Allusion in Old English poetry

Laura Maxwell (English 111, 1994)

The use of allusion in Old English poetry indicates a cultural knowledge of a much larger set of stories than those that were translated to manuscript form. Certain warriors, peace-weavers, and episodes in Anglo-Saxon lore are woven into Beowulf in a way that indicates that the listening audience would have been familiar with these other characters and stories. Some of the lore, too, is clearly biblical, indicating that the Anglo-Saxon and Christian traditions had a significant cultural intersection at some point and strands of Christian and Anglo-Saxon lore were being intertwined>. Some speculate that it was Christian monks in England who first transcribed Anglo-Saxon poetry, which would explain the interweaving of the two cultures' bodies of lore. (Christian monasteries, indeed, may have been a new iteration of the Anglo-Saxon comitatus, a fraternity for "Christian soldiers"!)