being, apparently, unknown to the poet. In dramatic incident and in patriotic fervor this poem is unsurpassed in Anglo-Saxon literature ; it also furnishes a graphic and effective picture of a lord and his followers united by the spirit of the comitatus.
The brave ealdorman Brihtnoth was also distinguished as a liberal patron of monastic foundations, especially of Ely and Ramsey. After his fall at Maldon, the enemy having carried off his head as a trophy, his body was taken to Ely and there buried, with a ball of wax to supply the loss of the head. His widow Æthelflæd is said to have wrought his deeds in tapestry.
The only manuscript copy of this poem (Cotton Otho, A. xii.) was destroyed by fire in 1731, but Hearne had transcribed and published it in 1726 (Johannis Glastoniensis Chronica, Oxford). The text is incomplete both at the beginning and at the end, but it is probable that not more than a few lines have thus been lost.
149, 2. — hwæne here means ‘a certain one,’ though it has wrongly been supposed to be equivalent to gehwilcne, ‘each’ (cf. 153, 15).
149, 4. — hicgan tō handum etc., ‘to be active and of good courage’ (cf. 149, 13–14, and the Finnsburg Fragment, l. 10 f.).
149, 5. — Offan mǣg, the ‘kinsman of Offa,’ who is the first to respond to the call of his lord; Offa himself is also mentioned in the poem.
149, 6. — sē eorl, i.e. Brihtnoth himself, to whom alone the poet applies the title eorl. — yrhðo, ‘cowardice’ on the part of his men; some editors prefer to read yrmðo, ‘dishonor’ at the hands of the invaders.
149, 7. — hē lēt him þā of handon etc. hē (i.e. Offan mǣg) abandons the sport of fowling with his favorite ('lēofne) hawk to join the campaign.
149, 11. — Ēadrīc, another faithful retainer. Ettmūller, erroneously, would introduce the line by ac (for ēac) and identify Ēadrīc with Offan mǣg.
149, 12–13. — forð beran gār tō gūþe, ‘to go armed to war.’ beran is frequent in expressions of military motion; cf. 151, 10, 15; 152, 16, etc.
150, 7. — þǣr hē on ōfre stōd. hē refers to ār.
150, 19. — ūs. Reflexive dative with a verb of motion.150, 25. — hī willað ēow tō gafole gāras syllan. There is a close parallelism to this reply in Marlowe’s Jew of Malta, Act II. sc. 2: