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In Ælfrics Words: Conversion, Vigilance And The Nation In Ælfrics Life Of Gregory The Great

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Chapter Summary

This chapter takes up questions of language, belief and identity prompted by critical analysis of the episode of Gregory and the Angles in its Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Latin reflexes in order to offer a more detailed interpretation of Ælfric's Life of St. Gregory the Great than has hitherto been attempted. In Life, Ælfric plays in English with Gregory's words and, in so doing, draws out the inner, moral dimension of the ever-vigilant Gregory whose very name records his watchfulness. The name of Gregory, Ælfric reminds us, means vigilant or watchful: the vigilant Pope watches out for the opportunity to convert and watches over nations. The chapter engages not only with the centrality of the word in Ælfric's writings but also with other issues relevant to contemporary Ælfric studies. It examines what might be understood as Ælfric's broader understanding of his own religious history, using the Life as its evidence.

Keywords: Ælfric; conversion; Life of St. Gregory the Great; nations; vigilance



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