18. Old English and Anglo-Latin

The Odd Couple

  1. Robert DeMaria Jr.,
  2. Heesok Chang and
  3. Samantha Zacher
  1. Andy Orchard

Published Online: 10 JAN 2014

DOI: 10.1002/9781118827338.ch18

A Companion to British Literature

A Companion to British Literature

How to Cite

Orchard, A. (2014) Old English and Anglo-Latin, in A Companion to British Literature (eds R. DeMaria, H. Chang and S. Zacher), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118827338.ch18

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 10 JAN 2014
  2. Published Print: 3 FEB 2014

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470656044

Online ISBN: 9781118827338



  • Aldhelm;
  • Anglo-Latin;
  • Bede;
  • Beowulf;
  • Cynewulf;
  • literacy;
  • Old English;
  • orality;
  • poetics


It has long been recognized that Anglo-Saxon literature was composed both in Latin and the vernacular. But while the lingua franca of the Christian tradition is found far more widely in the extant written record, the relatively less familiar and under-studied Anglo-Latin texts have generally been overshadowed in modern scholarly inquiry by better-known works in Old English. This chapter seeks to redress that critical balance by focusing on common and combined techniques of poetic composition in both languages, including the deliberate echoing of formulas and forms from previous poets for artistic effect, and to consider the extent to which the close study and appreciation of Old English and Anglo-Latin verse can shed much light on a shared and still largely underappreciated tradition.