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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 1, 2011

The Old English Orosius and its Sources

M. R. Godden
From the journal


The long list of classical sources that were apparently used for the Old English version of Orosius's History of the World, some time around the year 900, raises important questions. Many of the sources are otherwise unknown in Anglo-Saxon England, and the period around 900 is thought to have been a low point in knowledge of Latin and of Latin literature in England. The generally low estimation of the translator's knowledge and abilities in modern studies adds to the anomaly. The article argues that detailed comparison with glossed copies of Orosius, and analysis of glossaries drawn from lost copies, indicates that the translator drew primarily on a heavily glossed copy of Orosius rather than classical sources, and that that copy is likely to have come from the East Frankish kingdom late in the ninth century. At the same time, the translator's skill and imagination in using the resources available to him and adapting Orosius's history to his own purposes suggests a more positive view of his abilities.

Published Online: 2011-December
Published in Print: 2011-December