Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Monday, March 9, 2015

Anglo-Saxon Hagiography Notes #DevilDiss

Codex_Bodmer_127_044v_Juliana ties up devil 1170-1200 
Today I spent the day reading Juliana and Elene. I had a facing page translation I worked from examining at word level definitions and usages. In particular I was looking at the interactions with the devil as these Anglo-Saxon texts form the beginnings of my survey chapters (1 and 2).
I'm looking at these texts for several things: how is the devil described? Where in the text does the devil appear? How is he used? What can we read in this use/function? How is this devil different from later devils and what can we read in that?
So here were the takeaways for today:

  • unlike many hagiographies, the heathen husband to be is not associated with the devil. It is only once she refuses Heliseus that he becomes associated with a fiend. 
  • There is an interesting association with men finding their manhood with devils. 
  • The devil is described as a monster, helle hǣftling "hell captive," wicked, miserable
  • This devil can shapeshift, first appearing to Juliana in the shape of an angel although we get no description of what the devil himself looks like although he's associated with sweart- blackness or darkness and deceives men by "mislic bleo" different forms, although can also be read as different colors
  • For actions he is described as using trickery and mischief, weakening men's minds
  • Hell is described as a sad dwelling, and the devil is described as being exiled, wrǣcca (exile) and the devil is a grieving devil
  • There's also an association of the devil with error, gedwilda
  • aferhygdum = arrogance or pride which I wonder is the source of the sadness previously mentioned
  • The devil is also associated as faithless "wǣrlogan wordum" one who is faithless or false in their covenant
  • In Juliana  the devil is a frame for the action- appearing in the prison cell, then later when she's being led to death where he "sings his misery"
  • here the Jewish people were "seduced" by the devil with false tricks and now must suffer punishment for this. Seduced here can also mean mislead or lead astray.
  • Elene goes to Jerusalem on Constantine's orders to find out, from the Jews, where the true cross is buried. 
  • In her logic, the Jews had great wisdom but because they refused to acknowledge Christ they are damned. Elene presents to them that if they help her find the true cross (after torture) they will no longer be damned.
  • Here again we have the phrase banished and cursed.
  • They're also described as being blinded in their mind and sad of mind "geomormode." This sadness echoes what we have in Juliana with pride and arrogance as possible source of sadness.
  • Elene also becomes a Saint after interacting with the devil-inspired Jews, she's only Elene before that.
  • Later there's an echo of "band of outcasts" also described as banished, accursed who are "þeostrum forþylmed" overwhelmed with darkness. They are also here associated with dragons.
  • Strangely when they find the cross, it is buried in a dark pit/chamber (which sounds like hell?), the term could also mean grave, left there by the Jews who are devoid of honor.
  • A devil appears late in the hagiography, described also as a monster, stating that he's angry they're taking his "treasure"
  • The devil is also described as destructive but again there is no physical description of him.
So far I've gotten some great notes about word choice although it's slow going with focusing so much on small words/close readings. And so far all the textual examples support my larger arguments.
Tomorrow I have to hit the library to grab Andreas, Guthlac, Genesis B and Christ and Satan texts and will get started on those translations.
Feeling good about the slow but productive progress.

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