Feminae: Medieval Women and Gender Index


  • Record Number: 9266
  • Author(s)/Creator(s): Menzer , Melinda J.
  • Contributor(s):
  • Title: I Have My Breast Sound in My Soul: Aelfrica's "Life of Saint Agatha" [Thirtieth International Congress on Medieval Studies, the Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, May 4-7, 1995. Thirtieth Symposium on the Sources of Anglo- Saxon Culture, co- sponsered by the Institute and CEMERS, Binghamton University. Session 170.]
  • Source: Old English Newsletter 28, 3 (Spring 1995):
  • Description:
  • Article Type: Conference Paper Abstract
  • Subject (See Also): Ælfric, Abbot of Eynsham Agatha, Martyr, Saint Hagiography Literature- Verse
  • Geographic Area: British Isles
  • Century: 11
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  • Abstract: In his "Lives of Saints," as always, AElfric is conscious of the potential accusation that he is introducing error into his works by translating them into English. In his defense, he tells us in his Latin preface that he has been very careful in his translating: "Nor am I able, in this translation, to render everything word for word, but I have at any rate carefully endeavoured to give exact sense for sense, just as I fInd it in the holy writing, by means of such simple and obvious language as may profit them that hear it" (Skeat's translation). Œlfric's method of translation sounds perfectly orthodox, following the teachings of Jerome. But when Œlfric claims that he is translating sense for sense, he is not telling the whole truth. In at least one of the saints' lives, the "Life of Saint Agatha," he makes choices in vocabulary that alter the meaning of the life. Translating two different Latin words with one Old English word, "breost," Œlfric tells a slightly different life of Saint Agatha, one that emphasizes the pagan governor's mistake in confusing the physical and the spiritual and that, paradoxically, de-emphasizes the importance of Agatha's body. By translating carefully but not giving "exact sense for sense," Œlfric plays with the dual meaning of the word "breost," turning the focus of the life to the difference between body and spirit [Reproduced by permission of Robert Schicler, the “Abstracts of Papers in Anglo-Saxon Studies” editor, and the editors of the “Old English Newsletter.”].
  • Author's Affiliation: University of Texas, Austin
  • Conference Info: - , -
  • Year of Publication: 1995.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN/ISBN: 00301973
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