A homeland as a possession
in Rebel angels
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Chapter 5 considers how the poet of Christ and Satan portrays Satan’s attempts to disrupt Christ’s authority in both heavenly and earthly territories. I approach the poem through the liturgical traditions of the Rogationtide festival, when Anglo-Saxons participated in three days of ‘perambulations’ meant to demarcate communal boundaries. The poem’s eccentric chronology and bizarre conclusion – in which Christ forces Satan to measure the ymbhwyrft (‘circuit’) of hell with his hands – can be understood as an inversion of Rogation rituals whereby Satan parodies his own condition of lordlessness as he circuits the spaces of hell. By situating his poem within the framework of liturgical and localised practice, the poet appeals to an audience readily familiar with the primary goals of Rogationtide, namely, the purification of earthly boundaries in the interest of making oneself a suitable heir to otherworldly geographies.

Rebel angels

Space and sovereignty in Anglo-Saxon England


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