Wednesday, March 05, 2008

What Do You Do With an Abbot Like Aelfric?

As I work on completing this project, I'm noting more and more that Aelfric didn't seem to approve of Aethelred much. Two examples occur in the Letter to Sigeweard's discussion of Old Testament figures. The first, Saul, everywhere else Aelfric cites as an example of how not to be....except here where he mentions Saul's faults with a wave of the hand but emphasizes Saul's battles against the "heathen." Likewise, David's long reign is summarized by his successful battles against the heathen, successful because he worshiped God and did good works. It is hard not to see these comments as an implicit criticism of Aethelred's policies and actions during the campaigns of 1001 and 1002 and so on, and the policy of buying off the Vikings rather than engaging in battle.

More Aelfric to come!

3 comments:

Derek the ├ćnglican said...

Too, his entire discussion of the Apocrypha is focused around the theme of the holy war against the heathen. It's clear that a major rhetorical emphasis of the letter is present biblical models for imitation who fought heathen armies. Hmm...random thought: I wonder how this theme intersects with his rhetoric of martyrdom--also strong in the letter as throughout the rest of his writings...

meg said...

Aha, Aelfric on Saul could be really useful to one particular microbe of my current project. Where is that? I haven't read any Aelfric since early grad school.

theswain said...

Hi Meg,

Thanks for reading! The part of Aelfric that I was referring to in the post is the Letter to Sigeweard, but he also talks about Saul in Live of Saints 18 (From the Book of Kings), Pope 29, CHII 4, and a smattering of other places, but those are the main ones. Hope that helps!