A Stylistic and Contextual Study of the Old English 'Physiologus'

Lynn Felicia Dufield-Landry

Louisiana: University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1993

PhD dissertation at the University Of Southwestern Louisiana.

"From a stylistic and contextual study of the Old English Physiologus the work emerges as an Old English poetic sampler, crafted from a synthesis of genre elements, biblical perspectives of Wisdom and Folly, patristic homiletic themes and style, and Germanic poetic conventions. Chapter One presents the twofold purpose of this study. On one hand, it attempts to distinguish the qualities unique to the Old English Physiologus in the context of its genre as well as to connect aspects of the work to Exeter Book themes and motifs. On the other hand, it seeks also to demonstrate the stylistic beauty of the poem as it reflects Wisdom as Christ and His Spirit. Chapter Two examines 'Panther' as a skillfully-designed fitt in two parts: the panther's tale and its significatio. Infused with images of Wisdom, the fitt celebrates typologically the panther as Christ. Through the central motif of the 'sweet odor,' the poet depicts Wisdom's plan for salvation for all time and hope for eternity. Chapter Three discusses 'Whale' as emblematic of the devil and as a perversion of the panther. Similar to Folly in Old Testament wisdom literature, the whale deceives man to his damnation. As in 'Panther,' a 'sweet odor' draws men, this time to destruction. As stylistically and contextually rich as 'Panther,' 'Whale,' through its two episodes and allegories about the seafarers and the fish, tropologically portrays the dangers of transitory sensory perceptions that result in self-deception. Chapter Four analyzes the fragment about the unspecified bird, the subject of the third fitt of the Physiologus. The chapter focuses on the homiletic ending as a fulfillment of God's covenant hope between his people and Himself, a hope defined as wisdom by Solomon and explained as Christ by St. Paul. The redemptive covenant depends on the salvific hope in 'Panther' to overcome the devil's temptations. Chapter Five highlights the drypoint drawings in the left margin of the opening to Physiologus. Discussed from the perspective of Physiologus themes, the two initial P's and the two hands in liturgical gestures present a graphic and enigmatic complement to the 'Panther' fitt." - abstract

223 p.

Language: English

PQDD: AAT9324602; OCLC: 29247771


Last update December 6, 2021