The Heroic Age

A Journal of Early Medieval Northwestern Europe

Founded 1998   |   ISSN 1526-1867

Issue 13 (August 2010)  |   Issue Editor: Larry Swain

Issue 13

Issue Editor: Larry Swain   |   August 2010

Letter from the Editor

General Articles

Linnaeus's Game of Tablut and its Relationship to the Ancient Viking Game Hnefatafl

John C. Ashton, S.E.

Abstract:  This paper concerns Linnaeus's 1732 work Iter Lapponicum and his important (though inadvertent) contributions to the field of Viking age archaeology. A journal entry from his publication contains a description of a Lapp board game called Tablut (also called Swedes & Muscovites), which later scholars realized was related to the Viking game of Hnefatafl.

Sources of Spirituality in the Writings of Archbishop Hincmar of Reims

James Francis LePree

Abstract:  This article will focus on the literature and letters of Archbishop Hincmar of Reims. Although past scholarship has underscored the juridical nature of Hincmar's sources, the influence of some, such as the 829 Council of Paris, has gone almost virtually undetected. Concurrently, past studies have portrayed Hincmar as a mere verbatim copyist, his writings a mere reflection of his sources, as his treatment of the Council of Paris seems to confirm. However, as Celia Chazelle has demonstrated, many of Hincmar's writings still exist in older editions such as the Patrologia Latina and the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, while the originality of Hincmar's exegetical methodology, in his treatment of scriptural, monastic, and patristic sources has not been adequately explored nor assessed in recent scholarship (Chazelle 2003, 7, 179). Nevertheless, Hincmar's original adaption of sources such as the Regula s. Benedicti (Rule of Saint Benedict) and Ambrosiaster's late fourth century Commentarius in epistulas Paulinas (Commentary on the Letters of Saint Paul) illustrates the need for more recent critical editions of Hincmar's writings and for further studies which will enable us to assess more precisely the full extent of his literary and epistolary exegesis.

Knowledge for Its Own Sake? A Practical Humanist in the Carolingian Age

Steven A. Stofferahn, Indiana State University

Abstract:  Abbot Lupus of Ferrières (c.805–c.862) is often hailed as the most accomplished classical scholar of the Carolingian era. While few would doubt his literary aptitude, such praise has come at a cost as generations have championed Lupus as a heroic humanist in an otherwise dark age. The present article seeks to reposition this interesting figure within his more immediate environs, highlighting Lupus's purposeful use of classical wisdom toward intensely practical ends.

Raising Cain in Genesis and Beowulf: Challenges to Generic Boundaries in Anglo-Saxon Biblical Literature

Heide Estes, Monmouth University

Abstract:  Beowulf and other secular heroic poems in Old English are considered by most contemporary scholars to belong to a different genre than the poems based on Old Testament narratives. For the Anglo-Saxons, however, such a division of secular and biblical is artificial. As the eighth century turned to the ninth, Alcuin protested famously against the recitation of heroic literature, asking "Quid Hinieldus cum Christo?" ["What does Ingeld have to do with Christ?"] But it appears that the two scribes of the Nowell Codex, working two centuries later, shared no such compunction about a division between secular and sacred literatures. Poems such as Beowulf and the Battle of Maldon incorporate Biblical allusions, while saints' lives and poetic renditions of Old Testament narratives borrow syntactic and discursive units from poems in the secular and heroic traditions. In the adaptation from Biblical Genesis to Anglo-Saxon poem, Abraham is re-imagined as a formidable warrior in the mold of Beowulf and Byrhtnoth. Rather than reading them as works opposed in purpose and audience, religious and secular, serious and popular, we must see the Old English Genesis and Beowulf as parts of the same inheritance in which Germanic and Biblical legacies are fused into a single cultural matrix.


Pseudo-Basil's De admonitio ad filium spiritualem: A New English Translation

James Francis LePree, Department of History, The City College of New York

Abstract:  The De admonitio ad filium spiritualem has not received serious attention in modern scholarship. Yet this important late fifth century spiritual text not only borrowed extensively from earlier sources such as the fourth century Vita s. Antonii (Life of St. Antony), the fourth century Regula s. Basilii (Rule of St. Basil) and the fourth century Epistolae (Letters) of Paulinus of Nola, but also played an important role in providing models of spirituality for the Regula s. Benedicti (Rule of St. Benedict), as well as numerous Merovingian and Carolingian sources. Although a partial Old English translation of the text attributed to the hand of the Anglo-Saxon Aelfric (c.957–1010) exists and Jean-Marie Baguenard presented the scholarly community with a modern French translation in 1994, this study constitutes the first complete modern English translation of the De admonitio ad filium spiritualem based on Paul Lehmann's critical Latin edition of 1955.

Icelandic Fylgjur Tales and a Possible Old Norse Context

Eric Shane Bryan, Assistant Professor of English, Missouri University of Science and Technology

Abstract:  Icelandic folktales of the Fylgjur group have long been dissociated from the fylgjur, or attendant spirits, of Old Norse literature and pagan belief, a view supported by both Jón Árnason and the eminent folklorist Einar Ólafur Sveinsson. Despite their obvious differences, significant similarities persist between the earlier and later fylgjur figures. The later fylgjur represent a much changed version of their medieval ancestors. Understanding how fylgjur from the earlier and the later era relate to one another facilitates a better understanding of how belief evolved throughout religious development in Iceland, starting in the pre-Christian era, and moving through Christianization and beyond. Many of these later folktales have not yet been translated into English, and thus remain outside the purview of the general scholar. I have therefore included translations of three representative tales from this group.

Four Poems by Theodulf of Orleans

Jeff Sypeck, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, MD

Abstract:  Four Latin poems by Theodulf of Orleans (d. 821) translated into rhyming English verse.


The Forum

The English Glosses in Eleventh-Century Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts

Kathryn Powell, University of Cambridge

Medieval Writing, or Paleography Can be Fun

Dianne Tillotson, Independent Scholar

Kaamelott: A Semi-heroic Epic

Judith P. Shoaf, University of Florida

Continental Business

Michel Aaij, Auburn University Montgmory


The Ruins of the Past: Beowulf and Bethlehem Steel

Mary Kate Hurley, Columbia University

Philological Inquiries

Something 'Old,' Something 'New': Material Philology and the Recovery of the Past

Michael D. C. Drout, Wheaton College, Massachusetts and Scott Kleinman, California State University, Northridge


Davis, Jennifer R., and McCormick, Michael, eds, The Long Morning of Medieval Europe: New Directions in Early Medieval Studies. Reviewed by Curt Emanuel.

Finke, Laurie A., and Martin B. Shichtman, Cinematic Illuminations: The Middle Ages on Film. Reviewed by Mary K. Ramsey.

Scragg, Donald, ed, Edgar, King of the English, 959–975: new interpretations Reviewed by Jonathan Jarrett.

Short, William R., Viking Weapons and Combat Techniques. Reviewed by Steven Till.

Suzuki, Seiichi, Anglo-Saxon Button Brooches: Typology, Genealogy, Chronology. Reviewed by Heather M. Flowers.

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