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Ælfric And The Alfredian Precedents

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Chapter Summary

When Ælfric launched his earliest writings on the Anglo-Saxon world, he linked them to the earlier translations by King Alfred, which he praised and recommended in contrast to the dangerous vernacular writings of others. This chapter discusses the preface in which Ælfric first mentioned the Alfredian precedent, and see what sense one can make of it. He says nothing there about the motives for the Alfredian work, or its context, but a familiarity with the famous account which prefaced the Pastoral Care is suggested by Ælfric's preface to his Grammar. Ælfric's uses of the Pastoral Care, the Bede and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle indicate a writer so familiar with them that passages or sentences came easily to mind without thinking. It is the more extensive use of the Old English Boethius that gives a real insight into his views, and the differences between his writing and that attributed to the king.

Keywords: Ælfric; Alfredian precedent; Anglo-Saxon world; Boethius

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