Biblical Echoes in Exeter Gnomes

Paola Tornaghi

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In Anglo-Saxon England wisdom was essentially handed down in the oral tradition. It was concrete, obvious, communal and popular and therefore accessible to all. The Anglo-Saxons valued wisdom which is why they expressed it in maxims, gnomes, and proverbs. The gnome, maxim, proverb or brief, pithy, sententious saying was employed in Anglo-Saxon verse sometimes to expound proverbial or folk wisdom, sometimes more elaborately to affirm a moral, or define a virtue or a vice. The concise brevity of gnomes, their invariable appositeness, framed in the alliterative pattern of Anglo-Saxon verse, endows them with a forthright memorability that is the outstanding feature of the type. To the Anglo-Saxon poet - of whose literary and folk heritage they formed a part - gnomes provided a fund of moral aphorisms from which he was able to draw whenever a particular episode in a poem needed to be enlightened, or its significance enforced, by the sententious assertion of a widely accepted truth.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteDal mondo classico all’universo medievale: nuove modulazioni di lingue e culture,
Numero di pagine28
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2013
Pubblicato esternamente


  • Gnomic poetry


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