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Legifer, Dux, Scriptor

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Chapter Summary

This chapter determines whether Anglo-Saxon literature in both its Anglo-Latin and Old English manifestations confirms the heroism Moses possesses on account of sharing a poetic formula with both Beowulf and God. It begins with the best-known trio of Anglo-Latin writing, namely Aldhelm, Bede, and Alcuin. The chapter briefly examines references to Moses in the Old English poetic corpus, and ends with the Old English Exodus. For the Anglo-Saxons, dux does not just mean "leader", but is also a title of the nobility, equivalent to a duke or, militarily speaking, a general. The term legifer is less problematic, and literally refers to Moses as "the carrier of the law", since he carried the tablets from the top of Mt. Sinai. Moses at best can bathe in the heroism reflected from God and at worst stand idly by while the true hero of the poem defeats the Egyptians and saves the Israelites.

Keywords: Alcuin; Aldhelm; Anglo-Saxon literature; Bede; Beowulf; Egyptians; Israelites; legifer; Moses; Old English Exodus



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