Christianity and Literature-
-Context of time and place and Christianity overall.
-Chaucer /King Helda.
Roman Britain (43-410 A.D)
-“Old English”- 700-1066 A.D.
“The Work of Giants” 5 -6 century.
King Edwin and the Sparrow
Paulinus’ mission to king Edwin (7 c. Northumbria)
What life was like before Christianity Like a bird flying from
7 -8 Centuries Warrior Culture: Tacitus on the comitatus
Christianity and the monasteries
-The Lindisfarne Gospels
Warrior band & lord. It was very important in their culture to fight to the last man. There
was an unbreakable bond. To see your lord die and survive was a big shame.
The Exeter Book
-One of four major poetic codices surviving from Anglo-Saxon England (960-970) 10 century. th
-Acquired for Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Leofric in the 11 century.
-30 individual poetic texts, 90 riddles
-The Wife’s Lament, The Wanderer, Advent Lyrics
Advent Lyrics: VII and VIII (From Christ I)
-The meaning Christ’s birth has for humanity
VII- dialogue between Joseph and Mary
The wanderer- An elegy/wisdom poem.
ANHAGA- “Solitary One” The loneliness of the solitary’s position is emphasized by the
nostalgic thoughts of previous days in the company of others.
Most writers are from the 7 /8 c. A.D : BONIFACE, EUSEBIUS, ALDHELM
Riddles about random household items.
ObjectsBibleConcepts (wide range)
Page 87- Riddle 46—Story of Lot. It makes you think about it (contemplate).
1 Boniface Riddles as poetry
Aldhelm explore possibility of Latin verse, contemplate the nature of creation . Battle of Wits.
Books to teach young monks how to speak Latin.
Aelfric Bata Colloquy. Keep audience on toes.
Puzzles help audience sharpen wits. Why in a monastery?
1. As poetry
2. As puzzles
3. Aids to contemplation.
Caedmon- foundation of English Literature as harmony between religion and creation/poetry.
THE DREAM OF THE ROOD
*Imagery of light- when/how/why he talks about light
** repetitions and parallels between Dreamer/Rood/Christ
-Lyric Poem. Religious meditation
Dreamer: vision of golden/wounded cross.
A bleeding cross sense of sin/guilt
Cross tells its story. Line 27-30 – violent transformation and suffering in the human
Crucifixion in obedience to its lord. Cross participates in his slaying.
Wounds burial: Christ & Cross.
“Resurrection” and the ascension of the Cross.
Urges dreamer to tell story
Rehearses salvation history from fall to Last Judgement
Invites Dreamer and all faithful souls to imitate Christ and seek the way of the cross
Dreamer awakens with renewed hope and devotion
Remembers Crucifixion, Redemption
Harrowing of HellNicodemus book.
Jesus went to Hell and took all the righteous souls up to Heaven. A “warrior” Christ.
Harrowing of Hell the rescue.
Before his death
Imagines Christ’s journey back home.
The tree of the cross came from a seed from the tree of Good and Evil.
The tree of life
Initial position of dreamer in the dark.
2 KENNING- common metaphor. Compound noun.
Ocean = Whale Road
Voice Bearers = humans
There’s another one who speaks when all the humans are silent.
Dream visions are messages from God.
Common – Actual messages from God (e.g. Daniel)
Bede = Dreicham & Perseius
A religious message forthcoming. Emphasis on covering. Poetry is a “covering” of a real central
truth in verbal ornament.
27-56 Christ as a warrior hero
Strip themselves and fight. Christ unclothes of his divinity.
Comitatus (war band) Utterly loyal to its lord. HOWEVER this is a pagan image to portray the
Courtly Love- Knight to Lady
Christ is the best knight. Trying to express devotion.
The Cross + All of Creation is commitatus to Christ.
1. Show to the world what Christ has done
2. Accomplice to killing its Lord (Tacitus) “Rather die than survive its lord”
3. The cross and Christ as one.
UNC- between “I” and “Us” in Old English
PROSOPOPOEIA – a voice to the voiceless. Allow it to speak. The speech of the cross.
Enemy = people
Cross beset by humanity. Cut him down.
Not letting down Christ. Not organized by rhyme but alliteration (sounds) repetition of
consonants with a line of verse.
1 half line ___ 2 Half Line.
1 word with a consonant – c echoes
Brightest of Beams Beautiful
Alliteration to stress words. Line 44
***Line 52 FIRST MENTION OF CHRIST.
Line 62 – wounded with arrows riddle imagery
63—65 “Weary” begins and “weary” ends it. He’s dead but it’s temporary (rested)
3 In his death, he has overcome death
66—the Cross IS the slayer
Thane } Anglo-Saxon Warrior
Elena, mother of Constantine found the Cross
“Story” a part of the Cross reached Anglo-Saxon England.
81-82 “Honoured” returns to the image of the cross at the beginning.
The garments as well
Allusion to baptism through clothing
100 Adam tasted death
Jesus tasted death THROUGH the tree
Dream inspired by cross’ great zeal.
“Elne micle” (great courage)
• 34 OF CHRIST
• 60 of the CROSS
• 123 of DREAMER
Earth was a temporary home. Real home =
heaven (Native land- line 156)
Where did this poem
1). 8 c. Ruthwell Cross in Northumbria (Scotland). To get it on must ask for the key of the
In Runes (runes titulus) DR 11. 39-43, 44-45, 48-49, 56-59, 62-64
Runic alphabet also function as letters/symbols
There are differences in Runic Alphabet BUT Runes = Pagan
Gregory X tells Augastan not to destroy but to construct on top of what’s already there.
Therefore he wrote in pagan alphabet a C