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And Elene gave answer unto him How doth it chance among this people that ye have such store of legend in remembrance of all heroic deeds even as the Trojans waged them in their war? Farther away in the circle of years was that famous strife of olden time than this sublime event Full well do ye know to reckon swiftly the number of all those done to death in slaughter the tale of spearmen slain fallen beneath their shields

10 thoughts on “Elene

  1. says:

    A well told story though not a story that would appeal as a skeletal narrative Even in the 19th C translation it's full of that somber weighty and darkly mystical Anglo Saxon tone the alliteration and the kennings that make it akin to the Old Nordic style as well Reading it creates an odd collision of cultures and eras I'm a 21st C English reader this is a 19th C translation of a story written in 9th C set in 4th C Rome and Jerusalem and recounting Helena's uest for long lost long buried 1st C RelicsIt is interesting and odd to read a Christian tale written in a warrior's language appealing to the war like culture of perhaps only recently converted heathens with pagan leanings; a story in which visions of Christ and his relics convert pagans while also granting them strength for battle and military victory; a story in which if the reader has a critical eye it might appear that HelenaElene takes on the role of violent and unjust oppressor at least in respect to her use of violence threats and torture of a mild sort just throw him in a pit to starve for a while to extort information even while decrying the injustice of the Jews who betrayed their unacknowledged lord upon the cross the victory tree; a story that establishes or solidifies a cult of relics in which the nails that once pierced Christ's hands become a magical charm to render Constantine invulnerable if he uses them as a bit for his horse in times of warYes this a MAN'S Christianity I mean God bless the meek and all but meanwhile give us the strength to trample the Goths Franks and HugsHuns Or if we're being merely metaphorical but we're not give us the spiritual strength to overcome the fiend through Christ's love Amen Anyway as I read it I imagine that a sizable number of pagans found the appeal of Christianity in the suggestion that the Christian God was ultimately truer and potent than the gods they abandoned plus Christ left behind these magic knick knacks to cure diseases and blindness and such to it's pretty much a practical matter

  2. says:

    My version edited by POE Gradon and part of the Methuen series which is one of the best As a side note this and several other Old English poem editions which I own were coincidentally previously owned by Fred C Robinson the textbook author for my Old English textbook when I learned OE Sadly this was because he had just passed away and it was by coincidence at that time that I was searching for certain titles I did not know him personally but I liked our textbook and his copies of the several books which I own have many of his comments in line which I value greatly The poem is about the legend of the finding of the actual physical cross by Elene the mother of the emperor Constantine Constantine having converted to Christianity sends Elene to find the cross 'Thanks Son' which she does One of the interesting things is the representation of the Jewish Judas not THE Judas but a later Judas who at first does not want to help her but eventually provides the location where the physical remnant is to be found As one who has read several Old English poems I can say that the Jewish characters are often not well spoken of in these texts Clearly at least among some members of the cultures involved the history of a cultural conflict goes way back However Elene is the sole exception I have found so far I am sure many would disagree but Judas while initially presented as prevaricating ultimately is a hero All has to be in my opinion carefully observed in the context of the historical period ie some would disagree that Judas is fairly presented however rewinding the clock this far changes many things I believe and to have an ultimately favorable presentation of this Judas is significant Please don't call the PC police on me for daring to attempt to speak about this type of thing which would be certain to offend somebody somewhere

  3. says:

    Elene is Cynewulf’s masterpiece and encloses 1321 lines It is the chronicle of the unearthing of the cross by Helena the mother of emperor Constantine The theme of the poem is the finding of the cross The Huns gathered against Constantine who dreamed his famous dream of the Rood and was bid to conuer by that sign A battle followed and triumph belonged to Constantine Then there is the description of his mother's voyage to Jerusalem His mother Empress Helena conferred with the Jews not to reveal the sight of the cross Constantine was imprisoned and then released Constantine prayed to Christ and then he discovered the cross by a miracle The rest of the poem is composed of message of Helena to Constantine the baptism of Judas etc Elene is typified by faultlessness of art and poetic method There is orientation to old age in many autobiographical passages The spectacle of combat the sparkle of jewels and paraphernalia of images give verve and hue to the narrative permeated by the serious purpose of the poet

  4. says:

    Even though this isn't exactly a novel length poem I'm adding it to my list for a few reasons First of all it is 1300 lines long Second of all when I awake from cryo sleep in three thousand years I want to look back and remember that I read this And thirdly nobody else has reviewed it so I suppose I'll perform a social function'Elene' is a poem chronicling the voyage of the Roman Emperor Constantine's mother when she travelled to Israel to find the cross of Christ It had appeared to her son in a vision just before a crucial battle one from which Constantine emerged victorious After sending the Hun packing Constantine decided to figure out who had sent the vision and so the story beginsChances are if you're into Christian legends from the middle ages you'll be into this If not better find something else to read I'm almost as indifferent as they come I like Roman history around the time of Gaius Julius Caesar but most of that later Christianization of the empire stuff doesn't interest me This particular poem lacks any kind of cool monsters sword slashing heroes or seafaring adventure and so return to my main point unless you've got a vested interest in medieval poetry I'd stick with the Greek stuffOh and Cynewulf wasn't too fond of the Jews