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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book, which analyses Anglo-Saxon prognostics. The chapter deals with study of the genre of the prognostics and its place in Anglo-Saxon culture, and provides an edition of all prognostics in Old English and a representative range in Latin. It describes the working principle behind the genres, and focuses on their history and text transmission. The book presents number of interesting discoveries: fivefold division of manuscript contexts; correlation between language and manuscript context, and language and prognostic genre; an analysis of a vogue in vernacular prognostics in the period of the Benedictine Reform; evidence that the status of prognostics changed in the course of time; ample indication that prognostics were not always held in strong opposition to orthodox Christianity, as some contemporaries, such as Ælfric. It also testifies to uniquely English phenomenon of gathering prognostics into separate sections, first attested in the eleventh century.

Keywords: Anglo-Saxon prognostics; Latin sources; vernacular prognostics



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