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Neil's Books

Caxton's Malory: A New Edition of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Mort d'Arthur Based on the Pierpont Morgan Copy of William Caxton's Edition of 1485 - James William Spisak, James W. Spisak, William Matthews

This edition of Caxton's Malory was originally begun by William Matthews, who was a proponent of the Caxton print over the Winchester Manuscript, writing numerous essays on this subject, most of which are collected in the Arthurian Studies volume called The Malory Debate. After Matthews death, the project was taken over and completed by James Spisak.

The book comes in a limited edition two volume set with slipcase. The first volume is pretty straight forward and contains an edition of Caxton's Malory from the edition housed in the Pierpoint Morgan Library.

The second volume contains a study of Caxton and his handling of Malory's writings, over two hundred pages of textual notes and the text of the Lucius section from the Winchester Manuscript, plus a glossary. But best of all there's a dictionary of characters and place names that cover both Caxton's printed version and the Winchester Manuscript.

This is an ideal book for anyone wishing to do a comparative study of both the Caxton and Winchester versions of Malory's writings.

Kudrun - Marion E. Gibbs

This is a brilliant prose translation of the middle high German epic Kudrun. Often called the German Odyssey and always compared with the more popular Nibelungenlied. The poem is thought to have been composed as a reaction against the nihilistic and destructive world view of the Nibelungenlied, unlike Kriemhild the main female characters in this epic are viewed in a more peaceful and diplomatic light.

Similarities with the Nibelungenlied are evident throughout the poem. The Kudrun poet uses a similar metrical system to the Nibelungenlied, but the essential difference between the two poems is the last line of each stanza is identical with the others and does not contain the extra accented syllable characteristic of the Nibelungen metre. Characterisation and narrative themes are also similar to the Nibelungenlied. Characters such as Wate and and Hagen representing the older Germanic heroic tradition and characters such as Kudrun and Herwic representing the courtly chivalric tradition. Narrative themes that parallel the Nibelungenlied are Hagen's adventures on an other worldly island and the slaying of a Griffin, reminiscent of Siegfried's adventures in Nibelungenland and his slaying of the dragon. Wate is another character that is comparable with Hagen from the Nibelungenlied, both show loyalty, unflinching bravery and a knowledge of otherworldly matters.

The epic is seen to be composed in two different parts, again reminiscent of the Nibelungenlied. The first, the Hilde saga is thought to be the oldest, this theory was later reinforced by the finding of the fragments of the Yiddish epic Dukus Horant, which relates the same story of the bridal quest for Hilde. The epic is based on the old Germanic legend of the eternal battle of the Hjaðningavíg, the Norse tales of Hedin and Hogni and the much older references in the Old English Deor and Widsith. The second part is the story of Hilde's daughter Kudrun and is thought to be the original composition of the poems author or a christianisation of the eternal battle of the Hjaðningavíg. The whole story is based around traditional Germanic bridal quests and features the fearsome and unforgettable characters Hagen and the old Baltic sea giant Wate.

While comparisons with the Nibelungenlied abound, the Kudrunlied is a poem with its own artistic merits and deserves to have a wider audience. Hopefully this translation by Gibbs and Johnson will give English readers a chance to explore the German Odyssey for themselves. The translation is accompanied by an excellent introduction, bibliography and notes to guide the reader on their journey through this seafaring epic.

Beowulf Manuscript (Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library) - R. D. Fulk

The new Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library is published and designed by the same people that brought us the Loeb Classical Library and follows the same format by giving an introduction, text and translation of the text that each particular volume contains.

The first volume in the Old English series covers the Beowulf Manuscript, meaning it includes The Passion of Saint Christopher, The Wonders of the East, The Letter of Alexander the Great to Aristotle, and Judith, but also adds The Finnsburg Fragment. While Beowulf and the Finnsburg Fragment are relatively easy to find, maybe too easy to find these days, the rest have only been available in Andy Orchard's Pride Prodigies, all except for The Passion of Saint Christopher. This situation seems rather odd considering that Sisam and numerous other scholars have long stated that the Beowulf Manuscripts is a book about monsters, coupled with Fred C Robinson's call for Old English texts to be read within their manuscript context for a better understanding of their meaning, this edition seems to be long overdue.

For this edition and translation of Beowulf the editorial board have chosen R. D. Fulk, a scholar amply qualified for the job. The foundation Fulk's reputation as a leading Old English scholar were laid in the 90s with his History of Old English Meter and more recently his Revision of Klaeber's Beowulf and completion of Richard Hogg's Old English Grammar.

All texts, except for Beowulf and Finnsburg are newly edited for this volume by Fulk. Fulk states that "except for the diacritics been removed, the texts of Beowulf and The Fight at Finnsburg are practically identical to those found in Klaeber's Beowulf and The Fight at Finnsburg (fourth edition)" meaning the general reader can get a feel for the Old English text alongside a modern translation before splashing out on a fourth edition Klaeber. The translation could also be used in conjunction with Fulk's new Klaeber as an aid to translation and guide to syntax.

The translations do not attempt an artistic interpretation of the texts but are readable scholarly prose aimed at a wide readership and make the poem accessible to both the scholar and general reader alike. I'm not sure I agree with Fulk's translation of Scyld Scefing into Scyld, son of Scef and his forcing of apposition where there isn't any and think the name should be left untranslated. Especially seeing that, to my knowledge, the problem has never been solved as to whether Scefing is a patronymic or tribal name.

After my only major gripe, on to the good points. Fulk very wisely leaves the problematic break in the text within line 62 where the text "hyrde ic þæt [.] wæs Onelan cwen" blank and doesn't try to fill the gap with an assumptive Old English version of the Norse Yrsa from Hrolfs Saga or Saxo Grammaticus. Fulk also preserves appositive phrases such as "Hróðgár maþelode, helm Scyldinga" by translating them "Hrothgar made a speech, helm of Scyldings". Abrupt transitional ending are also preserved with no attempt by Fulk to smooth them out in order to make the poem more acceptable to a modern readership.

All in all, this is an excellent and long awaited text and translation of the entire Beowulf Manuscript by a leading Old English scholar that should be read by anyone interested in the subject.

Klaeber's Beowulf - Robert D. Fulk, Unknown, Robert E. Bjork, John D. Niles


This new fourth edition of Klaeber's Beowulf is one of the most important contributions to Old English scholarship in years. Robert Dennis Fulk, Robert E. Bjork and John D. Niles bring Frederick Klaeber's legendary edition of Beowulf thoroughly up to date for the 21st century. Every section of the original edition is revised and expanded to incorporate research on Beowulf since Klaeber's last revision in 1950.

The book now begins with a three page biography of Frederick Klaeber by Helen Damico. The original introduction remains with all Klaeber's original chapter divisions but is vastly expanded to include scholarship over the last sixty years and now incorporates the findings of important works on the poem such as Fred C Robinson's Beowulf and The Appositive Style and Andy Orchard's Pride and Prodigies. The original text is revised to allow for new findings in textual research, grammar, syntax and punctuation. The new editors retain Klaeber's moderate editorial principle and emend 414 verses as against Klaeber’s 406, 321 emendations remain the same as Klaeber's original. One of the main alterations is in the text of the Finnesburg Fragment, the new editors don't emend Næfre to Hnæf and also leave out Hickes version of the text.

One of the key attractions to the original were the huge commentary and supplementary materials that accompanied the text. The commentary and notes are still intact, but again are expanded. One of the best features of the new edition are the appendixes. In the original these contained a good selection of parallel material, mostly left untranslated in Old Norse and Latin. This material is now translated into English and also expanded. In the original edition Klaeber gave the texts of Waldere, Deor, Widsith and the Old High German Hildebrandslied. Sadly, the new edition omits Deor and Widsith but now adds an accompanying English translation to the texts of Waldere and the Hildebrandslied.

One issue that a few modern scholars had with Klaeber's Beowulf was in the glossary. Arguments that the glossary reflected Klaeber's training in 19th century German philological tradition and that some of his word definitions reflected this is taken account of in the new glossary, so we now have a revised glossary that reflects 21st century American philological views.

This new edition ensures that this text will continue to be the standard edition of Beowulf, used by both students and scholars as a basis for study, teaching and translation work. My only real gripe about this new edition is the shabby hardcover binding, which doesn't stand up to extensive use, scuffing and wearing really easy.

Beowulf and Lejre - John D. Niles

It has long been known that the seat of the Danish Scylding Dynasty was situated on the site of a Danish village called Lejre and that the kings of Lejre play a prominent part in the Old English Beowulf poem, Saxo Grammaticus and Hrolfs Saga Kraki. The first half of Beowulf contains an account of the heroes visit to Denmark to rid the Scylding kings hall, named Heorot, of the the predatory attacks of the monstrous Grendal. Modern scholarship situates Heorot at the site of Lejre, with recent archaeological investigations uncovering the remains of an Iron Age hall, burial mounds and strange standing stones.

The digs were mostly led by Danish archaeologist Tom Christensen who published a number of important papers on his finding. Unfortunately these papers were all published in Danish, making them unreadable by most Old English scholars, that is, up until now. The publication of this volume makes them available to the English speaking world alongside some new articles by Beowulf scholars that attempt to interpret the literary sources in the light of archaeological findings.

Essentially this volume is a long overdue interdisciplinary approach to the historical remains and literary remains that have grown up around the site of Lejre over the centuries that have followed its destruction. The collection is divided into five sections, two that deal with archaeology and one by prominent Beowulf and Scandinavian literary scholars. The fourth section collects and translates a number of medieval literary sources, including selections from the fragmentary Skjoldunga Saga and some other obscure Danish Chronicles. The collection is rounded off by translations of articles published by a number of Danish antiquarians that have shown interest in the site over the last few centuries.

Contributors to the volume include Tom Shippey, John D Niles, Marijane Osborn, Tom Christensen and David M. Wilson. The collection is accompanied by various archaeological diagrams, photos and full colour plates. The collection is edited by John D. Niles, who over the last couple of decades has published a couple of essential volumes on Beowulf studies and even taken a hand in editing the new fourth edition Klaeber's Beowulf.

I've had a copy of this book for a few years and constantly find myself having a reread of the essays. The sheer weight of information is staggering and one read is not enough. I would highly recommended it to anyone seeking a good understanding of Beowulf and the Scandinavian versions of the legends that centre around Lejre.

Legends of the Ring - Editor-Elizabeth Magee; Illustrator-Simon Brett

Elizabeth Magee is already well known to Wagner fans for her contribution to the Ring Companion and her excellent study of Wagner's source material in her Oxford monograph, Wagner and the Nibelungs. In this book Magee collects together in one volume, most of the medieval source material relating to the Nibelungen legends.

Magee divides the book into two parts. The first section is devoted to translations from Scandinavian sources, which include the Poetic Edda, Snorri Edda and the Volsunga Saga. Unfortunately the Folio Society use Jean Young's edition of the Prose Edda, unfortunate because Young didn't include any of the Skaldic verse in here edition and then Magee unwisely decided to also omit Snorri's important prologue. Again with Terry's translation of the Poetic Edda there's a few omissions like the prose section in Brot af Sigurðarkviðu, thankfully Magee does translate the prose section in her introduction. Certain other poems in the Poetic Edda have to be translated by Magee due to Terry's editing and omissions, which leads me to wonder if they should have used Larrington's edition of the Poetic Edda instead of Patricia Terry's.

Part two presents the German versions, which include the Nibelungenlied, Thidrekssaga af Bern (selections include the Niflunga Saga, Dietrichs Youth, Young Siegfried, Heldenschau and Walter and Hildegun), Das Lied vom Hurnen Seyfrid and Hans Sach's Der Hurnen Seufrid. Magee's translations of the Hurnen Seyfrid and Hans Sach's Nibelungen drama not only do a great service to Wagnerian studies but also to English speaking medievalists and folklorists who have long desired an English translation of the Hurnen Seyfrid. The selection of German material is again sadly incomplete and would've greatly benefited from the inclusion of the Nibelungenlied's epilogue, Diu Klage and the Rosengarten zu Worms, due to Wagner's reading of Siegfried's dragon fight description in this poem.

Nice features to the book include a character and place name glossary, a table that lists characters names in their parallel Scandinavian and German forms (ideal for the beginner) and then a section on suggestions for further reading. While I'm not a huge fan of unnecessary decorative illustrations in books, for those that are, the book is illustrated with sixteen wood engravings. The binding is in black leather with gold leaf decorations and lettering.

The translators of the various sections are;
Poetic Edda- Patricia Terry.
Snorri's Prose Edda- Jean Young.
Volsunga Saga-Ronald G Finch.
Nibelungenlied-Arthur Hatto.
Thidrekssaga af Bern-Edward R Haymes.
Das Lied vom Hernen Seyfrid-Elizabeth Magee.
Hans Sach's Der Hurnen Seufrid-Elizabeth Magee.

All the selections are supplied with excellent introductions by Magee that place these medieval works in the context of Wagner's Nibelungen opera. While i do have a few issues about completeness, this is still a great book which any Wagner fan cannot afford to ignore.

Saga of Thidrek of Bern (Garland Library of Medieval Literature) - Unknown, Edward R. Haymes

The Thidrekssaga af Bern is a Norwegian compilation of nearly every Germanic heroic legend that is known from the Heldenbuch poems and is thought to be a Norwegian translation or adaption of oral epics of Low German origin, which were written or translated at the court of king Haakon the fourth of Norway around the year 1250. The same court which produced the norse Arthurian adaptions and the Karlamagnus saga.


This collection revolves around the exploits of Dietrich Von Bern and his champions, which include Hildebrand, Wittich and Hieme. Included are stories such as Dietrichs struggle to regain his kingdom from Ermanaric, the tale of Valtari and Hildegunnr, Vadi and his son Velent/Volund the Smith, stories about Attila the Hun, Ermaniric's slaying of The Harlung brothers and the six bridal quest romances that the saga seems to be structured around.


Embedded within this huge saga are three sections on the youthful adventures of Siegfried-Sigurd and a large section known as the Niflunga Saga, these sections are thought to be based on older Nibelung-Volsung material that may have been used by the Nibelungenlied poet as source material. The author of the Volsunga Saga also copied an entire passage from this saga. Readers of epics such as Dietrichs Flucht, Die Rabenschlacht, Hildebrandslied and Alpharts Tod will also find much parallel material in this saga. 


While this book is primarily used by German scholars, the book can also be found lurking on the shelves of all serious readers of Old English heroic poetry. The parallel material to poems like Waldere, Deor and Widsith are amazing. The obscure section in Beowulf where the poet mentions Eomanric and Hama doesn't seem so strange after a reading of this saga. The saga also seems to preserve a version of the Wayland legend that is very similar to the version carved on the Franks casket. If the saga really does originate in the Low Countries, the implications that it may even preserve the stories in the form that they were known to the Anglo Saxons are fascinating.


While this saga will probably never be considered great literature, due to the almost childlike prose that it is written in, the small number of admirers may continue to grow with the publication of this excellent English translation. The translator does an excellent job in putting the confusing texts in order and also translates the final chapter from the Swedish Didrik Chronicle, which gives a different ending than the Norwegian version. There is also an introduction and a bibliography to further reading.c

Old English Syntax: 2 Volumes Volume I: Concord, the Parts of Speech, and the Sentence Volume II: Subordination, Independent Elements, and Element Order - Bruce Mitchell

Bruce Mitchell's two volume Old English Syntax was one of the most important publications in Anglo Saxon studies to be published in the twentieth century and ranks alongside Neil Ker's Catalogue and the Anglo Saxon Poetic Records in importance. 


After the initial struggle through the primers and readers or maybe Mitchell's own more user friendly Introduction or Guide to Old English, the sufficiently interested reader will move on to the standard but more difficult Old English Grammar by Alistair Campbell, which sadly, hardly touches the subject of syntax. Mitchell's Syntax nicely fills this gap and gives the reader the necessary tools to explore how the Anglo Saxons used their language and structured sentences in speech, prose and poetry. The first volume covers concord, parts of speech and the sentence, volume two covers subordination, independent elements and element order. 


Like all Clarendon Press releases, the book is extremely detailed and the reader will return to it again and again. Mitchell states that the bibliography is not complete and that he was working on a separate bibliographic volume. This volume was eventually published by Blackwells under the name of A Critical Bibliography of Old English Syntax, this volume provides an excellent companion piece for those who want to explore more works on Old English syntax.

The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise (Saga Heidreks Konungs Ins Vitra) - Christopher,  translated by Tolkien

The Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks is an Icelandic Fornaldarsaga from the 13th century that contains various Scandinavian traditions combined with a poem called Hlöðskviða which seems to preserve much older traditions based on events featuring battles between Goths and Huns in Migration Period Europe. Certain characters from Hlöðskviða also find parallels in the Old English Widsith.


The Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks tells the story of the mythical cursed sword (each time the sword is drawn from its scabbard it must kill a man) called Tyrfing and how it was forged by the Dwarves Dvalinn and Durin for king Svafrlami and how he lost it to the berserker Arngrim from Bolmsö who gave it to his son Angantyr. Angantyr died during a fight on Samsø against the Swedish hero Hjalmar, whose friend Orvar-Odd buried the cursed sword in a barrow together with Angantyr. In a particularly haunting section of the saga Angantyr's Valkyrie daughter, Valkyrie daughter, the shieldmaiden Hervor visits the barrow and retrieves the sword Tyrfing by summoning her dead father from the barrow to claim her inheritance. The the saga continues with her and her son Heidrek,  his banishment from his father's kingdom and adventures with the sword Tyrfing. Heidrek's adventures take him to Reidgotaland, where he marries the kings daughter and has a son named Angantyr. Eventually Heidrek becomes ruler of the Goths and defeats the Hunnish king Humle in battle  and captures his daughter Sifka, whom he raped. When Sifka becomes pregnant, she is sent back to her father's kingdom, where she has a son named Hlöd.


The saga now tells the story of how Angantyr inherits his father's kingdom in Gothland and how his stepbrother Hlöd with Hunnish backing arrives to claim half of the Gothic kingdom from his brother. Upon Angantyr's refusal of Hlöd's claim a huge battle ensues between Goths and Huns. The battle commences with an old and grizzled Gothic warrior named Gizur (Odin?) taunting the Huns. In the ensuing battle, Hervor, Angantyr's Valkyrie sister is slain by the invading Hunnish forces. The battle reaches its climatic conclusion with Hlöd's death at the hands of his half brother Angantyr.  The final section of the saga is taken up by a somewhat dry section that links the saga to Scandinavian history.


The last section of the saga that includes the Hlöðskviða has become something of scholarly preoccupation with numerous scholars trying to identify the poem with various battles from the Migration Period. Candidates have included everything from the Battle of Nedao to Attila's Battle on the Catalaunian Plains. In this edition Tolkien puts forward is theory that the events in the poem "contain legend and not history" and that "the matter of legend has roots, however much transformed by poets" also that "no actual event has been found in the meagrely recorded history of those times, and surely never will be." The inclusion of a section in the Old English Widsith that mentions Heidrek (Heathoric) together with his sons Angantyr (Incgentheow) and Hlöð (Hlith) is ample proof that the story was well known throughout the Germanic speaking areas of Europe in the Middle Ages.


Christopher Tolkien's edition of this saga is excellent and contains an informative introduction, the Norse text of the saga and an English translation on the opposing page. There's also a few useful appendices that include translations from the beginning of a variant manuscript of the saga and parallels to the work from  Örvar-Odds saga. Due to the Tolkien connection the original first edition of this book has become something of a collectors item and fetches high prices on the secondhand market, but the Official Tolkien Bookshop have recently released print on demand copies at a more reasonable price and are available to order on their site. Alternatively there's free downloadable pdf versions available from the Viking Societies online publications site.





 Battle of the Goths and Huns, extracted from The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise




The Battle Of The Goths And Huns 


Of old they said Humli

of Huns was ruler,

Gizur of the Gautar,

of Goths Agantyr,

Valdar the Danes ruled,

and the Valir Kjar,

Alrek the valiant

the English people.


Hlod, the son of King Heidrek, had been brought up in the halls 

of King Humli, his mother's father, and he was the most valiant of all

men, and the most beautiful in appearance, There was an old saying

at that time, that a man was born with weapons or horses; and the

explanation of this is that it was said of those weapons which were

being made at the time when the man was born, and so likewise with

beasts. sheep, oxen, or horses, which were born at the same time: all

this was gathered together in honour of men of noble birth, as is told

here concerning Hlod, the son of Heidrek:


In the Hun-kingdom

was Hlod's birthplace,

with sword and cutlass

and corslet hanging,

ring-adorned helmet

and harsh-edged sword,

horse well-broken

in the holy forest.


Now Hlod learnt of the death of his father, and learnt too that

Agantyr his brother had been made king over all the realm which

their father had held. Then Humli the king and Hlod resolved that

Hlod should go and demand his inheritance from Agantyr his brother,

using fair words at first, as is thus told:


Hlod rode from the east,

heir of Heidrek,

he came to the court

claiming his birhtright,

to Arheimar,

the homes of the Goths;

there drank Agantyr

arval for Heidrek.


And so Hlod came to Arheimar with a great following, as is told in 

this verse:


A man he found lingering

late in the open

by the high dwelling.

and hailed him thereafter:

Friend, now hasten

to the high dwelling,

demand of Agantyr

that with me he speak!


The man went in, up to the king's table, and hailed Agantyr with

fair words, and then he said:


Hlod is come here,

Heidrek's offspring,

your own brother,

for battle eager;

mighty this youth is

mounted on horseback;

king! he claims now

converse with you.


When the king heard that, he cast down his knife upon the board

and rose from the table; he put on his coat of mail, and took his white

shield in one hand and the sword Tyrfing in the other. Then there

arose a great din within the hall, as is thus told:


Clamour woke in the court,

with the king rising

each would hearken

to Hlod's greeting

and learn what answer 

Agantyr gave.


'You are welcome, Hlod my brother! said Agantyr then. 'Come

in and drink with us; and first let us drink in memory of our

father, for concord between us, us for the honour of us all, with all

the dignity we have!'

But Hlod answered,'We have come here for something other than

the filling of our bellies.' Then he said:


Half will I have

of Heidrek's riches,

of cow and of calf,

of creaking handmill,

tools and weapons,

treasure undivided,

slave and bondmaid

and thier sons and daughters;


the renowned forest

that is named Mirkwood,

the hallowed grave

in Gothland standing,

the fair-wrought stone

beside the Dneiper,

half the armour

owned by Heidrek,

lands and leigemen

and lustrous rings!


Then Agantyr said,'You have no title to this land, and you are

resolved to deal unjustly'; and then he said:


The bright buckler

shall break, kinsman,

the cold lances

clash together,

grim men unnumbered

in the grass sinking,

ere the heritage I share

with Humli's grandson

or ever Tyrfing

in twain sunder!


Yet more Agantyr uttered:


I will give you

gleaming lances,

wealth and cattle

well to content you;

thralls a thousand,

a thousand horses,

a thousand bondsmen

bearing armour.


Each shall get of me

gifts in plenty,

nobler than all that 

he now possess;

to every man

shall a maid be given,

the neck of each

by necklace clasped.


I will measure you in silver

as you sit in your chair,

upon your departing

I will pour down gold,

rings shall go rolling

round about you;

a third of Gothland

shall you govern over.


Gizur Grytingalidi, the foster-father of King Heidrek, was at

that time at the court of King Agantyr; he was now very aged.


When he heard Agantyr's offer it seemed that he offered too

much, and he said:


A bountiful offer

for a bondmaid's child-

child of a bondmaid.

though born to a king!

The bastard son

did sit on a mound

while the prince was 

parting the heritage.


Hlod became greatly enraged at being called a bastard and the son

of a slave-girl, if he should accept his brother's offer, and immediately

he went away with all his following, and returned home to the land of

the Huns, to King Humli his mother's father, and told him that his

brother Agantyr has refused him an equal division of the inheritance.


Humli the king asked then concerning all that had passed, and he

was very angry that Hlod, his daughters son, should be called the son

of a bondmaid; and he said:


In winter unstirring

let us sit content,

in converse drinking

the costly wine;

let us teach the Huns

to tend their wargear,

which bold-hearted

we shall bear to war.


We shall for you, Hlod,

the host be armed,


shall we fight this war,

with twelve year-old warriors

and two-winter foals,

so shall we muster

the might of Hunland.


All that winter Humli and Hlod remained quiet; but in the spring

they gathered together an army so vast that afterwards the land of the

Huns was utterly despoiled of all it's fighting- men. All men went,

from twelve years old and upwards, who were able to bear weapons in

war, and all their horses went, of two years old or more. So great was

the multitude that the men of the phalanxes could be counted by their

thousands only, and by nothing less than thousands; a captain was set

over every thousand, and a standard over every phalanx. There were

five thousands in every phalanx, each thousand containing thirteen

hundreds, and in each hundred were four times forty men; these

phalanxes were thirty-three in number.


When this host had gaethered together they rode through the forest

called Mirkwood, which divided the land of the Huns from the land of

the Goths; and when they came out of the forest they were in a land 

of broad populous tracts and level plains. On the plains stood a fair

stronghold, over which Hervor, the sister of Hlod and Agantyr, had

command, together with Ormar her foster-father; they were set there

to defend this land against the army of the Huns, and they had a strong garrison.


One morning at sunrise Hervor stood on a watchtower above the

fortress-gate, and she saw a great cloud of dust from horses' hooves

rising southwards toward the forest, which for a long time hid the sun.

Presently she saw a glittering beneath the dustcloud, as though she

were gazing on a mass of gold, bright shields overlaid with gold,

gilded helms and bright corslets; and then she saw that it was the

army of the Huns, and a mighty host.


Hervor went down swiftly and called her trumpeter, and ordered

him to blow a summons to the host; and then she said,'Take your

weapons and make ready for battle; but do you, ormar, ride to meet

the Huns and challenge them to battle before the south gate of the



Ormar answered:


Surely shall I ride,

my shield holding,

to give battle

for the Gothic people!


Then Ormar rode out of the fortress towards the Huns; he called

out in a great voice and told them to ride on to the fortress--' and out-

side the stronghold-gate, in the plains to the south, there I offer you

battle; and let them await the others, those who first come there'


Now Ormar rode back to the fortress, and Hervor was ready, and

all her army. They rode out of the stronghold with alll the garrison to

meet the Huns; and there a mighty battle arose. But since the

Huns had by far the larger army the slaughter became heavier in

Hervor's host; and at last Hervor fell, and a great compamy around 

her. When Ormar saw her fall he fled away, and all the rest, who were

fainthearted. Day and night Ormar rode, as fast as he could, to reach

King Agantyr in Arheimar; but the Huns began now to ravage and

burn far and wide accross the land.


When Ormar came before Agantyr the king, he said:


From the south have I come

to speak these tidings:

fire in the marches

of Mirkwood is raging,

with the gore of men

all Gothland's sprinkled!


And more he spoke:


I know that Hervor

Heidrek's daughter,

your own sister,

has sunk to the earth;

the Hun foemen

felled the maiden

and many more

of your men by her--


In war more happy

than in wooer's converse,

or at a bridal banquet

on bench to seat her.


When King Agantyr heard this, he drew back his lips, and was

slow to speak; at last he said,' In no brotherly fashion have you been

treated, my noble sister.' Then he cast his eye over his following,

and no great company was there with him; and he said:


Full many we were

at the mead-drinking;

when more are needed

the number is smaller.


I see not the man

among my lieges, not though I begged him

and bribed him with rings,

who would surely ride,

his shield bearing,

to seek the host

of the Hun people.


Then Gizur the old spoke:


No single ounce

do I ask from you,

no single coin

of clinking gold;

yet ride I shall,

my shield bearing,

and to the Hun army

offer the war-staff.


Now it was the law of King Heidrek that if an army were invading

a land and the king of that country marked out a field with hazel-poles

and ordained a place of battle, then the raiders should do no ravaging

before the battle's issue was decided.


Gizur now clad himself for war with good weapons. and leapt upon

his horse as if he were a youth. Then he said to the king:


Where shall the Huns be

to war bidden?


The kind answered:


On the Danube-heath

below the Hills of Ash

shall you call them to fight,

their foes meeting;

there often Goths

have given battle,

renown gaining

in noble victories.


Now Gizur rode away until he came to the host of the Huns; but

he rode no nearer than within earshot, and called out in a great voice:


Daunted are your legions,

doomed your leader,

banners rise over you,

Odin is wrathful!


And then he said:


On the Danube-heath

below the Hills of Ash

I call you to fight,

your foes meeting;...

may Odin let the dart fly

as I prescribe it!


When Hlod heard the words of Gizur, he cried:


Seize you Gizur


Agantyr's man

come from Arheimar!


But Humli the king answered him, We must not harm heralds

who ride alone.'


Then Gizur said,' Neither the Huns nor their hornbows make us

afraid!' Then he struck spurs to his horse and rode back to King

Agantyr, and went before him, and greeted him with fair words.

The king asked whether he had met with the king of the Huns, and

Gizur answered, ' I spoke with them, and summoned them to the

battlefield on the Danube-heath, in the dales of strife.'


Agantyr asked how great was the host of the Huns, and Gizur

replied, ' Huge is their multitude':


Of soldiers have they

six phalanxes,

every phalanx

has five thousands,

every thousand

thirteen hundreds,

and a full hundred

is four times counted.


Agantyr learnt now of the strength of the Hunnish host, and then

he sent out messengers to every quarter, summoning to him every man

who could bear arms and would give him service. He marched then

to the Danube Heath with his army, and it was very great; and the 

Hunnish host came against him, and it was as great again.


On the next day they began the battle, and all that day they fought,

and in the evening they went to their tents. They fought thus for 

eight days without the captains being wounded, but no-one could

number the fallen. But both by day and night men thronged in to

Agantyr from every quarter, and thus it was that he had no fewer

men than at the beginning of the battle. And now the fighting grew

yet more bitter than before; the Huns were ferocious. seeing their

case, that only in victory lay hope of life, and that it would be of little

avail to ask quarter of the Goths. But the Goths were defending their

freedom and the land of their birth against the Huns, and for this they

stood firm, and each man urged on his comrade. When the day was

far spent the Goths pressed on so hard that the Hunnish legions gave

way before them; and seeing this Agantyr strode out from behind

the shield-wall and up into the foremost rank, and in his hand he held

Tyrfing, and he cut down both men and horses; then the ranks fell

apart before the kings of the Huns, and brother struck at brother.

There Hlod fell and Humli the king, and the Huns took to flight; but

the Goths slew them, and made such carnage that the rivers were

choked and turned from their courses, and the valleys were filled with

dead men and horses.


Agantyr went to search among the slain, and finding his brother 

Hlod he said:


Treasures uncounted,

kinsman, I offered you,

wealth and cattle

well to content you;

but for war's reward

you have won neither

realm more spacious

nor rings glittering.


And then he said:


We are cursed, kinsman,

your killer am I!

It will never be forgotten;

the Norns doom is evil.


Christopher Tolkien translation.

A Grammar of Old English, 2-volume set - Richard M. Hogg

I didn't get this two volume paperback set but got the first volume on its initial release and then the second volume when it was finally released about twenty years later.


This is the first major grammar of Old English since Alistair Campbell's grammar of 1959 and takes into account recent developments in Old English studies that weren't available to campbell that include use of the new computerised concordances and the new Toronto Old English Dictionary. 


The main focus of the grammar is on the language contained in prose texts and glosses from the period. The first volume of the set focuses on phonology, the second, unfortunately left unfinished due to Richard Hogg's death and completed by Robert Fulk, deals with morphology. The grammar traces the diachronic development of the language from its theoretical Indo-European origins to the classical tenth century schriftsprache West Saxon. 


This is a major publication that no one interested in the Old English language can afford to ignore. This paperback edition of both volume one and two now makes the set more affordable and makes the first volume (which had become difficult to find) available to a new generation.