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On the date, provenance and relationship of the ‘Solomon and Saturn’ dialogues

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 September 2008

Patrick P. O'Neill
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Although recently the object of renewed scholarly interest, the ‘Solomon and Saturn’ dialogues remain among the most enigmatic of Old English works. To some extent the problem resides in their strange subject-matter and hyperbolic style, exemplified by grotesque personifications of the letters of the Pater noster, endless enumerations of its extraordinary attributes, and the esoteric, Middle-Eastern background attributed to the speakers Solomon and Saturn. But hardly less daunting are the textual difficulties posed by the primary surviving manuscript, and the manner in which modern editors have handled them. Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 422 is composite, the first two quires of which (pp. 1–26), dating from the mid-tenth century, contain the Old English. Within these two quires the sequence of texts is as follows: a poetic dialogue of 169 lines on the Pater noster (pp. 1–6); followed without a break by a prose dialogue on the same subject, ending abruptly at the end of p. 12 (coinciding with the loss of a leaf); and another poetic dialogue of 335 lines on various aspects of time, nature, good and evil, also ending abruptly, at the end of p. 26. Yet in the editions of Menner and Dobbie the arrangement of texts is altogether different: the prose section is removed and labelled a separate work; and the verse is divided into two discrete poems. The effect, almost inevitably, has been to create a perception of three independent, even unrelated, works.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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1 See O'Keeffe, K. O'Brien, Visible Song: Transitional Literacy in Old English Verse, CSASE 4 (Cambridge, 1990), 4776Google Scholar (with bibliography in nn. 1 and 2), and idem, The Geographic List of Solomon and Saturn II’, ASE 20 (1991), 123–41Google Scholar; and Wright, C. D., The Irish Tradition in Old English Literature, CSASE 6 (Cambridge, 1993), 233–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar Unrelated to the present dialogues is the so-called Prose Solomon and Saturn, on which see below, p. 143.Google Scholar

2 The other witness, Cambridge, Corpus Christ College 41 (s. xi1 (after 1072); provenance Exeter), contains only ninety-three lines of the first poetic dialogue, entered in the margins (pp. 196–8) of a copy of the Old English Bede in a hand of s. xi1. Facsimiles of the texts of the dialogues as found in both manuscripts are now available in Robinson, F. C. and Stanley, E. G., Old English Verse Texts from Many Sources: A Comprehensive Collection, EEMF 23 (Copenhagen, 1991), no. 12.Google Scholar

3 Ker, N. R., Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon (Oxford, 1957), no. 77Google Scholar; see also p. xliii, where he suggests that the Old English leaves were added in the eleventh century as a cover for the main manuscript, a liturgical service-book from Sherborne. On the latter, see Graham, T., ‘The Old English Liturgical Directions in Corpus Christi College Cambridge MS 422’, Anglia 111 (1993), 439–46.Google Scholar Ker's date for the script of CCCC 422 is corroborated by certain codicological and scribal similarities that it shares with other tenth-century Anglo-Saxon manuscripts. Thus, in CCCC 422, the hair-facing-flesh arrangement of the sheets; the ruling of more than one leaf at a time; and the use of the same ink as the main text for writing initials, all suggest usages from the first half of the tenth century; see Ker, , Catalogue, pp. xxv, xxvi and xxxvii–xxxviiiGoogle Scholar, respectively. Additionally, CCCC 422 consistendy accents prepositional on, and marks a major pause with a triangle of dots, two practices characteristic of Hand 3 of the Parker Chronicle (dated c. 955), who worked at Winchester, copying other contemporary manuscripts; see Ker, , Catalogue, nos. 180 (1) and 264.Google Scholar See now Dumville, D. N., ‘English Square Minuscule Script: the Mid-Century Phases’, ASE 23 (1994), 133–64, at 143–4 and 158–9Google Scholar, who classifies the script of CCCC 422 as English Square minuscule Phase II, which he would date ‘in principle to the 930s’.

4 The Poetical Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn, ed. Menner, R. J. (New York, 1941)Google Scholar; The Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, ed. Dobbie, E. V. K., ASPR 6 (New York and London, 1942), 3148.Google Scholar Another editorial problem is where to locate the first nine lines of poetry on p. 13. Dobbie leaves them suspended between the first and the second poetic dialogue; Menner treates them as the conclusion of the second poetic dialogue. See Dobbie, , Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, pp. lviii–lixGoogle Scholar; Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 1012Google Scholar; and O'Keeffe, O'Brien, Visible Song, pp. 68–9.Google Scholar

5 Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 6 and 17.Google ScholarDobbie, , Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, pp. liv–lvGoogle Scholar, also argued for two independent poems, though he thought (p. lix) that Sol II imitated Sol I.

6 Poetical Dialogues, pp. 9 (n. 5) and 56.Google Scholar

7 A notable exception is Daniel Donoghue, who suggests on metrical grounds that the two poems are by the same author; see below, n. 10.

8 In a section of Poetical Dialogues, pp. 57Google Scholar, entitled ‘Differences between the Two Poems’.

9 Ibid. p. 7.

10 Donoghue, D., Style in Old English Poetry: the Test of the Auxiliary (New Haven, CT, and London, 1987), pp. 91 and 173–7.Google Scholar

11 But see now Keddie, J., ‘Testing the Test: How Valid is The Test of the Auxiliary?’, SP 90 (1993), 128Google Scholar, who questions the validity of Donoghue's findings, at least for Beowulf. For a reply, see Donoghue, D., ‘Passing the Test with Style’, SP 92 (1995), 164–80.Google Scholar

12 Poetical Dialogues, p. 7.Google Scholar

13 Here, and throughout, Menner's edition of the dialogues is cited, and his editorial conventions observed: italics for letters altered by Menner; square brackets for letters added; round brackets for letters indecipherable in the manuscript and supplied by Menner. Unless otherwise indicated, in citing Sol I, the B-text (CCCC 41) is used for lines 1–29; thereafter, the A-text (CCCC 422).

14 See Stanley, E. G., ‘Studies in the Prosaic Vocabulary of Old English Verse’, NM 12 (1971), 385418, at 391–2Google Scholar; and Griffith, M. S., ‘Poetic Language and the Paris Psalter: the Decay of the Old English Tradition’, ASE 20 (1991), 167–86.Google Scholar

15 Altogether (ge)seman occurs six times in poetry; of these occurrences, three are in Sol I and Sol II (data from Venezky, R. L. and Healey, A. diP., A Microfiche Concordance to Old English (Toronto, 1980)).Google Scholar

16 Poetical Dialogues, pp. 6 and 4950.Google Scholar

17 The Prose Solomon and Saturn and Adrian and Ritheus, ed. Cross, J. E. and Hill, T. D. (Toronto, 1982).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

18 Indeed, using Menner's technique, one might well argue that the Prose Solomon and Saturn borrowed Solomon's name from the poetic dialogues.

19 On the broad geographical meaning of terms such as Libia and Indea in Old English poetry, see Andreas and the Fates of the Apostles, ed. Brooks, K. R. (Oxford, 1961), pp. 120Google Scholar (note on line 43) and 122 (note on line 76).

20 See O'Keeffe, O'Brien, ‘The Geographic List’, p. 138.Google Scholar

21 See the Appendix below, pp. 166–8.

22 Sol II 191b–192, ‘Cristes [eÞel]: / Hierycho, Galilea, Hierusa[lem]’.

23 See Sol II 176b–192, and O'Keeffe, O'Brien, ‘The Geographic List’, pp. 126 and 132–4.Google Scholar

24 ‘Curiosity questions me about that very often in this world; eager, it proceeds, disturbs the mind.’

25 ‘Curiosity about that matter has disturbed me for fifty years, by day and by night.’

26 ‘I sought further what the nature of the Pater nosier was, in regard to mind or power, strength’…'

27 See below, p. 147, n. 37.

28 The manuscript reading ðara ðe man man age (468b) is problematic. Menner emends to ðara ðe a manige, but I have preferred Dobbie's reading, ðara ðe man age (‘Of those who commit sin’); see Anglo-Saxon Minor Poems, pp. 169–70.Google Scholar

29 Poetical Dialogues, p. 107, note on line 20a.Google Scholar

30 ‘Indeed Chobar is either the name of a river or, actually, in accordance with an interpretation of it by which it is translated graue, “weighty”, it signifies the Tigris and Euphrates and all the great and most impressive rivers which are said to exist in the land of the Chaldeans.’ Commentarii in Hiezechielem Libri XIV, ed. Glorie, F., CCSL 75 (Turnhout, 1964), 5, lines 26–30.Google Scholar

31 Cf. Jerome's, wording, ‘omnia magna et grauissima flumina’.Google Scholar

32 Sol I: ‘I shall betake myself willingly onto the water's spine, to seek the Chaldeans beyond the Chobar watershed’; Sol II: ‘if you depart into the Mediterranean, to seek [your] homeland beyond the Chobar watershed’.

33 Shippey's, T. A. translation, Poems of Wisdom and Learning in Old English (Cambridge and Totowa, NJ, 1976), pp. 86103, at 87Google Scholar, recognizes the geographical separation, but errs in sending Saturn in the opposite direction, ‘I know, then, that if you go away across the river Chebor to the Mediterranean to look for your home …’

34 With the phrase on wateres bricg of Sol I, compare Beowulf 471b, ofer wateres hrycg, referring to a sailing in the Baltic.

35 ‘Having been driven out, he fled, therefore, and came by sailing to Italy, where he wandered for a long time’: Institutiones diuinae, l.xiii.6Google Scholar; Lactante, Institutions Divines, ed. Monat, P., Sources chrétiennes 326 (Paris, 1986), 144.Google Scholar See also l.xi.55 and l.xiv.12. Actually, Lactantius derived his account from Minucius Felix and the latter, in turn, from Origen, but given the relative inaccessibility of the latter two works, it seems likely that Lactantius was the immediate source. See Ogilvie, R. M., The Library of Lactantius (Oxford, 1978), p. 93.Google Scholar

36 If the manuscript reading Creca is emended to Creta, as plausibly suggested by O'Keeffe, O'Brien, ‘The Geographic List’, p. 135.Google Scholar

37 This passage from Lactantius was also used by Ælfric and Wulfstan in their homilies De faisis diis. See Homilies of Ælfric: A Supplementary Collection, ed. Pope, J. C., 2 vols., EETS os 259–60 (London, 19671968) II, 676712, at lines 104–12Google Scholar; and The Homilies of Wulfstan, ed. Bethurum, D. (Oxford, 1957), pp. 221–4, lines 39–47.Google ScholarPace Bethurum (p. 336)Google Scholar, Ælfric and Wulstan's knowledge of Saturn cannot have derived from Hrabanus Maurus's De universo, since the latter makes no mention of banishment from Crete.

38 ‘for behold, I shall support the Chaldeans, a bitter and swift nation … inspiring dread and terror’.

39 ‘they strove against the Lord's power; consequently, they did not complete that project’. See Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 131–2.Google Scholar

40 Ibid. pp. 51 and 121.

41 For example, the poet of the Old English Daniel, ed. Farrell, R. T., Daniel and Avarias (London, 1974)Google Scholar, characterizes Nabuchodonosor as breme (104a), mare and modig (105a) and egesful ylda bearnum (106a).

42 ‘Behold, I shall sustain Nabuchodonosor and the Chaldeans, a people most aggressive and swift whose strength and boldness to fight, almost all the Greeks … attest.’ ‘So great was the number of [their] captives and booty… … He also, that is, Nabuchodonosor, was possessed of such power and pride that he strove to overcome nature itself and to seize the most wealthy cides by means of the strength of his army’. “When he threw up his fortification and nothing could withstand his forces, then his spirit was turned to pride’: Commentarii in Abacuc prophetam, ed. Adriaen, M., S. Hieronymi Presbiteri Commentarii in Prophetas Minores, CCSL 76A (Turnhout, 1970), 585–6, lines 160–3, 182–9 and 198–200.Google Scholar

43 Another, oblique, reference to Genesis may be contained in Sol II 197–198a, ðæt ðu wille gilpan ðæt ðu hæbbe g(um)ena beam forcumen and forcyððed, where Solomon worries aloud that if he loses the debate, Saturn will return to his people boasting that he has defeated the children of men. The implication seems to be that Saturn and his people are not of the race of men, but giants. In the same passage Saturn refers to the Philistines as w(e)r-ðeodum (204b), and describes a poisoned land (208–15) that he, but no human being, has visited, in both cases implying that he belongs to an extra-human race. For the biblical basis of the giants, see Gen. VI. 2–4, which tells how the sons of the heavens (filii Dei) mated with the daughters of the earth (filias hominum) to produce a race of giants; and Gen. X.10, which identifies one of these giants as Nimrod, founder of Babylon and other cities in the land subsequendy occupied by the Chaldeans. See below, n. 78.

44 ‘long ago your people demonstrated that lesson: they strove against the Lord's power; consequently, they did not complete that project (sc. of the Tower)’. For the identification of the Genesis source, but not its significance, see Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 131–2.Google Scholar

45 ‘The land of Sennaar is the location of Babylon where the plain of Dura was and the tower [of Babel] which those people who had migrated from the east attempted to build up to the sky’: Commentarii in Daniekm Libri III, ed. Glorie, F., CCSL 75A (Turnhout, 1964), 778, line 28.Google Scholar

46 ‘And at the same time it should be noted, according to the anagogical interpretation, that the king of Babylon was not able to take away all of God's vessels … but only part of the vessels of God's temple, which are to be understood as the dogmas of truth. For if you peruse all the books of the philosophers you will inevitably find in them some part of God's vessels … But because they [sc. the Chaldeans] join falsehood with truth and squander the good of nature with many evils, therefore they are recorded as having taken part of God's vessels, but not all the vessels complete and integral’. Commentarii in Danieiem, ed. Glorie, , p. 778, lines 30–41.Google Scholar

47 ‘indeed usage and ordinary speech uses for “sorcerers” the term magi, who are regarded [however] quite differently among their own people, because they are the philosophers of the Chaldeans; and even the kings and the leaders of that same people do everything to acquire knowledge of this skill. From which it came about that on the birth of Christ the Saviour they first discovered his place of origin, and journeying to holy Bethlehem they worshipped the boy, having been shown the way by a star overhead’: Commentarii in Danielem, ed. Glorie, , p. 784, lines 164–71.Google Scholar

48 Sancti Hieronymi Epistulae I, ed. Hilberg, I., CSEL 54 (Vienna, 1910), 443–5.Google Scholar

49 See Herren, M., ‘Wozu diente die Fälschung der Kosmographie des Aethicus’, Lateinische Kultur im VIII. Jahrhundert Traube-Gedenkschnft, ed. Lehner, A. and Berschin, W. (St Ottilien, 1989), pp. 145–59, esp. 156.Google Scholar A new edition is now available: Die Kosmographie des Aethicus, ed. Prinz, O., MGH, Quellen zur Geistesgeschichte des Mittelalters 14 (Munich, 1993).Google Scholar

50 See O'Keeffe, O'Brien, ‘The Geographic List’, pp. 128–41.Google Scholar

51 It even has a section entitled ‘De Gentibus, quae Vetus Testamentum non habent [sic]’, ed. Prinz, , Kosmographie, p. 117.Google Scholar

52 In Alfred's Wessex, thirty pounds of refined gold would have purchased the wergild of fifteen men of the highest social status. See Keynes, S. and Lapidge, M., Alfred the Great: Asser's Life of King Alfred and Other Contemporary Sources (Harmondsworth, 1983), pp. 311–12 (n. 2).Google Scholar

53 Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 34 and 1620.Google Scholar

54 As first recognized by Sweet, H., ‘Collation of the Poetical Salomon and Saturn with the MS.’, Anglia 1 (1878), 150–4, at 152–3.Google Scholar Having previously edited Alfred's translation of the Regula pastoralis from two early West Saxon copies, Sweet was in a good position to recognize the spelling similarities.

55 Of different origins; see Campbell, A., Old English Grammar (corr. ed., Oxford, 1977), §299.Google Scholar

56 In line references to text of Sol I shared by the two manuscripts, readings particular to CCCC 422 are identified by ‘A’, and those particular to CCCC 41 by ‘B’.

57 Campbell, , Old English Grammar, §300.Google Scholar

58 Ibid. §296.

59 Ibid. §60.

60 See Brunner, K., Altenglische Grammatik nach der angelsächsischen Grammatik von Eduard Sievers, 3rd ed. (Tübingen, 1965)CrossRefGoogle Scholar, §§196.1 and 201.6. The Hatton scribe uses this spelling no less than 192 times, as against only six occurrences in the other early West Saxon manuscript of CP, British Library, Cotton Tiberius B. xi (as preserved in a transcript, Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 53). See Cosijn, P. J., Altivestsächsische Grammatik, 2 vols. (The Hague, 18831886) I, 194 (§146).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

61 Poetical Dialogues, p. 17.Google Scholar

62 Ibid. pp. 20–1. The list of eight words given there was reduced to the present four in a later article, The Vocabulary of the Old English Poems on Judgement Day’, PMLA 62 (1947), 583–97, at 586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

63 In Studies in the History of Old English Literature (Oxford, 1953), pp. 119–39, at 130.Google Scholar

64 Though Sisam was not willing to conclude that the dialogue poems were originally West Saxon. See now Fulk, R. D., A History of Old English Meter (Philadelphia, PA, 1992), pp. 328–9 (§359), who questions Sisam's evidence.Google Scholar

65 Schabram, H., Superbia: Studien zim altenglischen Wortschatz Teil I (Munich, 1965), pp. 126–7Google Scholar, notes in Sol II 442, an occurrence of early West Saxon ofermod (where other dialects and Old English poetry generally use oferhygd), but would explain it as an intrusion by a late Southern English scribe.

66 Including early West Saxon spellings in the Prose Dialogue; see Sisam's, K. review of Menner's Poetical Dialogues in MÆ 13 (1944), 2836, at 34.Google Scholar

67 ‘concerning the reflections and doubts of his mind, how his intellect answered his mind, when the latter was in doubt about something, or desired to know about something that it previously was unable to perceive clearly’ (Solil 2, 1418).Google Scholar Quotations from König Alfreds des Grossen Bearbeitung der Soliloquien des Augustinus, ed. Endter, W., Bibliothek der angelsächsischen Prosa 11 (Hamburg, 1922).Google Scholar In Bo the relationship between the characters is more complicated; see Otten, K., König Alfreds Boethius, Studien zur englischen Philologie ns 3 (Tubingen, 1964), 165–73, esp. 167 and n. 24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

68 ‘I concede that I have been very fairly outwitted and that I am always much happier when you outwit me with such arguments than I ever was when I outwitted another man’ (Solil 62, 25–8).Google Scholar

69 ‘Nevertheless, he who had come on a journey, travelled from afar, was happy; his spirit had never before rejoiced.’

70 Sol II 407b, on fæder geardas; Bo 81, 68Google Scholar, Þu gebunde Þæt fyr mid swiðe unanbindendlicum racentum, Þæt hit ne mæg cuman to his agenum earde, Þæt is to Þam mæstan fyre ðe ofer us is, Þylæs hit forlæte Þa eorðan (‘You have bound that fire with the most indissoluble fetters, lest it leave the earth, so that it is not able to come to its proper home, that is, to the superior fire that resides above us’); cf. also Bo 92, 18 and 136, 13.Google Scholar

71 Sol II 411–15Google Scholar lists birds, fish, stones, branches, mountains and even water as containing fire; Bo 81, 46, instances stones and water.Google Scholar

72 Bo 81, 46Google Scholar, Swa is eac Þar fyr on ðam stanum and on ðam wætere, swiðe earfoðhawe, ac hit is Þeah Þara (‘So also in that instance fire is very difficult to perceive in stones and water, yet it is a part of them’); Sol II 409–10Google Scholar, Hit bið eallenga eorl[e] to gesihðe/ðam ðe gedælan can Dryhtnes ðecelan. Menner's translation of the latter, Poetical Dialogues, p. 138Google Scholar, ‘it is wholly visible to the hero who can share in the Lord's light’, misses the contextual meaning of gedælan. Translate: ‘It is altogether visible to the nobleman, to him [only] who is able to discern the Lord's light’. None of this matter is present in De consolations Philosophiae, ed. Bieler, L., CCSL 94 (Turnhout, 1957), III, m.ix, lines 11–12 (p. 52)Google Scholar, which merely states that God prevents ‘the purer fire from flying up through the air’ (‘ne purior ignis/euolet’). Ideas similar to those shared by Alfred's Bo and Sol II are found in later Boethian commentaries; see, for example, the relevant scholia in Trier, Stadtbibliothek, 1093 (Echternach, s. x), ‘ignis hanc naturanti habeat ut altiora semper petat … ut quo naturaliter tendit i. ad altiora ubi propriam sedem habet’. I am grateful to Dr Joseph Wittig for supplying me with the text of his forthcoming edition of these scholia.

73 In Sol II 384–89Google Scholar, Saturn asks why water cannot remain still, Ac forhwam winneð ðis wæter geond woroldrice/…. Ne mot on dæg restan,/neahtes neðeð. … Ic wihte ne cann forhwan se stream ne mot stillan neahtes' (‘But why does this water force its way forward through the world. … It is not allowed to stay still during the day, and it ventures forth at night.… I am by no means able to understand why that stream is not allowed to stay still at night’). Cf. Bo 53, 38Google Scholar, … swa swa eall wætru cumað of ðare sæ, and eft cumað ealle to ðære sæ? Nis nan to ðæs lytel æwylm Þat he Þa sæ ne gesece; and eft of ðære sæ he gelent in on Þa eorðan, and swa he bið smugende geond Þa eorðan oð he eft cymð to ðam ilcan æwelme Þe he ær ut fleow, and swa eft to Þære sæ (‘… justas all waters proceed from the sea and afterwards all return to the sea? No spring is too small to seek the sea; and again it arrives from the sea into the earth; and so it goes creeping through the earth until it comes again to the same spring from which it emerged; and so again to the sea’).

74 Directly in Bo 49, 22–3Google Scholar, Se ilca forwyrnð Þæræ sæ Þæt heo ne mot Þone Þeorscwold oferstæppan Þare eorÞan (‘That same power [sc. ‘Godes miht’] restrains the sea so that it is not permitted to overstep the threshold of the earth’); indirectly in Sol II 314–17Google Scholar, when Saturn describes what will happen when God does relax his control of the sea on Judgement Day, Sona bið gesiene siððan flowan mot yð ofer call lond, ne wile heo awa ðæs siðes geswican sioððan hire seæl cymeð ðæt heo domes dæges dyn gehiere.

(‘That will become immediately obvious after the flood is allowed to flow over all the earth. It will never be willing to desist from its course once the moment comes to it that it hears the tumult of Judgement Day.’) Contrast De consolatione II, m.8, lines 9–12 (ed. Bieler, , p. 36Google Scholar), ‘ut fluctus auidum mare/certo fine coherceat/ne terris liceat uagis/latos tendere terminos’, where the controlling agent is Amor.

75 Sol II 346348aGoogle Scholar, Ne mæg jyres feng ne forstes cile,/snaw ne sunne somod eardian/aldor geæfnan (‘Neither the grip of fire and the chill of frost, nor sun and snow can live, endure life together’).

76 Bo 37, 1721Google Scholar, Hu ne wast Þu Þæt hit nis nauht gecynde ne nauht gewunelic Þæt ænig wiðerweard Þing bion gemenged wið oðrum wiðerweardum, oððe ænige geferrædenne wið habban? Ac seo gecynd hit onscunað Þæt hi ne magon weorðan togædere gemenged, Þe ma ðe Þæt good and Þæt yfel magon ætgædere bion (‘Don't you know that it is not at all natural or customary that any opposite be mixed or have any intercourse with another opposite? On the contrary, nature shuns their mingling. All the more reason then that good and evil cannot be joined together’). By contrast, De consolatione II, 6, 36–8Google Scholar (Bieler, 30) restricts its application to the incompatibility of true honour with wickedness, ‘si ipsis dignitatibus ac potestatibus inesset aliquid naturalis ac proprii boni, numquam pessimis prouerirent’. Other topics shared by Sol II and Bo are: (1) God's tolerance of evil people; a guiding theme in Bo, it is discussed in Sol II 350Google Scholar, forhwon ðonne leofað se wyrsa leng?; (2) how to counter the effects of hostile Fate; Sol I 146–69Google Scholar recommends the Pater noster, Sol II 430–3Google Scholar suggests a combination of intelligence, the help of friends, and the Holy Spirit to moderate its blows; and Bo 138, 1518Google Scholar, advises man to be philosophical. Both condemn the man who indulges in complaining about his fate; Bo 67, 27–9Google Scholar, he sceal tiligan ærest Þæt he… ado of his mode ungerisenlice jmbhogan, and forlæte Þa seofunga his eormÞa (‘he ought first to strive … to remove from his mind misguided anxieties and leave behind the lamenting of his sorrows’) and Sol II 342–3, Unlæde bið and ormod se ðe a wile / geomrian on gihðe (‘Wretched and spiritless is die one who persistently wishes to indulge in anxiety’).Google Scholar

77 ‘You have read’, she said, ‘in the fables how the Giants assaulted heaven; but the benign power overthrew them also, as was only proper’ (ed. Bieler, , p. 61).Google Scholar

78 See Frankis, P. J., ‘The Thematic Significance of enta geweorc and related Imagery in The Wanderer’, ASE 2 (1973), 253–69, at 261–3Google Scholar; and Grathwohl, E. R., ‘In fabulis gigantas: a Study of Sources for a Digression in King Alfred's Boethius’ (unpubl. MA dissertation, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1981).Google Scholar

79 Frankis, , ‘The Thematic Significance’, pp. 263–4Google Scholar, regards Alfred's Deira as ‘a strikingly Anglicized form of the biblical Dura’, a deliberate attempt to correlate Nimrod's Babel with contemporary pagan Scandinavian settlements in Northumbria.

80 Commentarii in Danielem, ed. Glorie, , p. 798, line 473.Google Scholar Conceivably, Alfred was influenced in his choice of this reading by the Old English homonym Deira, the Northumbrian territory which figures in Bede's Historia ecclesiastica and in the anonymous Whitby Life of Gregory, and was led to identify Deira as a people, in accordance with the Anglo-Saxon practice of equating a kingdom with its ruling tribe.

81 See above, p. 150.

82 Bo 99, 1720Google Scholar, Swa gebyreð ælcum Þara Þe winð wið ðæm godcundan anwalde; ne gewyxð him nan weorðscipe on ðæm, ac wyrð se gewanod Þe hi ær hæfdon (‘So it happens to all those who struggle against divine power; they do not accrue any honour thereby; rather, the honour which they possessed before is lessened’); Sol II 318–20Google Scholar, Wa bið ðonne ðissum modgum monnum. … leo ðæt ðine leode gecyððon:/ wunnon hie wið Dryhtnes miehtum; forðan hie ðæt worc ne gedegdon (‘Suffering will then be the lot of these arrogant men. … Long ago your people bore witness to the same message: they strove against the Lord's power; consequendy, they did not complete that project’).

83 Indeed, it could be argued that in this milieu originated the name and identity of Saturn as found in the dialogues. By reinterpreting the classical legend of Jove and the giants in the light of the Genesis story, Alfred, in effect, linked Saturn (one of the main characters of the legend) with the story of the Tower of Babel. The main objection, of course, is that Saturn was on the side of the gods against the giants, though an exact correspondence of roles is hardly to be expected here. Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 107–8Google Scholar, and O'Keeffe, O'Brien, ‘The Geographic List’, p. 137 and n. 66Google Scholar, attempt to explain Saturn's Chaldean identity by reference to Isidore, , Etymologiae VIII.xi.23Google Scholar, which identifies Ninus, the first king of the Assyrians, with Saturn. However, despite the geographical proximity of Assyrians and Chaldeans, Isidore had no doubt that they were different peoples; see, for example, Etym. IX.ii.3Google Scholar, ‘Assur, a quo Assyriorum pullulavit Imperium … Arphaxat, a quo gens Chaldaeorum exorta est’ (‘Assur from whom the empire of the Assyrians sprung. … Arphaxat from whom the race of the Chaldeans originated’). In any case, Sol II 319bGoogle Scholar implies, in its use of the temporal adverb ieo (‘Of old’), that Saturn was a relatively late descendant in the genealogy of his people, the Chaldeans, not the progenitor envisaged by Isidore.

84 For some examples, see Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 3742.Google Scholar

85 Gebed occurs once, in Sol I 43.Google Scholar

86 See Gretsch, M., ‘Der liturgische Wortschatz in Æthelwolds Übersetzung der Benediktinerregel und sprachliche Normierung in spätaltenglischer Zeh’, Anglia 111 (1993), 310–54, at 344–8Google Scholar, who notes (p. 344) that cantic is rare in texts from before the mid-tenth century. The alternative term is lofsang.

87 Quotations from Menner's edition, ‘The Prose Dialogue of MS A’, in Poetical Dialogues, appendix (pp. 168–71)Google Scholar, identified by page and line.

88 See Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, pp. 41–2.Google Scholar For example, of the four prayers to be sung in Charm no. 27 (Angle-Saxon Magic, ed. Storms, G. (The Hague, 1948))CrossRefGoogle Scholar, ‘Sing Þonne Credo and Pater noster and Þis leof: Beati immaculati Þone sealm, mid ad dominum Þam xii gebed sealmum’, it is significant that the final two are identified as psalms, but no generic identification is given to either the Credo or Pater as possible canticles.

89 See Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (Leipzig, 19681981) IX.2, 971, s.v., II.B.1bGoogle Scholar; Niermeyer, J. F., Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus (Leiden, 1976), p. 748, s.v., 4Google Scholar; Blatt, F. and Lefèvre, Y., Novum Glossarium Mediae Latinitatis, O (Copenhagen, 1983), s.v., III.C.2.Google Scholar

90 Ed. Levison, W., MGH, SS rer. Merov. 5 (1910), 583606, at 597, line 10.Google Scholar

91 Of the seventeen occurrences of organ listed in A Microfiche Concordance to Old English, ed. Healey, A. diP. and Venezky, R. L. (Toronto, 1980)Google Scholar, only the present three from the dialogues and (probably) the example quoted below (p. 160, n. 93) have this specialized meaning.

92 There are also two instances of nominative plural organa, perhaps modelled on the i–stem inflexion.

93 Bosworth, J. and Toller, T. N., An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (Oxford, 18921898), p. 765aGoogle Scholar, s.v. organ-organes, propose as a third example the following quotation from an anomymous homily, ‘ac Þær is áá singalic organa sweg Þe from englum 7 heah-englum on Þæs hehstan Cyninges gesihðe bið sungen’, from Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, ed. Thorpe, B., 2 vols. (London, 1840) II, 400 [= p. 469 of the 1840 folio edition]Google Scholar; see also Bately, J., Anonymous Old English Homilies: A Preliminary Bibliography of Source Studies (Binghamton, NY, 1993), p. 50.Google Scholar They were probably influenced by Thorpe's translation: ‘but there is ever constant sound of organs, which are played by angels and archangels in the sight of the highest King’. However, since the reference almost certainly is to Rev. V.9–13, which describes the myriads of angels who surround the throne of the Lamb, forever singing ‘a new canticle’ (novum canticum), it is more likely that organa (sweg) refers to this angelic canticle and, consequently, is singular, a reading which accords well in number with its defining adjectival clause, Þe… bið sungen. Perhaps organa is a copyist's error for organa; in any case it does not belong to the a–stem declension. The form se organan of Sol I B53a, where A53a has se organ, may reflect contamination by the dominant weak inflection.

94 See Mearns, J., The Canticles of the Western Church (Cambridge, 1916), pp. 62–7.Google Scholar

95 See O'Neill, P. P., ‘Latin Learning at Winchester in the Early Eleventh Century: the Evidence of the Lambeth Psalter’, ASE 20 (1991), 143–66, at 149–50.Google Scholar

96 For evidence that the exemplar of this manuscript (CCCC 422) was itself a copy, see Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, p. 3Google Scholar, and Page, R. I., ‘A Note on the Text of MS CCCC 422 (Solomon and Saturn)’, 34 (1965), 36–9, at 38.Google Scholar

97 They are printed in Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents relating to Great Britain and Ireland, ed. Haddan, A. W. and Stubbs, W., 3 vols. (Oxford, 1871) III, 527659.Google Scholar

98 Dumville, D. N., Wessex and England from Alfred to Edgar (Woodbridge, 1992), p. 162.Google Scholar

99 For what it is worth as an isolated witness, the Junius Psalter (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Junius 27), written probably in the 920s (see Dumville, , Wessex and England, p. 106Google Scholar) presents a very conservative text of the Roman psalter. Unfortunately, the final gathering, which presumably contained the canticles, is now lost.

100 Councils and Synods with other Documents relating to the English Church, ed. Whitelock, D. et al. , 2 vols. (Oxford, 19641981) I, 712, at 8, 10 and 12Google Scholar, respectively. For an English translation, see Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, pp. 26–7.Google Scholar

101 As argued by Corrêa, A., The Durham Collectar, HBS 107 (London, 1992), 121–2.Google Scholar

102 See Keynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, p. 214, n. 26Google Scholar; and Lapidge, M., Anglo-Saxon Litanies of the Saints, HBS 106 (London, 1991), 65.Google Scholar But this tempting scenario is rejected by Dumville, D. N., English Caroline Script and Monastic History: Studies in Benedictinism, A.D. 950–1030 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1993), p. 131, n. 91Google Scholar, who finds it implausible ‘that Count Achadeus, having no doubt paid handsomely for the book's creation, would have been content to see it taken across the sea a year later’. On the same grounds one might argue that Achadeus could have been convinced to part with it for an equally handsome recompense.

103 The date of the addition is defined on the one hand by the commemoration of Alfred's widow, Ealhswith, who died in December 902, and on the other hand by the rather old-fashioned, set Insular script. See Lapidge, , Anglo-Saxon Litanies, pp. 1325 and 70–1Google Scholar; and Dumville, D. N., Wessex and England, p. 75 and n. 93Google Scholar, and English Square Minuscule Script: the Background and Earliest Phases’, ASE 16 (1987), 147–79, at 161.Google Scholar See also the discussion by Deshman, R., above, pp. 109–38.Google Scholar

104 Asser's Life of King Alfred, ed. Stevenson, W. H. (Oxford, 1904, repr. 1959), p. 63.Google ScholarKeynes, and Lapidge, , Alfred the Great, p. 93Google Scholar, translate: ‘he [Alfred] sent messengers across the sea to Gaul to seek instructors. From there, he summoned Grimbald, a priest and monk and a very venerable man, an excellent chanter, extremely learned in every kind of ecclesiastical doctrine and in the Holy Scriptures.…’

105 Asser's Life of King Alfred, p. 24Google Scholar, lines 1–3 (trans. Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 75Google Scholar, ‘After this he learned the “daily round”, that is, the services of the hours, and then certain psalms and many prayers’). Likewise p. 76, lines 12–14, ‘Divina quoque ministeria et missam scilicet cotidie audire, psalmos quosdam et orationes et horas diurnas et nocturnas celebrare…’ (Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 91Google Scholar, ‘He was also in the invariable habit of listening daily to divine services and Mass, and of participating in certain psalms and prayers and in the day-time and night-time offices …’); and p. 88, lines 6–9, ‘subito ostendens libellum, quern in sinum suum sedulo portabat, in quo diurnus cursus et psalmi quidam atque orationes quaedam, quas ille in iuven-tute sua legerat, scripti habebantur…’ (Keynes, and Lapidge, , p. 99Google Scholar, ‘he suddenly showed me a little book which he constandy carried on his person, and in which were written the day-time offices and some psalms and certain prayers which he had learned in his youth’).

106 Details are provided in my forthcoming edition of Alfred's translation of the first fifty psalms, to be published by the Medieval Academy of America.

107 Likewise PS. XXIV.17, tobræd and gemanigfealdod combining Ro. dilatatae ana Ga. multiplicatae.

108 Menner, , Poetical Dialogues, p. 9Google Scholar, noting that there is no visual break in CCCC 422 between Soli and the succeeding Prose Dialogue, considered (and rejected) the possibility that ‘the poem was a partial versification of the first portion of a longer prose piece’, of which the present Prose Dialogue represents the remainder. See now Wright, , The Irish Tradition, p. 234Google Scholar, who argues that the two pieces ‘may well be translations of two parts of the same Latin source, and, if so, are probably by the same author’. His case would be greatly strengthened if that putative Latin source were discovered.

109 See Sol II 171172aGoogle Scholar, modgleawe men, … gewesan ymbe hira wisdom (‘wise men … debating each one's wisdom’).

110 As against O'Keeffe's, O'Brien claim, Visible Song, p. 70Google Scholar, that the ‘central tension of Solomon and Saturn I lies in the opposition of speaking and writing both as modes of discourse and as means to power’.

111 See Kretzschmar, W. A., ‘Adaptation and anweald in the Old English Orosius’, ASE 16 (1987), 127–45.Google Scholar

112 ‘Saturn said: Lo! I have enjoyed the books of all foreign lands, by means of skill in letters, have unlocked the knowledge of Libya and Greece; likewise also the historia of the kingdom of India. The commentators have guided me to narratives, faithfully collected in that great book……hard like a sword, such as I was never able to find in all those ancient writings. I sought further what was the nature of the Pater noster, adorned with palm-branches, with regard to mind or power, strength or possessions or nobility’.

113 What Orosius calls the ‘Triquadrum’ of Africa, Europe and Asia; cf. The Old English Orosius, ed. Bately, J., EETS ss 6 (London, 1980), 8, lines 11–14Google Scholar, Ure ieldran ealne Þisne ymbhwyrft Þises mid-dangeardes … on Þreo todældon … Asiam 7 Europem 7 Affricum (‘Our ancestors divided the full expanse of this earth … into three parts … Asia and Europe and Africa’).

114 See Förster, M., ‘Die liturgische Bedeutung von ae. trabt’, Beiblatt Zur Anglia 53 (1942), 180–4Google Scholar; and Gneuss, H., ‘Linguistic Borrowing and Old English Lexicography: Old English Terms for the Books of the Liturgy’, Problems of Old English Lexicography, ed. Bammesberger, A., Eichstätter Beiträge, Abteilung Sprache und Literatur 15 (Regensburg, 1985), 107–29, at 116.Google Scholar

115 See the numerous entries under tr(e)aht- in A Microfiche Concordance to Old English.

116 See especially the prologue to Luke's Gospel (Luke I.1–2), multi conati sunt ordinare narrationem quae in nobis conpletae sunt rerum, sicut tradiderunt nobis qui ab initia ipsi viderunt.… (‘Many have attempted to present in order a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, according as they transmitted them to us, who were from the beginning eyewitnesses’); and the epilogue to John's Gospel (John XXI.24), hic est discipulus qui testimonium perhibet de his et scrip-sit baec et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius (‘This is the disciple who bears witness to these events and has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true’).

117 Poetical Dialogues, pp. 105–6.Google Scholar

118 On Meces as a ‘genitive of quality’, see Mitchell, B., Old English Syntax, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1985), §1292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar On the rare neuter inflexion of boc, see Sievers-Brunner, Altenglische Grammatik, §284, n. 4.

119 Compare ‘heardum mece’ glossing diraframea (from Aldhelm's De laudibus virginitatis) in Old English Glosses, chiefly Unpublished, ed. Napier, A. S., Anecdota Oxoniensia 4 (Oxford, 1900), 25 (nos. 890 and 891).Google Scholar

120 PL 77, col. 114B. Alfred's translation: ‘When a man has his sword by his side, then he controls his unlawful desires with the words of the sacred teachings.’

121 ‘O mighty one, bind now your sword over your thigh - that is the spiritual teaching which is contained in the Gospel, which is sharper than any sword.’ Alfred's translation reflects the influence of the Gallican psalter reading, super femur.

122 ‘A Note on the Text’, p. 37.Google Scholar

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