Beating out Land Limits (ll.2971-2981) [Old English]

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
A Mess of Actors
Land Buried Beneath Words
Closing

Back To Top
Abstract

Wulf is laid low by Ongeontheow, who in turn is slain by Eofor.

Back To Top
Translation

“‘Yet the bold son of Wonred could not
against that aged man land a blow,
instead he afterward sheared the helm from his head,
so that Wulf should bow his bloodied head,
he fell to the ground; yet fate called not yet to him,
and he recovered himself, though he fully felt his wound.
The hardy thane of Hygelac then hoisted
his broad blade, as his brother lay there,
an antique edge of giant design, his stroke caught the giant’s helm,
through Ongeontheow’s shield wall; then bowed that king,
the people’s protector, he was struck through to his soul.'”
(Beowulf ll.2971-2981)

Back To Top
Recordings

I have a new (untested) microphone, so I will be able to record this week’s translation and that from the last two weeks this weekend. Watch these entries for the recordings!

Back To Top
A Mess of Actors

Okay, so we start to get into the conclusion of the messenger’s tale of Ongeontheow and the Geats raid on the Swede’s land. On the surface, this excerpt is straightforward, for the most part.

As has been the case before, the original Old English for this section uses no proper nouns – they’re all just pronouns. It seems that this must have been the poet’s solution to making action scenes vibrant without breaking patterns in things like sentence length.

After all, using nothing but pronouns and pronominal phrases to refer to the characters involved in the two fights in this passage is a way to show through language the chaos of such a scene. It’s told with only three major players, but the lack of concrete names suggests a lack of concrete order, or any order whatsoever.

Blows are exchanged, but just whose doing what isn’t necessarily 100% clear based on pronouns alone.

Back To Top
Land Buried Beneath Words

However, digging deeper than the surface of this excerpt, and even the surface of words, the verb “Let,” (l.2977) means many things. It can mean “to lift,” “to lead,” or “to make or beat the bounds of land.”

Given that this word appears in a story about a raid, it may be the perfect context for “Let” to take on various meanings.

The simple interpretation of “Let,” as “hoisted,” or “raised,” works but it still leaves us with something to wonder about. The messenger stated earlier that this raid on the Swedes was merely for treasure and plunder, but in a sense isn’t raiding a place tantamount to an accelerated habitation?

All that gold dug out of the ground, all that coin exchanged, all of those crops eaten – and all at once rather than over the course of years and years. So, in a way, though the Geats set out with only treasure in mind, they definitely picked up more when Eofor slew Ongeontheow (announced with the use of “Let”).

It should be fair to say that there’s little better to do to create the limits of your land in one sense or other than to simply destroy the ones you need to move. Having defeated those in your way, you’ve very clearly opened your way up.

Back To Top
Closing

Next week – the story of the Geats and Swedes begins to wrap up. Watch for it!

And you can find the next part of Beowulf here.

Back To Top

Ongoing Ongeontheow (ll.2961-2970) [Old English]

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
Teaching by Analogues?
Against Anger, About a Word
Closing

<!–

 

{Wiglaf shown landing the distracting blow, or Beowulf landing the fatal one – that’s just how much of a team this duo is. Image found on Weird Worm.}
 

–>

Back To Top
Abstract

In the messenger’s story, Ongeontheow is captured and attacks Wulf, son of Wonred, in self defense.

Back To Top
Translation

“‘There by the sword’s edge Ongeontheow,
the grey-haired lord, was left to suffer at
Eofor’s command alone. Angrily against him
Wulf son of Wonred reached with a weapon,
so that his sword swing struck, sending blood
forth from under his hair. Yet he was
not frightened, the old Scylfing,
he paid him back double for that blow,
turning a far worse death strike against that one,
after that the king turned thither.'”
(Beowulf ll.2961-2970)

Back To Top
Recordings

I’m currently without a recording microphone, and so have no way to record these. However, I should be picking one up over the coming weekend.

Old English:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
Teaching by Analogues?

As the messenger’s story continues, so too does his focus on Ongeontheow. Here we see him, gray-haired, retaliate against one of the Geats who was too angry to wait for Eofor’s decision.

Actually, it’s a curious detail to add that Ongeontheow is “grey-haired” (“blonden-fexa” l.2962). Obviously we should take it to mean that he is an old man, but as such it’s difficult to not think of Hrothgar, another old man encountered in the poem.

Or, to even think of Beowulf himself.

After all, the messenger must have a point for telling the story of the Ravenswood at such length. I mean, if he just wanted to remind everyone of their feud with the Swedes he could have cut things off with his statement about them not showing any mercy (l.2922-2923). Instead, he launches into a story that runs for 75 lines (ll.2923-2998), involves detailed descriptions of events, and focuses not on a Geat, but the chief of the Swedes.

Apart from using this story to get the Geats to recognize their current situation (as noted in last week’s entry), Ongeontheow could be a stand in for Beowulf.

Perhaps the messenger is warning the Geats of the Swedes, but also, for some strange reason, he’s trying to remind them of themselves. He’s trying to show them how their own laziness and their own cowardice – represented by Wulf’s inabiity to contain his anger – is what caused the trouble stirred by the dragon, just as the same lead to the death of Wulf (and of Beowulf).

But how could such an interpretation be backed up? Well, with the idea that the messenger like all of those bearing news and facts some might not like, needs to add a spin to what he says. His spin is to use a story that everyone can relate to but present it in a way that is different.

Or, perhaps everyone was familiar with Ongeontheow’s actions from a poem or story the Geats told amongst themselves. As of now we can’t really say for sure.

Back To Top
Against Anger, About a Word

In a much more direct fashion, this excerpt from the messenger’s story is clearly an admonition against anger, against acting when a passion is in you.

Instead, at least through implication, the messenger is telling the people that they must be cautious, just as Eofor was in deciding Ongeontheow’s fate rather than just lashing out at him as Wulf did. Just as an army that has captured their opponent’s leader must think things throw and step carefully into the future, so too must the Geats if they’re to navigate the difficult, leaderless times that lay ahead of them.

For the Geats it is a time that is likely to be noisy with deathblows. A concept perhaps strange to us, but familiar to Anglo-Saxons since the Old English compound “wael-hlem,” meaning “death-blow,” literally translates to “carnage-sound.”

Back To Top
Closing

That’s it for this week, but the messenger’s story continues next week, as Eofor steps into the fray.

And you can find the next part of Beowulf here.

Back To Top

Extending Lore on Love and Passion [12:60] (Latin)

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
Repetition Leading to Implication
Word Woes: Overcome?
Closing

{Words upon words – some to be lost between languages. Image found on the blog Thoughts on Books.”}

Back To Top
Abstract

Isidore further expounds on the theory and lore of good animal husbandry.

Back To Top
Translation

[60] “Then are those which have the heavy mares look at no animal of deformed appearance, such as dog-headed apes and gorillas, such faces are not made visible to those looking like they are pregnant. Truly this is natural for females that is if such is seen or if the mind conceives of it in the extreme heat of passion, that is conception, such will be in the children that they create. As a matter of fact, animals in the enjoyment of Venus transfer their outside to the inside, and they seize their fill of such a figure of their types in appropriate quality. Among animals those born of diverse kind are called two-kinded/mutts such as mules from mares and donkeys; hinny from horses and female donkeys; mongrels/half-breeds from boars and pigs; sheep-goat (tityrus) from ewes and he-goats; raidos [from ram + IE *ghaidos] (musmo) from she-goats and rams. On the other hand, these are truly the leaders of the herds.”
(St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 12:60)

Back To Top
Recordings

Latin:

{Forthcoming}

Modern English:

{Forthcoming}

Back To Top
Repetition Leading to Implication

While he repeats much of what was written in paragraphs 58 and 59 here, Isidore seems to be expanding to all women the reproductive lore from those paragraphs. Otherwise he would have gone with a different phrase than “…this is natural for females” (“Hanc enim feminarum esse naturam”) to describe the practice of keeping ugly things away from pregnant women.

Unfortunately, this is just a matter of implication, since Isidore jumps right back to the animal after he has finished getting into some titillating descriptors (the “extreme heat of passion” (“in extremo voluptatis aestu”) and the “enjoyment of Venus” (in usu Venerio) both being polite euphemisms for orgasm and sex respectively).

Back To Top
Word Woes: Overcome?

When he settles back on animals, Isidore rounds off the first part of his book about animals with some of the different two-kinded and hybrid mixtures that people have come up with.

Now, either English breeders have been put to shame here, or Latin simply has a far greater depth of expression, since “burdo” translates easily enough into hinny, but “tityrus” and “musmo” remain untranslatable to varying degrees (as far as I can tell).

It’s not as satisfying as a portmanteau of the two, but sheep-goat is the result of a sheep/goat cross-breeding, though these are apparently rare in nature (and referred to as geeps when created in labs). So sheep-goat is the closest translation of “tityrus” that English has to offer.

On the other hand, “musmo” is apparently entirely untranslatable, since even a satisfactory compound English name isn’t available. Yet, if mules and hinnies are different based on the gender of the horse or donkey in the pairing, so too should the result of a she-goat and a ram and a ewe and a he-goat be different.

So, to remedy the untranslatable malady of “musmo,” a little digging was done and the word “raidos” was created. It’s a combination of “ram” and the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European word for sheep – *ghaidos. It sounds kind of like “Raiden,” and so is appropriate, given the sentence that Isidore ends with: “…these are truly the leaders of the herds” (“Est autem dux gregis”).

Back To Top
Closing

This Thursday, Beowulf continues his speech, talking about his time as king and making a very curious statement.

Back To Top

On Wiglaf’s Weapons (Pt. 2) [ll.2620-2630] (Old English)

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
Two Possibilities for “mid Geatum”
Medieval Shorthand?
A Curious Word
Closing

Back to Top
Abstract

The story of Weohstan and the arms winds down here, and things move back to Wiglaf, as he is on the verge of breaking from the host to go help Beowulf.

Back to Top
Translation

“He kept those adornments for many half-years,
sword and mail shirt, until his son could
perform heroic deeds as his late father did;
then he gave to him among the Geats war garbs
in countless number, when he departed from life,
old and on his way forth. Then was the first time
for the young warrior, to himself advance into
the battle onslaught with his noble lord. His spirit
did not melt away then, nor did his kinsman’s
heirloom fail in the conflict; this the serpent
discovered, after they had come together.”
(Beowulf ll.2620-2630)

Back to Top
Recordings

Old English:

Modern English:

Back to Top
Two Possibilities for “mid Geatum”

Just as with so many other sets of equipment in Beowulf, Wiglaf’s arms were passed onto him by his father. However, the poet/scribe also sees fit to add that these things were passed onto Wiglaf when father and son were “among the Geats,” (“mid Geatum” (l.2623)).

Since Weohstan had previously been in exile (as the poem made plain when describing his slaying of Eanmunde), this added detail is rather significant for one reason or another.

On the one hand, this detail suggests the importance of community. Possibly, even, this small prepositional phrase implies an underlying belief of the poet’s/scribe’s that communal memory is better than individual memory. At the least, with the constant references to friendship, kin ties, and the sound of the raucous joy of groups in halls, a community is regarded as being better than being alone.

On the other hand, it might just be another detail. Something to add to the colour of the story and not really a thread that’s woven around or with something else in the poem as so many things are.

Back to Top
Medieval Shorthand?

Actually, It’s easy to wonder then if the phrase “among the Geats” is shorthand for a more detailed setting. But the marker of community might just be setting enough for the sort of transitional act that passing on war garb is in Anglo-Saxon culture.

For there was a firm belief among the Anglo-Saxons that a person’s belongings carried a part of his or her essence even after he or she died. So, passing these things on is as much a passing on of the physical objects as it is of the memory held within them, the things they used to make their mark on the world.

To pass these weapons, these memories, on, within the structures of a community, to make it an event within that community and thus set it into that community’s memory, would ensure that it definitely becomes entrenched there. It becomes as much a community act as a family act.

Back to Top
A Curious Word

The other highlight of the passage is the original Old English verb used on line 2628: “gemealt.”

According to the Clark Hall & Merritt dictionary of Old English, the verb can be translated as “to consume by fire,” “melt,” “burn up,” “dissolve,” or “digest.” Since it’s referring to Wiglaf’s spirit, it seems most appropriate to go with melt. That way the words invoke an image of the young warrior envisioning his attack on the dragon and the aid that he’ll give his lord and having this vision stand firm rather than melting away (like a Jello mold in the heat of the sun).

{Possibly how Wiglaf imagines himself fighting the dragon. Image from Lady, That’s My Skull}

Back to Top
Closing

That’s all for this week, but check back next for Isidore’s continuing look at horses, and for Wiglaf’s stirring speech to his fellow thanes.

Back to Top

While Beowulf Roasts, Wiglaf Breaks from the Host [ll.2593-2605] (Old English)

Abstract
Translation
Recordings
Heralding The Shift
Shiny Armor, but Shinier Lineage
What’s in a Name
Closing

{A fresh faced Wiglaf, as played by Brendan Gleeson. Image from aveleyman.com.}

Back To Top
Abstract

Things aren’t looking good for Beowulf, but though his men are fled, one has a change of heart that may see the dragon bled.

Back To Top
Translation

“The hoard guard in himself took heart – his
breast by breathing heaved – he came out once again;
harsh straits were suffered, he was enveloped by fire,
he who had once ruled the people. Not any of the band
of comrades were with him then, the sons of nobility
stood about in martial virtues, but they fled into
the woods, their lives to save. Of them sorrow surged
in just one mind; he who thinks rightly may
never for anything turn away from kinship.
Wiglaf was his name, son of Weoxstan,
a beloved warrior, man of the Scylfings,
kinsmen of Aelfere; he saw his liege lord
under the battle mask suffering in the heat.”
Beowulf ll.2593-2605

Back To Top
Recordings

Old English:

English:

Back To Top
Heralding The Shift

Beowulf’s getting roasted by the fire in this passage, and the dragon seems almost assuredly guaranteed a nice and toasty roasted Geat for a snack. No doubt he has a very old and fine wine somewhere in his hoard to go with just such a meal, but thanks to a change of heart, one of Beowulf’s thanes is ready to help out his liege lord – and become the poem’s primary perspective character.

Curiously, though, the action is halted for a quick description of our new hero. Though instead of going over his bulging biceps and shiny armor (that gets the narrative treatment in a few lines’ time), we’re treated to his pedigree.

Obviously this kind of description is set up by the preceding bit of gnomic wisdom: “he who thinks rightly may never for anything turn away from kinship” (“sibb ǣfre ne mæg/wiht onwendan þām ðe wēl þenceð” ll.2600-2601). However, what makes pedigree so important here?

Back To Top
Shiny Armor, but Shinier Lineage

The best guess is that it falls in with an older way of thinking about the world. One that involves things like phrenology and eugenics, not all pretty stuff, but essentially the idea held here could be that because Wiglaf comes from good breeding he is one who “thinks rightly” (“wēl þenceð” l.2600). If such is the case, then this passage would set any listener or reader to this tale from hundreds of years ago to the expectation that this Wiglaf is going to solve everything, or at least be of assistance.

However, if Wiglaf is the only one who has his head on properly amongst the elite guard that Beowulf brought with him on his expedition, it also bodes ill for the Geats in general. For if only one of twelve trained warriors has the decency to disobey orders and help his liege lord in his hour of need despite being told otherwise, then such pedigrees as Wiglaf’s must be few and far between.

As a means of foreshadowing the waning power and prowess of the Geats between generations, and the implication that kin, when properly thinking, will help out kin, suggests that either terms like “Geat” are much broader than you might suspect, or that there’s a problem with breeding among the Geats.

Maybe something wicked has been happening in the beds and around the camps when the fires are out – Beowulf’s own marital and sexual situations are not mentioned. It’s possible that the woman who weeps so bitterly by his grave (who could be Hygelac’s queen, Hygd; ll.3150-3155) is Beowulf’s wife, but the latter situation is left un-noted, likely because of the contemporary sense of decorum.

Back To Top
What’s in a Name

A brief note on the name of the new perspective character in the poem is rather telling. It’s also much easier to look into the meaning of Wiglaf’s name than Beowulf’s name, since it’s a much more obvious compound word.

“Wīg” is Old English for “war,” “strife,” or “battle,” and “lāf” is Old English for “leaving,” or “heirloom.” Thus, Wiglaf is named for some kind of battle memento – maybe this name is one that the poet/scribe came up with after having conceived of the pedigree of Wiglaf’s arms. For his armor and his sword are all described as the spoils of a combat fought by Weohstan (ll.2610-2625).

However, if Wiglaf’s name is taken as a kenning, it could be interpreted in a different way.

If we take “wīglāf” as a kenning, then perhaps it refers to one who is the product of a broken marriage, or of a couple made of partners from rival or feuding families. In that way he’s much more literally an heirloom of some kind of strife, since perhaps he’s the child of rape or of some kind of passionate affair between star-crossed lovers who never after saw each other.

Of course, being an Anglo-Saxon poem, none of that is explicitly explained.

Back To Top
Closing

Next week Isidore gets into the matter of the cud and of donkeys; and in Beowulf, Wiglaf can’t hold back, just as the poet bursts into a (brief) digression.

Back To Top

Swedish Retribution "from over wide water" [ll.2472-2483] (Old English)

Abstract
Translation
On Swedes and Geats
Compounding New Words
Closing

Back To Top
Abstract

We get the history hard and fast in this week’s passage of Beowulf (ll.2472-2483, Chapter XXXV).

Back To Top
Translation

“‘Then between Swedes and Geats was war and enmity;
from over wide water causing laments,
wall-hard warfare, after Hrethel had perished,
Ongeonðēow’s sons to them came,
warlike; they would not free
those they held under sorrow’s sway, and near Hrēosnahill
they oft launched voracious ambushes.
My close-kin avenged this,
feud and war-fire, as it is known,
though one of them bought the victory, at a hard price,
with his life; Haethcyn, Geatish lord,
was taken in the war’s assailing.'”
(Beowulf ll.2472-2483)

{Approximation of the Hrēosnahill fight offered by a mural of the Battle of Maldon. From the Braintree collection of murals.}

Back To Top
On Swedes and Geats

Questions bubble up like air in a flagon of ale upon reading this passage. Who was Ongeonðēow? What’s important about Hrēosnahill? What liberties were taken with the translation?

Ongeonðēow [On-g’in-thou] was the king of the Swedes who launched an attack on the Geats to recover his daughter and his gold, both of which had been taken by the Geats on an earlier raid. He was famed as a powerful king, and two Geats (Eofor and Wulf) had to work together to defeat him (read more here). Though, as we’ll see in next week’s entry, Beowulf makes it sound like Hygelac himself lands the deathblow.

Hrēosnahill [Heh-res-na-hill] is where Hæðcyn had taken Ongeonðēow’s daughter, and is apparently a real place (modern Swedish:”Ramshult”), as well as a place that is traditionally within Geatish territory. Go to this Wikipedia page for more info.

So, what’s happening here is a little bit of old fashioned early medieval back and forth. The Geats stole Ongeonðēow’s daughter and gold (according to Wikipedia), and now the Swedes are coming for rescue and revenge – which they (again, from Wikipedia) only half exact. The Swedes recover the woman, but not the gold.

Two liberties were taken in the above translation. In the third line (l.2474) “wall-hard warfare” is altered from the literal “hard warfare” since the alliteration makes it sound more Anglo-Saxon and “hard warfare” isn’t as evocative as the original “here-nīð hearda.”

The phrase “under sorrow’s sway” was also altered from the literal “lamentation holding” since it doesn’t have enough punch in Modern English. It also confuses the metaphor of being held under extreme emotion, which is clarified by “under sorrow’s sway.”

Back To Top
Compounding New Words

The words “here-nīð,” and “inwit-scearo” are both compound words worthy of elaboration.

The first combines the word for “predatory band, troop, army; war, devastation” (“here”) and for “strife, enmity, attack, spite, affliction,” (“nīð”). Literally, then, it could be rendered “war-strife” or “troop-enmity” and so warfare is a clear translation of it. The redundancy of a literal translation also makes the standard translation of the phrase more efficient than a literal rendering.

The word “inwit-scearo” on the other hand, is more worthy. The term is a mix of “inwit,” meaning “evil, deceit, wicked, deceitful,” and “scearo,” a form of “scieran,” meaning “to cleave, hew, cut; receive tonsure; abrupt.”

Literally, the word could be rendered as “evil-cleave” or “abrupt-deceit” which sound like they could still be productive words among modern counterparts. “Evil-cleave” at least sounds like a technique in an RPG, while “abrupt-deceit” could be a spicier way to describe an ambush or surprise attack.

Back To Top
Closing

To let me know what you think about these compound words (or this entry in general) just post a comment below. And feel free to follow this blog, I’ll follow yours back.

Next week, Isidore elaborates on the workings of sheep and rams, and Beowulf tells of Hygelac’s revenge, all the while bolstering his own warrior-like image.

Back To Top

Of Sweaty Armpits and Family Sacrifices [12:7-9] (Latin)

Abstract
Translation
Some Words to Wonder About
Cows of the Violent Kine
Family and Sacrifices
Closing

Abstract

St. Isidore goes into further detail about pack animals and flocks in today’s extract. And he reveals a thing or two about why sheep are so popular as sacrificial animals.

Back To Top
Translation

“[7]The name ‘pack animal’ is derived from their pulling, that they do for our work, or the help they give us in carrying up things or with plowing. For oxen draw the two wheeled coach, and turn the stiff soil of the earth with the ploughshare; horses and donkeys carry loads, and humans, walking in their wake, guide their labour. And so pack animals are so called from those that are of help to men: truly they are animals of powerful greatness.

[8] Also, there are the cattle, whose weapons are attached, that is for war; or that make use of these horns. We understand other cattle to be oxen, for plowing, as if horned or that are equipped with horns. Moreover the cattle are distinguished from the flocks: for cattle are horses and oxen, flocks are truly she-goats and sheep.

[9] Sheep are a soft fleecy herd, with a defenceless body, a gentle spirit, and calling forth with its voice; it is not the oxen that a priest keeps near at hand for the mysteries, but the sheep that are killed for the sacrifice. From this they call them two pronged, those that have two higher teeth amongst eight, those are the ones that families offer exceedingly oft in their sacrifices.”
(St. Isidore of Seville, Etymologiae 12:7-9)

Angel to Abraham: “You’re doing it wrong.”

Back To Top
Some Words to Wonder About

These three sections at last get clear and close, dealing with things in a markedly medieval manner by looking at categories and clarifying just what those categories mean. Thankfully, it also seems to be going somewhere now. The pack animals are defined, as well as the cattle and the flocks. So Isidore’s moving right along here.

As far as curious words go, “capra” (“she-goat,” or “odour of armpits”) is definitely the strangest in this passage. Particularly fascinating about this word is its standing as a pretty stark reminder of the lack of deodorant in the 7th century when Isidore was writing. Goats might’ve been kept by some throughout the city of Seville as well, making for an immediate and visceral olfactory sensation.

Though, in a society without indoor plumbing, one wonders why a she-goat of all things is paired with the “odour of armpits.”

Speaking of which, when might that second meaning have became attached to the word? Did “capra” have these two meanings from the time it was first used as a word or did it pick up the meaning “odour of armpits” because people realized that armpits and she-goats at least have that in common? We may never know, but that’s part of the fun.

Back To Top
Cows of the Violent Kine

From Isidore’s description, it sounds like cattle were more violent then, too, or at least more prone to actually using their horns. That’s what their having horns and their being described in martial terms (“armis,” meaning “arms, especially for melee combat”) suggests.

It’s also likely that the connection could be held among those who work with cattle as well as the learned who write of cattle, since both groups could have access to stories of bulls and their tempers.

Back To Top
Family and Sacrifices

Isidore’s mention of families in paragraph 9 (“gentiles”) is also curious, since it seems almost like a promotional plug – 9/10 families sacrifice sheep with two teeth more prominent than the eight. So why is it there? Is family sacrifice still prevalent? Was it just something done for Easter?

The use of the semi-colon (yes, inserted after the fact, since original mss don’t have punctuation aside from diacritics marking abbreviations and such) suggests that the two sentences are related, but why are those qualities important for a good sacrificial animal?

The soft fleecy-ness, the naturally defenseless body, and the gentle nature – as well as the voice that calls out (“oblatione” which in St. Isidore’s Late Latin referred to a solemn offering) – all of them suggest some sort of inherent sacrificial function.

Soft means penetrable, offering little resistance to the knife, as does the defenceless body. And the gentle spirit suggests that the lamb wouldn’t begrudge the knife.

But the voice that calls out – it could reference an idea that the sheep bleated out a prayer itself as it was being killed or incinerated. An animal uttering such a prayer in death would definitely be favoured for sacrifice, since that bleating could also have the sacrificer’s own prayer projected upon it.

A petition sacrificed in that a way – burned up in the vessel of a living being rather than a piece of paper – would add power to that prayer. Possibly even in early Christian minds.

Back To Top
Closing

If you’ve got your own ideas about what some of the subtext or connotations of Isidore’s mention of “families” or structure mean let me know about it in a comment. And do follow this blog if you enjoy it – I’ll be sure to follow yours if you have one.

Check back Thursday for the next section of Beowulf, wherein Beowulf tells of the strife between Swede and Geat – and the fall of a prominent man.

Back To Top