The l i n e s  d e s c r i b e how the F r i s i a n wife r e c e i v e s "the welcome one" (1. 9 4 ) — h e r  s a i l o r husband—and l e a d s him i n , washes  h i s c l o t h e s and g i v e s him c l e a n ones t o wear.  The  language i s f r e s h and p r e c i s e , and the words suggest a touching a f f e c t i o n on both s i d e s : " b i b h i s c e o l cumen ond hyre c e o r l t o ham, / agen aetgeofa" (11. 96-97a) , and " l i p him on londe paes  h i s l u f u baedeS"  (1. 99) .  Maxims I i s on t h e whole an i n f e r i o r poem: b a d l y organised, and o f t e n t r i t e . are v i v i d ,  But many o f i t s v i g n e t t e s  and the F r i s i a n w i f e passage i s e s p e c i a l l y so.  The m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p i s o n l y one o f many themes i n the poem, but i t p a r t i c u l a r l y captures the poet's  interest.  Aspects o f t h i s theme appear and disappear, i n t e r s p e r s e d with other m a t e r i a l .  The poet r e f e r s t o the elemental  r e l a t i o n s h i p o f man, wife, and c h i l d r e n ,  speaks of the  k i n g ' s buying the queen w i t h r i n g s and goes on t o d e s c r i b e  105 t h e i r married l i f e  i n i d e a l terms, and touches on  s i t u a t i o n s i n which the r u l e s have been broken and the ideal vitiated.  The F r i s i a n wife passage i s the h i g h  i n the treatment of t h i s theme. his  subject  i s sporadic  The  The poet's development of  and d i s o r g a n i s e d ,  moments o f r e a l imagination  point  but i t c o n t a i n s  and s e n s i t i v i t y .  R i d d l e s and Maxims show a t r a d i t i o n a l view o f  women which i s a l s o present  i n Beowulf.  But, before we  t u r n t o the more s u b s t a n t i a l c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n t o be found i n t h a t poem, i t i s worth l o o k i n g a t another p i e c e of Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y  which appears t o draw on t h e t r a d i t i o n a l  l i t e r a r y view o f woman's r o l e .  T h i s work i s Waldere, a 18  poem which i s extant  only  i n two small fragments.  Hence,  statements about i t s i n t e n t i o n s a r e n e c e s s a r i l y s p e c u l a t i v e . However, the poem i s e v i d e n t l y based on m a t e r i a l known t o us from other  sources,  chiefly,  the I c e l a n d i c T h i d r i k  Saga, v a r i o u s Middle High German poems, and, most important, the L a t i n e p i c Waltharius,  usually ascribed to 19  the t e n t h - c e n t u r y  Ekkehard I o f S t . G a l l .  form, the t a l e d e s c r i b e s  In i t s b a s i c  the escape of Walther and h i s  beloved, Hildegund, from the c o u r t o f A t t i l a , where they were h e l d as hostages.  On t h e i r way they a r e ambushed i n  a d e f i l e i n the Vosges, and Walther i s i n v o l v e d i n a b i t t e r f i g h t w i t h King Gunther and twelve companions, of whom a l l except Gunther and h i s f r i e n d Hagen  (also a f r i e n d and  f e l l o w hostage o f Walther), a r e k i l l e d by Walther, the three  s u r v i v o r s a l l being  severely injured before  they  106 f i n a l l y make peace. o c c a s i o n of the f i n a l two  The Waldere fragments belong t o the s t r u g g l e between Walther and h i s  opponents. ^Fragment I, a speech encouraging Waldere b e f o r e  the f i g h t ,  i s g e n e r a l l y a s s i g n e d t o Hildegund.  The  speaker i s unnamed, but, from our e x t e r n a l knowledge of 20 the t a l e , Hildegund seems the l i k e l y c a n d i d a t e . Hildegund i n t h i s passage has been regarded as a m a r t i a l heroine, whetting W a l d e r e s p o s s i b l y f l a g g i n g 1  resolve.  However, as L e v i n Schucking p o i n t e d out, her words c o n s t i t u t e not so much a "whetting" as a p i e c e of good advice. (1.  Her u r g i n g Waldere to perform "good  23) and win g l o r y  good c o u n s e l .  deeds"  (11- 10-11) i s a standard p i e c e of  Her f u n c t i o n i n the passage,  Schucking  notes, i s t o be l i n k e d w i t h t h a t of the t r u s t y  retainer  (he c i t e s W i g l a f ' s urging Beowulf to f i g h t w e l l a g a i n s t the dragon), and w i t h that of the d u t i f u l w i f e  (he compares  the queen i n Maxims I and Wealhtheow i n Beowulf): both are 22 expected t o g i v e sound a d v i c e .  Hildegund, then, e x e r c i s e s  the same s u p p o r t i v e f u n c t i o n t h a t we found attached to women i n the Old E n g l i s h p r o v e r b i a l poems.  However, i t  cannot be denied that the poet g i v e s her, i f she i s indeed the speaker, the same k i n d of powerful t h a t we  eloquence  f i n d i n Wiglaf, and i n the r e t a i n e r s i n Maldon: [ j . ] i s se daeg cumen paet Su s c e a l t aninga oSer twega, l i f forleosan o66e l [ . . ] g n e dom agan mid eldum, , i E l f h e r e s sunu. (Waldere, I, 11. 8-11)  107 The contrasted she  p o r t r a y a l of Hildegund i n Waldere may with her  be  c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n Waltharius,  i s e x c e s s i v e l y d e f e r e n t i a l and  where  timid:  Tandem v i r g o v i r i genibus curvata p r o f a t u r : 'Ad quaecumque vocas, mi domne, sequar s t u d i o s e Nec quicquam p l a c i t i s malim praeponere i u s s i s . ' (11. 248-50) and: In tantumque timor m u l i e b r a p e c t o r a p u l s a t , Horreat ut cunctos aurae ventique susurros, Formidans v o l u c r e s c o l l i s o s s i v e racemos. (11. 351-53) E k k e h a r d s poem i s i n f l u e n c e d by c l a s s i c a l L a t i n 1  and  by V i r g i l  in particular.  its  L a t i n analogue, i t i s tempting to make a neat  a n t i t h e s i s between northern arguing  In comparing Waldere w i t h  and  southern European t r a d i t i o n s ,  t h a t the Old E n g l i s h v e r s i o n o f f e r s us a f i e r c e ,  V a l k y r i e - l i k e character, figure.  poetry,  But  and  the L a t i n a much g e n t l e r  the d i f f e r e n c e i s r a t h e r between a v i g o r o u s l y  p r a c t i c a l and  an e f f u s i v e l y sentimental  presentation,  and  i s much i n f l u e n c e d by the d i f f e r e n c e i n p o e t i c q u a l i t y between the two  works: Waldere i s f u l l of  spontaneity;  W a l t h a r i u s reads l i k e a s c h o o l e x e r c i s e i n p a s t i c h e . The  Old E n g l i s h Hildegund, then, does not  from the r o l e of d u t i f u l a c c e s s o r y c h a r a c t e r i s e d wives and  depart  which t y p i c a l l y  queens i n the R i d d l e s  and  Maxims.  However, she does i n v e s t t h i s r o l e w i t h c o n s i d e r a b l y more vigour.  More than t h i s cannot be  s a i d , s i n c e the Waldere  fragments are too b r i e f f o r us to come to any  conclusions  about the l a r g e r a r t i s t i c purpose the poet may  have had  108 and a q u e s t i o n mark must be attached t o the v e r y  ascription  of Fragment I t o Hildegund. Both the R i d d l e s and the Maxims present figures cursorily,  female  and i n the c o n v e n t i o n a l terms d e f i n e d  by the t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s o f women i n s o c i e t y .  The female  f i g u r e s i n Beowulf a r e e v i d e n t l y indebted t o the same tradition.  With the e x c e p t i o n of the arrogant Thryth and  the monstrous mother of Grendel,  a l l the women i n the poem  who a r e c h a r a c t e r i s e d a t a l l e x t e n s i v e l y a r e b e a u t i f u l and v i r t u o u s queens based on t h e i d e a l d e s c r i b e d i n Maxims JE.  There a r e a couple o f r e f e r e n c e s t o o l d e r women  (the  23 word used i s qeomeowle) :  the wife of the f i e r c e o l d  Ongentheow, and the woman who laments b e s i d e the pyre of Beowulf.  However, these f i g u r e s are g i v e n no d i s t i n g u i s h i n g  f e a t u r e s s p e c i f i c a l l y connected f u n c t i o n i s the standard,  with t h e i r age.  a c c e s s o r y one: here,  Their t o convey  h e l p l e s s n e s s o r g r i e f when t h e i r p r o t e c t i n g w a r r i o r i s dead.  Ongentheow's wife i s "golde berofene"  the woman a t Beowulf's pyre s i n g s a giomorgvd and  (1. 2931); (1. 3150),  a n t i c i p a t e s wretchedness and c a p t i v i t y f o r h e r s e l f and  her p e o p l e .  2 4  These two o l d women a r e i n e x a c t l y the same  p o s i t i o n as the ( t y p i c a l and h y p o t h e t i c a l ) "maeg5  scyne"  (1. 3016) i n the speech of the messenger who announces Beowulf's death.  The young women of the t r i b e ,  says the  messenger, w i l l have t o go sadly, "golde bereafod" into  (1.  3018)  exile. Yet, the Beowulf poet v e r y s k i l f u l l y manages t o use  109 the female f i g u r e s of the poem as the c h i e f v e h i c l e of i t s tragic effect.  In Maxims I, an i n t e r e s t i n the m a r i t a l  r e l a t i o n s h i p as the e x p r e s s i o n o f an elemental p r o p r i e t y c r y s t a l l i s e s i n a p a r t i c u l a r i n s t a n c e of t h i s the F r i s i a n wife scene. isolated. life.  relationship:  The e f f e c t i s v i v i d , but  The Beowulf poet a l s o b r i n g s the conventions t o  In him the e f f e c t i s l e s s p a r t i c u l a r i s e d , but more  sustained.  The p a t h e t i c f i g u r e o f the female v i c t i m o f  feud becomes a l e i t m o t i v i n the poem.  The women mentioned  i n the p r e v i o u s paragraph a r e nameless and t y p i c a l , but t h e i r case i s repeated  i n the three c e n t r a l ,  parallel  women c h a r a c t e r s of the poem: Wealhtheow, H i l d e b u r h , and Freawaru. and  These three f i g u r e s a r e presented  i n a manner which suggests  quite b r i e f l y ,  t h a t they a r e s t i l l  to the l i m i t e d number o f f e a t u r e s a s s o c i a t e d with women i n the R i d d l e s and Maxims.  tied idealised  I t i s a considerable  achievement o f the Beowulf poet t h a t he i s a b l e t o subordinate  these c o n v e n t i o n a l f i g u r e s t o the s p e c i f i c  ends o f h i s poem, and t o draw upon the type o f the proud and b e a u t i f u l queen, which we saw as merely a p a r t o f the background i n the R i d d l e s , f o r a major source o f the poem's tragic  impact. Both the p r o v e r b i a l poems and Beowulf u t i l i s e the  t y p i c a l r o l e s assigned t o women by s o c i e t y . speak of buying T h i s suggests  The Maxims  a wife and r e f e r t o her domestic d u t i e s .  the same view o f women as the e a r l y laws.  Beowulf g i v e s a p i c t u r e o f the ceremonious f u n c t i o n s o f  110 the a r i s t o c r a t i c woman which corresponds of  to the  indications  other h i s t o r i c a l sources t h a t queens i n s e c u l a r l i f e  were prominent but, as a r u l e , e s s e n t i a l l y i n a c t i v e .  But  the s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e between the R i d d l e s and Maxims on one hand and Beowulf on the other i s t h a t the poem does much more than simply r e f l e c t , c o n s e r v a t i v e way,  latter  in a rather  c e r t a i n r e c u r r e n t f e a t u r e s of r e a l  The Beowulf poet uses the r e c u r r e n t and t y p i c a l , but shapes i t t o serve a d i s t i n c t i v e In  life. he  end.  Beowulf, Wealhtheow, H i l d e b u r h , and Freawaru  are each the c e n t r e of a t r a g i c feud. s t o r y i s presented a l l u s i v e l y ,  In each case,  the  as something w i t h which  the Anglo-Saxon audience would have been f a m i l i a r .  For  the modern reader, the f a c t s of the case have t o be p i e c e d together w i t h the a i d of e x t e r n a l evidence and some guesswork. daughter,  Hrothgar s 1  queen, Wealhtheow, and  their  Freawaru, are s e m i - h i s t o r i c a l f i g u r e s and  events a s s o c i a t e d with them are t r e a t e d by  the  Scandinavian  sources, n o t a b l y the Gesta Danorum of the t w e l f t h - c e n t u r y L  Danish h i s t o r i a n ,  Saxo Grammaticus, and  f o u r t e e n t h - c e n t u r y H r o l f s s a g a Kraka.  the  H i l d e b u r h i s a more  shadowy f i g u r e , but the Finnsburh episode i n which she p l a y s a p a r t i s s u b s t a n t i a t e d by The F i g h t at Finnsburh, fragmentary  a  Old E n g l i s h l a y which d e s c r i b e s the same  events. We  know from Saxo t h a t H r o t h g a r s 1  k i l l e d Hrethric, Hrothgar s 1  son.  nephew, H r o t h u l f ,  H r o t h u l f ' s subsequent  s p l e n d i d r e i g n i s remembered i n Danish t r a d i t i o n ,  and  25 c e l e b r a t e d i n the H r o l f s s a g a . no e x p l i c i t  statement  The Beowulf poet makes  about these l a t e r events, but, i n  the l i g h t of the i n f o r m a t i o n p r o v i d e d by sources, we  Scandinavian  can t e l l that Wealhtheow s e x p r e s s i o n of her 1  f a i t h i n H r o t h u l f (11. 1180b-87) i s a p i e c e of i r o n i c foreshadowing.  An a l l u s i o n to H r o t h u l f s 1  subsequent  r e v o l t and u s u r p a t i o n i s a l s o p r e s e n t i n the poet's statement  earlier  about u n c l e and nephew: "pa gyt waes h i e r a s i b  aetgaedere, / aeghwylc  oSrum trywe" (11. 1164b-65a) .  As  f o r Freawaru, the poet makes Beowulf p r e d i c t t h a t her marriage  t o Ingeld of the Heathobards w i l l not prevent  d i s a s t e r , when feud breaks out between the Danes and 26 Heathobards a g a i n .  the  Saxo i n c l u d e s an account of t h i s  episode which p r e s e r v e s i t s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c d e t a i l s  and  g i v e s names corresponding t o those of Ingeld and h i s f a t h e r , Froda, although the i d e n t i t y of the t r i b e s i s different. The o u t l i n e s of a l l t h r e e s t o r i e s can be deduced s u f f i c i e n t l y f o r us t o grasp the poet's t r a g i c although many problems remain  unsolved.  intentions,  Evidently,  the  author of Beowulf intended to p o i n t a p a r a l l e l between the f a t e s of the three women. 27 as a "peaceweaver,"  Freawaru i s g i v e n i n marriage  and i t seems h i g h l y l i k e l y ,  from  the t r a g i c b a t t l e between H i l d e b u r h ' s b r o t h e r and husband, that she too had been sent as a peaceweaver, t o s e t t l e the feud between two t r i b e s .  I t may  be that Wealhtheow  112 h e r s e l f was g i v e n i n marriage f o r the same purpose.  The  l i t e r a l t r a n s l a t i o n o f h e r name i s " f o r e i g n s e r v a n t , " which suggests t h a t the poet may have g i v e n h e r t h i s name to i n d i c a t e her f o r e i g n o r i g i n s and h i n t that her own marriage was arranged t o cement a p r e c a r i o u s f r i e n d s h i p 28 between r a c e s .  C e r t a i n l y , a l l these women, Wealhtheow,  H i l d e b u r h , and Freawaru,  have s t r o n g i n t e r e s t i n p r e s e r v i n g  a peace which i s f i n a l l y broken i n s p i t e of them, although i n Wealhtheow's case the c o n f l i c t i s f a m i l i a l , not  inter-tribal. The Beowulf  poet d e s c r i b e s the s i t u a t i o n of each  of these women i n such a way as t o suggest inter-relationship.  their  References t o t h e i r t r a g i c d e s t i n y  a l l have a s t a r t i n g p o i n t i n a scene o f f e a s t i n g i n Hrothgar's h a l l ,  Heorot.  H i l d e b u r h and Freawaru  l i n k e d t o Wealhtheow by t h i s d e v i c e .  are both  And t h e r e i s a  n a t u r a l a s s o c i a t i o n between the l a s t two women because Freawaru  i s Wealhtheow's daughter.  3  After  Beowulf's  v i c t o r y over Grendel, t h e r e i s c e l e b r a t i o n i n Heorot, and the scop s i n g s the t a l e o f Finnsburh. b a t t l e between Hnasf,  He t e l l s o f the  l e a d e r o f the Half-Danes  (or simply  'Danes') and F i n n , k i n g of the F r i s i a n s and H i l d e b u r h ' s husband, the death of Hnaef  and compact between the  s u r v i v o r s on both s i d e s , the uneasy t r u c e , and the f i n a l vengeance o f Hengest,  Hnaef' s  second-in-command, who l e a d s  h i s men t o d e f e a t the F r i s i a n s , k i l l H i l d e b u r h back t o Denmark.  F i n n , and c a r r y  When the t a l e i s ended,  113 Wealhtheow comes f o r t h , g r e e t s her husband i n a formal speech,  and then turns t o Beowulf with g i f t s and g r a c i o u s  words.  In her speech to Hrothgar,  she mentions her  confidence that H r o t h u l f w i l l be l o y a l t o her sons,  and  when speaking t o Beowulf requests t h a t he w i l l be k i n d t o them.  As W.  W.  Lawrence noted,  the s t o r y of Queen H i l d e b u r h . . . [ i s ] d e s i g n e d l y brought i n t o connection w i t h the tragedy i n s t o r e f o r Queen Wealhpeow, which must have been well-known to the people f o r whom the Beowulf poet wrote.30 L a t e r i n the poem, when, f o r the b e n e f i t of  Hygelac,  Beowulf i s r e c a p i t u l a t i n g h i s adventures  i n Denmark,  mention i s made of Wealhtheow's daughter,  Freawaru.  Beowulf i s speaking of h i s i n i t i a l r e c e p t i o n at  Heorot,  an o c c a s i o n of f e s t i v i t y v e r y l i k e the g r e a t banquet a f t e r Grendel's d e f e a t .  Beowulf notes Wealhtheow's  prominence i n the scene,  and t h i s e s p e c i a l l y suggests t o  us a p a r a l l e l w i t h the other o c c a s i o n . Wealhtheow's daughter  was  He  comments t h a t  a l s o present, s e r v i n g d r i n k to  the w a r r i o r s i n the h a l l ; he goes on to mention the  girl's  name and her b e t r o t h a l t o Ingeld, and p r e d i c t s a sad end to the peace-making match (11. 2020 f f . ) . Thus, the three queens are p a r a l l e l f i g u r e s , doomed t o a t r a g i c f a t e .  each  Mention of H i l d e b u r h i n c l o s e  p r o x i m i t y t o Wealhtheow suggests the connection between the two.  A l s o , both the Finnsburh and the Heathobard  episodes are c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d with scenes of f e a s t i n g : the former  i s n a r r a t e d a t a f e a s t ; the l a t t e r a r i s e s out  114 of  r e c o l l e c t i o n of a f e a s t and d e s c r i b e s the outbreak of  h o s t i l i t y at a  (subsequent) f e a s t .  The a l l u s i o n to  Wealhtheow's f u t u r e f a t e l i k e w i s e takes p l a c e at a scene of  feasting.  In a l l these cases, t h e r e i s a p o i n t e d  c o n t r a s t between the c o n v i v i a l i t y of f e a s t i n g and h o r r o r of war.  The  j u x t a p o s i t i o n of the two  shadow on the j o y over Beowulf's d e f e a t of  the  c a s t s a dark  Grendel.  Throughout the optimism of t h i s p a r t of the poem, t h e r e i s the i m p l i c a t i o n that the m i r t h of the h a l l destroyed by the v i o l e n t p a s s i o n s of men,  i s to be  j u s t as the  "peaceweaving" queens are to become h e l p l e s s v i c t i m s of war. The  Beowulf poet's  a l l u s i v e method means t h a t the  d e t a i l s of the s t o r i e s to which he r e f e r s are u n c l e a r . He  shows a g r e a t e r i n t e r e s t i n c h a r a c t e r and  than i n event.  Indeed, i t may  themselves were v a r i a b l e and  w e l l be t h a t the  indistinct.  Finnsburh, of  legends  But the  g i v e s s u f f i c i e n t m a t e r i a l to make h i s e f f e c t . the exact circumstances  situation  poet  Whatever  a s s o c i a t e d with the f i g h t at  the u s u r p a t i o n of H r o t h u l f , and the f l a r i n g  up  the Heathobard feud, the s i t u a t i o n s of the three queens 31  are unmistakably  tragic.  These three f i g u r e s u n d e r l i n e  a major theme i n the poem: t h a t s e c u r i t y i s a temporary thing.  The main c h a r a c t e r i s doomed, he i s surrounded  by t r a g i c episodes, Heorot i t s e l f (11. 82 f f . ) , and and H i l d e b u r h ' s  i s to p e r i s h i n  flames  the f e a s t at which Wealhtheow speaks  tale i s told i s i t s e l f  an o c c a s i o n of  false  115 security,  f o r G r e n d e l s mother i s about 1  to strike.  The  poet's a l l u s i v e technique i s designed t o h i g h l i g h t the f e e l i n g s of the a c t o r s i n h i s drama, and a l s o t o b r i n g out the i r o n y o f t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s .  H i s method o f i n d i r e c t i o n  i s e s p e c i a l l y s u i t e d t o the l a t t e r aim,  and the three  p a r a l l e l women f i g u r e s a r e the main v e h i c l e f o r i t . Of the t h r e e women, Wealhtheow i s the most treated.  fully  She i s endowed with the c o n v e n t i o n a l a t t r i b u t e s  of grace and c o u r t e s y ; she i s an ornament t o the h a l l . But, although the Beowulf poet p r e s e n t s her i n the c o n v e n t i o n a l way, he suggests deeper q u a l i t i e s i n her. Wealhtheow, who cannot a c t t o change events, eloquence  and c o u r t e s y i n an attempt  uses  t o make the r e a l i t i e s  of her s i t u a t i o n c o i n c i d e with h e r wishes.  She,  the  peaceweaver, i s the embodiment o f a l l t h a t i s best i n t h e l i f e o f Heorot: g e n t l e n e s s , refinement, the a r t s of civilisation.  But behind a l l t h i s i s the ever-present  p r e s s u r e o f v i o l e n c e , baseness,  and greed.  In h e r speeches  she t r i e s t o b l o t out these t h r e a t e n i n g f o r c e s with h e r own  charm and g o o d w i l l .  " Ic minne can / glaedne  she says  (11. 1180b-81a), and "Her i s aeghwylc  getrywe"  (1. 1228).  Hropulf, "  e o r l oprum  She s t r e s s e s that she i s sure H r o t h u l f  w i l l be l o y a l t o her two young sons ( H r e t h r i c and Hrothmund) i f Hrothgar d i e s b e f o r e him (which, Hrothgar's o l d age,  i s o n l y t o be expected).  i n view o f And y e t , she  f i n d s i t necessary t o appeal t o Beowulf f o r p r o t e c t i o n and to promise him reward:  Wes benden pu l i f i g e , aepeling, e a d i g . Ic pe an t e l a sincgestreona. Beo pu suna minum dasdum gedefe, dreamhealdende. (11. 1224b-27) In her speeches t o Hrothgar (11.  (11. 1169-87) and  Beowulf  1216-31), her a n x i e t y f o r her sons, her appeal to  Beowulf  on t h e i r b e h a l f , and her d i s g u i s e d appeal t o  H r o t h u l f f i n d e x p r e s s i o n i n w i s h f u l statements that p r e s e n t 32 what should be as what i s . Even Wealhtheow s t r a d i t i o n a l f u n c t i o n s i n the 1  h a l l take on an added s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the Beowulf treatment.  Her f i r s t  appearance  poet's  g i v e s us l i t t l e more than  a l e n g t h i e r v e r s i o n of the standard q u e e n - i n - h a l l m o t i f . 33 She comes forward f o r m a l l y , p r e s e n t s the cup t o Hrothgar and b i d s him be b l i t h e retainers i n turn.  (1. 617), and then takes i t t o the  When she comes t o Beowulf,  she addresses  him c o u r t e o u s l y , he assures her t h a t he w i l l be v i c t o r i o u s i n h i s encounter with G r e n d e l o r d i e i n the attempt, she r e t u r n s t o her seat, w e l l - p l e a s e d . banquet  and  At the g r e a t  c e l e b r a t i n g Grendel's d e f e a t , Wealhtheow goes  through the same r i t u a l g e s t u r e s , but now  the whole scene  i s charged with the t r a g i c reminder of H i l d e b u r h and with the  foreshadowing of Wealhtheow's own  domestic tragedy.  Once again, Wealhtheow makes her formal e n t r y , hands Hrothgar the cup and wishes him happiness, and proceeds to make courteous speeches  i n the presence of the company.  profound i r o n y and pathos u n d e r l i e s i t a l l .  The poet has  brought t o l i f e the s t a t i c f i g u r e of the g r a c i o u s queen,  A  who comes forward i n the h a l l ,  o f f e r s the cup t o her l o r d ,  and u t t e r s wise and courteous words. Wealhtheow f e a r s and s t r i v i n g s ,  He has g i v e n  and at the same time  u n d e r l i n e d the e s s e n t i a l hopelessness o f her p o s i t i o n . Wealhtheow i s the adornment of the h a l l , powerless t o a f f e c t the course o f events. i s make the same formal movements.  but she i s A l l she can do  L i k e the queen i n  Maxims I who has wise counsel f o r her husband and h i s retainers,  she u t t e r s f i t t i n g  statements, but r e a l l y they  are o n l y p i o u s hopes which w i l l come t o n o t h i n g . audience knows t h a t f a t e and human nature w i l l  The  see t o  that. Whereas Wealhtheow s tragedy i s i m p l i e d only, that 1  of H i l d e b u r h i s q u i t e e x p l i c i t .  The poet's account of the  Finnsburh feud begins and ends with her, and she i s seen as the main s u f f e r e r .  The p e c u l i a r tragedy o f her  p o s i t i o n i s that she i s g u i l t l e s s must s u f f e r doubly because  (1. 1072),  and y e t she  she has l o y a l t i e s t o both  sides  and f e e l s f o r the deaths on both s i d e s , e s p e c i a l l y those of her son and b r o t h e r .  We do not know e x a c t l y how the  Heorot scop presented the t a l e , but the Beowulf poet  skips 34  over events i n order t o c o n c e n t r a t e on c e r t a i n moments. Initially,  he p r e s e n t s H i l d e b u r h g r i e v i n g on the morning  a f t e r the b a t t l e .  Guiltless  of son and b r o t h e r  3 5  (unsynnum) , she was d e p r i v e d  (11. 10 72b-74a).  She f i n d s s l a u g h t e r  where once she h e l d her g r e a t e s t j o y (11. 1079-80a). i r o n i c opening,  The  s a y i n g she had no need t o p r a i s e the f a i t h  118 of the J u t e s  (Eotena,  1. 1072) ,  b i t t e r n e s s a g a i n s t those who misery.  3 6  are r e s p o n s i b l e f o r her  A l l H i l d e b u r h can do i s f e e l and g i v e u t t e r a n c e  to her f e e l i n g s .  She  can change nothing.  Hengest, can she take vengeance. i d e s ! " says the poet god  suggests a concentrated  cyning!"  v e r y sum  863)  "j>aet waes  as i f geomoru d e f i n e d the  of H i l d e b u r h .  Innocent, h e l p l e s s ,  doubly d e p r i v e d , swept o v e r n i g h t from happiness she i s the e x e m p l i f i c a t i o n of the c r u e l t y and of  feud.  like  waes geomuru  (1. 1075), as he says  (11. 11 and  and essence  "J)aet  Nor,  to  misery,  wastefulness  The poet dwells on the a g o n i s i n g f r u s t r a t i o n of  Hengest as a l l the winter he broods on revenge; but H i l d e b u r h i s a more poignant at the end  of the episode,  f i g u r e , and we  see her  s t i l l h e l p l e s s and  f i n a l l y c a r r i e d back t o Denmark by her  again  hapless,  people.  Freawaru i s the most b r i e f l y mentioned of the t h r e e p a r a l l e l female f i g u r e s . presented  L i k e Wealhtheow, she i s f i r s t  t o us as the c o n v e n t i o n a l noblewoman who  the cup t o the r e t a i n e r s i n the h a l l Beowulf has  carries  (11. 2020-23a).  c a s u a l l y mentioned her i n t h i s context,  After he  goes on t o e x p l a i n t h a t she i s b e t r o t h e d t o the son of Froda,  and  t h a t Hrothgar  waelfaeh5a dael,  / saecca  hopes "paet gesette"  he mid 6y wife  (11. 2028b-29a) , but  t h a t t h e r e i s every p o s s i b i l i t y of feud b r e a k i n g out again, as i t u s u a l l y does "peah seo bryd duge" then p r e d i c t s the way  i n which war  (1. 2031).  w i l l break out  Beowulf again:  an o l d Heathobard w a r r i o r , incensed by seeing the weapons  of h i s s l a i n kinsmen p u b l i c l y worn by Freawaru's f o l l o w e r s , w i l l egg on h i s young companion time and again,  until,  37 inevitably,  f i g h t i n g breaks out.  Here the focus  shifts  from Freawaru; but, l e s t we should f o r g e t her, she i s a l l u d e d t o again a t the end of the episode, as H i l d e b u r h was: weallaS waelniSas, aefter cearwaelmum The  [sy6]oan Ingelde ond him w i f l u f a n c o l r a n weorcSaS. (11. 2064a-66)  l o v e i n s p i r e d by Freawaru i s a s l i g h t t h i n g i n  comparison with the c l a i m s o f t r i b a l f e e l i n g and t r i b a l enmity.  In p i t t i n g h e r b e n e f i c e n t but f r a g i l e i n f l u e n c e  i n the arena o f male v i o l e n c e and f a c t i o n , p a r a l l e l t o Wealhtheow and t o H i l d e b u r h .  she i s a Her connection  with them a l l o w s h e r t o share the same t r a g i c although she i s mentioned so c u r s o r i l y ,  aura  and Beowulf's  l a c o n i c "peah seo bryd duge" i s enough t o b r i n g a ready-made complex of f e e l i n g s i n t o p l a y .  Freawaru, l i k e the queens  who have been d e s c r i b e d b e f o r e her, i s a mere o b j e c t swept up i n the course o f men's i n t r i g u e s , as h e l p l e s s as H i l d e b u r h , who, when the Danes have f i n a l l y avenged themselves,  i s c a r r i e d back t o Denmark along w i t h the 38  captured t r e a s u r e and gems (11. 1154-59a). The Beowulf poet uses the f i g u r e s o f these t h r e e women t o b u i l d up an atmosphere o f tragedy i n the f i r s t 39 h a l f of the poem. I t i s through them i n p a r t i c u l a r t h a t he conveys the t e r r i b l e e f f e c t s of feud. These women a r e u  120 not i n d i v i d u a l i s e d , but the s u f f e r i n g of H i l d e b u r h and the a n x i e t y of Wealhtheow are p o i g n a n t l y Freawaru i s s c a r c e l y developed i s f u l l of pathos.  suggested.  as a c h a r a c t e r , but she  The poet has been a b l e t o e x p l o i t  too the  c o n v e n t i o n a l , s t a t i c f i g u r e , and use i t s v e r y p a s s i v i t y and  f o r m a l i t y as a v e h i c l e of t r a g i c i r o n y . The treatment  of women i n Beowulf i s very d i f f e r e n t  from t h a t i n what might be thought  culturally  works: the h e r o i c poems of the P o e t i c Edda.  comparable Although  both  Beowulf and the I c e l a n d i c poems draw on the fund of Germanic legend and myth, the atmosphere of the Edda i s far  more v i o l e n t and p a s s i o n a t e .  Whereas Beowulf  e s s e n t i a l l y r e p u d i a t e s feud, the Eddie poems, though i n s t i n c t w i t h the tragedy of i t , suggest no c r i t i c i s m : i t is  i n e v i t a b l e , even noble.  Thus, while the Beowulf queens  are peaceweavers, t h e i r Norse c o u n t e r p a r t s are of  and p a r t i c i p a n t s i n a c t s of v i o l e n c e .  instigators  Brynhild s t i r s  up  40 Gunnar and Hogni  to k i l l  S i g u r t h , her beloved, and  enjoys  a b i t t e r triumph when she hears the lamentation of Guthrun, Sigurth s wife: Laughed then B r y n h i l d , B u t h l i ' s daughter, one time only, out of inmost h e a r t , on her couch when came to her e a r s the g r i e v o u s w a i l i n g of G j u k i ' s daughter. (The Short Lay of S i g u r t h , stanza 30)41 1  L a t e r , Guthrun too wins a b i t t e r revenge. husband, A t l i ,  Her  second  has k i l l e d her two b r o t h e r s , Gunnar and  Hogni; Guthrun serves A t l i  a d i s h made of the h e a r t s of  t h e i r sons, whom she has k i l l e d ,  and,  after telling  him  121 what she has done, burns him and h i s men—and death i n t h e i r h a l l .  herself—to  Her d r e a d f u l triumph i s presented  w i t h a s t a r k power: Rose uproar on benches, men's angry shouts, wept Hunnish w a r r i o r s , t h e r e was w a i l i n g 'neath hangings but one wept n o t — G u t h r u n , who wept not ever her bearhearted b r o t h e r s , nor h e r boys so dear, so young and so g u i l e l e s s , begot with A t l i . ^ ( A t l a k v i 5 a , stanza 41) The tragedy a s s o c i a t e d w i t h these t e r r i b l e women i s t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t i n q u a l i t y from t h a t c r e a t e d by the g e n t l e peaceweavers i n Beowulf. appear as i n s t i g a t o r s , f a c t , Guthrun  In the sagas, too, women  r a t h e r than v i c t i m s o f feud.  In  i n Laxdaela Saga, who l o v e s K j a r t a n , and,  t h i n k i n g he has d e s e r t e d her, marries another man and then, when K j a r t a n h i m s e l f marries, i n s t i g a t e s h i s s l a y i n g i s p r o b a b l y based on the f i g u r e of B r y n h i l d i n the Eddie 43 poems. Although Beowulf i s a Germanic poem, i t i s c l o s e r i n s p i r i t t o V i r g i l than t o the Edda.  There i s no  s u b s t a n t i a l evidence t h a t the author o f Beowulf was d i r e c t l y i n f l u e n c e d by the Aeneid, but both poems show the same k i n d o f humanity.  The resemblance  i s one of  p o e t i c temper, r a t h e r than s u p e r f i c i a l form, between Ekkehard's  W a l t h a r i u s and V i r g i l .  like  that  In Beowulf, i t  i s not the z e a l o f b a t t l e that i n s p i r e s the poet's most moving e f f e c t s , b u t i t s u l t i m a t e f u t i l i t y ,  i t s irony i n  p u n i s h i n g most those who have l e a s t p a r t i n i t . reminded  One i s  of the spear of the s l a i n T r o i l u s s c r i b b l i n g i n  the  dust,'*'* o r the t e r r i f i e d  R u t u l i f o r c i n g t h e i r gates 45  shut a g a i n s t t h e i r f l e e i n g comrades.  Both p o e t s have  a profound sense of the i r o n y and pathos of war.  The  author o f Beowulf has found i n the type o f the noblewoman, the  i d e a l i s e d f i g u r e who embodies the most p e a c e f u l and  civilised  a s p e c t s of h e r o i c l i f e ,  the most e f f e c t i v e  means by which t o convey the t h r e a t s to t h a t l i f e . the  tragic f a t e s — s t a t e d or i m p l i e d — o f  Through  Hildeburh,  Wealtheow, and Freawaru, he b u i l d s up a sense o f doom i n the f i r s t h a l f o f the poem which p r o v i d e s a counterp o i s e t o the successes o f Beowulf and foreshadows the tragedy a t the poem's end.  123 Footnotes ^Beowulf i s g e n e r a l l y dated around 700, or s h o r t l y a f t e r . See Klaeber, e d i t i o n , pp. c v i i - c x i i i . However, Whitelock, i n her book The Audience of Beowulf (Oxford, 1951) , argues f o r a l a t e r date. It i s very u n l i k e l y that the poem, which shows such a sympathetic i n t e r e s t i n Danish h i s t o r y , was composed a f t e r the onset of the Danish i n v a s i o n s , which began at the end of the e i g h t h century. 2 The E x e t e r Book R i d d l e s , o r i g i n a l l y a t t r i b u t e d t o Cynewulf, are now u s u a l l y regarded as of m u l t i p l e authors h i p and v a r i o u s dates. Cf. Agop Hacikyan, A L i n g u i s t i c and L i t e r a r y A n a l y s i s of Old E n g l i s h R i d d l e s (Montreal, 1966) , pp. 9-25; Krapp and Dobbie, The E x e t e r Book, ASPR, 3 (New York, 1936) , I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. l x v i i . 3  The d a t i n g of the Maxims i s u n c e r t a i n . Blanche C o l t o n W i l l i a m s vaguely suggests an e i g h t h - or n i n t h - c e n t u r y date f o r Maxims I and appears t o i n d i c a t e the same f o r Maxims I I , Gnomic P o e t r y i n Anglo-Saxon (New York, 1914) , pp. 101-02 and 112-13 r e s p e c t i v e l y . Krapp and Dobbie more t e n t a t i v e l y suggest the t e n t h century, or p o s s i b l y e a r l i e r , E x e t e r Book, p. x l v i i (Maxims I) , and The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, ed. Dobbie, ASPR, 6 (New York, 1942) , p. l x v i i (Maxims II) . However, Krapp and Dobbie a l l o w t h a t the gnomic poems may i n c o r p o r a t e e a r l i e r elements, Exeter Book, pp. x l v - x l v i i , and Minor Poems, pp. l x v i - l x v i i . Maxims I c o n t a i n s what looks l i k e a r e f e r e n c e t o cremation, i . e . , t o a f u n e r a l i n the pagan s t y l e : "holen s c e a l inaeled, y r f e gedaeled deades monnes. " (11. 79-80a) Such a r e f e r e n c e i s an argument f o r the a n t i q u i t y of the t r a d i t i o n a l gnomes i n these poems. 4 Some, at l e a s t , of the Old E n g l i s h R i d d l e s date back to t h i s p e r i o d . R i d d l e 35 ("Coat of Mail") i s extant i n an e a r l y Northumbrian v e r s i o n , the Leiden R i d d l e . Three s e r i e s of A n g l o - L a t i n r i d d l e s are preserved, those of Aldhelm, Tatwine, and Eusebius. See Exeter Book, p. l x v i . A much more extended survey of the c o l l e c t i o n s of e a r l y medieval L a t i n r i d d l e s from Symphosius on i s contained i n F. Tupper's e d i t i o n , The R i d d l e s of the Exeter Book (Boston, 1910), I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. x x v i i i - l i . 5 Maxims I, 1. 71. I a v o i d going i n t o the q u e s t i o n o f v a r i a n t solutions. A l l the poems s p e c i f i e d by now have s o l u t i o n s which are w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d , i f not u n i v e r s a l l y accepted. Many of the R i d d l e s are f a r from t r a n s p a r e n t .  124 C f . R i d d l e 55, 1. 1; R i d d l e 56, 1. 11; R i d d l e 1. 1; R i d d l e 63, 1. 3; R i d d l e 67, 1. 14. 7  59,  Q  T h i s r i d d l e has  an obscene s i g n i f i c a n c e .  Q Both of these r i d d l e s have obscene i m p l i c a t i o n s . "*"°In R i d d l e 52 the form i s wonfah. ^Cf. R. MacGregor Dawson, who attempts a, r a t h e r modest, v i n d i c a t i o n of the poems' s t r u c t u r e , l i k e n i n g i t , r a t h e r i n c o n s i s t e n t l y on the one hand to "stream-of-consciousness" novels, and on the other hand to casual conversation. In the l a t t e r regard, Dawson comments, "The r e s u l t i s the s a m e — a rambling s t y l e which covers a g r e a t d e a l of ground, y e t never reaches any particular goal. T h i s i s not, perhaps, a good p a t t e r n f o r a poem, but i t i s an adequate one . . . ." In my own o p i n i o n , such a p a t t e r n i s d e f i n i t e l y an inadequate one. See Dawson, "The S t r u c t u r e of the Old E n g l i s h Gnomic Poems," JEGP, 61 (1962), 14-22. 12 The i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of 11. 43b-45a i s d i s p u t e d . See Minor Poems, p. 176. In a d d i t i o n to the o v e r t meaning, as I understand i t , there i s the i m p l i c a t i o n t h a t the woman who takes a l o v e r has no hope of g e t t i n g married. One i s reminded of the r e f e r e n c e s to buying a wife i n the e a r l y laws, which make i t c l e a r t h a t the b r i d e ' s c h a s t i t y i s an important p a r t of the b a r g a i n . However, Blanche Colton W i l l i a m s b e l i e v e s t h a t t h i s passage i n Maxims I r e f e r s to women's use of magical charms ("dyrne craefte") to secure a husband, Gnomic Poetry, p. 150. Williams' i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i n v o l v e s r e a d i n g w i l l e f o r n e l l e (1. 44). 13 Cf. P. B. T a y l o r , who argues t h a t the Maxims s t a t e e x p l i c i t l y the r i t u a l p r e c e p t s which l i e behind the r e s t of Old E n g l i s h poetry, "Heroic R i t u a l i n the Old E n g l i s h Maxims," Neophil, 70 (1969), 387-407. 14 T a y l o r , quoting from S t a n l e y B. G r e e n f i e l d , comments on t h i s passage from Maxims I as a mingling of the human and the n a t u r a l worlds. 15 The poems are preserved i n the MS Codex Regius No. 2365, d a t i n g from the t h i r t e e n t h century. See The P o e t i c Edda, t r a n s . Lee M. H o l l a n d e r , 2nd ed. (Austin, 1962), I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. x i v . Quotations from the Edda are taken from H o l l a n d e r ' s t r a n s l a t i o n . The i n d i v i d u a l poems are o l d e r than the extant manuscript, and of v a r i o u s dates. Havamal may go back to the t e n t h century. See H o l l a n d e r , p. 14. 16 Havamal, stanzas 76-77. T h i s i s a t y p i c a l l y  125 Germanic a t t i t u d e which f r e q u e n t l y appears poetry.  i n Old English  17 It may w e l l be t h a t t h i s passage, which i s not gnomic and g e n e r a l , but i n d i v i d u a l and p a r t i c u l a r , o r i g i n a l l y d e r i v e s from another source. A l s o , the movement o f the verse here i s more v a r i e d and f r e e - f l o w i n g than elsewhere i n Maxims I. The passage may w e l l be l a t e r i n o r i g i n than the t r a d i t i o n a l gnomes, but i t i s q u i t e consonant w i t h them, and the poet makes s i g n i f i c a n t use of i t as the c e n t r a l e x p r e s s i o n of a r e c u r r e n t theme i n the poem. 18 E d i t o r s have been most t e n t a t i v e about d a t i n g Waldere, but i t i s u s u a l l y assigned t o the e a r l y p e r i o d . Dobbie suggests the e i g h t h century, Minor Poems, p. x x v i , and F. Norman, the middle of the e i g h t h century a t the e a r l i e s t , Waldere (London, 1933), I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 23. 19 W a l t h a r i u s i s p r i n t e d i n Mon. Germ. H i s t . , Poetae L a t i n i , 6:1, ed. K a r l S t r e c k e r (Weimar, 1951), 1-85. S t r e c k e r c h a l l e n g e s the u s u a l a s c r i p t i o n t o Ekkehard I o f St. G a l l , and a s s i g n s the poem t o the C a r o l i n g i a n e r a . See e d i t i o n , pp. 1-2. 20 It has been suggested t h a t the speaker i s Hagen, but t h i s view has r e c e i v e d very l i t t l e support. See Norman, p. 13. 21,l  W a l d e r e und W a l t h a r i u s , " ESt, 60 (1926-26), 24.  22 Schucking's arguments a r e designed t o counter the view o f Hildegund i n Waldere as a " S c h i l d j u n g f r a u " i n c o n t r a s t t o the t i m i d woman presented i n W a l t h a r i u s . He suggests t h a t Waldere i s a t e n t h - c e n t u r y poem based on the L a t i n e p i c , but can b r i n g forward no r e a l evidence i n support o f t h i s theory, which has been r e j e c t e d by most scholars. However, h i s o b s e r v a t i o n s about the r e l a t i o n s h i p of Hildegund t o the t y p i c a l r e t a i n e r o r the t y p i c a l wife are c o n v i n c i n g . 23 The manuscript i s damaged i n the second case. Klaeber reads "g((eo) meowle"; Dobbie " [ G e ] a t [ i s c ] meowle" (1. 3150), Beowulf and J u d i t h , ASPR, 4. 24 I t has been suggested t h a t t h i s woman i s Beowulf's widow, but, as no wife has been mentioned b e f o r e , t h i s i s n e i t h e r e s p e c i a l l y l i k e l y nor necessary. See Klaeber, p. 230. 25 The r e l e v a n t passages from the analogues t o Beowulf, mainly Scandinavian, a r e quoted i n Part I I of R. W. Chambers' Beowulf: An I n t r o d u c t i o n , 3rd ed. (Cambridge,  126 1959), pp.  129-244.  26 These episodes from Danish h i s t o r y are a l l u d e d t o among the catalogues of k i n g s and t r i b e s i n W i d s i t h . This , poem c o n t a i n s a r e f e r e n c e to the good r e l a t i o n s h i p between Hrothgar and H r o t h u l f , and the very emphasis on t h e i r amity may c o n t a i n a h i n t at f u t u r e t r e a c h e r y . The W i d s i t h passage a l s o mentions t h e i r j o i n t defeat of the Heathobards. T h i s seems to r e f e r to the outbreak of h o s t i l i t i e s which the marriage of Freawaru to Ingeld was designed to p r e v e n t : "Hropwulf ond Hro&gar heoldon l e n g e s t sibbe aetsomne suhtorfaedran, sippan hy forwraecon wicinga cynn ond Ingeldes ord f o r b i g d a n , forheowan aet Heorote HeaSobeardna prym." (11. 45-49) 27 T h i s i s a term a p p l i e d by s c h o l a r s to women married i n order to s e t t l e feuds. The Beowulf poet uses the Old E n g l i s h e q u i v a l e n t as an e p i t h e t d e f i n i n g the r o l e of noble l a d i e s . Cf. freocSuwebbe, 1. 1942 (used i r o n i c a l l y i n the Thryth episode) and "fricSusibb f o l c a , " 1. 2017 a p p l i e d t o Wealhtheow) . E v i d e n t l y , peace-making i s regarded as p a r t of t h e i r d e f i n i t i v e f u n c t i o n . 28 Cf. Klaeber, e d i t i o n , p. x x x i i i . E. V. Gordon t h i n k s t h a t the f i r s t element has been misunderstood, and o r i g i n a l l y meant "chosen," "Wealhpeow and Related Names," MM, 4 (1935) , 169-75. Both Klaeber and Gordon note t h a t the "servant" element should not be taken here as a d e s i g n a t i o n of a member of the lower c l a s s . 29 W i l l y Meyer argues f o r a s i m i l a r l y c l o s e connection between Wealhtheow and H i l d e b u r h , and b e l i e v e s that the former i s the daughter of the l a t t e r , but the evidence does not j u s t i f y such a c o n c l u s i o n . See "Wealhpeow," B e i b l a t t zur A n g l i a , 33 (1922), 94-101. 30 Beowulf and E p i c T r a d i t i o n (Cambridge, Mass., 1930), p. 126. 31 The a r t i s t i c usage of the Finnsburh and Heathobard episodes, t h e i r r e l a t i o n to Wealhtheow, and to the more c e n t r a l concerns of the poem i s w e l l presented by A d r i e n Bonjour, The D i g r e s s i o n s i n Beowulf, Medium iEvum Monographs, 5 (Oxford, 1950). The p o s t u l a t e d o u t l i n e s of the legends i n v o l v e d and the d i s c r e p a n t i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s are d i s c u s s e d by Chambers i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n and Klaeber i n h i s e d i t i o n . Although most s c h o l a r s accept t h a t the Beowulf poet i s making heavy a l l u s i o n s to a t r a g i c f u t u r e , Kenneth Sisam is sceptical. He suggests t h a t there i s no r e a l b a s i s on which to c o n s t r u c t a t r a g i c f a t e f o r Wealhtheow, and t h a t Beowulf s c h o l a r s may have c r e a t e d t h e i r own legend on the  127 b a s i s of very l i t t l e evidence i n the poem or elsewhere, The S t r u c t u r e of Beowulf (Oxford, 1965), pp. 33-39. 3 0  Cf. E. B. I r v i n g , "The o n l y way t h a t Wealhtheow knows t o prevent the e x p l o s i o n which seems imminent . . . i s to r e s o r t t o what one must c a l l i n c a n t a t i o n , " A Reading of Beowulf (New Haven and London, 1968) , p. 139. 33 T h i s i s one of the formal d u t i e s of a queen. Cf. Maxims I, 11. 89-91a. T h e c o n t r a s t between the s t y l e of the Finnsburh episode i n Beowulf and the Finnsburh fragment has o f t e n been p o i n t e d out. Cf. Chambers, "Whereas the Fragment i s i n s p i r e d by the l u s t and j o y of b a t t l e , the theme o f the Episode, as t o l d i n Beowulf, i s r a t h e r the p i t y of i t a l l " (p. 248) ; a l s o Bonjour, "The treatment i s . . . more h e r o i c i n the Fragment, more 'sentimental' i n the episode" (p. 58). Klaeber makes s i m i l a r o b s e r v a t i o n s ( e d i t i o n , p. 236) . 3 4  35 L i t e r a l l y , "sons and b r o t h e r s " : "bearnum ond broorum," 1. 1074. The i d e n t i t y of the treacherous J u t e s i s u n c e r t a i n . They may be the Danes, the F r i s i a n s , or a group having members on both s i d e s . The problem i s d i s c u s s e d by Chambers, pp. 272-76, and 333-45. Klaeber simply equates the J u t e s w i t h the F r i s i a n s i n the episode (pp. 233-34) , w h i l e Chambers regards the J u t e s as a d i s t i n c t group i n the s e r v i c e of F i n n (p. 276). However, C. L. Wrenn, i n f l u e n c e d by h i s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of the Beowulf Hengest with the q u a s i - h i s t o r i c a l Anglo-Saxon Hengest, equates the J u t e s w i t h the Half-Danes, b e l i e v i n g the l a t t e r to be not Danes proper, but J u t e s s e r v i n g under the Danes, Beowulf, 3rd ed., r e v i s e d by W. F. B o l t o n (London, 1973) , I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 44. 37 Most c r i t i c s accept t h a t t h i s i s a p r o p h e t i c d e s c r i p t i o n of an event which a c t u a l l y o c c u r r e d , but t h e r e i s d i s p u t e as t o whether the scene i s i n Heorot or i n Heathobardic t e r r i t o r y . A x e l O l r i k b e l i e v e d t h a t Beowulf's speech r e f e r r e d t o an event which had a l r e a d y taken p l a c e , Danmarks H e l t e d i g t n i n g , I I (Copenhagen, 1910), pp. 37 f f . See W. W. Lawrence, "Beowulf and the Tragedy of Finnsburg," PMLA, 30 (1915), 380-81, n. 11. A. G. Brodeur argues t h a t the poet d e l i b e r a t e l y makes Beowulf g i v e a s l i g h t l y i n a c c u r a t e account, t o i n d i c a t e that t h i s i s p r e d i c t i o n only, The A r t of Beowulf (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1959), pp. 157-81. 38 Here, as elsewhere, the Beowulf poet i s using a c o n v e n t i o n a l i d e a more p o i n t e d l y . In Genesis A, the j u x t a p o s i t i o n of bryd and beaqas i s f o r m u l a i c ( c f . " s c e a l  128 bryde beag," Maxims I, 1. 130), and the a s s o c i a t i o n of wife with property, t r a d i t i o n a l : "Da Abraham aehte laedde of Egypta e6elmearce; hie ellenrofe i d e s e feredon, bryd and begas, ..." (11. 1873-76a) 39 Cf. Bonjour, pp. 62-63, where he speaks of the l e i t m o t i v of the p r e c a r i o u s peace i n the Finnsburh and Heathobard episodes. He sees these episodes as p r e p a r i n g f o r the background of feud i n the second p a r t of the poem, and paving the way f o r the t r a g i c atmosphere t h a t becomes i n s i s t e n t there. ^The same Gucfhere and Hagena (Gunther and Hagen) who, i n d i f f e r e n t c h a r a c t e r s and circumstances, appear i n Waldere. 4  41 H o l l a n d e r a s s i g n s t h i s poem to the e l e v e n t h or t w e l f t h c e n t u r y (p. 252) . The enormously t e l l i n g d e t a i l of B r y n h i l d s v i o l e n t laugh i s preserved i n the l a t e r v e r s i o n of the Volsung legend found i n the N i b e l u n g e n l i e d . 42 H o l l a n d e r suggests a date i n the l a t t e r p a r t of the n i n t h century (p. 285). The h o r r i b l e meal served i s , of course, an a r c h e t y p a l motif, f a m i l i a r a l s o from Greek mythology. In the N i b e l u n g e n l i e d , K r i e m h i l d (= Guthrun) i s a c t u a l l y r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the deaths of Gunther (Gunnar) and Hagen (Hogni); t h i s i s her vengeance f o r t h e i r murder of S i e g f r i e d ( S i g u r t h ) . 43 Cf. R i c h a r d H a r r i s , "Women i n the I c e l a n d i c Family Sagas: Stereotypes and I n d i v i d u a l s , " a paper presented to the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Medieval Conference, November, 1975, pp. 6-7. 44 Aeneas d e s c r i b e s the p i c t u r e of the "unhappy boy" being w h i r l e d along by h i s horses, ". . . cervixque comaeque t r a h u n t u r / per terram, et v e r s a p u l v i s i n s c r i b i t u r h a s t a , " "Aeneidos," I, 477-78, P. V e r q i l i Maronis Opera, ed. F. A. H i r t z e l (Oxford, 1900). 1  4  R  -"'qui cursu p o r t a s p r i m i i n r u p e r e p a t e n t i s , hos i n i m i c a super mixto premit agmine turba, nec miseram e f f u g i u n t mortem, sed l i m i n e i n i p s o , moenibus i n p a t r i i s atque i n t e r t u t a domorum c o n f i x i e x s p i r a n t animas. pars c l a u d e r e p o r t a s , nec s o c i i s a p e r i r e viam nec moenibus audent a c c i p e r e o r a n t i s , o r i t u r q u e miserrima caedes defendentum armis a d i t u s inque arma ruentum." (XI, 879-86)  129  CHAPTER IV THE  POEMS IN THE SAINT'S LIFE TRADITION  In the l a s t chapter,  I examined the development  of one of the major female  c h a r a c t e r - t y p e s : t h e good queen.  Here, I s h a l l be concerned  with the o t h e r main  s t e r e o t y p e : the s a i n t .  female  Whereas the p o e t i c p r e s e n t a t i o n  of the queen u t i l i s e s the prominent but p a s s i v e p o s i t i o n she t y p i c a l l y h e l d i n a c t u a l l i f e , Chapter  the s a i n t , as noted i n  I I , i s a type based not so much on the r e a l - l i f e  p o s i t i o n o f Anglo-Saxon s a i n t s , iEthelthryth,  such as H i l d . and  as on a h y p o t h e t i c a l i d e a l .  In the p r e s e n t  chapter, the d i s c u s s i o n w i l l c e n t r e on t h r e e O l d E n g l i s h poems:  Elene, J u l i a n a , and J u d i t h .  The f i r s t  two works  are among t h e signed poems of Cynewulf, and a r e dated around the t u r n of the n i n t h century; J u d i t h i s a l a t e r work.-*  -  Since they both d e a l w i t h C h r i s t i a n s a i n t s and  were both composed by the same author, J u l i a n a and Elene have more i n common w i t h one another than w i t h J u d i t h , which t r e a t s an Old-Testament s u b j e c t .  Nonetheless, t h e  l a t t e r poem has c o n s i d e r a b l e a f f i n i t i e s with them, by v i r t u e of i t s c o n c e n t r a t i o n on the f i g u r e of a h e r o i c woman.  B. J . Timmer observes t h a t " J u d i t h belongs t o t h e  type of p o e t r y t o which J u l i a n a and Elene belong, the  130 2 r e l i g i o u s e p i c d e s c r i b i n g the deeds of a f i g h t i n g s a i n t . " Rosemary Woolf has a l s o p o i n t e d out the connection between J u d i t h and the s a i n t s ' l i v e s , "shows unmistakably  o b s e r v i n g t h a t t h i s poem  the i n f l u e n c e of the l i f e  of the  3  virgin  martyr." There are, of course, marked d i f f e r e n c e s between  the t h r e e poems i n source and treatment, but i n c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n the s i m i l a r i t y of t r a d i t i o n i s more important  than the d i f f e r e n c e s .  The f a c t t h a t two of the  poems belong t o one p e r i o d and author and the t h i r d t o another  i s not of g r e a t s i g n i f i c a n c e i n the present  connection.  J u l i a n a and Elene do l i e c l o s e r t o g e t h e r i n  being more f i r m l y w i t h i n the h a g i o g r a p h i c genre, but has l i t t l e  this  t o do w i t h t h e i r p a r t i c u l a r Anglo-Saxon  provenance.  As f a r as s c h o l a r s have been a b l e t o e s t a b l i s h  d i s t i n c t i v e f e a t u r e s i n the poems a t t r i b u t a b l e to Cynewulf, these have been f e a t u r e s of d i c t i o n and syntax r a t h e r than of  matter.  4  The a t t i t u d e of mind which' l i n k s J u d i t h with J u l i a n a and Elene i s not o n l y present i n the O l d E n g l i s h poem on the J u d i t h legend, but goes r i g h t back t o the Hebrew v e r s i o n of the t a l e . the s a i n t s ' l i v e s ,  L i k e the l a t e r authors of  the composer of the Old-Testament  aimed to e d i f y and to c o n f i r m the f a i t h .  story  The e d i t o r s of  the Jerusalem B i b l e draw a t t e n t i o n to t h i s i n t h e i r i n t r o d u c t i o n t o the apocryphal books: The author [ o f the Book of J u d i t h ] seems  131 d e l i b e r a t e l y to have d e f i e d h i s t o r y to d i s t r a c t the r e a d e r ' s a t t e n t i o n from the h i s t o r i c a l context and focus i t e x c l u s i v e l y on the r e l i g i o u s c o n f l i c t and outcome. . . . H o l o f e r n e s , the henchman of Nebuchadnezzar, i s the i n c a r n a t i o n of the powers of e v i l . J u d i t h (her name means "the Jewess") r e p r e s e n t s the cause of God, t h a t i s to say, of Jewry. 5 Clinton Albertson  makes r a t h e r a s i m i l a r comment on  frame of mind of the men  who  Anglo-Saxon s a i n t s : "The  hagiographers f r e e l y manipulate  f a c t s and  use  (Latin) l i v e s  them only as an excuse t o p r a i s e God  t o i n s t r u c t and  edify  Evidently,  The  of  and  men."  there  the t a l e of J u d i t h and St. J u l i a n a .  wrote the  the  i s an  inherent  s i m i l a r i t y between  those of St. Helena  (Elene)  and  a t t i t u d e behind these t a l e s need  not  n e c e s s a r i l y have i n v o l v e d  the  conscious f a l s i f i c a t i o n  of  f a c t imputed i n the above comment on the Book of J u d i t h , and  not a l l modern s c h o l a r s would regard  m a n i p u l a t i o n r e f e r r e d t o by A l b e r t s o n  the k i n d  of  as an e s s e n t i a l  7  ingredient  of hagiography.  Perhaps the  s t a t e of mind  which informs both the s t o r y of J u d i t h and the C h r i s t i a n s a i n t s can be d e f i n e d accept and God.  to be  to  promulgate the r e v e l a t i o n s of the power of  poems about Helena, J u l i a n a , and  set a g a i n s t  are  reappear i n  i n many d i f f e r e n t languages and  saint's l i f e  Judith  a background of h a g i o g r a p h i c composition,  seen as p a r t of a genre whose f e a t u r e s  works w r i t t e n the  as a w i l l i n g n e s s  8  The  and  the t a l e s of  styles, for  i s the product of the u n i v e r s a l C h r i s t i a n  c u l t u r e of Europe  i n the Middle Ages.  The  tradition  transcends n a t i o n a l boundaries, and poems and prose are t o be found from the Anglo-Saxon  lives  period i n Latin  and  Old E n g l i s h , d e s c r i b i n g the c a r e e r s of both n a t i v e and foreign saints.  The e a r l i e s t works, those from the  h a l f of the e i g h t h century, are i n L a t i n . the "Cynewulfian group"  of poems.  There  first  follows  Then, i n the;, l a t e  t e n t h century, at the time of the B e n e d i c t i n e R e v i v a l , there i s a p e r i o d of h o m i l e t i c a c t i v i t y i n prose which i n c l u d e s many l i v e s of s a i n t s , by  e s p e c i a l l y those w r i t t e n  iElfric. The t r a d i t i o n s of c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i n the s a i n t s '  l i v e s are so f i r m l y f i x e d t h a t some f a i r l y simple g e n e r a l i s a t i o n s can be made about the genre.  These  g e n e r a l i s a t i o n s apply t o the t h r e e h e r o i n e s p r e s e n t l y under c o n s i d e r a t i o n , and a l s o , p o e t i c type of the man  i n a broad sense, t o the  of God d i s c u s s e d i n Chapter I I .  The s a i n t i s p o r t r a y e d as a person of pre-eminent  virtue  which impresses h i s f r i e n d s and confounds h i s enemies.  So  a b s o l u t e i s h i s f a i t h that t h e r e i s l i t t l e room f o r f e a r , doubt, or a n x i e t y . total,  J u s t as the goodness of the s a i n t i s  so i s the malice of the e v i l persons w i t h whom he  must contend.  He i s c o n f r o n t e d with f i e r c e and  persistent  t r i a l s and torments which he s c a r c e l y seems t o s u f f e r , complete  i s h i s assurance.  so  Proof of h i s s a i n t l i n e s s i s  g i v e n i n m i r a c l e s , which e i t h e r c o n f i r m and a s s i s t h i s f o l l o w e r s or f r u s t r a t e the c r u e l designs of h i s p e r s e c u t o r s  133 Such m i r a c l e s take p l a c e both d u r i n g h i s l i f e t i m e through the power of h i s r e l i c s ,  a f t e r h i s death.  s i t u a t i o n s presented by hagiography sweeping s t r o k e s .  and, The  are p a i n t e d w i t h  The c o n t r a s t s are v i o l e n t ,  and  the  m o r a l i s i n g tends to be crude. In h i s study of hagiography,  R. A i g r a n d i s t i n g u i s h e s  between the f a i r l y r e a l i s t i c l i v e s based on h i s t o r i c a l accounts and the  'epic' p a s s i o n s and l i v e s ,  which are  p i c t u r e s q u e and r h e t o r i c a l , and have l i t t l e or nothing t o do w i t h h i s t o r i c a l f a c t . to t h i s  Elene and J u l i a n a both belong  ' e p i c a l ' category, i n c o n t r a s t , f o r i n s t a n c e , with  the more r e s t r a i n e d A n g l o - L a t i n accounts of n a t i v e s a i n t s , such as Cuthbert and W i l f r i d .  J u l i a n a i s a f i g u r e of whom  o n l y the name and the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n w i t h Nicomedia are l i k e l y t o be h i s t o r i c a l .  On the b a s i s of these data,  preserved i n e a r l y m a r t y r o l o g i e s , a s u i t a b l e legend developed.  was  Numerous o t h e r e p i c a l s a i n t s ' legends,  as t h a t of K a t h e r i n e of A l e x a n d r i a , another v i r g i n grew up i n the same way.  such  martyr,  St. Helena, the mother of  Constantine, i s o n l y s l i g h t l y more h i s t o r i c a l .  The legend  of her d i s c o v e r y of the c r o s s i s a h e r o i c t r a d i t i o n which has the h i s t o r i c a l b a s i s of a v i s i t by her to the Holy Land, where she founded  two  churches. ''' 1  Again, the t a l e  of J u d i t h i s , t o some extent, a Jewish e q u i v a l e n t of e p i c a l hagiography. The c o n t r a s t between the e p i c a l and the more realistic  s a i n t s ' l i v e s can be observed i n o t h e r Old E n g l i s h  134 works, both prose and v e r s e , and t h e i r L a t i n sources. element  The  of crude v i o l e n c e and s e n s a t i o n a l i s m present i n  many of the Mediterranean legends i s absent from the more homely l i v e s of the Anglo-Saxon s a i n t s , p a r t l y , d o u b t l e s s , j u s t because  they are c l o s e r t o l i f e than those t a l e s 12  based on Greek and L a t i n t r a d i t i o n s . of  ASlfric's  lives  Edmund and Oswald, f o r i n s t a n c e , are more human and  l e s s g a r i s h than h i s l i v e s of the Graeco-Roman v i r g i n martyrs: Eugenia, B a s i l l i a , Agnes, Agatha, Eufrasia.  The L i f e of Eugenia, however, may  p a r t i c u l a r appeal t o the Anglo-Saxons, own  and  have had a  remembering  their  s a i n t l y abbesses of e a r l i e r times: Eugenia l i v e s as  a v i r g i n , d i s g u i s e d as a man, is  Lucy,  i n a community of monks,  chosen by them as t h e i r abbot, and r u l e s them i n  exemplary  fashion.  There i s no p o i n t at which a l i n e 13  can be drawn between e p i c a l and r e a l i s t i c  hagiography.  The legend of Guthlac, i n the A n g l o - L a t i n l i f e by F e l i x , in  the Old E n g l i s h prose, and i n the p o e t i c v e r s i o n ,  c o n t a i n s some s e n s a t i o n a l elements, grouped  w i t h the comparatively r e a l i s t i c accounts of  n a t i v e Anglo-Saxon s a i n t s . torments  although i t i s to be  Thus, the r a t h e r p i c t u r e s q u e  t o which G u t h l a c i s s u b j e c t e d by bands of d e v i l s  c o n s t i t u t e a motif d e r i v i n g from the L i f e of St. Antony, the hermit s a i n t of the d e s e r t .  Perhaps  the most extreme  example of the e p i c a l t r a d i t i o n i n the p o e t r y i s the adventures, of the s a i n t i n Andreas,  r e f e r r e d t o i n Chapter  135 The type of c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n t o be found i n the t h r e e poems with which I am concerned  can be e s t a b l i s h e d  more p r e c i s e l y by a comparison of the Old E n g l i s h works w i t h t h e i r L a t i n sources.  In r e c e n t years, there have  been s e v e r a l s t u d i e s of the Old E n g l i s h ' s a i n t s ' poems' designed  to show how  these works have shaped t h e i r  sources i n accordance  w i t h t h e i r own  didactic  Latin  aim.  S c h o l a r s have p o i n t e d out t h a t the Old E n g l i s h poets have sharpened  and heightened  o r i g i n a l s and  the moral c o n t r a s t s i n t h e i r  s t y l i s e d the c h a r a c t e r s , t o make them c l e a r l y  r e p r e s e n t a t i v e , not of i n d i v i d u a l s , but of the Church i n 15 i t s c o n f l i c t with e v i l .  The  s t y l i s e d p r e s e n t a t i o n has  been j u s t i f i e d as a d e l i b e r a t e d e v i c e aimed at a s p e c i f i c end.  The o v e r r i d i n g d i d a c t i c aim of the authors of these  poems i s unquestionable, r e f l e c t s t h i s aim.  and t h e i r treatment  of c h a r a c t e r  However, the f a c t t h a t the  stylisation  i s d e l i b e r a t e does not n e c e s s a r i l y make i t a r t i s t i c a l l y effective.  As we  s h a l l see, i n t h e i r a d a p t a t i o n of t h e i r  sources, the poets make t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s l e s s , not more convincing. I s h a l l now  examine these a d a p t a t i o n s one by  beginning w i t h J u d i t h . condensed and  one,  The author of t h i s poem has  s i m p l i f i e d the Vulgate account  i n order to  b r i n g the c o n t r a s t i n g f i g u r e s of J u d i t h and H o l o f e r n e s 16 g r e a t e r prominence.  into  The beginning of the poem i s missing,  and there i s some d i s p u t e as t o how  much of i t i s l o s t .  The extant s e c t i o n i s trimmed and t e l e s c o p e d i n order t o  136 focus upon J u d i t h ' s venture  to the camp of  c e r t a i n c h a r a c t e r s are omitted, i t g i v e s a balanced  and  and  Holofernes,  the poem as we have  complete n a r r a t i v e .  make i t l i k e l y t h a t very l i t t l e  These f a c t s  of the t e x t has  been  i 7  lost.  Only two  major c h a r a c t e r s appear i n the  E n g l i s h poet's v e r s i o n of the t a l e . disappeared,  and  the l e a d e r of the  Nebuchadnezzar  the r o l e of supreme l e a d e r of  A s s y r i a n s i s subsumed i n H o l o f e r n e s . Israelites,  Old has  the  Likewise,  Ozias,  i s unmentioned, and the poet  allows J u d i t h h e r s e l f to appear as the l e a d e r of her people by l e t t i n g the I s r a e l i t e commanders and  elders  drop i n t o the background.  gives  A c h i o r , the man  who  Holofernes  good but unwelcome advice,  the l i t t l e  sub-plot d e s c r i b i n g h i s t r a n s f e r e n c e of  to but  the I s r a e l i t e s i s omitted. i s not emphasised, and  i s unmentioned,  The  loyalties  J u d i t h ' s maid i s r e t a i n e d ,  the A s s y r i a n who  wake the supposedly s l e e p i n g Holofernes figure.  and  ventures  i n to  i s a very minor  e f f e c t of the J u d i t h poet's a l t e r a t i o n s i s to  p l a c e the c e n t r a l emphasis on the f i g u r e of the h e r o i n e  as 1R  the emblem of v i r t u e and It  the i n s p i r a t i o n of her people.  °  i s i l l u m i n a t i n g to compare the p o e t i c treatment  of J u d i t h with the treatment of s i m i l a r s u b j e c t s i n the h o m i l i e s of i E l f r i c ,  e s p e c i a l l y h i s Homily on the Book of  19  Judith.  There are marked s i m i l a r i t i e s between  iElfric's  homily and  the p o e t i c J u d i t h , but the r e s t r u c t u r i n g of  the  o r i g i n a l which i s so conspicuous i n the poem i s much l e s s r a d i c a l i n the prose work.  iElfric's  n a r r a t i v e i s longer  137 and  more l e i s u r e l y , and  a l s o much more f a i t h f u l to  d e t a i l s of the o r i g i n a l . the work he  Judith.  r e n d e r i n g i s a l s o much  circumstantially moralistic.  h e r o i n e ' s v i r t u e and moralising  In keeping w i t h the nature of  i s writing, i E l f r i c ' s  more e x p l i c i t l y and  the  p i e t y are  stressed,  The  especially in  the  passage which forms an e p i l o g u e to the t a l e of  Her  maintenance of c h a s t i t y i n widowhood i s  emphasised, and,  i n her h e r o i c  f e a t , she  i s likened  to  20 the  Church s t r i k i n g o f f the head of the D e v i l .  by and  l a r g e she  i s a l e s s m a r t i a l f i g u r e than the  of the poem, and  her a c t u a l d e c a p i t a t i o n  passed over q u i t e b r i e f l y .  isation, character,  l a t t e r the poet r e c r e a t e s  the poem  former d i r e c t character-  action  along t r a d i t i o n a l p o e t i c l i n e s , as the  of a moral theme. greater  whereas i n the  takes precedence over n a r r a t i v e and  i n the  Judith  of H o l o f e r n e s i s  Both the homily and  are d i d a c t i c i n i n t e n t i o n , but moralising  However,  and embodiment  Hence, the p o e t i c treatment takes f a r  l i b e r t i e s i n i t s h a n d l i n g of i t s source. The  exact source of J u l i a n a i s unknown, but  the  v e r s i o n of the J u l i a n a legend found i n the B o l l a n d i s t A c t a 21 Sanctorum  p r o v i d e s a form of the  legend very c l o s e  to  that on which the Old E n g l i s h poem must have been based. The  L a t i n account d e s c r i b e s  the  to which J u l i a n a i s subjected pagan.  Her  father, Africanus,  suitor, Eleusius, by  initial  who,  torments and  temptations  on her r e f u s a l to marry a hands her  over to  a f t e r f a i l i n g to break her  c r u e l t i e s , throws her  into prison,  her resolve  where  she  138 i s v i s i t e d by a d e v i l .  She i s subsequently submitted t o  f u r t h e r t o r t u r e s , from a l l o f which she emerges unscathed, to  e f f e c t the d i s c o m f i t u r e of E l e u s i u s and the c o n v e r s i o n  of  the m u l t i t u d e .  body i s conveyed  She i s f i n a l l y d e c a p i t a t e d .  Later her  t o Campania by a c e r t a i n Semphonia.  E l e u s i u s comes t o an ignominious end by shipwreck. Cynewulf s 1  poem seems t o have p r e s e r v e d most o f t h i s ,  although t h e r e a r e two gaps i n the manuscript.  The f i r s t  would have contained p a r t o f the d e v i l ' s c o n f e s s i o n o f h i s crimes, and t h e second, t h e account o f E l e u s i u s ' to  attempt  break J u l i a n a on the wheel. The legend of J u l i a n a belongs t o a w e l l - d e f i n e d  branch o f hagiography: the l i f e  of the v i r g i n martyr.  It  i s a category i n which the more extravagant f e a t u r e s o f the  genre a r e v e r y much t o the f o r e .  the  I n t r o d u c t i o n t o h i s e d i t i o n , g i v e s examples o f the  recurrent  W i l l i a m Strunk, i n  elements:  The t y p i c a l v i r g i n martyr i s a g i r l o f noble rank . . . , devout and l e a r n e d . . . , sought i n marriage by some heathen p r o c o n s u l o r p r e f e c t o r p r e f e c t ' s son . . . . She r e j e c t s h e r s u i t o r , and r e f u s e s t o s a c r i f i c e t o A p o l l o . . . . Brought b e f o r e the p r e f e c t f o r t r i a l , she adheres t o her f a i t h , whereupon she i s s u b j e c t e d t o a t r o c i o u s t o r t u r e and humiliation.22 Strunk goes on t o enumerate the t y p i c a l t o r t u r e s from which the s a i n t i s m i r a c u l o u s l y p r e s e r v e d , and the f i n a l beheading. There a r e some s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s between the  Cynewulf  v e r s i o n of the legend and that found i n the  139 A c t a Sanctorum.  In the l a t t e r ,  J u l i a n a makes the  s t i p u l a t i o n t h a t E l e u s i u s g a i n the p r e f e c t u r e before she w i l l consent t o marry him. obstacle,  When he overcomes t h i s  she f a l l s back upon h e r r e a l reason: h e r  determination  not t o marry a pagan.  The omission o f t h i s  o r i g i n a l s t i p u l a t i o n from Cynewulf s poem achieves a 1  g r e a t e r emphasis on J u l i a n a ' s p i e t y and makes her seem l e s s dissembling.  The same i s t r u e o f another omission,  which has the e f f e c t of making the c h a r a c t e r more a b s o l u t e l y wicked and a g r e a t e r  of Eleusius  contrast to Juliana.  T h i s i s t h e omission o f E l e u s i u s ' d e c l a r a t i o n t h a t he dare not accede t o J u l i a n a ' s demand t h a t he become a Christian,  "quia s i f e c e r o , a u d i e t  imperator, e t 24  successorem mihi dans, caput meum g l a d i o  amputabit."  In Cynewulf's v e r s i o n , E l e u s i u s ' a t t i t u d e i s one of complete h o s t i l i t y towards C h r i s t i a n i t y . reference  Cynewulf a l s o omits t h e  t o the removal o f J u l i a n a ' s body by Semphonia,  a d e t a i l which makes no r e a l c o n t r i b u t i o n t o the impact of the martyr's p a s s i o n .  The o v e r a l l e f f e c t o f these changes  i s t o sharpen and s i m p l i f y the main l i n e s o f the p l o t and characterisation. In the case o f Elene, Sanctorum p r o v i d e s  as w e l l as J u l i a n a , the A c t a  a v e r s i o n o f the legend s i m i l a r t o t h a t  which must have been Cynewulf's source. the Acta S. J u d a e - Q u i r i a c i ,  which c e n t r e s  This version i s on the f i n d i n g  of the c r o s s by the converted Jew, Judas C y r i a c u s .  2 6  n a r r a t i v e comprises three o r i g i n a l l y separate legends,  The  140 27 going back to the f o u r t h and  fifth  centuries,  and  d e s c r i b i n g r e s p e c t i v e l y Constantine's v i c t o r y i n b a t t l e 28 through the s i g n of the c r o s s ,  the m i s s i o n  Helena, t o f i n d the t r u e c r o s s , and Judas, subsequently C y r i a c u s . quite loose i n s t r u c t u r e . Cyriacus  of h i s mother,  the conversion  of  Thus, the L a t i n work i s  Its t i t l e  suggests that Judas  i s the hero, but he does not e n t e r t i l l  the  middle of the n a r r a t i v e , and  i t i s r e a l l y the cross 29 which i s the u n i f y i n g element. As regards the Old E n g l i s h poem, the t i t l e has 1840  been i n g e n e r a l  use  would be more a p p r o p r i a t e . ^ 3  J u l i a n a and  Cyriacus,  Invention  of the  Cross"  C l e a r l y , St. Helena i s not  of Elene i n the same way  J u d i t h are the h e r o i n e s  bear t h e i r names.  Elene  s i n c e Jacob Grimm used i t i n h i s  e d i t i o n , but perhaps "The  the c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r  itself  that  of the poems which  Other f i g u r e s , i . e . , Constantine  at times occupy the c e n t r a l r o l e .  and  Thus,  Constantine c a r r i e s out the m i l i t a r y campaign i n the episode, and  i t i s he,  r a t h e r than Helena, who  fulfils 31  s a i n t ' s f u n c t i o n of m a r t i a l l e a d e r at t h i s p o i n t . i s the war-leader i n the c e n t r a l s e c t i o n ; but presentation  of her  f a c t t h a t she  first the  Helena  the  i n 'this c a p a c i t y i s weakened by  i s never c a l l e d upon to take p a r t i n  the any  32 battles.  Again, i t i s Judas C y r i a c u s who  the cross and  the n a i l s ; and  actually finds  at the time when he  i s being  i n t e r r o g a t e d by Helena he occupies a r o l e r a t h e r l i k e t h a t 33 of the martyr b e f o r e the t r i b u n a l . Nevertheless, Helena,  141 the person who c a r r i e s out the mission t o Jerusalem t o f i n d the c r o s s , i s a p i v o t a l f i g u r e . have heightened some extent, Judith).  Cynewulf seems t o  her r o l e i n order to make her,  at l e a s t t o  the same k i n d o f f o c a l f i g u r e as J u l i a n a (or  In h i s a d a p t a t i o n o f h i s source,  he e s p e c i a l l y  emphasises the s e c t i o n s p r e s e n t i n g Helena as an emissary t o the Holy Land.  Thus, her e x p e d i t i o n becomes an extended  'sea-piece.' '* and h e r i n t e r r o g a t i o n o f Judas i s expanded. 3  A l s o , t h e r e i s no mention i n t h e L a t i n o f Helena's r e p o r t back t o Constantine  on the f i n d i n g o f the c r o s s , but  Cynewulf makes p a r t i c u l a r mention of t h i s ,  as i f t o g i v e a  more a c t i v e p a r t t o Helena, who i n t h i s p o r t i o n o f the 35 n a r r a t i v e i s overshadowed by C y r i a c u s . i n Constantine  Further, bringing  at t h i s p o i n t has a u n i f y i n g e f f e c t , and  a n t i c i p a t e s the f i n a l drawing together o f the v a r i o u s strands i n the p l o t , when the h o l y n a i l s , are sent by Helena t o Constantine,  found by C y r i a c u s ,  t o be s e t i n h i s b r i d l e .  However, though Helena i s the c e n t r a l a c t o r , i t i s the c r o s s which i s used by Cynewulf t o g i v e t h e poem u n i t y : the c r o s s i n s p i r e s the conversions and  Judas, and, i n the e p i l o g u e ,  thematic  of Constantine  Cynewulf's own s p i r i t u a l  regeneration. ^ 3  In a l l t h r e e poems, then,  there i s an attempt t o  t i g h t e n the s t r u c t u r e and i n c r e a s e the dramatic the s t o r y .  effect of  Whereas the o r i g i n a l s a r e c h a r a c t e r i s e d by t h e i r  b r i e f and unadorned n a r r a t i v e — t h e two v i t a e a r e p a r t i c u l a r l y b a l d , the O l d E n g l i s h poems dwell on the persons and  142 situations  involved.  the o r i g i n a l s  While c e r t a i n  are omitted,  and  the moral c o n f l i c t s  and  added w e i g h t  and  speeches.  appropriate beauty,  f o c u s s i n g on  shall  to the  see  a u t h o r i t y , and, This l a s t  is virtually  t h e sum  enemies—are torht 275;  1.  131),  and  nobility,  1.  Juliana, tireadig  beauty  of the heroine  victorious  the  wisdom, a s c e n d a n c y o v e r  her  s t o c k e p i t h e t s such  (Judith,  1.  256;  (Judith,  604).  are  1.  1.  13;  Juliana, the  s t r e s s e d ; i n Elene,  saintliness  ("pa  of beauty  eadigan  1.  331).  ("ides  maeg6, "  1.  as  as  Elene,  In J u l i a n a ,  combined w i t h Helena's d i g n i t y  i n terms both  just  qualities. attributed  ( " g e a t o l i c guScwen g o l d e g e h y r s t e d , "  and  devotion  youth  the  q u a l i t i e s more commonly a s s o c i a t e d w i t h  warrior are  described  her  her  t h e a c t i o n a s a whole,  other  175) , g l e a w  (Elene,  stressed:  to  43) , aecSele 1.  qualities  f e a t u r e emerges n o t  t o be  s i m p l y c o n v e y e d by  (Judith,  1.  of her  standard q u a l i t i e s  heroine—beauty,  emphasised,  extended d e s c r i p t i o n s  above a l l ,  from  in  heroines  t h a t the t r a d i t i o n a l  f r o m t h e h e r o i n e ' s words b u t  The  tHem a r e  s a i n t l y heroine are  t o t h e c a u s e o f God.  and  f i g u r e s of the  i s g i v e n t o them by  We  purity,  the  features present  the  queen Judith i s  aelfscinu," 35) , and  1.  14)  of  37 victoriousness.  She  Bethulia,  are c a l l e d  134-35).  The  realistic. (Elene, 1.  and  companion,  collenferh5e  e p i t h e t s chosen are  Thus, s i g e c w e n 331)  her  and  r e t u r n i n g to  eadhreoige  symbolic  (Elene, 1.  260)  a p p l i e d t o Helena c a n n o t  rather and  refer  (11. than  gu6cwen t o an a c t u a l  m i l i t a r y v i c t o r y , but suggest Helena's  impressive  a u t h o r i t y as commander of her f o r c e of men, her moral v i c t o r y over the Jews.  and a l s o  Similarly,  imply  the y o u t h f u l ,  r a d i a n t beauty of J u l i a n a i s the c o u n t e r p a r t of her inner p u r i t y .  E l e u s i u s addresses her:  "Min se swetesta Juliana! Hwaet, ginfaeste g i e f e ,  sunnan scima, pu glasm h a f a s t , geoguShades blaed 1 " (11. 166-68)  The words t o r h t and a e l f s c i n u  applied to J u d i t h  suggest  38 r a d i a n c e and more than human beauty. The c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n of the t h r e e h e r o i n e s i s p a r t l y achieved by i n d i r e c t means.  The i n t r o d u c t i o n of  the set p i e c e s f a m i l i a r l y found i n Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y has the s i d e e f f e c t of emphasising a p p r o p r i a t e t o the female s a i n t .  c e r t a i n of the q u a l i t i e s Thus, the use of the  b a t t l e theme, taken up i n J u d i t h ' s s t i r r i n g speech to her people  (1. 191b)  and continued i n the a c t i o n of the  I s r a e l i t e s afterwards, has the e f f e c t of demonstrating  her  f o r c e f u l m i l i t a r y l e a d e r s h i p and a s s o c i a t i n g her w i t h the t y p i c a l male w a r r i o r l e a d e r .  In Elene, t h e r e i s a v i g o r o u s  d e s c r i p t i o n of Helena's army embarking, s a i l i n g over the sea, and marching  t o Jerusalem  (11. 232b-63).  This  d e s c r i p t i o n suggests t h a t Helena too i s a v i g o r o u s m i l i t a r y l e a d e r , but the e f f e c t cannot be as t e l l i n g as i n J u d i t h , 39 since this i s a peaceful expedition.  Again,  the  extended p r e s e n t a t i o n of H o l o f e r n e s and E l e u s i u s has the r e s u l t of emphasising by c o n t r a s t the c h a r a c t e r s and  144 s i t u a t i o n s of J u d i t h and J u l i a n a ,  respectively.  The  J u d i t h poet d w e l l s on the grossness of H o l o f e r n e s i n h i s cups (11. 21b-27), and Cynewulf makes E l e u s i u s Juliana  i n words f u l l o f h o s t i l i t y  men e x u l t  address  (11. 190-208).  Both  i n t h e i r might; the poets speak of how  Holofernes hioh  (Judith,  ( J u l i a n a , 1. 189).  1. 23) and E l e u s i u s  ahloq  This arrogance forms an i r o n i c  contrast  with the s a i n t s ' calm c o n f i d e n c e i n the support o f God. The feature  p i e t y of the s a i n t i s not so much an i s o l a t a b l e  as a f u n c t i o n o f o t h e r s .  I t i s p r e s e n t i n the  most b a s i c elements of the poems: the p l o t and the poet's attitude. the  The h e r o i n e ' s d e d i c a t i o n  i n c i d e n t s of the n a r r a t i v e  i s demonstrated by  i t s e l f : Judith  boldly  undertakes her m i s s i o n t o H o l o f e r n e s ' camp and d e c a p i t a t e s him  t o f u r t h e r the cause o f the I s r a e l i t e s , which i s a l s o  the  cause o f God; J u l i a n a remains f i r m i n her f a i t h i n the  face of the utmost p r e s s u r e t o deny i t ; Helena leads h e r army t o Jerusalem, compels the Jews t o accede t o her wishes, i n i t i a t e s the f i n d i n g o f the c r o s s nails,  and founds a church.  and the sacred  A t a l l moments, the poets are  conscious o f the C h r i s t i a n s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e i r works. The  s a i n t ' s C h r i s t i a n d e v o t i o n i s as much a p a r t of the  c h a r a c t e r o f the Old-Testament J u d i t h as i t i s of the c h a r a c t e r s of J u l i a n a and Helena. Father, Son and Holy Ghost  J u d i t h prays t o the  (11. 83-84) , the "<5rynesse  6'rym" (1. 86) . Much o f the emphasis on the h e r o i n e ' s s a i n t l i n e s s  145 and much o f t h e poets' d i d a c t i c purpose i s conveyed the speeches.  through  In J u d i t h , the main c h a r a c t e r ' s speeches  have r e a l energy because they a r i s e out o f her immediate s i t u a t i o n and a r e d i r e c t l y l i n k e d with a c t i o n .  In l i n e s  83-94a she prays t o the Lord f o r s t r e n g t h t o defeat the A s s y r i a n s i n t h e person o f H o l o f e r n e s . she addresses the I s r a e l i t e s , the A s s y r i a n s .  In l i n e s 177-98  urging them t o f a l l upon  However, i n Elene and J u l i a n a the  c o n f r o n t a t i o n between the devout s a i n t and h e r i r r e l i g i o u s opponents takes the form o f long speeches designed t o demonstrate t h e a u t h o r i t y of t h e h e r o i n e and t h e l o g i c a l r i g h t n e s s o f her p o s i t i o n .  The u t t e r a n c e s o f J u l i a n a  (11. 46-57, 108-16, 132-39, 149-57, 176-83, 210-24, e t c . ) are repeated statements counterbalanced  o f h e r moral standpoint, and are  by E l e u s i u s ' attempt  t o persuade h e r t o  accept h i s own gods (11. 190-208) and by t h e d e v i l ' s lengthy account  o f h i s crimes  352-417, 430b-53, 461-530a). t h i s i s minimal.  (11. 289-315a, 321-44, The human i n t e r e s t i n a l l  The speeches i n Elene a r e l e s s  but the d i d a c t i c element i s s t i l l  strong.  When Helena  addresses the Jews, she begins w i t h an account prophets' proceeds Her  sayings concerning C h r i s t  mechanical,  of the  (11. 333-76), and  t o a condemnation o f the Jewish people  (11.  386-95).  subsequent i n t e r r o g a t i o n o f the Jews c o l l e c t i v e l y and  Judas i n p a r t i c u l a r c o n s i s t s o f r e p e a t e d l y t h r e a t e n i n g them w i t h death, and s t r e s s i n g h e r i n t e r e s t i n the c r o s s (11. 574-84a, 605b-08, 621-26, 643-54, 663-66, 670-82a,  146 686-90).  Judas' r e p l i e s (11. 611-18, 632-41, and  are intended but  to present  i n f a c t there  a s e r i e s of spurious  i s a tendency f o r him  656-61)  justifications,  to become a  40 sympathetic f i g u r e at t h i s p o i n t .  His extremely long  speech to the Jews (11. 419b-535) i s an i n d i r e c t of them, s i n c e i t c o n t a i n s and  the p a r t played  d o c t r i n a l character  an account of the  i n i t by the Jews. of the  indictment  crucifixion  The l a r g e l y  speeches i n both poems can  s c a r c e l y make them l i f e l i k e ,  and  the e f f e c t i s r a t h e r  monotonous. The  p i e t y of the t y p i c a l female s a i n t i s e s p e c i a l l y  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h her v i r g i n i t y i s met  chastity.  The  with everywhere.  veneration We  accorded  to  f i n d i t i n Bede's  c e l e b r a t i o n of i E t h e l t h r y t h , mentioned i n Chapter I. 41 iElfric's  Homily on the B i r t h of the V i r g i n  extended paean to v i r g i n i t y , eloquence, and  i s an  expressed w i t h p o e t i c  r i s i n g to a h i g h p i t c h of i n t e n s i t y i n the  rapturous passage d e s c r i b i n g the surrounding the Lamb.  But  the p r e s e n t a t i o n  i n the poems under c o n s i d e r a t i o n matter-of-fact,  and  song of the v i r g i n of  host  virginity  i s completely  quite lacking in this i n s p i r a t i o n a l  quality. V i r g i n i t y cannot p l a y a p a r t i n the c h a r a c t e r Helena, s i n c e she  i s the mother of Constantine,  but  of  i t does  p l a y a prominent p a r t i n the c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n of J u d i t h and  Juliana.  In both cases i t i s worthy of comment,  s i n c e i t i s not  e n t i r e l y i n keeping with the  given  147 narrative.  J u d i t h i n the B i b l e i s a widow.  I t i s true  that  her v i r t u o u s and r e t i r i n g behaviour s i n c e the death o f her husband i s s t r e s s e d , but t h e r e being  i s no q u e s t i o n  o f her  a maid, as she i s i n the O l d E n g l i s h poem.  d e c i s i v e change may w e l l be the work o f the poet than of an intermediary  source.  iElfric's  This rather  Homily on the  Book o f J u d i t h emphasises her p u r i t y , but f o l l o w s the Vulgate i n making her a widow. is  The e f f e c t o f t h i s change  t o make J u d i t h even more l i k e the t y p i c a l  female  42 saint.  Also,  the poet makes J u d i t h stand out i n sharper  r e l i e f a g a i n s t H o l o f e r n e s by p r e s e n t i n g of maidenly p u r i t y , i n c o n t r a s t with  her as the epitome  Holofernes'  l i c e n t i o u s n e s s and debauchery, which he a l s o s t r e s s e s . In J u l i a n a , t h e r e presentation at  i s a certain inconsistency  of the h e r o i n e ' s  i n the  dedication to v i r g i n i t y , f o r  one p o i n t the poet s t a t e s t h a t she has d e d i c a t e d her  maidenhood t o God (11. 29b-31), while a l i t t l e  l a t e r she  d e c l a r e s h e r w i l l i n g n e s s t o marry E l e u s i u s i f he w i l l f i r s t become a C h r i s t i a n (11. 47b-50).  Because o f  Cynewulf's eagerness t o s t r e s s the v i r t u e o f choosing the celibate l i f e ,  J u l i a n a i s c r e d i t e d with two d i s t i n c t moral  p o s i t i o n s , both acceptable  from a C h r i s t i a n p o i n t of view,  but not compatible. In t h e i r adaptations E n g l i s h poets a l l o w nothing  of t h e i r o r i g i n a l s ,  the O l d  which might d e t r a c t from the  d i g n i t y and p u r i t y of t h e i r h e r o i n e s .  Thus, i n a d d i t i o n  to the changes o f p l o t or c h a r a c t e r - f u n c t i o n  p o i n t e d out  148 earlier,  t h e r e a r e s i g n i f i c a n t omissions of d e t a i l  to remove the cruder f e a t u r e s o f the o r i g i n a l s . omissions  designed  These  are e s p e c i a l l y n o t i c e a b l e i n J u l i a n a and J u d i t h ,  where the Old E n g l i s h poems show a d i s t i n c t d i f f e r e n c e i n tone from t h e i r L a t i n sources.  When J u l i a n a i s  thrown i n t o p r i s o n , i n the L a t i n v e r s i o n she u t t e r s a prayer t o God which ends w i t h a v e n g e f u l r e f e r e n c e t o E l e u s i u s : ". . . f a c ipsum praefectum,  participem  daemoniorum, a me d e r i d e r e , e t ipsum consumptum a vermibus 43 magno d o l o r e torquere  . . . ."  The e n t i r e passage i s  omitted i n Cynewulf s v e r s i o n .  Indeed, the o v e r a l l  1  impression c r e a t e d by C y n e w u l f s poem i s a l e s s g a r i s h 1  one.  This i s e s p e c i a l l y noticeable i n Juliana's  confrontation with B e l i a l ,  the d e v i l .  Cynewulf r e t a i n s  the b a s i c f e a t u r e s of the episode: B e l i a l comes t o h e r d i s g u i s e d as an angel and tempts her; she c a l l s t o God f o r a s s i s t a n c e , i s i n s t r u c t e d t o s e i z e the d e v i l and f o r c e him t o r e v e a l h i s i d e n t i t y , which she does; he then confesses a l l h i s crimes. prison,  When she i s summoned  she drags him i g n o m i n i o u s l y a f t e r her.-  from He makes  a f i n a l appearance a t J u l i a n a ' s execution, but she confounds him with a mere backward g l a n c e . note i s i n t r o d u c e d with B e l i a l , treatment  A d e f i n i t e l y humorous r e m i n i s c e n t o f the  of d e v i l s i n ( l a t e r ) medieval  humorous touch i s present  drama.  The  i n Cynewulf's poem, but i s  r e s t r a i n e d i n comparison w i t h t h e roughness o f t h e L a t i n version.  The l a t t e r d e s c r i b e s how, a f t e r J u l i a n a has  149 p h y s i c a l l y overpowered the d e v i l ,  she beats him savagely  w i t h a c h a i n , and how, a f t e r dragging B e l i a l w i t h h e r on her way from the p r i s o n , of  filth.  4 4  she throws him i n t o a p l a c e  full  In the O l d E n g l i s h poem, the b e a t i n g o f the  d e v i l i s omitted, and the "locum s t e r c o r e plenum" i s , rendered  i n much vaguer language,  t h a t J u l i a n a banished  the g i s t o f which i s  B e l i a l back t o h e l l :  Ba hine seo faemne f o r l e t aefter praechwile p y s t r a neosan i n sweartne grund, sawla gewinnan, on w i t a forwyrd. (11. 553b-56a) In  i t s more r e s t r a i n e d tone, the Old E n g l i s h poem  c o n t r a s t s not o n l y with i t s L a t i n source, but with i t s e a r l y Middle E n g l i s h analogue,  the l a t e t w e l f t h - c e n t u r y  L i f l a d e ant t e Passiun o f S e i n t e J u l i e n e of the K a t h e r i n e 45 Group.  T. Shippey notes t h a t the Middle E n g l i s h prose  v e r s i o n , u n l i k e Cynewulf s poem, p i c k s up "a c o l l o q u i a l 1  s e n s a t i o n a l i s m " present i n the L a t i n .  The e s s e n t i a l  m a t e r i a l o f the J u l i a n a legend i s s e n s a t i o n a l , but t h i s aspect i s c e r t a i n l y muted i n the Old E n g l i s h . the l i f e  i n the K a t h e r i n e Group i s f u l l  In c o n t r a s t ,  o f rough but  l i v e l y d e t a i l s o f a c t i o n and c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n .  Juliana  b i n d s B e l i a l ' s hands so t i g h t l y that "him wrong euch n e i l 7 blakede o f pe b l o d e , " and then beats him "se l u S e r l i c h e 47 pet wa wes him o l i v e . " Again, she speaks i n language much too a c e r b i c and down-to-earth f o r Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y . 48 She addresses h e r p e r s e c u t o r s as " b e l i a l e s budeles," E l e u s i u s as "head'ene hund, "  4 9  and  and d e c l a r e s , " l u t e l me i s  150 of  ower l u v e • l e a s s e of ower 1 a£fe • 7 of pes p r e a t e s  noht.  richt  1 , 5 0  Less l i v e l y , but more s p e c t a c u l a r , i s the e a r l y 51 Middle E n g l i s h L i f e of St. K a t h e r i n e , name to the K a t h e r i n e Group.  which g i v e s i t s  Indeed, a summary of the  events i n the L i f e of St. K a t h e r i n e p r o v i d e s an e x c e l l e n t example of the h o r r i f i c and g a r i s h elements which c h a r a c t e r i s e the s a i n t ' s legend, e s p e c i a l l y t h a t of the v i r g i n martyr,  and  from which the Old E n g l i s h works are  comparatively f r e e . life  In f a c t ,  the e a r l y Middle E n g l i s h  i s a c t u a l l y toned down from i t s L a t i n o r i g i n a l ,  and  d i f f e r s from the other members of the K a t h e r i n e Group 52 in t h i s respect.  Katherine i s a learned g i r l  f a m i l y i n A l e x a n d r i a who  of noble  rebukes the Emperor Maxentius  when he i s s a c r i f i c i n g animals t o heathen gods i n a Maxentius summons f i f t y she d e f e a t s and  temple.  s c h o l a r s t o d i s p u t e w i t h her,  and  converts them a l l , whereupon Maxentius  has them burned t o death.  She a l s o converts  Maxentius'  queen, Augusta, and P o r p h i r i u s , the c h i e f of h i s k n i g h t s , who of  c o n v e r t s h i s men  i n turn.  the instrument designed  There i s a g r i s l y  description  f o r K a t h e r i n e ' s execution, a  spiked w h e e l — t h e wheel i s m i r a c u l o u s l y s h a t t e r e d by an angel, and an even more g r i s l y d e s c r i p t i o n of the martyrdom of Augusta, whose b r e a s t s are t o r n o f f by  nails  attached to the n i p p l e s , a f t e r which she i s beheaded.  All  t h i s takes p l a c e at the command of the b l o o d t h i r s t y Maxentius,  who  has P o r p h i r i u s and h i s k n i g h t s  executed,  151 and  f i n a l l y has K a t h e r i n e beheaded.  i s mildness  Cynewulf s J u l i a n a 1  i t s e l f i n comparison.  The Book of J u d i t h i s not c r u d e l y s e n s a t i o n a l , but l i k e the L a t i n source of J u l i a n a ,  i t too c o n t a i n s  f e a t u r e s which make i t s h e r o i n e a l e s s than i d e a l  figure.  In the J u d i t h poem too t h e r e a r e noteworthy omissions designed  t o remove the h e r o i n e ' s l e s s ennobling  character-traits.  The s t r o n g element o f g u i l e i n the  b i b l i c a l J u d i t h f i n d s no p l a c e i n the O l d E n g l i s h poem. As the beginning of the poem i s l o s t , we cannot the poet i n t r o d u c e d J u d i t h ' s stratagem,  tell  how  but the tenor of  what remains suggests t h a t he would have underplayed i t s inherent deception.  There i s no i n d i c a t i o n i n the poem  t h a t she e n t i c e d H o l o f e r n e s t o attempt poet says,  "past  her seduction.  waes by feor<3an dogore / paes  hyne, . . . / . . .  aerest  gesohte"  not e x p l a i n her m o t i v a t i o n .  The  6e I u d i t h  (11. 12b-14) , but does  There i s no mention of  J u d i t h ' s making i t h e r custom t o go o u t s i d e the camp t o pray—and  thereby s k i l f u l l y p r e p a r i n g f o r the o c c a s i o n 53  when she w i l l need t o escape.  She i s not present a t the  f e a s t , whereas i n the B i b l e she takes p a i n s t o make a g r a c i o u s appearance t h e r e .  The poet makes H o l o f e r n e s '  f e a s t u p r o a r i o u s and d i s g u s t i n g , but h e r absence from i t prevents any s l u r upon h e r . alone with the unconscious for  5 4  When she f i n d s h e r s e l f  H o l o f e r n e s , she prays t o God  s t r e n g t h b e f o r e she k i l l s him.  In the B i b l e ,  Judith f i r s t  of a l l makes a formal and  prayer a s k i n g God's support  so t h a t she may  A s s y r i a n s through H o l o f e r n e s . and  somewhat extended overthrow the  Then there i s a pause,  she simply asks t o be made strong, b e f o r e  the blow.  The  effect  i s to suggest  striking  a certain natural  repugnance and t i m i d i t y , which she makes an e f f o r t overcome.  to  In the Old E n g l i s h poem, J u d i t h u t t e r s a  prayer e x p r e s s i n g her need f o r God's a i d she only prays once, and  (11. 83-94b), but  t h e r e i s no i n d i c a t i o n of  any  h e s i t a t i o n on her p a r t . The heroine's  e l i m i n a t i o n of the l e s s noble  aspects of the  c h a r a c t e r i s a l s o to be seen i n i E l f r i c ' s  Homily  55 on the Book of E s t h e r . of J u d i t h , i E l f r i c ' s a condensation  L i k e h i s paraphrase of the Book  treatment  of the b i b l i c a l t e x t , emphasising i t s moral  s i g n i f i c a n c e , and keeping the o r i g i n a l . softened.  of the s t o r y of E s t h e r i s  most of the major f e a t u r e s of  However, the c h a r a c t e r of E s t h e r i s  There i s no mention of her r i s k i n g death by  going b e f o r e the k i n g unbidden, the most s t r i k i n g a c t i o n of E s t h e r ' s i n the b i b l i c a l account. mention her demand t h a t Haman s two 1  their father.  iElfric  Nor does i E l f r i c sons be hanged  like  merely has Ahasuerus s t a t e h i s  i n t e n t i o n t o have "Manes magas" k i l l e d .  Further,  E s t h e r ' s p i e t y i s emphasised by making her the v e h i c l e f o r Ahasuerus' conversion to b e l i e f i n the One  True God;  i s no mention of such a c o n v e r s i o n i n the B i b l e . iElfric  there  And  i n s e r t s a passage expanding on E s t h e r ' s beauty  and  virtue.""  Altogether,  the e f f e c t i s t o make Esther a  more amiable, b u t much more 'wishy-washy' c h a r a c t e r the fearsome Esther iElfric's  of the Old Testament.  treatment o f Esther  transformation handling  than  In f a c t ,  involves a greater  o f the o r i g i n a l c h a r a c t e r  than does h i s  o f J u d i t h , although even i E l f r i c ' s  Esther  i s by  no means as s t r i k i n g l y adapted from the o r i g i n a l as the heroine  o f the p o e t i c J u d i t h . Altogether,  the tendency o f Cynewulf and the  J u d i t h poet i s t o use the simple and symbolic  presentation  of c h a r a c t e r  genre.  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the h a g i o g r a p h i c  The  r  f i g u r e s of J u l i a n a and Helena are a l r e a d y v e r y and  stereotyped,  Cynewulf b r i n g s out the t r a d i t i o n a l q u a l i t i e s even  more s t r o n g l y .  Although t h e t a l e o f J u d i t h has inherent  a f f i n i t i e s w i t h the s a i n t ' s l i f e ,  the c h a r a c t e r  as found i n the B i b l e has f a r more r e a l i s m . E n g l i s h poet moves away from t h i s , i n t o l i n e w i t h the s t y l i s e d  of J u d i t h  The Old  and b r i n g s J u d i t h more  f i g u r e s o f the s a i n t s .  Judith  i n the B i b l e i s a woman o f wary i n t e l l i g e n c e as w e l l as beauty and i n s p i r a t i o n a l courage. not  super-human.  She i s remarkable, but  In the O l d E n g l i s h poem, a l l the f e a t u r e s  of the t a l e which do not tend t o a thoroughly h e r o i c 58 presentation Nevertheless, character  o f the main f i g u r e  are d e l e t e d o r changed.  J u d i t h remains a much more  than Helena o r J u l i a n a .  vigorous  Only J u d i t h i s r e a l l y  i n v o l v e d i n a c t i o n Which demands energy and d e c i s i o n . c o n t r a s t , the courage and determination  By  o f the other two  154 women i s presented i n a very mechanical and s u p e r f i c i a l way.  There i s no r e s o u r c e f u l n e s s  i n Helena's i n t e r r o g a t i o n ,  o n l y p e r s i s t e n t r e p e t i t i o n of t h r e a t and g o a l , while the torments which J u l i a n a goes through might as w e l l be a s e r i e s of s p e c t a c l e s a t which she i s merely an observer, because she never seems t o s u f f e r .  In n e i t h e r case i s  t h e r e any sense o f making a choice o r t a k i n g p a r t i n a struggle.  1  Unfortunately,  some o f the l i v e l i e r aspects o f  other v e r s i o n s of the legends are the very ones which the poets choose t o tone down.  One i s g r a t e f u l f o r the  r e l a t i v e absence of crude s e n s a t i o n a l i s m ,  but the r a t h e r  rough treatment o f c h a r a c t e r which accompanies i t can sometimes be q u i t e l i f e l i f e . the s a i n t s are not simply appear most c o n v i n c i n g .  I t i s at the moments when  noble and d i g n i f i e d t h a t they When the L a t i n J u l i a n a  looks  forward t o seeing E l e u s i u s consumed by worms, she seems l e s s high-minded but more p l a u s i b l e .  The r u t h l e s s and  acid-tongued J u l i a n a o f the Middle E n g l i s h i s q u i t e a vigorous  character.  Again, the J u d i t h of the B i b l e i s a  more i n t e r e s t i n g f i g u r e than h e r counterpart E n g l i s h poetry heroic  simply  i n Old  because she has mundane as w e l l as  qualities. None of the c h a r a c t e r s  i s presented n a t u r a l i s t i c a l l y ,  i n Elene,  J u l i a n a , and J u d i t h  but the non-heroic f i g u r e s ,  i n which the poets are not o b l i g e d t o maintain an unwavering d i g n i t y , a r e the most l i v e l y .  The e x c e s s i v e  noisiness of  155 Holofernes  at h i s f e a s t i s d e s c r i b e d i n c o l o u r f u l terms  by the J u d i t h poet: Da wearo Holofernus, goldwine gumena, on gytesalum, h l o h ond hlydde, hlynede ond dynede, past mihten f i r a bearn f e o r r a n gehyran hu se s t i 6 m o d a styrmde ond gylede. (11. 21b-25) The  s p e c t a c l e of B e l i a l reduced  to a b j e c t appeals f o r  mercy r e t a i n s i t s v i t a l i t y : "Ic pec h a l s i g e , hlaefdige min, Juliana, f o r e godes sibbum, past pu f u r b u r me f r a c e p u ne wyrce." (11. 539-41) That the d e v i l should be the v i c t i m r a t h e r than i n f l i c t o r of torments i s a n i c e r e v e r s a l , and  the  the  appeal  " f o r e godes sibbum" i s a f e t c h i n g p i e c e of i r o n y .  There  i s a s i m i l a r l y p l e a s i n g a b s u r d i t y i n the abrupt  trans-  formation of B e l i a l from a b l u s t e r i n g t h r e a t e n e r to a g r o v e l l i n g wretch simply by a glance from J u l i a n a (11. 619-34).  The  f i g u r e s of H o l o f e r n e s  c a r i c a t u r e s , but they are executed The  and B e l i a l  with l i v e l y  are  strokes.  c h a r a c t e r of Judas before h i s c o n v e r s i o n i s  t r e a t e d on a more s e r i o u s l e v e l and with a f a i r degree of human f e e l i n g .  However, the humanisation of Judas o n l y  makes the f i g u r e of Helena more c o l d and  unappealing.  Judas i s faced with a genuine dilemma: the problem of whether to r e v e a l h i s knowledge of the t r u e f a c t s of the c r u c i f i x i o n and  thus condemn h i s people  d i s g r a c e , or to conceal the t r u t h and  to p e r p e t u a l  l o s e h i s own  life.  Cynewulf p r e s e n t s with c o n s i d e r a b l e sympathy h i s i n a b i l i t y  156 to make the harder choice when faced with l i f e and  death:  "Hu maeg paem geweor6an pe on westenne med'e ond meteleas morland tryded, hungre gehaefted, ond him h l a f ond stan on gesihSe bu samod geweorciacS, s t r e a c ond hnesce, paet he pone stan nime wi<3 hungres h l e o , h l a f e s ne gime, gewende to waedle, bnd pa wiste wiSsaece, beteran wi6hyccge, ponne he bega beneah?" (11. 611-18)59 The  reader  can s c a r c e l y h e l p i d e n t i f y i n g with Judas r a t h e r  than with Helena at t h i s moment. s a i n t s , he  idealised  i s s o r e l y t r i e d , but u n l i k e them he has  o r d i n a r y man's weaknesses and doubt and  L i k e the  struggle.  goes through processes  Again, the reader  i s thrown i n t o  a p i t and  s t a r v e d f o r seven days, b e f o r e he  submits.  The  Anglo-Saxon audience may but t h e i r s y m p a t h i e s — l i k e  of  i s l i k e l y to f e e l  a good d e a l of sympathy f o r Judas when he  sentimental,  the  finally  have been l e s s Cynewulf's  own—must have been engaged to some extent. In t h e i r p r e s e n t a t i o n of c h a r a c t e r , Juliana,  and  Elene  Judith,  are s t r o n g l y i n f l u e n c e d by the demands  of the s a i n t ' s l i f e genre.  I t i s not a genre which i s  conducive to the c r e a t i o n of l i v e l y c h a r a c t e r s , p a r t l y because i t i s h i g h l y stereotyped,  but more  importantly  because i t s aim i s C h r i s t i a n i n s t r u c t i o n r a t h e r than psychological truth.  The  r e a l - l i f e Anglo-Saxon s a i n t s  mentioned i n Chapter I were endowed with q u a l i t i e s which fail  to appear i n t h e i r e p i c a l c o u n t e r p a r t s .  From the  accounts of i E l f f l a a d ' s i n t e r v e n t i o n at the synod H i l d ' s a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of her monastery, we  can  and  see  that  157 these women were b l e s s e d w i t h d i s c r e t i o n , good and t a c t .  sense,  Again, Rudolf's account o f L e o f g y t h b r i n g s out  her k i n d l i n e s s and the a f f e c t i o n she i n s p i r e d i n the nuns under her charge.  M i r a c l e s occur i n these more sober and  r e l i a b l e h i s t o r i e s too, but much of the d e t a i l r i n g s t r u e , and produces  a p i c t u r e very d i f f e r e n t from t h a t of the  a b r a s i v e l y uncompromising h e r o i n e s i n e p i c a l Although of  s e c u l a r r a t h e r than r e l i g i o u s ,  medieval romance bear a resemblance  saint's l i f e .  some types  t o the e p i c a l  In the H e l l e n i s t i c romance, e s p e c i a l l y ,  we are presented with a s e r i e s o f extravagant illustrative  hagiography.  situations,  of the c o n f l i c t between good and e v i l , i n  which good f i n a l l y triumphs; w h i l e the r e l a t i o n s h i p o f the p r o t a g o n i s t s t o the a c t i o n tends t o be e x t e r n a l and mechanical.  The O l d E n g l i s h A p o l l o n i u s o f Tyre i s a  romance of t h i s k i n d .  The adventures o f the v i r t u o u s  A p o l l o n i u s a r e a s o r t o f s e c u l a r c o u n t e r p a r t t o the t r i a l s of  the s a i n t , and f u l f i l  sensational.  the same demand f o r the e p i c and  A p o l l o n i u s proceeds  from r i c h e s t o rags and  back again, wins a wife and l o s e s her, and f i n a l l y has his  supposedly dead wife and l o n g absent daughter r e s t o r e d  to him.  However, the treatment o f c h a r a c t e r i n the O l d  E n g l i s h A p o l l o n i u s , though s t i l t e d , t h a t i n the e p i c a l s a i n t s ' l i v e s .  isstill  superior to  In p a r t i c u l a r , the  r e l a t i o n s h i p between A p o l l o n i u s and A r c e s t r a t e , the k i n g ' s daughter  whom he afterwards marries, i s p r e s e n t e d i n q u i t e  a l i v e l y manner, and shows us a h e r o i n e more a g g r e s s i v e  158 than the s e c u l a r l a d i e s of O l d E n g l i s h p o e t r y austere  and r i g i d  and l e s s  than the female s a i n t s .  A romance o f s i m i l a r type which a f f o r d s a c l o s e r comparison with the Old E n g l i s h s a i n t s ' poems i s t o be found much l a t e r i n the medieval p e r i o d :  Chaucer's Man  of Law's T a l e o f the maligned and l o n g - s u f f e r i n g wife, Constance.  Like Apollonius,  extraordinary same m o t i f s  Constance goes through an  s e r i e s of adventures; indeed, some of the  are present  as i n the A p o l l o n i u s  story.  She  resembles the female s a i n t s of the e p i c a l l i v e s i n representing  an i d e a l o f v i r t u e which remains uncompromised  throughout a l l the t r i a l s and t r i b u l a t i o n s which b e f a l l it.  However, Constance, though u l t i m a t e l y an u n r e a l i s t i c  character,  i s a much g e n t l e r , and hence much more a t t r a c t i v e ,  f i g u r e than the heroines poems.  o f the three O l d E n g l i s h s a i n t s '  A l s o , Chaucer's T a l e i s more s u b t l e and  s o p h i s t i c a t e d i n p o e t i c technique than the O l d E n g l i s h poems. The  three  s a i n t s ' poems can be r e l a t e d t o a  development i n l i t e r a t u r e which extends from the homily on one hand t o the p i c t u r e s q u e  romance on the other.  the c h a r a c t e r i s i n g aim o f the s a i n t ' s l i f e ,  But  t o provide a  m i r r o r o f p e r f e c t i o n , i s l e s s i n evidence i n the romance genre, and absent from many romances. aims t o present  The s a i n t ' s  life  an, u l t i m a t e l y u n r e a l i s a b l e , i d e a l o f  human v i r t u e , and t h i s i s the reason why, the g r e a t e r i t s effort  to approximate t o i t s i d e a l , the l e s s s a t i s f a c t o r y  is i t s characterisation. The  l i t e r a r y saint, e s p e c i a l l y the 'epical' saint,  i s conceived  i n terms of a s e t of a b s o l u t e s  which as a  whole do not correspond t o the human c o n d i t i o n .  The  combination o f p e r f e c t f a i t h , p e r f e c t v i r t u e , p e r f e c t s e r e n i t y cannot move because i t appeals t o no shared experience. failure.  There i s no s u f f e r i n g , d i f f i c u l t y , o r  The O l d E n g l i s h poems tone down some o f the  h a r s h e r a s p e c t s o f t h e i r o r i g i n a l s , but the r e s u l t i s a movement away from, r a t h e r than towards, a c o n v i n c i n g presentation. homilies there.  The same movement can be d i s c e r n e d  i n the  on E s t h e r and J u d i t h , but i s l e s s n o t i c e a b l e In our three poems, the unheroic elements which  l e n t some v i t a l i t y to t h e i r sources and analogues, are pared away, or, when they a r e l e f t , other  than the h e r o i n e s .  attached  The o f f i c i a l  saint i s often at variance  to characters  character  w i t h her a c t i o n s .  o f the  This i s  seen i n t h e l a c k o f any demonstration o f Helena's c a p a c i t i e s as a m i l i t a r y l e a d e r , and i n the i n c o n s i s t e n c y between J u l i a n a ' s dedicated  v i r g i n i t y and her w i l l i n g n e s s t o marry  on c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s . assertive,  Even when the h e r o i n e s  i n s t e a d of merely r i g i d and mechanical, the  e f f e c t tends t o be j a r r i n g ,  s i n c e t h e i r sternness and  s e v e r i t y a r e out o f keeping w i t h the g r a c i o u s appropriate  become  to t h e i r r o l e .  degredation of B e l i a l  dignity  Cases i n p o i n t a r e J u l i a n a ' s  (more marked i n t h e L a t i n ) and  Helena's wearing-down o f Judas.  J u d i t h avoids  these  160 awkward d i s c r e p a n c i e s ,  and,  thanks to the power of  i n h e r i t e d s t o r y , the heroine  has  an o r g a n i c  the  involvement  i n the a c t i o n , i n s t e a d of appearing to be g r a f t e d onto it.  J u d i t h i s a much more vigorous  or J u l i a n a , but hagiographic  even she,  tradition,  due  character  than Helena  to the i n f l u e n c e of  i s s t r i p p e d of the e f f o r t s  f e a r s t h a t would make her r e a l l y c o n v i n c i n g .  The  the and heroes  of s e c u l a r t r a d i t i o n i n O l d E n g l i s h P o e t r y are  stereotyped  too, but  t h e i r l i v e s are f r a u g h t with s t r u g g l e  and  anxiety,  and  way  they appeal t o the human predicament i n a  that these s a i n t l y h e r o i n e s  never do.  As Rosemary  Woolf o b s e r v e s : . . . i t i s one of the disadvantages of the h a g i o g r a p h i c convention t h a t c o m p l e x i t i e s of f e e l i n g are impermissible, and t h e r e f o r e the s u b t l e t y achieved i n Beowulf i s q u i t e beyond i t s range. . . . the e p i c e x a l t a t i o n of b r a v e r y unmodulated by the e p i c awareness of m o r t a l i t y can appear c r u d e l y b r i g h t . 6 2  161 Footnotes ^E. S i e v e r s noted the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e s p e l l i n g Cynewulf, i n the poet's r u n i c s i g n a t u r e , r a t h e r than t h e e a r l i e r "Cyniwulf," A n q l i a , 13 (1891), 11-15. See a l s o the remarks o f Rosemary Woolf ( J u l i a n a , 2nd ed.; London, 1966; I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. 6-7) and Pamela Gradon (Cynewulf's Elene; London, 1958; rep. 1966; I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. 13-15). A p r e - t e n t h - c e n t u r y date f o r the two Cynewulf poems i s a l s o suggested by t h e i r comparative r e g u l a r i t y o f metre and the o c c a s i o n a l appearance o f E.W.S. forms. See Woolf, pp. 3-5, and Gradon, pp. 10-11. In h i s e d i t i o n o f J u d i t h , B. J . Timmer a s s i g n s the poem t o the t e n t h century on the grounds o f i r r e g u l a r i t y o f metre, absence of E.W.S. forms, and the r e g u l a r use o f the d e f i n i t e a r t i c l e i n the c o n s t r u c t i o n i n v o l v i n g weak a d j e c t i v e p l u s noun, J u d i t h , 2nd ed. (London, 1961; rep. 1966), pp. 9-10. Whereas the language o f J u l i a n a and Elene g i v e s evidence o f A n g l i a n provenance, J u d i t h does not appear t o to be o f A n g l i a n o r i g i n . Cf. Woolf, pp. 3-4; Gradon, pp. 12-13; Timmer, p. 5. 2 Timmer, p. 7. 3 In h e r essay, " S a i n t s ' L i v e s , " C o n t i n u a t i o n s and Beginnings; S t u d i e s i n O l d E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , ed. E. G. S t a n l e y (London, 1966), p. 64. 4 Cf. Claes Schaar, C r i t i c a l S t u d i e s i n the Cynewulf Group (Lund and Copenhagen, 1949). Schaar p i c k s out c e r t a i n f e a t u r e s , mainly s y n t a c t i c , which he b e l i e v e s d i s t i n g u i s h the Cynewulf canon (Elene, J u l i a n a , C h r i s t I I , The Fates o f the Apostles) from the other poems i n the Cynewulf group (Andreas, C h r i s t I and I I I , Guthlac A and B, The Phoenix, The Dream o f the Rood). Marguerite-Marie Dubois' study o f Cynewulf aims a t showing how he has a c c l i m a t i s e d Mediterranean legends t o Anglo-Saxon i d e a s and t a s t e s , b u t the f e a t u r e s on which she comments a r e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y i n g e n e r a l r a t h e r than o f Cynewulf e s p e c i a l l y : a m p l i f i c a t i o n by the technique of v a r i a t i o n , t h e i n t r o d u c t i o n o f set passages on b a t t l e and the sea, e t c . , Les Elements l a t i n s dans l a Poesie r e l i q i e u s e de Cynewulf ( P a r i s , 1943). R. E. Diamond's a r t i c l e , "The D i c t i o n o f t h e Signed Poems o f Cynewulf," PQ, 57 (1959), 228-41, attempts t o demonstrate the t r a d i t i o n a l and f o r m u l a i c nature o f Old E n g l i s h p o e t r y w i t h r e f e r e n c e t o a p a r t i c u l a r group o f poems, and i s concerned w i t h the t y p i c a l , r a t h e r than any p o s s i b l y p e c u l i a r , f e a t u r e s o f Cynewulf's poetry. 5 New York, 1966, p. 603. T h i s e d i t i o n i s a t r a n s l a t i o n , w i t h minor r e v i s i o n s , o f La B i b l e de Jerusalem ( P a r i s , 1961).  162 Anglo-Saxon  S a i n t s and Heroes,  I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 25.  7  R. A i g r a n sees hagiography as a s c i e n c e c o n t i n u i n g down t o the p r e s e n t day, a s c i e n c e which has a duty t o be exact, a l t h o u g h i t has sometimes f a i l e d i n t h i s duty. A i g r a n s a t t i t u d e i s apparent throughout h i s book on hagiography, L'Hagioqraphie, ses sources, ses methodes, son h i s t o i r e ( P a r i s , 1953). g i E l f r i c i n t r o d u c e s h i s c o l l e c t i o n o f saints'- l i v e s w i t h the i d e a t h a t forms t h e i r j u s t i f i c a t i o n : God r e v e a l s h i m s e l f t o men through the m i r a c l e s o f h i s s a i n t s , ASlf r i c ' s L i v e s of S a i n t s , ed. W. W. Skeat; EETS, O.S., 76 and 82 (London, 1881), pp. 4-6. See a l s o t h e c l o s e o f i E l f r i c ' s L i f e of S t . Edmund: " C r i s t geswutelap mannum purh h i s maeran halgan paet he i s aelmihtig god pe macaS s w i l c wundra . . . ," Medieval E n g l i s h S a i n t s ' Legends, ed. Klaus Sperk (Tubingen, 1970), p. 98. q See n. 4. 1  "^See Woolf,  Juliana,  I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. 11-12.  "^Mentioned i n a contemporary r e c o r d , Eusebius' V i t a Constantini. See Robert W o l f f , "The E l e n e : A Study i n the Development o f a S a i n t ' s Legend on the Cross i n Anglo-Saxon P o e t r y " (Western Reserve d i s s e r t a t i o n , 1962) , pp. 101-02. 12 Some o f the A n g l o - L a t i n l i v e s o f n a t i v e s a i n t s c o n t a i n much c i r c u m s t a n t i a l d e t a i l t h a t can be v e r y informative. C f . Eddius Stephanus' account i n h i s L i f e of W i l f r i d , o f the p a r t p l a y e d by the abbess i E l f l a e d i n a synod, d e s c r i b e d i n Chapter I. 13 Rosemary Woolf d i s t i n g u i s h e s between hagiography and h i s t o r y , r a t h e r than between more and l e s s f a n c i f u l k i n d s of hagiography, and b e l i e v e s that Bede q u i t e s e l f - c o n s c i o u s l y passed t o and f r o between the s t y l e o f h i s t o r i a n and t h a t of hagiographer ("Saints' L i v e s , " p 41). 14 Commenting on Andreas, Rosemary Woolf observes, " I t i s the world of the f a n t a s t i c and marvellous, now best known from the much l a t e r examples o f t h i s genre [ i . e . , t a l e s of the marvels of the E a s t ] , the T r a v e l s o f S i r John M a n d e v i l l e " (,'J.Saints' L i v e s , " p. 51). J a c k s o n J . Campbell regards both J u d i t h and Helena i n the O l d E n g l i s h poems as f i g u r a l r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s o f Ecclesia. See, r e s p e c t i v e l y , "Schematique Technique i n J u d i t h , " ELH, 38 (1971), 155-72, and "Cynewulf's M u l t i p l e R e v e l a t i o n s , " M e d i e v a l i a e t Humanistica, N.S., 3 (1972), 257-77. S e v e r a l other r e c e n t c r i t i c s have s t r e s s e d t h a t 1 5  163 the s a i n t s ' poems should be i n t e r p r e t e d along f i g u r a l r a t h e r than l i t e r a l l i n e s . Cf. D a n i e l G. Calder, "The A r t of Cynewulf's J u l i a n a , " MLQ, 34 (1973), 355-71; Varda F i s h , "Theme and P a t t e r n i n Cynewulf's Elene," NM, 76 (1975), 1-25; John P. Hermann, "The Theme o f S p i r i t u a l Warfare i n the O l d E n g l i s h Elene," PLL, 11 (1975), 115-25. 1 f\  Cf. Campbell: "In h i s [the O l d E n g l i s h poet's] poem, o n l y two massive, opposing c h a r a c t e r s remain, a r c h e t y p a l i n t h e i r s i m p l i c i t y and i n t h e i r i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y , " "Schematic Technique," p. 156. 17 Cf. Rosemary Woolf, "The L o s t Opening t o t h e J u d i t h , " MLR, 50 (1955), 168-72. The same view i s taken by Rose i n h e r d i s s e r t a t i o n on the poem (pp. 10-11). However, Timmer, i n the I n t r o d u c t i o n t o h i s e d i t i o n , s t a t e s t h a t s i n c e the s e c t i o n numbering i n d i c a t e s the poem c o n t a i n s the l a s t p a r t o f S e c t i o n IX, f o l l o w e d by S e c t i o n s X, XI, and X I I , t h r e e - q u a r t e r s o f the poem must have been lost. See e d i t i o n , p. 2. 18 Rose o f f e r s an i n t e r e s t i n g e x p l a n a t i o n f o r the poet's m o t i v a t i o n i n f o c u s s i n g e x c l u s i v e l y upon J u d i t h and H o l o f e r n e s ; she argues t h a t the poet's aim i s a study i n l e a d e r s h i p , p o i n t i n g the c o n t r a s t between the good l e a d e r , J u d i t h , and the bad l e a d e r , H o l o f e r n e s (see I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 7 above) . Rose b e l i e v e s t h a t the poet presents J u d i t h as a m i l i t a r y l e a d e r r a t h e r than as t h e t y p i c a l female s a i n t . See e s p e c i a l l y d i s s e r t a t i o n , pp. 5-9. T h i s view o f J u d i t h as a study o f good and bad l e a d e r s i s c e r t a i n l y a v a l i d way o f l o o k i n g a t t h e poem; however, i t need not debar us from l i n k i n g i t w i t h the genre o f the s a i n t s ' l i v e s . 1 9  See " i E l f r i c ' s H o m i l i e liber das Buch J u d i t h , " A n g e l s a c h s i s c h e Homilien und H e i l i g e n l e b e n , ed Bruno Assmann; B i b , der a n q l s . Prosa, 3 (Kassel, 1889; r e p . Darmstadt, 1964), 102-16. Assmann suggests t h a t the homily was w r i t t e n between 997 and 1012 (p. 259) . 20 Campbell uses t h i s f e a t u r e o f i E l f r i c ' s homily as evidence i n support o f h i s c o n t e n t i o n t h a t J u d i t h i n the poem r e p r e s e n t s t h e Church, "Schematic Technique," p. 164. 21 For February 16th; Tom. I I , 873-77. The L a t i n t e x t i s e d i t e d from eleven manuscripts. See Woolf, J u l i a n a , I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 11. She suggests t h a t the date of t h i s v e r s i o n must be p r i o r t o the second h a l f of t h e s i x t h century. 22 The J u l i a n a of Cynewulf (Boston, 1904), I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. xxx-xxxi.  164 23  C f . S t r u n k , I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. x x x i i i - x x x i v . It may be t h a t t h i s a l t e r a t i o n i s t o be a t t r i b u t e d t o Cynewulf's d i r e c t source r a t h e r than t o Cynewulf h i m s e l f . C f . W o o l f , e d i t i o n , pp. 13-15. 24 See t h e A c t a S. e d i t i o n , pp. 35-36.  Julianae, reprinted  in  Strunk s 1  25  T h i s i s p o i n t e d o u t by C a l d e r , who, however, f i n d s t h e s i m p l i f i e d and e v e n s t u l t i f i e d t r e a t m e n t artistically justifiable. See pp. 357-371. 2 6  AS  f o r 4 t h May;  Tom.  I,  445-48.  27 G r a d o n b e l i e v e s t h a t t h e t e x t w h i c h most c l o s e l y r e s e m b l e s C y n e w u l f s poem i s an e i g h t h - c e n t u r y S t . G a l l manuscript ( e d i t i o n , p. 19) . However, C a m p b e l l f a v o u r s t h e s e v e n t h - c e n t u r y MS on w h i c h A l f r e d H o l d e r b a s e d h i s e d i t i o n , I n v e n t i o Sanctae C r u c i s ( L e i p z i g , 1889), " C y n e w u l f ' s M u l t i p l e R e v e l a t i o n s , " p. 258. In h e r essay, " S a i n t s ' L i v e s , " Woolf s t a t e s t h a t "Elene . . . i s . . . p r o b a b l y t o be c o n n e c t e d w i t h t h e f e a s t o f t h e I n v e n t i o n of the Cross, a f e a s t of e i g h t h - c e n t u r y G a l l i c a n provenance . . . " (p. 46) . 28 The w o r d s " i n h o c s i g n o v i n c e s , " w h i c h a p p e a r e d t o Constantine i n h i s v i s i o n a c t u a l l y r e f e r r e d to the C h i - R h o monogram, w h i c h C o n s t a n t i n e b e h e l d i n t h e s k y and a c c o r d i n g l y i n s t r u c t e d t o be p a i n t e d on h i s men's shields. As t h e l e g e n d d e v e l o p e d , t h i s ' s i g n ' came t o be r e g a r d e d as t h e c r o s s i t s e l f , c a r r i e d i n t o b a t t l e b e f o r e t h e army. S i m i l a r l y , the b a t t l e , a c t u a l l y p a r t of the campaign a g a i n s t M a x e n t i u s i n I t a l y , became a c o n f l i c t w i t h t h e b a r b a r i a n s , i n t h i s v e r s i o n on t h e Danube. See W o l f f , d i s s e r t a t i o n , pp. 92-99. Cynewulf i n h e r i t e d t h e s e f e a t u r e s f r o m h i s s o u r c e ; t h e y a p p e a r i n t h e A c t a S. J u d a e - Q u i r i a c i (AS, I, 445) . 1  29  In t h e a c c o u n t o f t h e I n v e n t i o n o f t h e C r o s s c o n t a i n e d i n t h e t h i r t e e n t h - c e n t u r y L e g e n d a A u r e a by J a c o b u s de V o r a g i n e , a w h o l e s e r i e s o f s t o r i e s i s s t r u n g along t h i s unifying thread. In t h e f i r s t p a r t o f t h e a c c o u n t , c e r t a i n O l d - T e s t a m e n t f i g u r e s come i n t o c o n t a c t w i t h t h e t r e e d e s t i n e d t o f o r m t h e wood o f t h e c r o s s . The s e c t i o n s f o c u s s i n g r e s p e c t i v e l y on C o n s t a n t i n e , H e l e n a , and J u d a s C y r i a c u s f o l l o w . Then t h e n a r r a t i v e c o n t i n u e s w i t h t h e m a r t y r d o m o f C y r i a c u s , and f i n a l l y c l o s e s w i t h f u r t h e r m i r a c l e s performed by t h e c r o s s , wonders which h a v e n o t h i n g t o do w i t h any o f t h e p e r s o n s p r e v i o u s l y mentioned. p.  257,  Cf. Campbell, "Cynewulf's M u l t i p l e R e v e l a t i o n s , " and W o o l f , " S a i n t s ' L i v e s , " p. 46.  165 31 32  A p a r t a l s o played  by  Judith.  Hermann j u s t i f i e s t h i s i n c o n s i s t e n c y by the argument t h a t " E l e n e s p l a n s are not w a r l i k e l i t e r a l l y , but s p i r i t u a l l y " (p. 123) , and t h a t "the m i l i t a r y imagery of t h i s s e c t i o n of the poem i s meant to r e c a l l the m i l i t a r y imagery of Ephesians 6.11-17" (p. 124). 33 Cf. J u l i a n a . Woolf notes the u n f o r t u n a t e e f f e c t of t h i s " i n v e r t e d p a s s i o n " of C y r i a c u s , i n which i t i s easy t o sympathise with the wrong s i d e , " S a i n t ' s L i v e s , " p. 47. Campbell r a t h e r u n s u c c e s s f u l l y t r i e s t o j u s t i f y t h i s passage by arguing that Helena i s t o be taken as the C h u r c h — r a t h e r than an unpleasant i n d i v i d u a l , and t h a t Judas t e l l s l i e s , denying knowledge of the c r u c i f i x i o n , "Cynewulf's M u l t i p l e R e v e l a t i o n s , " pp. 265-67. 1  T h e e a r l i e r , h i g h l y f o r m u l a i c account of C o n s t a n t i n e ' s b a t t l e i s another set p i e c e i n t r o d u c e d Cynewulf. 3 4  by  35 Gradon b e l i e v e s i t u n l i k e l y t h a t Cynewulf invented t h i s passage, and assumes t h a t i t must have been present i n h i s immediate source ( e d i t i o n , p. 19, n. 3). Hermann, however, c r e d i t s Cynewulf w i t h i t s i n s e r t i o n , and f i n d s i t p a r t of a d e l i b e r a t e p l a n , along with h i s other changes of the L a t i n source (p. 115) . 36 T h i s thematic u n i t y has been p o i n t e d out by W o l f f i n h i s d i s s e r t a t i o n , Campbell i n h i s a r t i c l e on Elene, and F i s h , who a l l show how the poem i s u n i f i e d i n i t s d i f f e r e n t s e c t i o n s (they d i s a g r e e as to the number of s e c t i o n s i n t o which the poem should be divided) by the theme of c o n v e r s i o n through the c r o s s . Whereas Cynewulf's c h a r a c t e r i s t i c signed e p i l o g u e i s i n t e g r a t e d i n t o the poem i n Elene, i t i s not i n t e g r a t e d i n J u l i a n a . Calder, however, argues t h a t the J u l i a n a e p i l o g u e i s t h e m a t i c a l l y r e l e v a n t , s i n c e i t i s the poet's f e a r of Judgement, expressed i n the epilogue, which has i n s p i r e d him to w r i t e the poem. 37 Cf. Campbell: "The range of a d j e c t i v e s i s extremely narrow; she i s b e a u t i f u l , gold-adorned, b l e s s e d , h o l y and above a l l , wise," "Schematic Technique," p. 156. 38 Rose regards the a s s o c i a t i o n of b r i g h t n e s s w i t h the d i v i n e and w i t h v i r t u e as more important than i t s v i s u a l sense i n these d e s c r i p t i o n s of J u d i t h . She c i t e s as a p a r a l l e l the d e s c r i p t i o n of J u l i a n a as sunsciene (1. 229), arguing that a person who has been suspended by the h a i r f o r s i x days [ a c t u a l l y , s i x hours] can h a r d l y be b e a u t i f u l i n a l i t e r a l sense. See d i s s e r t a t i o n , pp. 22-24.  166 However, the moral element need not exclude the v i s u a l . There a r e p l e n t y of departures from n a t u r a l i s m i n t h e saints' l i v e s . 39 Cf. n. 32, above. 4  ^Cf.  n. 33, above.  41 P r i n t e d i n Assmann, Homilien und H e i l i g e n l e b e n , pp. 24-48. P e t e r Clemoes, i n h i s I n t r o d u c t i o n t o the r e p r i n t o f Assmann's e d i t i o n , suggests t h a t the homily was w r i t t e n i n 1005-06. See p. xx. 42 Cf. Woolf, "The Lost Opening t o the J u d i t h , " p. 171. Rose, who b e l i e v e s t h a t J u d i t h i s not t o be a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the v i r g i n s a i n t s , argues t h a t the p r e s e n t a t i o n of h e r as a maegcS i s not s i g n i f i c a n t . Rose suggests t h a t " t r a d i t i o n a l vocabulary has i n f l u e n c e d t h e change i n J u d i t h ' s s t a t u s , " notes a Jewish manuscript o f the t e n t h o r e l e v e n t h century which p r e s e n t s J u d i t h as a young g i r l , and s t a t e s , "Comparison w i t h 3 S l f r i c ' s homily and with the Vulgate source, as w e l l as with some o f t h e Jewish medieval accounts, shows t h a t the OE poem p l a c e s c o n s i d e r a b l y l e s s s t r e s s on J u d i t h ' s c h a s t i t y " (p. 7) . It i s t r u e t h a t both the B i b l e and i E l f r i c emphasise J u d i t h ' s sexual decorum, and t h a t J u d i t h ' s c h a s t i t y i n the poem i s conveyed not d i s c u r s i v e l y , but by a p p o s i t i v e e p i t h e t s and by the c o n t r a s t provided i n H o l o f e r n e s . But the poet c e r t a i n l y s t r e s s e s h e r v i r g i n i t y and makes i t a s i g n i f i c a n t element i n a complex of ' s a i n t l y ' v i r t u e s . 43 See Strunk, p. 37, and I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. xxxiii-xxxiv. 44 See Strunk, p. 43. 45 See I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 12. T h i s work i s e d i t e d by S. R. T. O. D'Ardenne, EETS, 248 (London, 1961). The works i n t h e K a t h e r i n e Group mainly have a common s u b j e c t , the p r a i s e o f v i r g i n i t y . T h i s s u b j e c t , t h e i r date, and t h e i r common d i a l e c t of o r i g i n l i n k them with t h e w e l l known Ancren Riwle, the s p i r i t u a l guide w r i t t e n f o r three noble s i s t e r s who became anchoresses. However, the homely wisdom and vigorous imagery o f t h e l a t t e r work a r e very d i f f e r e n t from the e s s e n t i a l l y crude m a t e r i a l o f S e i n t e J u l i e n e and the other s a i n t s ' l i v e s i n the group. N e v e r t h e l e s s , the K a t h e r i n e Group and the Ancren Riwle may w e l l be r e l a t e d , though not n e c e s s a r i l y a l l by the same author. See D'Ardenne, I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. x l - x l v i i . Among other works, the K a t h e r i n e group c o n t a i n s l i v e s of s a i n t s Katherine, J u l i a n a , and Margaret, Sawles Warde and H a l i MeiShad.  167 4 6  47  4 8  0 1 d E n g l i s h Verse D'Ardenne, p. Ibid.,  p.  15.  ^ I b i d . , p.  47.  (London, 1972), p.  171.  43.  49 50 I b i d . , p. 5 1  23.  E d i t e d by Eugen E i n e n k e l , EETS, 80  (London, 1884).  52 Cf. E i n e n k e l , I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. xx. Einenkel observes t h a t "the c h a r a c t e r of S a i n t K a t h e r i n e i s d e p i c t e d i n the o r i g i n a l as impetuous and v i n d i c t i v e ; i n one word, anything but s a i n t l y . " The works i n the Katherine Group t h a t he i s comparing K a t h e r i n e to at t h i s p o i n t are the J u l i a n a and Margaret l i v e s . 5 3  Cf.  Rose, pp.  19-20.  54  pp.  Cf. Timmer, p. 14: "Perhaps the poet wanted to s t r e s s the s i n f u l n e s s of e x c e s s i v e d r i n k i n g . . . So . . . [he] gave a glowing d e s c r i p t i o n of the f e a s t and then went on to say how, a f t e r h i s e x c e s s i v e d r i n k i n g , Holofernes' thoughts turned to the s i n f u l d e s i r e f o r J u d i t h . " 55 P r i n t e d i n Assmann, Homilien und H e i l i g e n l e b e n , 92-101. Clemoes dates the work around 100 2. I b i d . , p. 101 (11. 310-11). 5 6  5 7  I b i d . , p.  95  (11. 97-99).  58 It i s t h i s h e r o i c p r e s e n t a t i o n which e s s e n t i a l l y d i s t i n g u i s h e s the h e r o i n e s of the three poems from J u d i t h and E s t h e r as d e s c r i b e d by i E l f r i c . 59 Woolf comments upon Cynewulf's e v o c a t i v e p r e s e n t a t i o n of t h i s image, i n h e r i t e d from h i s source, and d e r i v i n g u l t i m a t e l y from the temptation of C h r i s t , who was a b l e t o make the harder choice, " S a i n t s ' L i v e s , " pp. 47-48. 60 The Old E n g l i s h A p o l l o n i u s dates from the e l e v e n t h century and i s a f a i r l y c l o s e r e n d e r i n g of a L a t i n o r i g i n a l . See The Old E n g l i s h A p o l l o n i u s of Tyre, ed. P e t e r Goolden (Oxford, 1958), I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. xx-xxxiv. 61 T h i s s u b j e c t w i l l be d e a l t with i n the f u l l e r d i s c u s s i o n of A p o l l o n i u s i n c l u d e d i n Chapter V, on the Old English love l y r i c s .  " S a i n t s ' L i v e s , " p.  49.  169  CHAPTER V LYRICAL POEMS FEATURING WOMEN: WULF AND EADWACER AND THE WIFE'S LAMENT In the poems of the s a i n t ' s l i f e genre, i n the |p:re:ce"di>n"gj chapter,  discussed  there i s a heavy emphasis upon  female c h a r a c t e r s ; but, due t o the l i m i t a t i o n s of the genre, no genuine c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n i s achieved.  However,  there are two O l d E n g l i s h poems which are e x c l u s i v e l y devoted t o the p r e s e n t a t i o n of a woman's s t a t e o f mind and i n which a genuine p s y c h o l o g i c a l i n s i g h t i s found.  These  poems are the two e l e g i a c love l y r i c s : Wulf and Eadwacer and  The Wife's Lament. Both o f these works are h i g h l y obscure and  difficult.  Most s c h o l a r s read them as e l e g i a c laments  u t t e r e d by female speakers.  As such, the poems are t o  be a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the other O l d E n g l i s h ' e l e g i e s , ' the group o f poems and passages h a n d l i n g  t r a d i t i o n a l themes  of l o s s and t r a n s i e n c e , and p r e s e n t i n g e x i l e f i g u r e , one of the standard discussed  i n Chapter I I .  1  the t r a d i t i o n a l  character-types  Most of the e l e g i e s a r e  monologues, and they share the same themes and m o t i f s , which a l s o appear i n Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament.  However, i n the other poems and passages the  170 p r i n c i p a l e l e g i a c s i t u a t i o n i s seen i n male terms.  This  s i t u a t i o n i s most c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y one of s e p a r a t i o n from l o r d and comrades, death o r e x i l e .  a s e p a r a t i o n which r e s u l t s from  Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament,  l i k e a l l the o t h e r e l e g i e s which do not form p a r t of l o n g e r works,  are found i n the p o e t i c m i s c e l l a n y which 2  c o n s t i t u t e s the Exeter Book. the  Whereas the f i r s t h a l f o f  manuscript c o n s i s t s of long r e l i g i o u s poems, mostly  having t o do w i t h the l i v e s of h o l y personages, the second h a l f c o n s i s t s of short p i e c e s which can be termed p h i l o s o p h i c a l i n the broadest sense: r e f l e c t i v e and d i d a c t i c poems, e l e g i a c l y r i c s ,  gnomes, and r i d d l e s .  Thus,  Wulf and Eadwacer and The Wife's Lament can be r e l a t e d t o a g e n e r a l background of 'wise saws' c o l l e c t e d by the E x e t e r Book compiler, and to a narrower background of e l e g i a c themes and m o t i f s as seen i n the other E x e t e r Book e l e g i e s . The p r e c i s e n a t u r e o f these two poems was not r e a l i s e d by the e a r l i e s t s c h o l a r s . little  S i n c e t h e r e i s so  treatment of sexual l o v e i n the l i t e r a t u r e of the  Anglo-Saxons,  i t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t h a t these poems,  whose s e t t i n g i s the same w a r r i o r s o c i e t y which u n d e r l i e s most O l d E n g l i s h poetry, were not a t f i r s t r e c o g n i s e d as love l y r i c s . a  The Wife's Lament speaks of s e p a r a t i o n from  ' l o r d , ' and i t i s o n l y the feminine i n f l e x i o n s of the  first  two l i n e s t h a t e s t a b l i s h the female i d e n t i t y of the  speaker and the f a c t that her ' l o r d ' i s a husband than the head of a comitatus.  rather  Wulf and Eadwacer i s a  s h o r t poem which stands at the head of the f i r s t group of E x e t e r Book r i d d l e s and was  long c o n s i d e r e d one o f them.  I t s c r y p t i c u t t e r a n c e s are indeed r i d d l e - l i k e : t o my people as i f one gave them a g i f t "  "It i s  (1. 1) and  i s e a s i l y sundered which was never j o i n e d "  (1. 18) .  "That Thus,  The Wife's Lament has sometimes been c o n s i d e r e d the u t t e r a n c e of a man,  and Wulf and Eadwacer a r i d d l e , or,  more r e c e n t l y , a charm, or a p r i v a t e , c r y p t i c  communication.  The e a r l i e s t e d i t o r s o f The Wife's Lament assumed t h a t the poem had a male n a r r a t o r .  4  T h i s view has been  r e v i v e d from time t o time, and c o n t i n u e s t o be the 5 s u b j e c t of debate.  However, t h e r e are l i t e r a r y as w e l l  as grammatical arguments f o r r e g a r d i n g the poem as the speech of a woman. In t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e a r t i c l e s on the 6 7 poem, Jane Curry and Angela Lucas have p o i n t e d out t h a t the r e f e r e n c e to " f r i e n d s " keeping t h e i r beds t o g e t h e r i n c o n t r a s t w i t h the speaker's l o n e l i n e s s  (11. 33b f f . ) Q  suggests envy of a s p e c i f i c a l l y sexual k i n d .  Lucas  f u r t h e r notes t h a t , although the w i f e uses terms which a r e t a i n e r might use to r e f e r to h i s l o r d  ( h l a f o r d , 11. 6  and 15; leodfruma, 1. 8; f r e a n , 1. 33) , these terms  "only  convey the n o t i o n of an i n t e n s e l y p e r s o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p based on l o v e and r e s p e c t "  (p. 292).  She p o i n t s out t h a t  t h e r e i s no mention of the s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p between r e t a i n e r and l o r d , no words l i k e b e a h q i f a i n The of Maldon  (1. 290)  Battle  and goldwine i n The Wanderer, (11. 22  and 35), which embody the concept of the l o r d as the g i v e r  of  treasure.  The a l t e r n a t i v e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f The Wife's  Lament as the speech of a l o r d l e s s thane i s based on t h e a p r i o r i assumption o f the i n h e r e n t i m p r o b a b i l i t y o f a l o v e l y r i c i n O l d E n g l i s h r a t h e r than on t h e a c t u a l evidence o f t h e t e x t . itself  A d e t a i l e d examination o f the poem  supports t h e u s u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n that i t i s t h e  lament of a woman f o r c i b l y separated from h e r husband. The f a c t that The Wife's Lament has so p e r s i s t e n t l y been regarded by some o f i t s modern r e a d e r s as the speech of  a man i s the r e s u l t o f the correspondence between the  two r e l a t i o n s h i p s o f t h a n e - l o r d and wife-husband.  This  correspondence i s f o r e i g n t o the modern way of t h i n k i n g , but,  as we saw i n Chapter I, c e n t r a l t o the Anglo-Saxon  a t t i t u d e towards women. Old  I t i s not s u r p r i s i n g t h a t i n an  E n g l i s h poem a woman should use terms l i k e  ("retinue" 1.  9) and f r e a n  (1. 33) i n c o n n e c t i o n with h e r  r e l a t i o n s h i p t o a man, when i n the Anglo-Saxon documents e x a c t l y the same phrase, used f o r a c c e p t i n g a husband service with a l i e g e - l o r d .  folgaS  legal  " w i l l a n geceosan," i s  (and master)  and t a k i n g  The correspondence was a l s o  n o t i c e d i n Chapter I I I , where, i n the R i d d l e s , the w i f e i s presented as performing t h e same k i n d o f s e r v i c e s — s u c h as p u t t i n g on a r m o u r — f o r h e r husband perform.  as a r e t a i n e r might  A l s o i n Chapter I I I , we found t h a t Hildegund  i n Waldere performs the same k i n d of s u p p o r t i v e r o l e f o r her  b e t r o t h e d as he might r e c e i v e from a r e t a i n e r .  having a w i f e speak o f h e r husband  Thus,  i n terms b e l o n g i n g t o  173 the vocabulary about i t .  of comitatus  But,  l o y a l t y has nothing i n c o n s i s t e n t  as p o i n t e d out by Lucas, these terms are  used i n The Wife's Lament i n connection s h i p between two the comitatus  with a r e l a t i o n -  persons only, and without  r e f e r e n c e to  as a group.  Although sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p s are not  normally  the s u b j e c t of Old E n g l i s h poems, there are p l a c e s which suggest t h a t they could be used as p o e t i c themes. second stanza of Deor, Beaduhild  i s presented  wretched, p a r t l y because of the death of her p a r t l y because of her pregnancy by Weland. Beaduhild  was  probably  In  as most brothers,  To be  sure,  not i n l o v e with Weland, s i n c e he  a s s a u l t e d her v i o l e n t l y and murdered her b r o t h e r s , nevertheless, sexual context  is significant.  example.  although  The  t h i r d stanza of the poem  even more t a n t a l i s i n g l y  Here, there i s a r e f e r e n c e to the  Geat' s l o v e f o r Maethhild, [him?] seo s o r g l u f u slaep of  but,  the f o c u s s i n g on the woman's s u f f e r i n g i n a  p r o v i d e s a stronger, cryptic,  the  which was  so great  "paet  e a l l e binom" (1. 16) .  ' l o v e — l o n g i n g ' i s b a r e l y touched on,  but  The  hi theme  i t i s certainly  alluded to. With regard to Wulf and sex of the speaker, but  the whole c h a r a c t e r and  of the poem t h a t i s d i s p u t e d . theory t h a t the poem was Bradley,  i n 1888,  " F i r s t R i d d l e " was  who  Eadwacer, i t i s not  The g  a riddle  the  purpose  nineteenth-century was  exploded by Henry  argued very c o g e n t l y t h a t  i n f a c t the dramatic  the  s o l i l o q u y of a  174 woman.  Bradley's has l o n g been the r e c e i v e d  i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of Wulf and Eadwacer.  He summarises the  content o f the poem as f o l l o w s : "The speaker . . . i s shown by t h e grammar t o be a woman. . . . Wulf i s h e r l o v e r and an outlaw, and Eadwacer husband"" '" " 1  1  . . . i s her t y r a n t  The r i d d l e theory p e r s i s t e d w e l l i n t o the 12  present century, s e v e r a l decades.  but l i t t l e has been heard o f i t f o r Wulf and Eadwacer i s now g e n e r a l l y  regarded as a love poem, a l t h o u g h t h e r e have been some 1 3  r a t h e r wide d e v i a t i o n s from B r a d l e y ' s r e a d i n g .  However,  r e c e n t l y t h e r e c e i v e d i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the poem as a l o v e lament has been challenged." " 1  Bradley's  4  But the a l t e r n a t i v e s t o  'standard' i n t e r p r e t a t i o n a r e s t r a i n e d , and  d i f f e r enormously among themselves. Tn both poems, the problems of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  !  a r i s e from t h e a l l u s i v e method used by t h e i r authors. ' The n a r r a t i v e background l y i n g behind the poems cannot be e s t a b l i s h e d w i t h any c e r t a i n t y ,  s i n c e the poets a r e  concerned w i t h the emotions of the speakers r a t h e r than the  events which gave r i s e t o them.  However, c e r t a i n  f a c t s about the poems can be e s t a b l i s h e d beyond any reasonable doubt.  Each i s spoken by a woman i n an ' e x i l i c '  s i t u a t i o n , although t h e n a r r a t o r o f Wulf and Eadwacer may not  a c t u a l l y be i n e x i l e .  We have a l r e a d y seen i n  Chapter I how important the k i n group was i n Anglo-Saxon s o c i e t y , and i n Chapter I I how the l o n e l i n e s s o f e x i l e , i.e.,  i s o l a t i o n from the group of k i n o r comrades  (themselves mainly kin) , was to the Anglo-Saxons.  a p a r t i c u l a r l y poignant theme  Women not under the p r o t e c t i o n of  members of t h e i r k i n — l i k e  the banished wife, or s u b j e c t  t o t y r a n n i c a l g u a r d i a n s h i p — l i k e the n a r r a t o r of Wulf and 15 Eadwacer, would s u f f e r e s p e c i a l l y .  I t i s t h i s mood of  s u f f e r i n g , heightened t o i n t e n s e anguish by the l o n g i n g f o r an absent l o v e d one, poems attempt  t h a t the authors of these  to recreate.  The banished wife d e s c r i b e s how  her husband  departed over the waves (11. 6-7) , and how and a n x i e t y she went to seek p r o t e c t i o n 1. 9).  two  The word f olgao\  i n her l o n e l i n e s s  ("folgao" secan, "  r e f e r r i n g to service i n a retinue,  suggests that the wife wished  t o be taken under the i f%  p r o t e c t i o n of a powerful person, by h i s l o r d .  The subsequent  as a r e t a i n e r would be  l i n e s suggest t h a t her  husband's kinsmen p l a c e d an unfavourable  interpretation  on t h i s a c t i o n , and r e p r e s e n t e d i t to him as d i s l o y a l t y : "Ongunnon paet gepoht, "Het mec  paet  baes monnes magas hycgan / purh  hy todaelden  unc"  (11. 11-12) .  dyrne  L i n e 15,  h l a f o r d min herheard niman, •" i s h i g h l y  problematic.  From the thought-sequence,  the l i n e i s  l i k e l y to r e p r e s e n t a response to the a c t i o n of the kinsmen d e s c r i b e d i n the p r e c e d i n g l i n e s ,  and a cause of,  or connection with, the w i f e ' s f r i e n d l e s s n e s s d e s c r i b e d i n the f o l l o w i n g l i n e s  ("ahte i c l e o f r a l y t on  londstede, / h o l d r a freonda" (11. 1 6 - 1 7 a ) .  17  pissum It i s  probable, then, t h a t the l i n e r e f e r s to the husband's  176 18 command t h a t h i s wife be  banished.  The poem c o n t i n u e s : Forbon i s min hyge geomor, 5a i c me f u l gemaecne monnan funde, heardsaeligne, hygegeomorne, mod mibendne, morpor hycgendne. B l i p e gebaero . . . (11. 17b-21a) 19 T h i s i s the p u n c t u a t i o n of Krapp and Dobbie, p e r i o d should f a l l  after,  not b e f o r e  but  the  " B l i p e gebaero, "  because these l i n e s are o b v i o u s l y a p a r a l l e l to a l a t e r passage: A s c y l e geong mon wesan geomormod, heard heortan gepoht, swylce habban s c e a l blijpe gebaero, eac pon b r e o s t c e a r e , s i n s o r g n a gedreag, . . . (11. 42-45a) In the f i r s t passage, the wife i s lamenting her husband's tendency to c o n c e a l dark and gloomy thoughts c h e e r f u l demeanour. c o n g e n i a l man nature.  Although  ( " f u l gemaecne  under a  i n other ways a  fully  monnan"), he has a s u s p i c i o u s  Presumably as a r e s u l t  of the kinsmen's  a c c u s a t i o n s of d i s l o y a l t y or a c t u a l i n f i d e l i t y on the p a r t of h i s w i f e d u r i n g h i s absence, the husband harbours murderous thoughts  ("morpor hycgendne") a g a i n s t her 20  b e f o r e f i n a l l y b a n i s h i n g her.  In the l a t e r passage,  the wife once more r e f l e c t s on her husband's brooding temperament.  In the nature of t h i n g s , he w i l l  be  gloomy-minded, although he w i l l attempt t o c o n c e a l i t , whether a l l h i s p l e a s u r e i n the world or whether The  i s at h i s d i s p o s a l ,  ( l i k e her) he s u f f e r s the h a r d s h i p of e x i l e .  l a t t e r p o s s i b i l i t y i s the one which the w i f e  dwells  x  177 on, because i t r e f l e c t s her own  experience, and  she ends  w i t h an exclamation of d e s p a i r t h a t c o u l d apply t o both of  them: "Wa  bi<$ bam  pe s c e a l / of langope  leofes  abidan." The o t h e r p a r t s of the poem, which d e s c r i b e the speaker's present m i s e r i e s , are l e s s d i f f i c u l t .  She  speaks of the i n e s c a p a b l e and ever-present sense of her husband's a l i e n a t i o n : " S c e a l i c f e o r ge neah / mines f e l a l e o f a n faehcSu  dreogan"  (11. 2 5 b - 2 6 ) .  Again  22  and  again, she f e e l s the p a i n of her husband's departure, the beginning of her t r o u b l e s : " F u l o f t mec begeat / f r o m s i p f r e a n " (11. 32b-33a). l o n e l y and is  her wrape  She d e s c r i b e s the  f o r b i d d i n g nature of the p l a c e i n which she  forced to l i v e ,  and c o n t r a s t s her own  w i t h the happy companionship of those who "keep t h e i r beds" t o g e t h e r  wretchedness are a b l e t o '  (1. 34).  Wulf and Eadwacer, though s h o r t e r , i s f u l l problems of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .  The mysterious  "Leodum i s minum swylce him mon  of  opening,  l a c g i f e ; / w i l l a o hy  hine apecgan, g i f he on p r e a t cymeS," has l e d some s c h o l a r s to b e l i e v e t h a t a passage i s m i s s i n g h e r e .  2 3  The  first  24 l i n e i s c e r t a i n l y opaque,  but,  i n view of the  e n i g m a t i c a l s t y l e of the poem as a whole, i t i s unwise to  assume t h a t p a r t of the beginning has been l o s t . L i n e 2 i s open t o a v a r i e t y of i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s ,  s i n c e apecgan i s otherwise unrecorded, mean e i t h e r  "troop" or " p e r i l . "  and b r e a t can  L i n e s 2 and  3, a very  178 long l i n e f o l l o w e d by a s h o r t one, r e f r a i n , which i s repeated  form an  embryonic  i n l i n e s 7 and  w i l l a < 3 hy h i n e apecgan, U n g e l i c i s us.25  8:  g i f he on p'reat cyme<5.  In l i n e s 4 to 6 the speaker mentions Wulf, who island  i s on  (while she i s on another) on which t h e r e  "waelreowe  weras"  l i n e s 2 and weras."  (1. 6) .  E v i d e n t l y , then,  7 i s Wulf, and  The  the hy_ are the  an  are  the hine of  "waelreowe  order of the words i n l i n e 2 (repeated i n  l i n e 7) suggests a q u e s t i o n ,  and  the tone of the  line,  taken i n c o n j u n c t i o n with the urgency of the poem as a whole, conveys a n x i e t y and  trouble.  The  speaker f e a r s  f o r Wulf at the hands of the "waelreowe weras." seems to be connected with picgan,  "to take"  (food), so a  v i a b l e t r a n s l a t i o n i s " W i l l they r e c e i v e him i n t o t h e i r company." b l o o d t h i r s t y men him.  The  l i n e 1. Wulf, and  The  i n Wulf, but w i l l  people,  the  "leodum . . . minum" of  w i l l be a s p o i l .  i n t o t h e i r hands, i s the  r e f l e c t s "Ungelic i s us."  of e x p r e s s i n g 2 7  line  Wulf, who  "gift"  is  (lac) of  speaker wonders a n x i o u s l y about the f a t e of  e x p l a n a t i o n of these words.  Wulf.  kill  1  L i n e 4,  iege, i c on o p e r r e , " would come n a t u r a l l y as  a way  the  on W u l f s i s l a n d are best taken as  1, to whom Wulf's capture bound to f a l l  i f he comes  speaker f e a r s t h a t  w i l l not take  f i e r c e men  the woman's own  The  Abe eg an  "Wulf i s on an  " I t i s u n a l i k e with us" i s  the s e p a r a t i o n of the speaker and  179 She goes on to d e s c r i b e how  she has f o l l o w e d her  Wulf with far-wandering hopes: "Wulfes  i c mines widlastum  28 wenum dogode"  (1. 9).  She speaks of the r a i n y weather,  her sadness, and the embraces of "se beaducafa,"  which  g i v e her mingled p l e a s u r e and p a i n : "Waes me wyn  to p ° '  waes me hwaepre  eac l a 5 " (1. 12) .  ("the b a t t l e - b o l d one")  n  The word beaducafa  i s sometimes taken t o r e f e r t o  Wulf, but s i n c e the absence  of Wulf i s s t r e s s e d  throughout,  and s i n c e the speaker's r e a c t i o n s t o the "bold w a r r i o r ' s " embraces are mixed, i t i s more probable t h a t the beaducafa  i s another, s t e a d i l y present person, i . e . , the  woman's husband, the Eadwacer who in l i n e  i s addressed with scorn  16. The poem reaches a climax of anguish i n l i n e s  13 t o 15: Wulf, min Wulf, wena me p i n e seoce gedydon, p i n e seldcymas, murnende mod, nales meteliste. These l i n e s , which simply express the speaker's acute unhappiness,  caused by her s e p a r a t i o n from her l o v e r r a t h e r 29  than her p h y s i c a l d i s t r e s s ,  are c l e a r enough.  There are  then two abrupt changes of tone, from anguish t o anger, as the woman t u r n s to her d e s p i s e d husband, and,  now  that  the emotion has been r e l e a s e d , the poem ends i n melancholy reflectiveness:  "paet  mon  eape t o s l i t e S paette naefre  gesomnad waes, / uncer g i e d d geador"  (11. 18-19) .  3 0  A d d r e s s i n g Eadwacer, the speaker says t h a t Wulf  (or a wolf)  i s b e a r i n g "our wretched  The  cub" t o the f o r e s t .  3 ±  child,  180 contemptuously  r e f e r r e d t o as a hwelp, which i s being  c a r r i e d o f f t o i t s death could be e i t h e r Eadwacer's or Wulf's, but the b i t t e r tone i s more a p p r o p r i a t e t o the c h i l d o f t h e unhappy l o v e - a f f a i r .  The pun i n hwelp  32 a l s o suggests t h i s .  L i n e s 16 and 17 can thus be taken  as a d e f i a n t acceptance of the end, expressed w i t h r e s i g n a t i o n i n the c l o s i n g l i n e s .  Uncer then has the  same r e f e r e n c e i n l i n e s 16 and 19, and the g i e d d i s the unhappy s t o r y o f the speaker and her l o v e r . Attempts have been made t o r e l a t e both The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer t o h e r o i c sagas o r f o l k  tales.  The i s s u e need not d e l a y us here, s i n c e the q u e s t i o n remains u n r e s o l v e d , and i s r e a l l y emotional impact of the poems.  immaterial t o the  The Wife's Lament has been  l i n k e d w i t h v a r i o u s s t o r i e s o f maligned wives, t h e g e n e r a l o u t l i n e s o f which resemble Chaucer's T a l e o f C o n s t a n c e .  33  More a t t e n t i o n has been devoted t o Wulf and Eadwacer, s i n c e a c t u a l names occur i n i t . 34 poem t o Norse legends,  Some have r e l a t e d the  and o t h e r s t o a p o s s i b l e saga o f  35 Odoacer.  Probably j u s t because they a r e found i n the  same manuscript and both d e a l w i t h m a r i t a l  affection,  The Wife's Lament and The Husband's Message have sometimes been connected, a l t h o u g h they a r e t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t i n s t y l e and treatment.  Another e x t e r n a l c o n n e c t i o n more  r e c e n t l y suggested f o r The Wife's Lament i s a p o s s i b l e religious,  d i d a c t i c , even s p e c i f i c a l l y a l l e g o r i c a l  ground.  A l l these s u g g e s t i o n s must remain  back-  hypothetical.  181 For the purpose of my own the thoughts  and  investigation,  an a n a l y s i s of  f e e l i n g s presented i n the poems, the  i s s u e of a p o s s i b l e connection w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l m a t e r i a l , whether s e c u l a r or C h r i s t i a n , can be l e f t an open q u e s t i o n . The e l e g i a c q u a l i t y of the two poems, and  their  use of the common Old E n g l i s h ' e x i l e ' trope, makes i t s e l f felt  i n a number of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c d e t a i l s .  Each poem  i s u t t e r e d by a person i n p h y s i c a l and mental d i s t r e s s . Lonely, and fate.  i n bleak n a t u r a l surroundings,  she laments her  The n a r r a t o r of The Wife's Lament i s banished  cave i n the f o r e s t .  In Wulf and Eadwacer, the speaker  her l o v e r are on separate i s l a n d s surrounded opening  to a  by f e n .  and The  of The Wife's Lament, " Ic p>is g i e d d wrece b i me  f u l geomorre, / minre s y l f r e s i 6 " resembles of The S e a f a r e r , "Maeg sipias secgan. "  i c be me  the beginning  sylfum so6gied wrecan, /  The scenery of The Wife' s Lament and Wulf  and Eadwacer, w i t h i t s vague but e v o c a t i v e d e s c r i p t i o n s of p l a c e s i n the w i l d s , by water, i n f o r b i d d i n g weather, c a l l s up the same syndrome as the gloomy landscapes seascapes  of The Wanderer and The S e a f a r e r .  wife seems t o be d w e l l i n g i n some abandoned overgrown w i t h b r i a r s 1. 31).  ("bitre burgtunas,  The  and  banished  fortifications,  brerum beweaxne,"  The d i s m a l a s s o c i a t i o n s of h a b i t a t i o n s now  given  over t o decay are a l s o present i n the d e s c r i p t i o n s of r u i n e d f o r t r e s s e s i n The Wanderer and The Ruin.  The  imagines her husband s i t t i n g under a rocky slope and with the storm,  the p l a c e being a "dreary h a l l "  wife frosted  surrounded  182 by water.  The p i c t u r e i s very l i k e that of the Wanderer  awakening by the seashore s e a b i r d s , and rime and Again,  the speaker  to see the d u l l waves, the  snow f a l l i n g mingled  i n Wulf and  hail.  Eadwacer s i t s weeping on  her i s l a n d while the r a i n f a l l s . the two  with  In a l l these r e s p e c t s ,  l o v e l y r i c s are o b v i o u s l y drawing on the  standard  37 exile-theme  utilised  i n the o t h e r e l e g i e s .  Nevertheless,  the mood c r e a t e d i n the l o v e poems i s s i g n i f i c a n t l y different. If we Wulf and  compare the o v e r a l l impression made by  Eadwacer and  The Wife's Lament with t h a t made by  the other e l e g i e s , these two poems are more t r u l y i n the modern sense.  lyrical  Here the Old E n g l i s h poets come  c l o s e s t to that r e c r e a t i o n of a p e r s o n a l and  spontaneous  emotion, the sense of an i n d i v i d u a l '-moment  i n time,  which we regard as l y r i c i s m . broader,  Most of the e l e g i e s have  more p h i l o s o p h i c a l i m p l i c a t i o n s . . Thus, the  p a r t s of The Wanderer and  latter  The S e a f a r e r move i n t o g e n e r a l  r e f l e c t i o n s on the t r a n s i e n c e of the world,  and  a  g e n e r a l i s e d i d e a of t r a n s i e n c e i s i m p l i e d i n The  Ruin's  o b j e c t i v e d e s c r i p t i o n of a f o r t r e s s f a l l e n i n t o decay. The  s u b j e c t of The Husband's M e s s a g e — t h e d e l i v e r y of a  l o v e - l e t t e r from a d i s t a n t husband t o h i s w i f e , her to j o i n him,  summoning  could have c a l l e d f o r t h the more l y r i c a l  note, but the p r e s e n t a t i o n i s formal and  stilted:  the  message i s n a r r a t e d , w i t h due decorum, by a servant or r e t a i n e r of the husband, and no r e a l empathy with  the  183 emotions of the l o v e r s i s evoked. In Wulf and  Eadwacer and  The Wife's Lament, the  choice of a female f i g u r e as the focus of an s i t u a t i o n has enabled  the poets  exilic  to draw on a l l the  familiar  poignancy of the e x i l e trope, and has prompted them to go a step f u r t h e r , i n t o the r e c r e a t i o n of f e e l i n g s more p e r s o n a l and more i n t e n s e .  The  e l e g i a c genre i s a l r e a d y  t h a t which lends i t s e l f most t o i n t r o s p e c t i o n and e v o c a t i o n of mood.  There i s a suggestive power i n the  f i g u r e s of the Wanderer and from Beowulf and Byrhtnoth.  the S e a f a r e r which i s absent But  the l o v e l y r i c s  narrated  by women have an added edge; t h e i r p r e s e n t a t i o n of mood i s both f r e e r i n i t s use of a s s o c i a t i o n and more concentrated The  in i t s effect. e l e g i e s with male speakers  p r i v a t e experience introspective. emotion.  The  a l s o represent  i n s o f a r as the speaker i s i s o l a t e d e f f e c t of t h i s i s , indeed,  and  to heighten  Some of the most a f f e c t i n g passages of Old  E n g l i s h p o e t r y are those e l e g i a c p i e c e s l o n e l i n e s s and l o n g i n g .  But the  expressing  person-to-person  r e l a t i o n s h i p s which form the b a s i s of the  'women's'  e l e g i e s have a p r e c i s i o n and narrow focus which g i v e s them an added d e l i c a c y and Lament and Wulf and  sharpness.  Thus, The  Eadwacer show a use of images f o c u s s i n g  oh a narrow scene i n which small but s i g n i f i c a n t are enacted:  Wife's  the f i g u r e walking  i n the earth-cave  gestures in  c o n t r a s t to the l o v e r s l y i n g i n t h e i r beds; the woman  184 seated weeping, and then o p p r e s s i v e l y e n c i r c l e d by the w a r r i o r ' s embrace.  The moment i n which the Wanderer  dreams t h a t he embraces and k i s s e s h i s l o r d and p l a c e s head and hands on h i s knee i s one of the few p l a c e s of parallel  i n t e n s i t y i n Old E n g l i s h poetry.  Wanderer the sharpness  T  cwom mearg?  i n The  of t h i s p a r t i c u l a r remembrance i s O  softened by g e n e r a l r e f l e c t i o n . "' Hwaer  And  Hwaer  Even the famous  cwom mago?  Hwaer cwom  39  mappumgyfa?'" (Wanderer, 1. 92) effect.  i s more d i s s i p a t e d i n  The keenest moment i n The Wanderer i s the moment  of c l o s e n e s s t o one  i n d i v i d u a l , a c l o s e n e s s expressed  i n p h y s i c a l terms not v e r y d i f f e r e n t from the images i n The Wife's  Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer.  Corporate  f e e l i n g can never be presented with t h i s f i n e n e s s of edge, and t h i s i s why greater  the e l e g i e s w i t h women s u b j e c t s achieve a  intensity. The two  l o v e poems are more obscure than the o t h e r  e l e g i e s because here the poets develop f u r t h e r  the  a l l u s i v e technique a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the l y r i c a l  (as opposed  to the n a r r a t i v e ) form.  They focus on the present moment,  r e f e r r i n g o n l y i n d i r e c t l y to the events which have l e d up to the speaker's  situation,  and i n the way  t h a t the  speaker h e r s e l f would r e c a l l them, f r a g m e n t a r i l y , and they r e l a t e t o the v a r i o u s aspects of the p r e s e n t . the n a r r a t o r of Wulf and Eadwacer says, seoce gedydon, p i n e seldcymas" ^ 4<  banished wife,  " F u l o f t mec  as  Thus,  "wena me p i n e /  (11. 13b-14) , and  her wrape begeat /  the  fromsip  185 frean"  (11. 32b-33a).  presented  The  absence of the l o v e d one  as an a c t i v e agent of torment,  causing  ever-renewed d i s t r e s s , but the circumstances absence must be p i e c e d together here and  there.  is  of t h a t  from the speaker's h i n t s  The e f f e c t i s one  of g r e a t e r  immediacy  and v e r i s i m i l i t u d e as f a r as the p r e s e n t a t i o n of f e e l i n g i s concerned.  As A l a i n Renoir  says of Wulf and  Eadwacer, 41  "to a p o i n t the poem stands  apart from i t s meaning,"  a  remark which i s e q u a l l y t r u e of The Wife's Lament. Much of the impact of the poems i s conveyed by r e p e t i t i o n and v a r i a t i o n of key  themes.  Eadwacer, as w e l l as the r e f r a i n , of Wulf  (11. 4, The  9,  13,  17)  and  In Wulf  there i s the  repetition  the a l l i t e r a t i n g wen  and  13).  and  l o n g i n g f o r him are s i m i l a r l y s t r e s s e d i n The  Lament.  On  journeying  and  l i n k e d themes of absence of the loved  the one hand, words and phrases and d i s t a n c e are repeated:  1. 6, and  " i c me  departure  i s returned  "min  (11. 9 one  Wife's  suggesting h l a f o r d gewat,"  f e r a n gewat," 1. 9 (the i d e a of the l o r d ' s  33); gewidost, 1. 13,  to again i n "fromsip f r e a n , " 1. and  wide, 1. 46.  On  the other hand,  the theme of sadness and  l o n g i n g i s p l a y e d on i n the  r e p e t i t i o n of geomor and  longad*,  and  etymologically related  words: qeomorre, 1. 1; geomor, 1. 17; hygegeomorne, 1. geomormod, 1. 42; longapes, 1. 41; The suggestive  longade, 1. 14; langobe, 1.  oflongad,  1.  29;  53.  imagery of the poems i s among the most to be found i n Old E n g l i s h .  Here, i n the  19;  186 love l y r i c s ,  the t r a d i t i o n a l concomitants of e x i l e are  r e f i n e d and extended.  The w i f e i s not merely i n a w i l d  p l a c e by water, but i n a cave which i s o l d and tomblike, e n c l o s i n g her i n a l i v i n g  death, which she c o n t r a s t s  with the v i t a l l i f e and c l o s e n e s s of the l o v e r s she envies.  She s i g h s ,  oflongad"  (1. 29).  "Eald i s pes e o r 5 s e l e , e a l i c eom The repeated, a l l i t e r a t i n g  draw out the weariness of the l i n e . an echo of e a l a !  E a l d and e a l h o l d  ("oh!" or " a l a s ! " ) .  The burgtunas (1.  31) among.which the w i f e d w e l l s suggest the dark woods and h i g h mountains  imprisonment;  (1. 30), the o p p r e s s i v e  confinement of a dungeon; the b r i a r s fetters.  vowels  (1. 31) are l i k e  In Wulf and Eadwacer, the i s l a n d s are  of s e p a r a t i o n , and the r a i n , of t e a r s .  symbols  L i t e r a l and "  symbolic l e v e l s are most s u b t l y fused, but the images are presented q u i t e a r t l e s s l y ,  and the e f f e c t  i s one of  t o t a l s p o n t a n e i t y : "Wulf i s on iege, i c on o p e r r e " (1. 4 ) ; "ponne h i t waes r e n i g weder ond i c reotugu saet"  (1. 10) .  4  Frank B e s s a i has commented on the d i f f e r e n t q u a l i t y of f e e l i n g i n The Wife's Lament as compared t o the male e l e g i e s , and has seen i n the poem a problem of "nascent s u b j e c t i v i t y , " which the poet attempts t o s o l v e 43 by the use of the d u a l . T h i s i s an i l l u m i n a t i n g o b s e r v a t i o n on the i n t i m a c y of The Wife's Lament, and  also  44 a p p l i e s to Wulf and Eadwacer.  The d u a l appears i n The  Wife's Lament i n wit, 11. 13 and 21; unc, 11. 12 and uncer, 1. 25.  In Wulf and Eadwacer, the form occurs  22;  187 in  "Uncerne earne hwelpy" 1. 16,  geador," 1. 19.  The  and  i n "uncer giedd  poets are o b v i o u s l y  s t r i v i n g f o r an  e f f e c t d i f f e r e n t from that produced by the usual laments w i t h t h e i r male s u b j e c t s . i s o n l y one The  But  the use  elegiac  of the  dual  of the ways i n which t h i s e f f e c t i s achieved.  l y r i c i s m of the two  poems i s i n p a r t to be a t t r i b u t e d  to t h e i r freedom from the extended m o r a l i s i n g which c h a r a c t e r i s e s the other e l e g i e s . f e e l i n g and  focus  are more sudden and  love poems: witness the c o n f u s i n g past and  present  imagery, suggestive  and  i n the  a l t e r n a t i o n s between  Eadwacer.  the  sharp  A l s o , the use  symbolic i n the other Old  i s here at i t s f r e e s t and  technique and The  impulsive  i n The Wife's Lament, and  changes i n tone i n Wulf and  e l e g i e s too,  Again, the s h i f t s i n  of  English  most s u b t l e i n  i t s most f a r - r e a c h i n g i n  connotation.  treatment of a l o v e r e l a t i o n s h i p i n these  poems makes them h i g h l y unusual i n Old E n g l i s h  two  poetry.  Indeed, they are the o n l y poems which t r e a t the theme i n a s e r i o u s and  expanded way.  theme i s h i g h l y unusual.  In Old E n g l i s h prose, too, However, there  i s one  which i t o c c u p i e s a prominent p l a c e : the Old  this  work i n  English  45 Apollonius  of Tyre.  T h i s work i s u n l i k e any  f i c t i o n a l n a r r a t i v e i n Old E n g l i s h , and has  other  i n many ways  more i n common with the Middle E n g l i s h romances  e a r l i e s t of which i t precedes by two composed f i r s t period,  i n verse,  a l s o i n prose.  and, The  (the  hundred y e a r s ) ,  i n the l a t e Middle E n g l i s h  Old E n g l i s h  Apollonius  188 i s a t r a n s l a t i o n of a L a t i n v e r s i o n of the t a l e ,  and i t s  Graeco-Roman atmosphere i s q u i t e a l i e n to the Anglo-Saxon world.  Unlike  the Old E n g l i s h poems which adapt L a t i n  m a t e r i a l to t h e i r own  t r a d i t i o n s , the A p o l l o n i u s  remains u n a s s i m i l a t e d .  Its sentimental  presentation  c o u r t s h i p i s most u n c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Old literature.  story of a  English  In p a r t i c u l a r , i t s p r e s e n t a t i o n  of a c o u r t -  s h i p i n which the lady i s the aggressor, a l b e i t i n the most modest and  decorous way,  i s t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t from  the p a s s i v i t y of the female f i g u r e s i n The Wife's Lament and Wulf and  Eadwacer, and  i s remarkable, even incongruous,  i n Old E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e . pedestrian  romance.  Apollonius  In f a c t ,  i s a pleasant,  the l i v e l i e s t  i s t h a t d e s c r i b i n g A r c e s t r a t e ' s p u r s u i t of She  s i n g l e s him  out f o r her a t t e n t i o n s , and  i n d i c a t e s t h a t she d e s i r e s him there  a t each stage she appeals to her and,  encouraged by him,  eagerness allows  characterisation.  The  romance i s the b l u s h i n g i s desired.  The  i n t e r e s t i n g and  and  finally  of her  father for  no  stilted,  and  However, actions:  permission, Her  her a t t i t u d e of  s u b t l e t y o r depth i n  o n l y touch of s u b t l e t y i n the whole of A p o l l o n i u s  on f i n d i n g that  love s t o r y i n A p o l l o n i u s  but  than the treatment of l o v e i n the  e s s e n t i a l l y quite unrelated  he  of Tyre i s  unusual i n an Old E n g l i s h context,  incomparably cruder lyrics,  Apollonius.  approaches A p o l l o n i u s .  behaviour i s e n e r g e t i c , but unvaried  s e c t i o n of i t  f o r a husband.  i s a sameness i n the p r e s e n t a t i o n  but  to i t .  two  189 Altogether,  the two  l o v e poems r e p r e s e n t  movement towards a more p e r s o n a l and in-depth  lyrical  form, an  study of the f e e l i n g s of an i n d i v i d u a l ,  narrow focus, which achieves  especial helplessness  women, s u b j e c t to male guardianship,  and  anguish  of  male d e c i s i o n s  over which they have no c o n t r o l , i s an important The  in a  a g r e a t e r i n t e n s i t y because  of the r e s t r i c t i o n s upon i t . The  i n the poems.  a  element  of the speakers i s p a r t i c u l a r l y  acute because they long f o r the presence of one e s s e n t i a l person, and because they are p i e r c i n g l y aware of t h e i r inability  t o change the s i t u a t i o n .  L i k e the queens i n  Beowulf, they are condemned to p a s s i v i t y .  I t i s the  combination of the i n t e n s i t y of the speakers'  frustration  w i t h the s i n g l e n e s s of i t s o b j e c t t h a t g i v e s these  lyrics  t h e i r p e c u l i a r power. Although the two Old E n g l i s h l o v e poems are  rooted  i n a n a t i v e genre of e l e g i a c laments, they have a broader affinity  w i t h the development of l y r i c i s m i n European  l i t e r a t u r e at l a r g e . emotion, without  The  c o n c e n t r a t i o n upon p e r s o n a l  p h i l o s o p h i c a l r e f l e c t i o n , which, as  have seen, d i s t i n g u i s h e s the two  love laments from the  other e l e g i e s , i s very r a r e i n E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e the Conquest; and  i s normally  which o n l y begins  to appear l a t e r ,  regarded  and  f o r i n s t a n c e , i n the religious  i n the t h i r t e e n t h - c e n t u r y 'spring-song'  i s Icumen In.  before  as a development  l a t e t w e l f t h - c e n t u r y St. G o d r i c S o n g s — s i m p l e lyrics,  we  However, l y r i c a l poetry  Sumer  i s to be found i n  190 Medieval  L a t i n much e a r l i e r than t h i s ,  form of hymns and  religious lyrics,  at f i r s t  and  i n the  from the n i n t h  century or so i n s e c u l a r l y r i c s of v a r i o u s k i n d s .  From  the n i n t h century onwards, t h e r e are a l s o l y r i c s i n the v e r n a c u l a r languages, and  'women's songs,' l i k e The  Wife's  Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer, seem to have been among the 46 e a r l i e s t of these.  Celtic  'women's songs' s u r v i v e  from the n i n t h century: the I r i s h Lament of the Old Woman of Beare (c. 850).  (c. 800)  and  the Welsh laments of Heledd  These are not l o v e poems, but e l e g i a c laments  with a strong r e f l e c t i v e s t r a i n ,  r a t h e r s i m i l a r t o the  g e n e r a l f e a t u r e s of Old E n g l i s h elegy. the v e r n a c u l a r l y r i c f i r s t 1100.  Love poems and,  ages and  c u l t u r e s , but  love l y r i c s , are, i n f a c t ,  the  continent,  f l o w e r s i n Provencal  in particular,  by women, have, of course,  On  towards  l o v e poems n a r r a t e d  appeared i n widely  separated  i t appears t h a t the Old E n g l i s h  r a t h e r than being an i s o l a t e d phenomenon, i n the f o r e f r o n t of a movement towards  l y r i c i s m i n medieval Europe. The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer c o n s t i t u t e the only e r o t i c p o e t r y i n Old E n g l i s h — i f we  discount  the R i d d l e s , which, as shown i n Chapter I I I , show no i n t e r e s t i n the p o r t r a y a l of f e e l i n g . their,  slightly later,  In comparison  c o n t i n e n t a l analogues, the  with  erotic  element i n the two Old E n g l i s h l o v e l y r i c s i s subdued. E v o c a t i v e r a t h e r than e x p l i c i t ,  the Old E n g l i s h l y r i c s  are concerned with the mood i t s e l f ,  and,  as we  saw,  the  191 events a s s o c i a t e d with i t are obscure. love poems are c h a r a c t e r i s e d by t y p i c a l of Old E n g l i s h v e r s e .  the  Further,  the  two  understatement  In an e a r l y  Provencal  'woman's song,' the a l b a In an Orchard under Leaves of 47 Hawthorn,  the  speaker laments that her  her at dawn, and dawnl  How  l o v e r must  r e i t e r a t e s the r e f r a i n ,  soon i t comes!"  "Oh  God,  leave  the  T h i s poem i s both more e f f u s i v e  and  more d i r e c t than the Old E n g l i s h l o v e l y r i c s . Equally 48 d i r e c t , but c y n i c a l , i s the L a t i n Hue usque, i n which a pregnant unmarried g i r l d e s c r i b e s her h u m i l i a t i o n : Gum v i d e n t hunc uterum, a l t e r p u l s a t alterum; s i l e n t , dum t r a n s i e r i m . C l i f f o r d Davidson has Wulf and  Eadwacer and  The  made a connection  between  Wife's Lament on the one  hand  49 and  the L a t i n Cambridge Songs on the other.  collection,  c o n s i s t i n g mainly of t e n t h - and  eleventh-century German o r i g i n ,  m a t e r i a l , r e l i g i o u s and was  copied  The  latter  early  secular,  of  i n the monastery of St. Augustine  at Canterbury i n the e l e v e n t h  century.  Davidson i s  c o r r e c t i n p o i n t i n g out t h a t both the Old E n g l i s h  lyrics  and  some of the Cambridge Songs belong t o the genre of 50 Frauenlieder, but wrong i n t h i n k i n g t h a t they belong t o e x a c t l y the same phase of i t , e i t h e r c h r o n o l o g i c a l l y or 51 artistically.  Wulf and  are perhaps two  Eadwacer and  The  Wife's Lament  hundred y e a r s e a r l i e r ,  and  quite d i f f e r e n t  i n mood.  The  songs p i c k e d  out by Davidson f o r comparison  are three  short p i e c e s : V e n i d i l e c t i s s i m e , Nam  languens,  192  52  and  Levis exsurqit zephirus.  These three works,  along  w i t h the two O l d E n g l i s h poems, a r e l i n k e d by Davidson t o a genre  (women's songs) whose c h a r a c t e r i s t i c mythos i s 53  d e f i n e d by the two elements o f d e s i r e and s e p a r a t i o n . But the three L a t i n poems, l i k e the c o n t i n e n t a l poems mentioned e a r l i e r ,  are more sensual  Old E n g l i s h counterparts.  i n q u a l i t y than t h e i r  In V e n i d i l e c t i s s i m e , a very  b r i e f poem l a r g e l y obscured by erasure censure i t s e r o t i c c o n t e n t ) , " s i cum c l a v e v e n e r i s exsurgit zephirus medieval p o e t r y : Here, t h e r e and  (presumably t o  the speaker t e l l s  . . . intrare poteris."  the beloved, Levis  expresses the theme so f a m i l i a r i n l a t e r the awakening o f love i n the s p r i n g .  i s a c o n t r a s t between the speaker's l o n e l i n e s s  the p r o c r e a t i o n of the e a r t h : L e v i s e x s u r g i t zephirus, e t s o l p r o c e d i t tepidus, iam t e r r a s i n u s a p e r i t , d u l c o r e suo d i f f l u i t . (stanza 1)  and: Cum mihi s o l a sedeo e t hec r e v o l v e n s p a l l e o , s i f o r t e capud sublevo, nec audio nec video. (stanza 5) In Nam languens, a stanza  i n t e r p o l a t e d i n a longer poem,  the woman r i s e s a t dawn and goes out b a r e f o o t snow t o watch f o r her l o v e r ' s s h i p .  i n t o the  The three L a t i n poems  are, i n f a c t , q u i t e d i f f e r e n t i n tone from the Old E n g l i s h poems with which Davidson compares them. also describe  The L a t i n poems  a mood of l o n g i n g , but the note of anguish  which marks the Old E n g l i s h poems i s absent. L e v i s e x s u r g i t zephirus  Indeed,  can be s a i d t o ?be a lament.  only Further,  193 the  imagery o f t h e O l d E n g l i s h poems i s gloomy and  oppressive,  i n c o n t r a s t t o the milder atmosphere of the  Cambridge women's songs, and o f the other  continental  lyrics. Although The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer have f e a t u r e s i n common w i t h the 'women's songs' mentioned above, the two Old E n g l i s h poems show a g r e a t e r  subtlety  and  In t h i s  d e l i c a c y than t h e i r c o n t i n e n t a l analogues.  respect,  they a r e more a k i n t o the c o u r t l y l o v e poetry o f  the t w e l f t h century  and l a t e r than t o the e a r l i e r  continental love l y r i c s . of f e e l i n g ,  Indeed, i n t h e i r  presentation  the Old E n g l i s h poems have something i n  common w i t h the l a y s o f Marie de France, even though  there  are d i s t i n c t d i f f e r e n c e s , f o r the l a t t e r a r e not women's songs, and, i n c o n t r a s t t o the gloomy s e t t i n g s o f the O l d E n g l i s h poems, they share the more g e n i a l landscape c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f the c o n t i n e n t a l w o r k s — a n d o f Middle English l y r i c s .  Nevertheless,  i n the l a t e  twelfth-century  l a y s o f Marie de France, as i n the Old E n g l i s h love the  lyrics,  f e e l i n g s o f l o v e r s a r e presented i n e v o c a t i v e and  symbolic, r a t h e r than d i r e c t , Nightingale innocent  terms.  Thus, i n The  (Laiistic) , the c r u e l d e s t r u c t i o n o f an  l o v e i s expressed when the b r u t i s h husband  the n i g h t i n g a l e  (symbolising  spatters h i s wife's dress;  the lover)  kills  and i t s blood  and i n C h e v r e f o i l , T r i s t a n and  I s e u l t a r e compared t o the honeysuckle entwining the h a z e l bough.  The h i g h l y developed, but at the same time s u b t l e  194 and  under-stated,  use of symbolism i n The Wife's Lament and  Wulf and Eadwacer i s s i m i l a r i n i t s e f f e c t , although the o v e r a l l atmosphere of the poems i s widely d i f f e r e n t , and the e l a b o r a t e r i t u a l o f c o u r t l y love, with i t s s e c r e t meetings, messages, exchanges o f p r e s e n t s ,  etc., i s quite  f o r e i g n t o the O l d E n g l i s h poems. The  two O l d E n g l i s h l o v e l y r i c s ,  from the r o o t s of O l d E n g l i s h elegy,  then,  and i t i s t h i s which  g i v e s them t h e i r c h a r a c t e r i s t i c vocabulary However, the l o v e poems present  indeed,  In so doing,  they  reflect,  foreshadow, an emerging l y r i c i s m o f which  they a r e among the e a r l i e s t examples. e v o c a t i v e and i n t r o s p e c t i v e nature elegy,  and imagery.  the e l e g i a c s i t u a t i o n i n  a more i n t e n s e and i n t i m a t e way. and,  spring  coupled  Moreover, the  of the O l d E n g l i s h  w i t h the p a s s i v e s i t u a t i o n s of the two  women n a r r a t o r s i n the poems, g i v e s The Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer a s u b t l e poignancy which f i n d s i t s c ou nt er pa rt  elsewhere, not i n the more n e a r l y contemporary  'women's songs' d e s c r i b e d above, but i n the c o u r t l y p o e t r y of the h i g h Middle Ages.  195 Footnotes "'"The b e t t e r known e l e g i e s (apart from the two poems under c o n s i d e r a t i o n ) a r e The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Ruin, The Husband's Message, Deor, and the Beowulf e l e g i e s , 11. 2231-70 and 2444-62. The Husband's Message i s r a t h e r d i f f e r e n t from the other p i e c e s because i t l a c k s the melancholy i n h e r e n t i n elegy, b u t i t i s u s u a l l y grouped w i t h these poems because i t r e f e r s t o the t r a d i t i o n a l concomitants o f Old E n g l i s h e l e g i a c p o e t r y : feud, and e x i l e a c r o s s the sea. 2 The d a t i n g o f the poems i s s p e c u l a t i v e , b u t i t i s f a i r l y c e r t a i n that they belong n e i t h e r t o a d e c i d e d l y e a r l y nor t o a l a t e p e r i o d . R. F. L e s l i e , i n h i s e d i t i o n Three Old E n g l i s h E l e g i e s (Manchester, 1961), which c o n t a i n s The Wife's Lament, The Husband's Message, and The Ruin, suggests an e i g h t h - c e n t u r y date f o r a l l three poems ( I n t r o d u c t i o n , pp. 34-35). S c h o l a r s have tended t o be s i l e n t as t o the p o s s i b l e date o f Wulf and Eadwacer. I t s h i g h l y i r r e g u l a r metre, w i t h very long a l t e r n a t i n g with s h o r t l i n e s , and with o c c a s i o n a l departures from formal scansion (1. 12 l a c k s c o r r e c t a l l i t e r a t i o n ; 1. 13a i s minus a s y l l a b l e ) makes i t u n l i k e l y that the poem belongs to the e a r l y p e r i o d . However, the word forms do not suggest a l a t e date. E.W.S. i e a l t e r n a t e s w i t h ±_, a l s o common i n E.W.S., i n ieqe (1. 4), i q e (1. 5), and i n g i f e (1. 1) and giedd (1. 19). The i form a l s o appears i n m e t e l i s t e (1. 15) . The more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y E.W.S. y_ form appears i n hy_ (11. 2 and 7) and Gehyrest (1. 16) . See A. Campbell, O l d E n g l i s h Grammar (Oxford, 1959), sec. 300. Hence, the poem i s p r o b a b l y t o be assigned t o the middle p e r i o d o f O l d E n g l i s h verse, i . e . , t o the e i g h t h or n i n t h century. 3 See, r e s p e c t i v e l y , Donald Fry, "Wulf and Eadwacer: A Wen Charm," Chaucer Review, 5 (1971), 247-63; and Norman E. E l i a s o n , "On Wulf and Eadwacer," O l d E n g l i s h Studies i n Honour o f John C. Pope, eds. R. B. B u r l i n and E. B. I r v i n g , J r . (Toronto and B u f f a l o , 1974), pp. 225-34. 4 The poem was f i r s t e d i t e d by J . J . Conybeare i n h i s I l l u s t r a t i o n s o f Anglo-Saxon P o e t r y (London, 1826), and subsequently by Benjamin Thorpe i n h i s e d i t i o n o f t h e Exeter book, Codex E x o n i e n s i s (London, 1842). The f i r s t person t o r e c o g n i s e the poem as t h e lament o f a woman was L. E t t m i i l l e r , who p r i n t e d i t under the t i t l e "Vreccan v i f e s ged" i n h i s E n g l a and Seaxna Scopas and Boceras (Quedlinburg and L e i p z i g , 1850; rep. Amsterdam, 1966), pp. 214-15. E t t m i i l l e r notes the s i g n i f i c a n c e o f the feminine forms geomorre (1. 1) and "minre s y l f r e " (1. 2), both o f which r e f e r t o the speaker (p. 214, n o t e s ) . The l a t t e r q u a l i f i e s the word sieS i n 1. 2, but takes i t s agreement  196 not from s i 5 , a masculine noun, but from the feminine possessor. Thorpe had emended t o "minne s y l f e s . " L e v i n Schucking argued t h a t the f i r s t two l i n e s must be a l a t e r a d d i t i o n , and t h a t the poem should be taken as the speech of a man. the "geong mon" of 1. 42, "Das a n g e l s a c h s i s c h e G e d i c h t von der Klage der F r a u , " ZfdA, 48 (1906), 436-49. F a i r l y r e c e n t l y , Rudolph Bambas r e v i v e d the m a l e - n a r r a t o r theory, a r g u i n g t h a t a poem about s e x u a l l o v e would be an anachronism i n Anglo-Saxon England and t h a t the p a s s i o n a t e words " s u i t the f i e r c e l o y a l t y that e x i s t e d between a c h i e f and h i s f o l l o w e r , " "Another View of the O l d E n g l i s h W i f e s Lament," JEGP, 62 (1963), 303-09. Bambas suggests t h a t the feminine forms of the f i r s t two l i n e s are e i t h e r an a d d i t i o n or due to s c r i b a l e r r o r . M a r t i n Stevens has attempted to e x p l a i n away the c r u c i a l feminine forms, p r o p o s i n g t o emend sicS t o s i d e and take i t as a r a r e feminine noun i n agreement w i t h "minre s y l f r e , " and to read geomorre as an adverb, a v a r i a n t s p e l l i n g of geomore, "The N a r r a t o r o f The W i f e s Lament," NM, 69 (1968), 72-90. A l l the p o i n t s m a r t i a l l e d by Stevens are met i n a thoroughgoing r e b u t t a l by Bruce M i t c h e l l , who shows that b a s i c a l l y a grammatical argument a g a i n s t a female speaker w i l l not h o l d water, and t h a t Stevens " r e l i e s on too g r e a t a combination of i m p r o b a b i l i t i e s , " "The N a r r a t o r of The Wife's Lament: Some S y n t a c t i c a l Problems Reconsidered," NM, 73 (1972) , 222-34. 5  1  1  "Approaches t o a T r a n s l a t i o n of the Anglo-Saxon The Wife's Lament," Mffi, 70 (1966), 187-98. 7  NM,_  70  "The N a r r a t o r of The Wife's Lament Reconsidered," (1969) , 282-92.  8 See e s p e c i a l l y Curry, p. 189. M a t t i Rissanen, who argues somewhat t e n t a t i v e l y f o r the p o s s i b i l i t y o f a male n a r r a t o r , proposes an emendation of 11. 33b-34 ("Frynd s i n d on eorpan, / l e o f e l i f g e n d e , l e g e r weardiad") which w i l l b r i n g them i n t o l i n e w i t h the u s u a l e l e g i a c s i t u a t i o n , as seen i n The Wanderer and The S e a f a r e r . Emending l i f g e n d e to l i c g e n d e , he reads, "The f r i e n d s are i n the ground, the l o v e d ones l y i n g dead, they d w e l l i n the tomb," "The Theme of ' E x i l e ' i n The Wife's Lament," NM, 70 (1969), ''In h i s 1842 e d i t i o n o f the E x e t e r Book, Thorpe p r i n t e d the poem as a r i d d l e , but o f f e r e d no s o l u t i o n . H e i n r i c h Leo i n t e r p r e t e d Wulf and Eadwacer as a charade on the name "Cynewulf," which he managed t o f i n d hidden i n the t e x t by m a n i p u l a t i n g i t v e r y f r e e l y , Quae de se i p s o Cynevulfus . . . t r a d i d e r i t (Halle,' 1857) . The a t t r i b u t i o n of the " F i r s t R i d d l e " t o Cynewulf l e d t o the acceptance of  197 the e n t i r e Exeter Book c o l l e c t i o n of r i d d l e s as the work o f t h a t poet, a theory which has long been d i s c a r d e d . Cf. Chapter I I I , n. 2. ^Academy, 33: 197-98 ( i n a review o f Henry Morley's E n g l i s h W r i t e r s , I I ; London, 1888). 1 ; L  I b i d . , p. 198.  12 In 1923, H. P a t z i g proposed the s o l u t i o n " m i l l s t o n e , " "Zum e r s t e n R a t s e l des Exeterbuchs," A r c h i v , 145: 204-07. The s o l u t i o n s suggested f o r t h e supposed r i d d l e were numerous, a f a c t which was i t s e l f an argument a g a i n s t t h e r i d d l e theory. 13 Cf. W. J . S e d g e f i e l d , who suggests that the poem i s about a female dog and a wolf with whom she has had a l o v e - a f f a i r , "Wulf and Eadwacer," MLR, 26 (1931), 74-75; and J . F. Adams, who argues t h a t "Eadwacer" i s not a c h a r a c t e r b u t an i r o n i c e p i t h e t f o r Wulf, meaning "property-watcher," "Wulf and Eadwacer: An I n t e r p r e t a t i o n , " MLN, 73 (1958) , 1-5. 14 See Fry, "A Wen Charm," s u g g e s t i n g t h a t the poem i s a charm t o r i d the speaker o f wens; and E l i a s o n , "On Wulf and Eadwacer," a r g u i n g the "the poem i s a p r i v a t e communication addressed t o a c o l l e a g u e , r u e f u l l y but p l a y f u l l y p r o t e s t i n g " t h a t a p i e c e o f p o e t r y [composed by the w r i t e r and the c o l l e a g u e — h i s s c r i b e ] b e l o n g i n g t o them has been s p l i t up i n a manuscript (p. 228; a l s o see pp. 230-31). 15 Cf. the recommendation i n Be Wifmannes Beweddunge t h a t a woman who i s t o go abroad on her marriage should have a guarantee from her " f r i e n d s " ( i . e . , her kin) t h a t they w i l l continue t o accept l e g a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r her, BWW, sec. 7. See Chapter I, p. 29. The speaker i n The Wife's Lament i s i n desperate s t r a i t s because she has no one t o assume r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r her. She d e c l a r e s t h a t she has " l y t . . . freonda" (11. 16-17), the c o n v e n t i o n a l Old E n g l i s h p o e t i c understatement f o r "no f r i e n d s a t a l l . " 16 T h i s i s how Kemp Malone i n t e r p r e t s these words, "Two E n g l i s h F r a u e n l i e d e r , " p. 113. R. F. L e s l i e , i n h i s e d i t i o n , Three O l d E l e g i e s , and Jane Curry, i n h e r a r t i c l e on the poem, suggest t h a t 1. 9 r e f e r s t o the w i f e ' s departure i n s e a r c h o f h e r husband. See L e s l i e , p. 7; Curry, p. 191. 1 7  S e e n. 15.  18 The main source o f d i f f i c u l t y i n 1. 15 i s herheard, which i s a hapax legomenon. I t c o u l d be a noun d e r i v e d  198 from hearg, "temple," "sanctuary," and r e f e r r i n g to the cave beneath the oak-tree, i n which the w i f e says e l s e where she i s f o r c e d t o d w e l l . Taken i n t h i s way, the noun would be a " g r o v e - d w e l l i n g " w i t h heathen a s s o c i a t i o n s . See Krapp and Dobbie, Exeter Book, p. 352 (notes). I t i s a l s o p o s s i b l e to d i v i d e the word and read "her heard," heard r e f e r r i n g t o the c r u e l husband, or to emend to "her eard" (see E x e t e r Book, p. 352). The l a s t r e a d i n g , which f o r c e s a l l i t e r a t i o n upon the adverb, i s l e s s s a t i s f a c t o r y , although i t i s used by L e s l i e i n h i s t e x t . E x e t e r Book, p. 210. on W. W. Lawrence attempted to m i t i g a t e the p i c t u r e o f the husband presented i n 11. 17b-20, and t r a n s l a t e d "morpor hycgend[n]e" (the n i s an emendation) as "mindful o f death," "The Banished Wife's Lament," MP, 5 (1907-08), 388-89. But t h e r e i s a s t r o n g element of v i o l e n c e i n the word mojrbojr; i t does not mean "death" i n a g e n e r a l sense. The use of the word c o u l d be taken as an exaggeration s p r i n g i n g from the speaker's heightened emotional s t a t e . S t a n l e y B. G r e e n f i e l d read "morpor hycgend[n]e" as " p l o t t i n g a c r i m e " — i . e . , the w i f e ' s imprisonment, and s t r e s s e d the husband's c r u e l t y , "The Wife's Lament Reconsidered," PMLA, 68 (1953), 907-12. G r e e n f i e l d ' s essay "The Old E l e g i e s , " C o n t i n u a t i o n s and B e g i n n i n g s : S t u d i e s i n Old E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , ed. E. G. S t a n l e y (London, 1966), pp. 165-69, m o d i f i e s the p o s i t i o n adopted i n h i s e a r l i e r article. 1 9  21  T h i s i s more or l e s s the r e a d i n g suggested by G r e e n f i e l d , "The O.E. E l e g i e s , " p. 168, and by Kemp Malone, "Two E n g l i s h F r a u e n l i e d e r , p. 113. The three s u b j u n c t i v e s i n the passage b e g i n n i n g at 1. 42 ("scyle . . . sy . . . sy") have l e d these l i n e s to be taken as a curse. The o l d e r view h e l d t h a t t h i s was a curse d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t a t h i r d person, a "geong mon" (1. 42) r e s p o n s i b l e f o r the a l i e n a t i o n of the speaker and her loved one. Among more r e c e n t s c h o l a r s , J . A. Ward has adhered t o t h i s o p i n i o n , "The Wife's Lament: An I n t e r p r e t a t i o n , " JEGP, 59 (1960), 26-33. In h i s a r t i c l e "The Wife's Lament Reconsidered," G r e e n f i e l d had argued t h a t the passage r e p r e s e n t e d a m i l d curse d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t the husband (pp. 90 7-08). The i n t r o d u c t i o n of a t h i r d person adds an unnecessary c o m p l i c a t i o n to the poem and weakens i t s t o t a l e f f e c t . Most s c h o l a r s now regard t h i s passage as an u t t e r a n c e i n gnomic s t y l e , though t h e r e i s disagreement as t o whether the "geong mon" who i s o b l i g e d to be hard of h e a r t and gloomy i s the husband—which I b e l i e v e i s the most n a t u r a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , the wife, or a "young person" i n g e n e r a l . In h i s e d i t i o n , L e s l i e argues t h a t  "mines  199 f e l a l e o f a n faeh6u" means "the feud i n which my dear one i s i n v o l v e d " r a t h e r than "the h o s t i l i t y of my dear one" (pp. 6-7) . Faeh6u does indeed mean "feud, " but the o b j e c t i v e g e n i t i v e i s awkward, and a c o n t r a s t between the w i f e ' s l o v e f o r her husband and h i s enmity towards her i s more p o i n t e d here. " S e e Bradley, who thought the poem was a fragment. Lawrence suggested a lacuna between the f i r s t and second l i n e s , "The F i r s t R i d d l e of Cynewulf," PMLA, 17 (1902), 251. A more r e c e n t c r i t i c , Ruth Lehmann, t h i n k s i t l i k e l y t h a t two l i n e s have been l o s t b e f o r e the opening, "The M e t r i c s and S t r u c t u r e of Wulf and Eadwacer," PQ, 48 (1969) , 164-65. " G i f t " i s the o n l y t r a n s l a t i o n of l a c t h a t makes sense. However, s i n c e there are r e f e r e n c e s to v i o l e n c e and h o s t i l i t y l a t e r i n the poem ("waelreowe weras," 1. 6), i t may w e l l be t h a t the word c a r r i e s undertones of another meaning, " b a t t l e , " although "give b a t t l e " (rendering " l a c g i f e " ) i s not an Old E n g l i s h idiom. 2 4  25 Ungelice  i n 1.. 8.  26 T h i s i s one of the a l t e r n a t i v e s considered by Lehmann (except t h a t she assumes the sentence i s a statement, not a question) , but she p r e f e r s her other a l t e r n a t i v e , "They w i l l oppress him i f he comes at l a s t " (p. 158). L i k e Lawrence, she d e t e c t s Norse i n f l u e n c e i n the poem, and suggests a connection between O.N. abja and abecgan, and between O.N. " i b r a u t " and "on b r e a t , " Lawrence sees Norse i n f l u e n c e a l s o i n the unusual metre (pp. 251-54). He r e l a t e s "on p r e a t cuman" to " i praut koma" i n the sense of "come i n t o heavy s t r a i t s , " which i s more a p p r o p r i a t e i n the context than "come at l a s t . " Lawrence p o i n t s out other examples of unusual idiom, which he b e l i e v e s are d e r i v e d from Norse, and suggests t h a t the poem i s a t r a n s l a t i o n of a Norse o r i g i n a l . The d i f f i c u l t l i n e 2 and 7 has been rendered i n s e v e r a l q u i t e d i f f e r e n t ways: from Bradley's " W i l l they feed him i f he should come to want?" (assuming apeegan i s a c a u s a t i v e from b i c q a n ) , to L. Whitbread's "They w i l l k i l l him i f he comes i n t o t h e i r company" (ape eg an = "devour") , 'AA Note on Wulf and Eadwacer," Mffi, 10 (1961), 151. "'Lehmann f i n d s a s y s t e m a t i c d i s t i n c t i o n between the p l u r a l and the d u a l (used i n Uncerne, 1. 16, and uncer, 1. 19) i n the poem, and b e l i e v e s t h a t the poet r e s e r v e s the l a t t e r f o r the speaker and Wulf: "we two. a g a i n s t the world" (pp. 159 and 163) . Lehmann t h e r e f o r e regards us i n l i n e 3 and 8 as a r e f e r e n c e to the speaker and her husband. T h i s i s ingenious, but a p l a i n t i v e r e p e t i t i o n of the d i f f e r e n t l o t s assigned to the speaker  200 anc! her l o v e r makes a more e f f e c t i v e r e a d i n g of the l i n e than does a c o n t r a s t between Wulf on the one hand, and the speaker and her husband on the other. 28  The a l t e r n a t i v e t r a n s l a t i o n , "I f o l l o w e d the : wanderings of my Wulf w i t h (my) hopes," has the same b a s i c meaning. The unrecorded dogode which appears t o mean something l i k e the modern E n g l i s h "dog," i s sometimes emended to hoqode, "thought about." 29 The p a s s i o n a t e d i s t r e s s of these l i n e s , d r a m a t i c a l l y i n t r o d u c e d by the exclamation "Wulf min Wulf," must s u r e l y p r e c l u d e acceptance of any t h e o r y which does not read the poem as a poignant lament. The vehemence of the l i n e s i s s c a r c e l y a p p r o p r i a t e t o a complaint about wens (Fry's version) or a passage misplaced i n the manuscript ( E l i a s o n ' s t h e o r y ) , or a semi-humorous appeal t o a wandering husband to s e t t l e down t o h i s r o l e of "property watcher" (Adams' reading) , or an ( e n t i r e l y humorous?) canine l o v e - s t o r y (Sedgefield s suggestion). 30 A l a i n Renoir notes the s h i f t from p a s s i v i t y t o b r u t a l a c t i v i t y i n the address t o Eadwacer, "Wulf and Eadwacer: A N o n - I n t e r p r e t a t i o n , " F r a n c i p l e g i u s : Medieval and L i n g u i s t i c S t u d i e s i n Honor of F r a n c i s Peabody Magoun, J r . , eds. J . B. Bessinger, J r . and R. P. Creed (New York, 1965) , p. 157. However, Renoir sees t h i s a g g r e s s i v e n e s s extending t o the end of the poem and making i t s e l f f e l t i n verbs of a c t i o n l i k e beran and t o s l i t a n . But the wording of the l a s t sentence as a whole suggests r e s i g n a t i o n r a t h e r than a g g r e s s i o n . The c l o s i n g l i n e s r e p r e s e n t one of those gnomic statements which attempt t o come to terms w i t h sorrow by g e n e r a l i s i n g i t . 31 Earne probably comes from earg, "cowardly," but could a l s o be an e r r o r f o r earmne. 32 See Whitbread, pp. 152-53; Lehmann, p. 161. 1  S e e , f o r i n s t a n c e , E d i t h R i c k e r t , "The Old E n g l i s h O f f a Saga," MP, 2 (1904-05), 29-76 and 321-76. 3 3  C f . W. H. S c h o f i e l d , "Signy's Lament," PMLA, 17 (1902) , 262-95. A l s o P. J . F r a n k i s , who l i n k s Wulf and Eadwacer and Deor, "Deor and Wulf and Eadwacer: Some C o n j e c t u r e s , " M2E, 31 (1962), 161-75. 3 4  35 E s p e c i a l l y Rudolf Imelmann, who i n c o r p o r a t e d most of the Old E n g l i s h e l e g i e s i n t o a h y p o t h e t i c a l saga of a f i f t h - c e n t u r y Saxon Odoacer mentioned by Gregory of Tours: Die a l t e n g l i s c h e Odoaker-Dichtung ( B e r l i n , 1907); Forschungen zur a l t e n g l i s c h e n Poesie ( B e r l i n , 1920) ; Wanderer und S e e f a h r e r im Rahm der a l t e n g l i s c h e n  201 Odoaker-Dichtung ( B e r l i n , 1908). The Odoacer s l a i n by Theodoric i s a more popular contender, proposed, f o r i n s t a n c e , by Lehmann. 36 The most p e r s u a s i v e of these t h e o r i e s i s t h a t put forward by M . J . Swanton, who l i n k s The Wife's Lament and The Husband's Message i n an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n suggesting t h a t the former poem i s "an e x p l o r a t i o n of the r e l a t i o n s h i p between C h r i s t and the Church, which yearns f o r the r e - e s t a b l i s h m e n t of a p r e v i o u s union, while the world i n i t s Last Age, a f t e r the death and departure of the Man, p r e s e n t s images o n l y of d e s o l a t i o n and decay," "The Wife's Lament and The Husband's Message: A R e c o n s i d e r a t i o n , " A n g l i a , 82 (1964), 289-90. 37 The f o r m u l a i c elements of the exile-theme have been c l a s s i f i e d by G r e e n f i e l d . See Chapter I I , pp. 73-74 and n. 5. A summary of the most t y p i c a l f e a t u r e s of the e x i l e syndrome i s g i v e n by Herbert P i l c h i n h i s a r t i c l e "The E l e g i a c Genre i n Old E n g l i s h and E a r l y Welsh P o e t r y , " ZfcP, 29 (1964), 211-12. 38 In The Wanderer and The S e a f a r e r , the second h a l f of the poem i s devoted to extended m o r a l i s i n g (Wanderer, 11. 58-115; S e a f a r e r , 11. 64b-124). I t i s s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t the touches of g e n e r a l i s e d r e f l e c t i o n i n The Wife's Lament (11. 42-45a, and 5 2 b - 5 3 — f i n a l l i n e s ) and Wulf and Eadwacer (11. 1 8 - 1 9 — f i n a l l i n e s ) are i n the t e r s e r , gnomic manner, r a t h e r than i n the l e n g t h i e r , p a r e n e t i c s t y l e , with s p e c i f i c C h r i s t i a n content, as i n the two other poems. 39 T h i s i s the b e g i n n i n g of an "ubi-sunt" passage (Wanderer, 11. 92-96) which has o f t e n been commented upon. There are numerous analogues of d i s t i n c t l y C h r i s t i a n , m o r a l i s i n g content. 40 Understatement: Wulf never came. Cf. h. 15 on " l y t . . . freonda" (= "no f r i e n d s " ) , Wife's Lament, 11. 16-17. Cf. A l s o " l y t . . . geholena" (= "no p r o t e c t o r s " ) , Wanderer, 1. 31. The l i t e r a l meaning of seldcymas, "rare comings," which i s the t r a n s l a t i o n accepted by some s c h o l a r s , g i v e s a much weaker r e a d i n g . The Old E n g l i s h p o e t i c d e v i c e of understatement i s d i s c u s s e d i n an a r t i c l e by F. Bracher, "Understatement i n Old E n g l i s h Poetry," PMLA, 52 (1937) , 915-34. 41 Renoir, "Wulf and Eadwacer: A N o n - I n t e r p r e t a t i o n , " p. 160. 42 Compare the way i n which these images are r a t h e r d e l i b e r a t e l y s p e l l e d out by two n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y poets. A r n o l d uses the i s l a n d imagery i n the f i r s t stanza of "To Marguerite":  202 "Yes: i n the sea o f l i f e e n i s l e d , With echoing s t r a i t s between us thrown, D o t t i n g the s h o r e l e s s watery w i l d , We m o r t a l m i l l i o n s l i v e alone." (The resemblance between Wulf and Eadwacer and "To M a r g u e r i t e " i s a l s o noted by G r e e n f i e l d , "Old E n g l i s h E l e g i e s , " p. 164.) The c o n c e i t of "nature's t e a r s " i s used i n the opening of a poem by V e r l a i n e : " I I p l e u r e dans mon coeur / Comme i l p l e u t s u r l a v i l l e . " 43  "Comitatus and E x i l e i n O l d E n g l i s h Poetry," C u l t u r e , 25 (1964), 143-44. 44 Cf. Lehmann's comment on the d u a l i n Wulf and Eadwacer. See n. 27, above. 45 • P r e v i o u s l y mentioned i n Chapter IV, pp. 157-58. 46 A C a r o l i n g i a n c a p i t u l a r y of 789 f o r b i d s nuns t o w r i t e w l n i l e o d a s — s o n g s f o r a l o v e r , thus i n d i c a t i n g t h a t such poems were being composed a t t h i s time, although they are no longer e x t a n t . See P e t e r Dronke, Medieval L a t i n and the R i s e o f European L o v e - L y r i c , 2nd ed., I (Oxford, 1968), 7-8. Of course, we have no way of knowing j u s t how " l y r i c a l " these w i n i l e o d a s would have been. 47 The poem i s t r a n s l a t e d from En un v e r q i e r s o t z f o l h a d ' a l b e s p i i n An Anthology o f Medieval L y r i c s , ed. Angel F l o r e s (New York, 1962), p. 5. 48 P r i n t e d i n Medieval L a t i n L y r i c s (a c o l l e c t i o n o f poems from the n i n t h t o the t w e l f t h c e n t u r i e s ) , ed. B r i a n Stock (Boston, 1971), pp. 58-60. 49 See I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 14 and n. 22. 50 Cf. Kemp Malone. See I n t r o d u c t i o n , p. 14 and n. 21. 51 Davidson, arguing f o r a background o f e r o t i c p o e t r y i n l a t e Anglo-Saxon England, r e f e r s t o W.L. and W. and E. as t e n t h - c e n t u r y poems (p. 451), and l i n k s them w i t h the copying o f the Cambridge Songs i n England i n the e l e v e n t h century. But the two l o v e l y r i c s are much e a r l i e r . See n. 2, above. 52 P r i n t e d i n D i e Cambridger L i e d e r , ed. K a r l S t r e c k e r , Mon. Germ. H i s t . , S c r i p t o r e s , 3rd ed. ( B e r l i n , 1966), pp. 107-08, 42 ( i n t e r p o l a t e d i n Modus L i e b i n c ) , and 95, r e s p e c t53i v e l y . Davidson, p. 456.  203  CHAPTER VI DRAMATIC SCENES INVOLVING WOMEN: GENESIS B AND  CHRIST I  A l l the female c h a r a c t e r s d i s c u s s e d so f a r have been based on the standard s t e r e o t y p e s of Old E n g l i s h poetry.  T h i s i s t r u e even where the c h a r a c t e r s go f a r  beyond the t r a d i t i o n a l s t e r e o t y p e , as do the t h r e e queens i n Beowulf, and,  much more so, the female s u b j e c t s of  Wife's Lament and Wulf and Eadwacer. which w i l l  In the two  passages  form the s u b j e c t of the present chapter  i s a significant difference,  i n t h a t a new  The  there  naturalism i s  present, which has no b a s i s at a l l i n the stock types which Old E n g l i s h poets t r a d i t i o n a l l y draw.  on  Both passages  have a t t r a c t e d c r i t i c a l a t t e n t i o n because of t h e i r unusual  f e a t u r e s , and these f e a t u r e s are c l o s e l y a s s o c i a t e d  w i t h the poets' p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t i n c h a r a c t e r and emotional temptation  situation.  One  of these passages i s the  scene i n Genesis  B; the o t h e r i s D i v i s i o n  (sometimes r e f e r r e d to as L y r i c V I I ) 1  expanded Advent antiphons  i n the s e r i e s of  which c o n s t i t u t e s C h r i s t I.  D i s c u s s i o n of Genesis can be dispensed with,  VII  B and C h r i s t I as a whole  s i n c e I am concerned  the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of p a r t i c u l a r passages,  here  with  r a t h e r than,  204 as i n the p r e v i o u s chapter, w i t h the o v e r a l l f e a t u r e s o f the works.  As i s w e l l known, Genesis B i s a l a t e r  i n t e r p o l a t i o n , based  on an O l d Saxon o r i g i n a l ,  i n the  Genesis poem, the r e s t o f which i s r e f e r r e d t o as Genesis A.  Genesis B, which i s u s u a l l y d i s c u s s e d by c r i t i c s as  a separate poem, i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d from Genesis A by much g r e a t e r v i v i d n e s s , a n d dramatic  i n t e n s i t y i n the  presentation of i t s c h a r a c t e r s . of the temptation  2  The l i v e l y r e n d e r i n g  scene p a r a l l e l s an e q u a l l y l i v e l y ,  though markedly d i f f e r e n t , d e p i c t i o n o f Satan and the f a l l e n angels i n h e l l .  E v i d e n t l y we a r e d e a l i n g w i t h a  poet o f c o n s i d e r a b l e power. The Anglo-Saxon r e d a c t o r may be c r e d i t e d  with  Genesis B as we have i t i n O l d E n g l i s h , s i n c e , although he i s h i g h l y indebted to h i s O l d Saxon predecessor, he has c r e a t e d a v i g o r o u s poem i n i t s own r i g h t , r a t h e r than 3  merely producing a watered-down v e r s i o n o f h i s o r i g i n a l . F u r t h e r , o n l y a s h o r t passage o f the temptation  scene  e x i s t s i n O l d Saxon, so we cannot know j u s t what changes were made by the O l d E n g l i s h poet. c o n s i s t s o f t h r e e fragments: Cain and Abel; another,  The O l d Saxon Genesis  a passage from t h e s t o r y o f  d e s c r i b i n g the d e s t r u c t i o n of  Sodom; and a t h i r d fragment o f t w e n t y - f i v e o r twenty-six l i n e s corresponding t o p a r t o f the O l d E n g l i s h Genesis  B.  4  The l a t t e r work shows throughout,  by i t s unusual  and  the i n f l u e n c e o f the O l d  i t s longer-than-normal  Saxon poem.  lines,  vocabulary  N e v e r t h e l e s s , the r e n d e r i n g i s f u l l of  205 s p o n t a n e i t y and v i g o u r .  The O l d Saxon fragment  corresponds  t o a speech by Adam t o Eve, immediately a f t e r the F a l l , i n which he laments on the m i s e r i e s t h a t are now them (Genesis B, 11. 790-816).  i n store f o r  The language o f the Old  Saxon i s v e r y s i m i l a r to t h a t o f the Old E n g l i s h r e d a c t i o n , but the Anglo-Saxon  poet has heightened i t and made i t  more f l e x i b l e .  telling  One  change i n d e t a i l i s the change  t o the q u e s t i o n form i n "Gesyhst pu nu pa sweartan graadige  and g i f r e , " based on "Nu maht thu sean  suarton h e l l ginon gradaga."  helle  thia  Again, i n t r a n s l a t i o n the  lengthy O l d Saxon v e r s e - l i n e i s sometimes shortened and 5 sometimes rendered by two l i n e s .  Thus, the Old E n g l i s h  v e r s i o n has c e r t a i n l y gone through the "shaping s p i r i t " of the poet's i m a g i n a t i o n , a l t h o u g h the m a t e r i a l i s not h i s own. In C h r i s t I, D i v i s i o n V I I , r e f e r r e d t o as the "Passus" by Edward Burgert i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n o f the poem, i s the c e n t r e o f a s e r i e s o f twelve hymnic i n v o c a t i o n s 7 c e l e b r a t i n g the mystery o f C h r i s t ' s I n c a r n a t i o n .  The  e l e v a t e d tone a p p r o p r i a t e to hymnic u t t e r a n c e i s maintained through the Passus, which,  l i k e the o t h e r d i v i s i o n s ,  commences w i t h the word E a l a , but the d i s t a n c i n g and s t y l i s a t i o n which mark the o t h e r s e c t i o n s are t e m p o r a r i l y absent here, and the Passus takes the form o f a domestic c o n v e r s a t i o n between Mary and  Joseph.  As r e g a r d s c h a r a c t e r i s a t i o n ,  i n the Genesis B  scene the more i n t e r e s t i n g f i g u r e i s Eve, and her  situation  206  w i t h i t s c o n f l i c t between good i n t e n t i o n and e v i l s p r i n g i n g from f e e b l e r i n t e l l e c t , Adamis. Joseph  In the C h r i s t I passage  action  i s more complex than the p r e s e n t a t i o n o f  ( r a t h e r than o f Mary) i s the more complex.  It i s  Joseph who r e p r e s e n t s human f r a i l t y and i n a b i l i t y t o understand  the mysteries o f God, and the poet p r e s e n t s  t h i s both w i t h c r i t i c i s m and w i t h g r e a t sympathy. i n both passages,  But,  the woman p l a y s the dominant r o l e .  Eve  works upon Adam s f e e l i n g s u n t i l he f i n a l l y g i v e s way. 1  Mary g e n t l y l e a d s Joseph t o a proper acceptance o f God s 1  acts.  The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c q u a l i t y of both scenes i s a  f u n c t i o n o f t h i s s u b t l e dominance o f t h e female One  figure.  o f the most s t r i k i n g f e a t u r e s of Genesis B  i s the poet's heterodox  treatment of the F a l l of Man.  N e i t h e r the O l d E n g l i s h poet nor h i s O l d Saxon predecessor i s t o be c r e d i t e d w i t h a c t u a l l y i n v e n t i n g the departures o  from the u s u a l n a r r a t i v e .  However, we should g i v e the  Old E n g l i s h poet c r e d i t f o r h i s i m a g i n a t i v e h a n d l i n g o f them.  The f o l l o w i n g a r e the ways i n which the Genesis B  p r e s e n t a t i o n d e p a r t s from the r e g u l a r account: the Q  temptation i s undertaken by a subordinate d e v i l ; Tempter masquerades as an a n g e l h e first—unsuccessfully; Evil  the  tempts Adam  the Tree o f Knowledge o f Good and  i s dark and ugly; Eve eats the f r u i t  t h i n k i n g she i s c a r r y i n g out God's w i l l ;  i n good  faith,  she has a v i s i o n  of heaven; Adam a l s o eats i n good f a i t h ; Eve's v i s i o n o f heaven d i s a p p e a r s and she and Adam see i n s t e a d a v i s i o n  207 of h e l l . Although there a r e l i t e r a r y precedents f o r these 11 unusual f e a t u r e s ,  the presentation of the F a l l i s  c h i e f l y t o be e x p l a i n e d by the poet's d e s i r e t o b r i n g o u t the dramatic p o t e n t i a l o f the s i t u a t i o n .  He t r e a t s the  F a l l as t h e tragedy of Adam, a tragedy which i s seen i n e s s e n t i a l l y i r o n i c terms, t o s t r e s s the elements  and manipulates  the scene so as 12  o f i r o n y and c o n t r a s t .  The use  of a s u b o r d i n a t e d e v i l a l l o w s t h e poet t o g i v e an i r o n i c i n v e r s i o n o f the bond of l o y a l t y between man and God i n the hyldo  (1. 726) between the Tempter and h i s master,  Satan.  The u g l i n e s s o f the Tree o f Knowledge makes a p o i n t e d c o n t r a s t w i t h the beauty o f the Tree o f L i f e  (11. 467-89a) .  The d e c e p t i v e beauty of Eve's f a l s e v i s i o n o f heaven (11. 600b-0 9a) w i t h i t s angel song  ( d e s c r i b e d by Eve t o  Adam, 11. 675b-76a) i s i n i r o n i c c o n t r a s t t o the l a t e r v i s i o n of h e l l  (11. 791-94a) w i t h i t s sounds o f rage.  Both  s p e c t a c l e s are s t r i k i n g l y p a l p a b l e , t o the ear as w e l l as the eye.  But most p a r t i c u l a r l y , the treatment o f Adam  and Eve i s handled  ,  so as t o b r i n g out t o the f u l l the  dramatic p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f a tragedy i n which Adam i s t h e v i c t i m and Eve the v e h i c l e o f the c a t a s t r o p h e .  The poet  i s concerned w i t h the t r a n s g r e s s i o n of Adam, r a t h e r than t h a t o f Eve. He d w e l l s on the temptation,-' o f Adam by Eve and the serpent, while the temptation o f Eve i s passed over f a i r l y b r i e f l y .  However, what e s p e c i a l l y  him i s the potency of Eve as a temptress.  interests  T h i s i s made a l l  208 the more powerful  by her complete acceptance of the  Tempter's c r e d e n t i a l s , by her r a d i a n t v i s i o n of heaven, and by her f r a n k and  a f f e c t i o n a t e a t t i t u d e to Adam.  The p r e s e n t a t i o n of Eve compelling pride.  i n the poem i s p a r t i c u l a r l y  because she s i n s from ignorance The poet's treatment of Eve  ± 4  and not  from  shows h i s i n t e r e s t i  i n the p s y c h o l o g i c a l p r o b a b i l i t i e s of the s i t u a t i o n . The  Tempter e n l i s t s Eve's support  5 J  i n h i s a s s a u l t upon  Adam by c o n v i n c i n g her t h a t her e f f o r t s at p e r s u a s i o n sanctioned by God She  and  i n her husband's b e s t  makes an e n e r g e t i c and  temptation  interest.  at the same time humble p l e a  which s p r i n g s from genuine The  concern.^  author of Genesis B expands upon the scene with g r e a t freedom and  an e s p e c i a l  emphasis upon the r e l a t i o n s h i p between Adam and Although Adam i s the c e n t r a l f i g u r e , Eve,  Eve.  i t i s the r o l e of  with i t s c o n f l i c t between e v i l a c t i o n s and good  i n t e n t i o n s , t h a t b r i n g s out the poet's s k i l l He p r e s e n t s Eve  are  and s u b t l e t y .  a b a t t l e of w i l l s between Adam and  t a k i n g the l e a d i n g p a r t .  Eve,  with  T h i s c o n f r o n t a t i o n becomes  the h i g h p o i n t of t e n s i o n i n the Genesis B poet's v e r s i o n of the F a l l ,  and he f o c u s s e s upon Eve's prolonged  attempt  to persuade her husband to eat the f a t a l apple.  The  conveys a v i v i d  brought  sense of the tremendous p r e s s u r e  to bear on Adam by Eve's p e r s u a s i o n ,  which d e r i v e s i t s  power from the u n d e r l y i n g l o v e between them. speech to him  poet  (11. 655-83) i s informed  Her  long  with a f f e c t i o n ,  and  209 the poet s t r e s s e s her beauty,  her eloquence  and her good  intentions. There i s a powerful i r o n y i n the c o n t r a s t between Eve's l o y a l t y , her beauty,  and the r a d i a n c e of her  (false)  v i s i o n on the one hand, and the dark deed t o which she i s persuading Adam on the o t h e r .  Eve i s a s s o c i a t e d at every  stage w i t h images of i d e a l l i g h t and p u r i t y .  She i s  " i d e s a scenost, / w i f a w l i t e g o s t " (11. 626-27a), words which are repeated i n l i n e s 700b to 701a,  and, when she  r e a l i s e s the d i r e consequences of what she has done, i n l i n e s 821b  to 822a.  On the same o c c a s i o n s , the poet  t o her as "God's handiwork" (11. 628, she i s i n the most l i t e r a l  sense.  The  702,  822),  refers  which  same ideas of  s h i n i n g r a d i a n c e and of the p e r f e c t i o n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h God's handiwork appear i n the f a l s e v i s i o n as seen her eyes.  through  The v i s i o n i s of such a n a t u r e :  paet h i r e puhte h w i t r e heofon and eorcSe, and e a l l peos woruld w l i t i g r e , and geweorc godes m i c e l and m i h t i g , . . . (11. 603-05a) Eve addresses Adam w i t h a f f e c t i o n and g o o d w i l l : "Adam, f r e a min, p i s o f e t i s swa swete, blicSe on breostum, and pes boda s c i e n e , godes engel god, H i s [(God's] hyldo i s unc b e t e r e to gewinnanne ponne h i s wiSermedo. (11. 655-60) The a r t l e s s s i m p l i c i t y of Eve's words makes them a l l the more p e r s u a s i v e from Adam's p o i n t of view, and a l l the more i r o n i c from the p o i n t of view of the audience or reader.  210 Eve's subsequent d e s c r i p t i o n t o Adam o f her v i s i o n (11. 673b-76a) i s p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r c e f u l because the poet has a l r e a d y made us f e e l i t s genuine power over h e r . The poet v i v i d l y suggests Adam's s i t u a t i o n as t h e v i c t i m of i n c e s s a n t and mounting  pressure:  Hio spraec him p i e c e t o and speon hine ealne daeg on pa. dimman daed paet h i e d r i h t n e s heora w i l l a n braecon. Stod se wrada boda, legde him l u s t a s on and mid l i s t u m speon, f y l g d e him f r e c n e . (11. 684-88a) The  impression  of unremitting verbal assaults  prolonged  f o r a whole day i s compressed i n t o a s i n g l e l i n e Eve's p e r s u a s i v e repeated  (684) .  words come " t h i c k l y , " an adverb which i s  i n l i n e 705 ( p i c l i c e )  v o l u b i l i t y of h e r appeals. t h a t Adam i s b e g i n n i n g  and suggests the energy and  By the time the poet says  t o c a p i t u l a t e (11. 705-06a) we  share w i t h him t h e sense o f b e i n g i r r e s i s t i b l y d r i v e n t o it.  The t e n s i o n between Adam and Eve, always overshadowed  by the presence o f the Tempter, i s conveyed w i t h g r e a t skill.  And the i r o n y which c r e a t e s t h i s t e n s i o n i s  p o i n t e d t o i n t h e c o n t r a s t between the b r i g h t n e s s o f Eve, r e p e a t e d l y d e s c r i b e d as " i d e s a s c i e n o s t , " and the "dim" deed t o which she urges Adam.  T h i s c o n t r a s t i s as sharp,  though not as extended and e x p l i c i t ,  as t