Counter-empathy and elegiac critique in the Old English Christ and Satan.
Collectively, these scholars broach a difficult question relating to Satan's speeches: how are readers expected to respond emotionally to lamentations of loss delivered in an affectively charged mode by the most evil character in biblical history? Elegies frequently portray sympathetic subjects such as the Wanderer and Seaferer, yet Christ and Satan makes a point of emphasizing Satan's culpability and his continued desire to harm humanity, so that he has more in common with the many unsympathetic exiles in Old English poetry, including Cain, Grendel, and Nebuchadnezzar. Robert Hasenfratz and Margaret Bridges have nonetheless argued that Christ and Satan encourages empathy even towards Satan. Hasenfratz reads Christ and Satan alongside vernacular homilies that portray the damned as penitent but unable to make amends because the time for repentance has passed; pointing out that the poem uses the vocabulary of penance and exile to describe Satan's sorrowful plight, he argues that readers would empathize with Satan and thus be motivated to do penance for their own sins. (10) Bridges suggests that evoking the tropes of exile encourages sympathy for Satan because the Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition portrayed all humans as exiles. (11) I agree with Hasenfratz and Bridges that Satan inhabits a sympathetic subject position evoked by motifs of exile and penance, (12) but this does not clarify how the poem or its readers might negotiate the inevitable tension between empathy for the subject position invited by elegiac tropes and antipathy towards the subject who inhabits it. Further, neither Hasenfratz nor Bridges fully considers Satan's laments in light of the elegy tradition or the corpus of unsympathetic exiles. Using cognitive theories of reader response and philosophical models of medieval empathy and counter-empathy, this article reads Christ and Satan against Old English "elegies" and depictions of unsympathetic exiles to argue that the poem elicits a complex emotional response that cannot be reduced either to sympathy or antipathy, but rather engages simultaneously multiple kinds of empathy involving different forms of identification with the subject. If the inherent poignancy of elegiac tropes could pull the reader toward what Karl F. Morrison calls "malevolent sympathy," a medieval pattern of empathy in which one recognizes oneself in an antagonist, (13) the poem subverts these tropes by denying that the consolation frequently offered in elegies is in Satan's case possible or merited by the subject, pushing readers toward counter-empathy--a reaction of pleasure when witnessing the suffering of another. Far from being mutually exclusive, these emotional responses uneasily coexist in the text. By coopting and subverting elegiac tropes and the traditional affective responses associated with them to represent a traditionally unsympathetic exile, the poet stages a Christian critique of Germanic elegy, exposing how dubious subjects could appropriate its aesthetic language and emotionally charged forms for specious ends, tempting an audience to identify with them, to feel misguided sympathy for the devil.
GENERIC CONTRACTS AND CONTRASTS: READING COUNTER-EMPATHY AND MALEVOLENT SYMPATHY
Genre is a key category that conditions readers' affective stances toward texts. As Fredric Jameson points out, genres are "social contracts... whose function is to specify the proper use of a particular cultural artifact." (14) He describes genres as culturally constructed agreements that in turn lay out a set of rules and expectations that a reader brings to the text. While the image of contract carries notions of precision, cognitive film theorist Greg Smith follows a long series of genre theorists in noting that readers' perceptions of genre are comparative and fuzzy rather than categorical and precise. (15) According to Smith, when audiences encounter particular generic markers in a text, they do not usually apply this to a rigid set of genre rules but to other texts that have similar collocations of characteristics, using this to orient their expectations about the text. Smith focuses on how the associations evoked by genre create what he calls a "mood," a nonspecific emotional state that predisposes the reader toward experiencing particular emotions in response to a text. (16) Once a text establishes a mood and effectively primes the reader, it can more easily elicit the emotions associated with that mood. For example, a horror film may establish a mood of suspense that predisposes the audience toward feeling fear later in the film. A viewer encounters the generic markers of a horror film such as typical music, plot devices, and camera angles, associates this with other instances of films bearing these characteristics, and experiences a sense of foreboding. In the same way, structural and stylistic characteristics can by association encourage particular responses to a text. Smith uses the term "mood-cue system" to refer to the mechanics of eliciting and changing emotions. By observing how films use clusters of generic characteristics to set a mood and introduce new markers at key moments to change the mood, Smith argues that we can track how films (and by extension, I would argue, narrative texts) successfully and unsuccessfully invite different emotional associations over time. Given this understanding of genre, a reader of Christ and Satan would not have to read the plaints of Satan in relation to a formal category of "elegy" in order to read them against similar imagery and structure in other poems, considering the emotional movements of these poems and reading those expectations back onto Christ and Satan. (17)
Two such emotional movements--counter-empathy and malevolent sympathy--are especially pertinent to Christ and Satan. Counter-empathy is defined most simply as "feeling good when someone else feels bad." (18) It is perhaps more well-known by its German designation, Schadenfreude, pleasure at the pain of others. (19) To call it counter-empathy is to point out its obvious inverse relationship to empathy, which requires convergent emotion between an observer and a person experiencing usually tragic circumstances. (20) Social science and psychology research suggests three kinds of misfortune that can elicit Schadenfreude in observers: a misfortune by a subject who is envied, a misfortune that presents benefit to the observers, and a misfortune that appears to be just. (21) Counter-empathy would be a culturally intelligible mode of response to Satan, as two of these categories of misfortune would apply to him: as the architect of the falls of both the demons and mankind, his punishment would be considered just by most Christians, while according to the doctrine of replacement theory, Satan's fall into hell left empty thrones in heaven which God reassigned to Christians. (22) Furthermore, counter-empathy was explicitly commended as one of the rewards of the blessed at the sight of the damned. AElfric explains this in his exegesis of the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Catholic Homilies 2.23: "Ne astyrao paera rihtwisra gesiho him naenne ogan: ne heora wuldor ne wanao: for ban oe paer ne bio nan besargung paera manfulra yrmoe; ac heora tintrega becymo pam gecorenum to maran blisse. swa swa on metinge bio forsewen seo blace anlicnys: paet seo hwite sy beorhtre gesewen" (Nor does the sight [of the damned] stir any horror in the righteous, nor does their glory wane; because there is no sorrowing at the affliction of the sinful, but their tortures become greater joy to the chosen, just as in a painting the dark likeness is despised, that the white might be brighter.) (23) AElfric retransmits this doctrine as it is presented in his source, Gregory's Homiliae in Evangelia 40. (24) The poem Christ III similarly states that the righteous will feel counter-empathy at the vivid sight of the damned, triggered not only by the recognition that the wicked are being punished but by the recognition that the righteous have received better than they could hope, having been saved from hell "purh miltse meotudes" (1253). (25) Happiness stems from relief at perceiving the contrast of fates that are "ungelice" (1261), an idea that recurs throughout Christ III (26) and evokes AElfric's description of aesthetic satisfaction in the contrast of black and white. Timothy Arner and Paul Stegner see this reaction extending beyond relief to pleasure, yoking the aesthetic and counter-empathetic in Christ III to describe the vision-triggered delight of the saved in this passage as "voyeuristic," a means for the poem to offer readers a foretaste of heaven by staging the spectacle of the damned before the Last Judgment. (27) Both of these texts present a structural category of contrast that represents and evokes the pleasure of Schadenfreude when evil is punished. Reading Christ and Satan along these lines, readers' firsthand knowledge of Satan's sorrows would evoke pleasure in the knowledge of their own potential for salvation, a potential that is foreclosed for Satan. The formal element of contrast encodes this pleasure in the structure of the text.
But if contrast could evoke the pleasure of counter-empathy, for medieval readers fear of their own potential for damnation inevitably coexists with this pleasure, paradoxically evoking what Karl Morrison calls "malevolent sympathy," (28) a fellow feeling that unites opposing entities as one emotionally identifies with an antagonist. Readers arrive at malevolent sympathy by reading between the lines to connect and interpret opposites, filling in the "negative values" that enable association but are left unspecified in a text. (29) This uniting of opposite concepts works not only typologically but linguistically in the movements of rhetorical tropes, for as Augustine argues in Contra Mendacium, the contrary images of metaphor or antiphrasis can produce aesthetic and epistemological closure, revealing truth through an apparent lie. (30) The church fathers recognized the potential of linguistic structures such as metaphor to unite opposites in a deeper spiritual truth, and utilized this potential by describing the soul's progress toward God with contrary language from domains that they condemned, as when they described martyrs as gladiators or compared liturgical participation to the theater. (31) To borrow Smith's terms, these structures can cue a mood predisposed to sympathy.
Morrison takes Augustine's argument further to claim that the aesthetic contrast of malevolent sympathy could allow a reader to empathize with the damned if they recalled their own potential for damnation, supplying the "negative values" omitted in the depiction. Indeed, a number of Old English eschatological homilies remind the audience of their risk of being condemned, exhorting them to keep in mind the terror that the damned will feel on Doomsday as a stimulus to compunction and repentance. (32) A reader motivated by such fear might well pity the damned. But not all Anglo-Saxon readers would have to look for "negative values" to feel sympathy for Satan in Christ and Satan. Monastic audiences versed in patristic thought might take satisfaction in the punishment of evil, but lay audiences might not, particularly if they too cultivated the worldliness of the damned. Since AElfric felt the need in his vernacular homily to include Gregory's explanation of why the sight of the damned would not stir up terror in the righteous, he must have sensed that his audience might instinctively incline to empathy rather than counter-empathy. Further, the formulae of elegy in Satan's speeches in Christ and Satan would inevitably cue the audience to empathize with a character speaking in that mode. The audience would not have to remember their own potential for damnation to be moved to sadness by Satan's evocations of loneliness and exile, framed in a language that they used to describe their own sorrows. The repeated descriptions of Satan's pain and anguish, an expected part of the generic contract of elegy, (33) inherently make him a target for identification. As Patrick Hogan suggests, the more information we possess about characters, the more likely we are to identify with them or at least not to see them as simple villains. (34) The laments enact textual strategies to manage reader response so that identification does not exceed appropriate limits. Yet Satan hovers on the edge of a potentially subversive sympathy in the very features of language and genre that work toward closure, illustrating how the same forms can evoke the disparate emotional responses of empathy and counter-empathy.
EMPATHY, GENRE, AND ELEGY: COGNITIVE AND STRUCTURAL BACKGROUNDS
Key to Satan's pathos in Christ and Satan is his manipulation of elegiac structures that build sympathy through contrast, which sets the poem apart from other examples of the "plaints of Satan" tradition by raising the signals of an alternate type of generic contract. To speak of Old English elegy as a unified genre is of course problematic. (35) No Old English word denoting "elegy" has survived, although we find the term "giedd," which has a wider range of meaning, sometimes used to describe elegies. (36) However, most scholars agree that a core group of poems in the Exeter Book, as well as sections of other Old English poems, share certain thematic, structural, and formulaic qualities that fit under Greenfield's rubric. Although Satan's laments are not true elegies, they appropriate and play with elegiac conventions; thus, recognizing the movements and images that elegies use to encourage emotional investment throws into relief how this poem destabilizes the empathetic potential of elegies, revealing how the genre could mislead unwary readers. Stanley Greenfield's definition of the Old English elegy remains foundational to studies of the form: "a relatively short reflective or dramatic poem embodying a contrasting pattern of loss and consolation, ostensibly based upon a specific personal experience or observation, and expressing an attitude towards that experience." (37) Joseph Harris, hypothesizing a common Germanic ancestor for both Old English and Old Norse elegy, imagines several characteristics of this proto-elegy, including "a contrast of Once and Now, a sense of the lacrimae rerum, loss, and sometimes, it seems, of consolation," as well as "conventional wisdom or at least generalization, especially near the beginning and end." (38) Anne Klinck has argued for particular structural characteristics that typically cluster in the elegies, including "monologue, conventional introduction of the speaker, gnomic conclusion, repetition of key phrases, repetition of entire lines, and, occasionally, rhyme." (39) Other scholars have catalogued specific images and motifs in extant Old English elegies. (40) Paul Battles has argued that one of the key ways to distinguish Old English genres is through tone, and that poems blend genre characteristics, as when The Fates of the Apostles opens with both epic and elegiac conventions. (41) As Battles points out, other poems evoke characteristics of elegy without being elegies per se; (42) Satan's plaints fall under this rubric. Yet the overarching characteristic of elegy uniting these formulas and poems is what Greenfield calls elegy's "pattern of loss and consolation" (43) or for Klinck, its motif of loss, "the sense of separation: a distance in time or space between someone and their desire." (44) Full consolation may occur within the poem, but more frequently, as T. A. Shippey puts it, "part of the consolation offered is poetry itself, the expression and formalization of raw experience." (45) Through the process enacted by elegy, speakers can acquire a measure of consolation from recontextualizing their experiences, as when the Wanderer and Seafarer affirm the hope of a permanent home in heaven or when Deor views his present troubles in light of legendary afflictions and declares that "baes ofereode, bisses swa maeg" (it passed with respect to that, so may it with respect to this). (46) So too may readers as they identify with the processes of these speakers. The overarching mood of elegy, then, is grief, but one that may be assuaged by consolation, particularly a consolation arrived at through the work of remembering and reshaping the past. (47) By emphasizing loss and consolation as the defining characteristics of elegy, scholars locate the genre's emotional effects at the core of its identity. This makes Christ and Satans, evocation of elegy all the more subversive because Satan's laments call the elegiac project of consolation into question at its foundation.
Elegies build their affective force on the tension between unrestrained longing and a consolation that is hoped for if not always attained. This central contrast is often reflected in other structural contrasts such as imagery of movement and stasis, as when Tom Shippey reads The Wanderer as a struggle between passionate expression of emotion and the need for "restraint." (48) The tension is also staged in a movement between past and present, as Antonina Harbus argues: "The major catalyst in these psychological turnarounds, and the facilitator of exploration, is without exception the power of memory.... The past is brought to bear on the present and future through this rhetorically designed recollection, by which the present is reinterpreted more acceptably." (49) Structurally this implies that elegies include movement between past, present, and future, a deictic complexity that cognitive linguist Peter Stockwell argues correlates with increased reader engagement. (50) Elegies are thus rife with contrasts, which medieval readers could associate with counter-empathy but were more likely to read not simply affectively but empathetically.
Scholars have emphasized the genre's potential (51) to evoke empathy; for example, Harbus asserts that in the Old English elegies "the audience is notionally equated" with the speaker's internal dialogue, and thus "both needed and excluded: not only allowed a glimpse of the interior world of the speaker, but positively invited to contemplate the crises of their mental worlds, to become emotionally involved and follow the speaker from distress to consolation though permanently kept separate from that private mental world." (52) Readers move from personal focalization to identification, and from there to shared emotion. In other words, Harbus sees empathy as central to the emotional contract set up by elegies. Mary Ramsay reads the mechanisms of this empathetic contract slightly differently, arguing that Old English elegies such as The Wanderer are performative texts, and that readers could go beyond observing the elegiac speakers to inhabiting their emotions: "elegies like these offer hearers a textual space in which to mourn and words with which to voice their own grief, to give it expression and shape, and, most importantly, to give it boundaries." (53) The movement between grief and restraint or consolation offers various loci to which the audience might attach their feelings of sorrow while steering them towards appropriate expression through conventional forms and images. This is true whether one views the poems as a performance to enact or one to watch empathetically. Harbus's and Ramsay's work highlights how elegy invites the reader to an empathetic response; I would argue that this is true not only for the didactic Christian elegies such as The Wanderer, but also for more ambiguous elegies such as Wulf and Eadwacer, where the controlled form of the lament (for example, its terseness and refrain) sets bounds on the release of grief by containing it in a formal pattern. Wulf and Eadwacer, in its series of separated pairs--two islands, two characters who may or may not be lovers, two emotions in wyn and lao--yokes contrasts in a way that provokes aesthetic empathy. Its structure also plays with setting and breaking forms, beginning with two short stanzas linked by the refrain "ungelic(e) is us" (3, 8; it is different for us), then erupting in an eleven-line overflow that surges to the final line describing the dissolution of another pair, "uncer giedd geador" (19; the song of us two together). (54) These contrasts of form and content lead the narrator to a counter-empathetic consolation as she describes the end of her relationship with Eadwacer, a consolation shared by readers who experience malevolent sympathy with the enigmatic narrator.
Wulf and Eadwacer demonstrates that if poetic form can give bounds to grief, it can also enable empathy. But it also underscores how elegiac features can move beyond inspiring the empathy for a like-minded person described by Harbus and Ramsay, since the structured contrast of elegy uses the play of opposites to create a space for potential identification with another who can be very different from readers. As noted earlier, Augustine and Gregory both described models of emotional response based on contrast. For Gregory, the darkness of one fate makes another shine the more brightly, increasing joy. For Augustine, figures of language enable understanding by yoking contradictory images. By this means, reading with or even as the adversary in Christ and Satan might tempt one to identify with the adversary. But readers who might be inclined to empathize with some elegiac protagonists (as Harbus and Ramsay suggest they would) instead experience the tension of seeing elegiac formulae applied to an adversary, pushing against the conventions of elegy, and through this experience gain a new understanding of themselves as potentially susceptible to the same oferhygd that caused Satan's fall, or to the same error that caused the fall of Adam and Eve. The narrator of Christ and Satan states later in the poem that Satan should be taken "to bysne," as an example (195). Bede observes that historiography records the fates of evil people as negative exempla that discourage readers from evil deeds; (55) for readers who have empathized with Satan's pain and regret, the devil becomes an example of the all-too-real consequences of pride. But as Satan's laments continue and as readers experience how Satan's utter ruin has cut off from him the consolation offered to elegiac speakers, they are encouraged to distance themselves from him, moving from empathy into the realm of counter-empathy and focusing on the heavenly rewards they have the potential to reap in the wake of Satan's fall. Further, as they are confronted with the fact that elegiac tropes can expose them to emotional identification with an insincere and self-serving figure, readers might discover the potential dangers of the generic contract of elegy. The mood-cue approach helps to explain with more precision how this misappropriation works.
THE AESTHETICS OF COUNTER-EMPATHY IN CHRIST AND SATAN
Satan's five laments gradually stage the poem's subversion of elegy in a structure of variation on a theme that heightens both the affective power of elegy and the frustration of permanently deferred comfort. The opening of Christ and Satan preemptively influences the audience's emotional response to Satan's words by describing God's creation of the world by his own paramount "mint and strengoo" (2; power and strength). The description of God evokes the reverential tone Battle associates with wisdom poetry, (56) describing how God created heaven, earth, and sea, then exclaiming "Hwa is bast oe cunne / Oroonc clene nymoe ece god?" (17-18; who is the one that knows pure work unless eternal God?). Wisdom poetry positions readers as learners and suppliants, and this introduction reminds the reader of God's supreme power beyond human knowledge. Only then, with God's position as arbiter of Tightness established, does the poem present an alternate set of elegiac textual cues as it describes the loss that provokes Satan's sorrow:
Duhte him on mode paet hit mihte swa, paet hie weron seolfe swegles brytan, wuldres waldend. Him oaer wirse gelamp, oa heo in helle ham staoeledon, an aefter oorum, in paet atole scref, paer heo brynewelme bidan sceolden saran sorge, nales swegles leoht habban in heofnum heahgetimbrad, ac gedufan sceolun in oone deopan waelm nioaer under nessas in oone neowlan grund, gredige and gifre. God ana wat hu he paet scyldige werud forscrifen hefde! (22-33) (It seemed to them in mind that it might be so, that they themselves were the Bestower of Heaven, the Ruler of Glory. Worse befell them there, when they established a home in hell, one after another, in that dark pit, where they must endure burning flame with painful sorrow, not at all have the light of heaven in the high-timbered heavens, but must dive in the deep flames down under precipices in the deep ground, greedy and voracious. God alone knows how he has condemned that guilty troop!)
This introduction sets a new mood by evoking many of the tropes of elegy; perhaps the most obvious one is exile, one of the most affective states in Anglo-Saxon literature. As Bridges notes, Old English poems and homilies explain that all humanity is in exile, following the fate of their progenitors Adam and Eve. (57) Just as readers could project themselves into the damned, they might read themselves into Satan, the first exile, and experience sympathy for him. Exile often suggests the generic contract of elegy and association with a somber, grieving, or sympathetic mood. But the affective force of this trope is immediately emptied and the mood is denied when the poem provides the cause of the demons' exile. Elegies typically offer only cryptic explanations, if any, for how the speaker has come to be separated from society (aside from the implication that an antagonist has caused the exile if it is involuntary), and rarely are these explanations based on the speaker's actions. However, Christ and Satan offers a clear reason: Satan and his followers have been ejected from heaven because of pride (50; oferhygdum) and because they come to believe collectively that they are like God. The poem highlights the incongruity of the demons' pretension by pairing a plural verb with a singular object, as they think "paet hie weron seolfe swegles brytan" (23; that they themselves were the Ruler of Heaven); many angels believe that they occupy a role that can be fulfilled by only one. But if the angels' pride is the characteristic of a collective, their fall is individual and personal, as they make their new home "an aefter oorum." Greenfield notes that the solitariness of elegy is often expressed through epithets that begin with an-, notably anhaga. (58) Evoking the lonely an of elegy here calls on the affective response triggered by other instances of the genre, while simultaneously breaking the convention of elegy by revealing a community of others that also falls. The elegiac pull towards isolation in this term allows loneliness to persist even though the demons exist in hell together.
In a further twist, although the demons are barred from their original homeland, they wander within a new ham. This home occupies the structural slot of the bleak elegiac landscape, (59) but that slot has been ominously filled with the type-scene "The Cliff of Death," dark and underground "in oone neowlan grund" (31; into the deep abyss) and "paet atole scref" (27; that terrible pit). (60) The demons lack heaven's light, conveyed through a "nales" clause, a structure that also occurs in The Wanderer: "Warao hine wraeclast, nales wunden gold, / feroloca freorig, nalaes foldan blaed" (32-33; exile paths remain for him, not at all wound gold; a frozen soul enclosure, not at all the fruit of the earth). They are also overcome with ravenous appetite, as they are "gredige and gifre" (33; greedy and rapacious). This formula is used in the Old English poetic corpus to describe the worms that greedily devour a corpse in Soul and Body II (70) and the rapaciousness of fire in the Phoenix (506-7), but also (with the terms reversed) to describe the longing of the narrator's mind in the Seafarer (63), associating such hunger with elegiac desire. The introduction concludes with a statement reminiscent of the gnomic wisdom in many of the elegies, but one that emphasizes the inexpressibility of the demons' damnation: only God knows the extent of their loss. This cannot serve as consolation for Satan's troop; indeed, it only emphasizes that they do not understand their punishment.
Before Satan's first speech, then, readers have been primed with contradictory images of exile that should evoke a mood of sympathy but instead block it. The narrative frame speaks of painful loss, but images of solitariness, separation from joy, isolation, and longing are subverted by imputed motives of greed, juxtaposed with evil community, and denied heavenly consolation. Thus, the generic pressure for empathy with the "saran sorge" of the angels is destabilized by these antithetical tropes. Further, if this description draws on the formulae of exile, it also echoes formulae elsewhere to describe the fall of the angels. For example, in Guthlac A when the saint taunts his demonic captors with a recapitulation of their fall, he uses similar phrases: they fell "for pam oferhygdum" (661), they are told that "Eow paer wyrs gelomp" (665), they will never return to heaven (658-60), their deprivation is described with a "nales" formula (672), and hell is described as a "ham" shaped for them (677). This passage in Christ and Satan braids the topoi of elegy into what may be a traditional depiction of the angels' fall, leading to a moment of emotional vertigo. The traditional language and insistence on the demons' evil actions pushes against empathetic identification by evoking another set of generic conventions: those associated with the fall of the angels. Yet for those familiar with the elegy tradition of loss, the language retains affective associations: they can be subverted, but once evoked they cannot be erased. This tension dramatizes the potential danger of the affective tropes of poetry, which can be applied to evildoers as well as heroes.
If the possibility exists for empathy with evildoers, such empathy is rarely invited in the Old English poetic corpus. Instead, evil and unsympathetic outcasts abound: Cain is exiled for his envy-fueled murder; (61) Nebuchadnezzar lives like an animal for his extravagant pride; (62) Grendel wanders the fens, exiled as the kin of Cain; (63) and in Genesis B, Satan vows defiance against God in the vein of a heroic war leader, avoiding other overtly elegiac tropes. (64) But none of these exiles indicates any regret for their deeds (except Nebuchadnezzar, although only after God has restored his sanity). And while these passages employ tropes of exile, none elaborates other characteristics of elegy. In particular, only Cain and Satan are given speeches. Cain's is a fairly brief declaration of his banishment, (65) while Satan's speech in Genesis B is a long defiant declaration of his intent to gain revenge on mankind, casting him in a heroic rather than elegiac mold. He accuses God of wrongdoing (360-62) and seeks a way to corrupt humanity as a means of attaining compensation (399; "andan gebetan"). Satan's vigorous intent to harm humanity and question God work against empathy for him. Based on these examples, unsympathetic exiles seem more likely to elicit Schadenfreude than empathy. The Satan of Christ and Satan differs because he appropriates other generic cues of elegy, a language calculated to make others identify with him emotionally. By grafting the empathetic forms of elegy onto the familiar images of banished evildoers, Christ and Satan exploits the tensions between them, revealing to readers just how potent elegiac forms could be.
Satan's laments highlight this potency by presenting elegiac tropes that should encourage empathy but that are subtly discouraging due to their incongruous context. The first lament begins with a mournful cry belonging to vernacular and Latin lament tradition before turning this tradition on its head:
Hwaer com engla orym, pe we on heofnum habban sceoldan? bis is oeostras ham, oearle gebunden faestum fyrclommum; flor is on welme attre onasled. Nis nu ende feor paet we sceolun aetsomne susel prowian, wean and wergu, nalles wuldres blaed habban in heofnum, hehselda wyn. Hwaet, we for dryhtene iu dreamas hefdon, song on swegle selrum tidum, baer nu ymb oone aecan aeoele stondao, heleo ymb hehseld, herigao drihten wordum and wercum, and ic in wite sceal bidan in bendum, and me baettran ham for oferhygdum aefre ne wene. (36-50) (Where has the glory of angels come, which we ought to have in heaven? This is a dark home, sorely bound fast with fiery bonds; the floor is seething, burning with poison. Nor is an end now far that we must suffer torment together, woe and affliction, not at all have the fruit of glory in heaven, the joy of the high-hall. Lo, we formerly had joys before the Lord, song in heaven in better times, where now the noble stand about the eternal one, the heroes about the high-seat, worship the Lord with words and works, and I in torment must wait in bonds, and never expect a better home for myself because of pride.)
One of the most emotionally charged tropes of Latin and vernacular elegy is the ubi sunt question. (66) The Wanderer uses a "Hwaer com" variation on this question as the narrator stares at a ruined wall and reflects on the people who once lived within it: "Hwaer com mearg? Hwaer com mago? Hwaer com mappumgyfa? Hwaer com symbla gesetu? Hwaer sindon seledreamas?" (92-93; Where has gone the horse? Where has gone the man? Where has gone the treasure giver? Where have gone the seats of feasting? Where are the hall joys?). Satan's initial exclamation, "Hwaer com engla orym," may echo the Wanderer's lament, "Eala peodnes prym" (95; Alas, glory of the lord). But here, instead of lamenting a way of life that has vanished, Satan laments a glory that still exists but is denied only to him and his retainers. This is the first of many times that Satan describes his lost object of desire. Crucial to the poem's emotionally complex portrayal of Satan, this object is not primarily the possession of power and authority in heaven (although Satan does wistfully recall possessing "gewald ealles wuldres," control of all glory, in line 106). Most of his recollections of heaven focus on the joys that existed around the throne as the angels praised God. Although Satan repeatedly states that the motives for his fall were pride and a desire to possess heaven, he never claims that this desire was right, and his primary regret is that he no longer experiences those joys. The descriptions of heaven create a strong pull toward sympathy: Satan desires and misses something that readers should also want. Because he possesses a laudable goal, readers should be cued toward sympathy. In contrast, however, the description of the dark, fiery pit of hell raises a different set of emotion cues that readers would associate with other texts depicting hell, raising an alternate set of responses such as empathetic distress and the desire to distance oneself emotionally. The juxtaposition of Satan's hellish environs with the beatific vision that he has lost encourages pity for a villain who is in a bizarre way an example of what to desire, revealing the dangerous potential for poetry to impute good motivations to evil characters.
Although Satan laments his loss in a sympathetic manner with an ubi sunt question suited to the elegiac mode, he does so in a context that undermines the generic association with loneliness. By referring to the glory "we" ought to have in heaven, he reveals the presence of an anticomitatus. From his initial recollection of glory his lament moves into a series of contrasts, describing their presently dark home and the future that seals their torment, then imagining the past when the angels encircled the throne of God and praised their Lord in the heavenly hall. This moment is reminiscent of the Wanderer's dreams of being with his absent lord: "pinceo him on mode paet he his mondryhten / clyppe ond cysse, ond on cneo lecge / honda ond heafod, swa he hwilum aer / in geardagum giefstolas breac" (41-44; it seems to him in his mind that he embraces and kisses his lord, and lays his hands and head on his knee, as he at times previously in days of old enjoyed gift seats). Satan and his followers, cut off from "hehselda wyn" (the joy of the high seat), imagine those who remain faithful encircling the throne in praise. But here, the devils' fate is sealed because of their choice. They do not lament a lord who has died and whom "hrusan heolstre biwrah" (Wanderer 23; the earth has covered in darkness), as the Wanderer does; rather, they imagine other retainers enjoying the presence of a Lord who still lives and dispenses joys around the throne. Their "oferhygd"--and Satan's "oferhygd" in particular, as he seems to acknowledge by introducing the first-person singular "ic" in line 48--has earned them eternal exile.
As if to emphasize their culpability, his retainers respond to his lament in another antielegiac move, introducing a community chorus to Satan's solo lines. Antonina Harbus argues that elegiac speakers must stage an internal dialogue with themselves "as a substitute for another like-minded person, who, on all occasions in the elegies, is lacking." (67) But Satan does have followers who can and do listen and respond to him, even if they are not like-minded. Indeed, whereas Satan's first lament typically uses the first-person plural to speak for his people and changes to "ic" only at the end, his followers' rejoinder repeats forms of the second-person pronoun or possessive adjective twelve times in as many lines, highlighting Satan's singular responsibility for what has happened to them. His lies convinced them not to praise God and disrupted the scenes of heavenly worship they now miss; his delusions of grandeur, his beliefs that he possessed heaven and earth and was "halig god,/ scypend seolfa" (56-57; holy God, the Creator himself) or "sunu waere / meotod moncynnes" (63-64; were Son of the Lord of mankind) have caused them to be bound in a fiery prison. His self-deception, highlighted by the subjunctive mood (woere), does not even settle on a singular divine identity for himself, encompassing both Father and Son. This emphasis on Satan's guilt contains the potentially affective elements of his earlier longing for heaven, steering the audience away from sympathy. The anticomitatus also denies the possibility of sympathizing with Satan as a lonely refugee, serving as an intradiegetic model for counter-empathy. Unlike the elegiac narrators who are especially sympathetic because they are cut off from community, Satan has brought his own perverse comitatus with him, (68) showing the affective forms of the poem to be empty--a jarring reminder that being true to form need not entail being true.
The following four laments build on this reminder, evoking an elegiac mood while frustrating it through contextual misappropriation. They also show Satan at work attempting to make meaning of his situation, just as Harbus argues that speakers in elegies frequently reinterpret the past to understand the present. The second lament begins with Satan recollecting his former position and his proximity to God, "dryhtene deore" (82; dear to the Lord). This time he enlarges on the moment in which he decided that he wished to rebel against Christ and take control for himself. At this moment temporal boundaries collapse: "ic wolde towerpan wuldres leoman, / bearn helendes, agan me burga gewald / eall to sehte, and oeos earme heap / be ic hebbe to helle ham geledde" (85-88; I desired to cast down the light of glory, the son of the Savior, to possess for myself control of the strongholds, everything as a possession and this wretched troop which I have led home to hell). The syntax and patterning of Satan's grand schemes leads one to expect another infinitive describing how Satan brings "oeos earme heap" to victory. But line 88b instead brings Satan's imagination crashing down into the world of what actually happened: rather than leading them to great heights, Satan led them "home" to hell. As the Wanderer wakes up from dreams of his lord to find himself on the sea, Satan's lofty goals shift suddenly into dismal reality. This is the first of many times that Satan refers to hell as a ham and remembers his arrival in it. Redefining hell as ham is one way in which Satan can attempt to make meaning out of his past by creating a new center of heroic life where his demonic retainers serve him as their lord. (69) Indeed, Satan's emphasis on his act of leading the devils to their home suggests an inversion of the Harrowing to be portrayed later in the poem, an anti-Exodus where followers are brought into captivity rather than out of it. (70) Yet for Satan's redefinitions, this new ham can never be an eoel, a true homeland, nor even an eard, as Satan comments that they need not expect God to ever "eard alefan, / aeoel to aehte, swa he aer dyde" (115-16; grant a land, a homeland as a possession, as he did before). Rather, hell is a place where they want to hide but cannot, where their company is not the seabirds of the Seafarer but snakes and dragons. Because hell is an unsuitable home, Satan declares that he will act like an exile and "hweorfan oy widor, / wadan wraeclastas, wuldre benemed, / duguoum bedeled" (119-21; turn the more widely, traverse paths of exile, deprived of glory, separated from the heavenly hosts), using traditional formulae for exile identified by Greenfield. These might carry sympathetic emotional overtones, but they highlight Satan's failed attempts to give purpose to his present. Unlike the typical elegiac speakers who discover consolation by reframing their situation through the formal process of elegy, (71) Satan's emotional journey will never have a true destination, and the poem thus highlights the artifice of consolation induced by poetry alone.
The third lament continues to deflate this artifice as it describes the demons' new ham, parallel to many elegiac passages describing the desolate landscape of the exile. Hell is "pes windiga sele" (135; this windy hall) and a place of cold (although this cold is mixed with heat, a traditional attribute of hell), (72) yet hell is not only desolate but grotesque in a way that moves beyond elegy, as a place of extreme temperatures, loud lamentation of hellish warriors, and naked men struggling with serpents (134-35). Satan's attempts to describe himself as an effective leader who has brought his people home are also shown to be empty, as he is so powerless that he can only injure the souls that God does not want to possess. Satan turns again to imagine the throne scene of heaven, this time visualizing himself and his followers singing around the Son. But it is only to return to a present in which he is wounded by sin, guilty in deeds, and chained in his prison with burning restraints. The elegiac terms have the potential to draw sympathy, but the horrors of hell distance readers, keeping them in the emotional tension that affords critical distance to evaluate how elegy manipulates.
The contract unravels perhaps most forcefully in the fourth lament's dramatic debunking of elegiac tropes, commencing with a series of nine "eala" statements imagining the loss of heaven and invoking the ubi sunt tradition. In keeping with the dilation of the earlier laments, heaven is most prominent here, dominating the first seventeen lines of this speech. When Satan again reviews his fall, he is no longer the leader but the led, "alaeded fram leohte in bone laoan ham" (177; led from light to the hateful home). His best attempts at redefinition are unconvincing even to him. His confusion extends to a seeming failure of memory, or an aporia: "Ne maeg ic past gehicgan hu ic in oaem becwom" (178; Nor may I fathom how I came to this). Yet immediately afterward he announces the reason: "Wat ic nu ba / paet bio alles leas ecan dreamas / se oe heofencyninge heran ne penceo, / meotode cweman" (180-83; I know now that he is bereft of all eternal joys who does not think to obey the heavenly King, to please the Lord). This gnomic insight can offer no comfort to Satan now that the time for obedience is past. In Satan's final solo speech, his hopes have completely degenerated: his previous strategies do not give him consolation, he cannot understand his situation, and eternal truths offer no restorative action for him to undertake. At the conclusion of this lament, the narrator imagines Satan reenacting the fall to hell once again, followed by his "gifre and graedige" (191) followers, creating an envelope that brackets the earlier use of "gredige and gifre" and signals a structural turning point. Although pathetic, Satan begins to move away from being empathetic, unable to use the strategies of elegiac narrators to acquire comfort.
At this moment, with elegiac frustration built up to a breaking point, the narrator delivers a lengthy homiletic aside that begins to draw out the moral of these laments, explaining how to read a villain who has been simultaneously despicable and sympathetic. Satan is to be taken "to bysne" (195), as an example of how pride destroys, and readers should thus be careful not to enrage the Son of God but to engage in appropriate activity, choosing a homeland (204; eard) with Christ in heaven. The poem again describes the joys of heaven in detail, but readers are already familiar with heaven, having seen it repeatedly through Satan's eyes as a place longed for but now lost. However, now that readers have been drawn away from mythic time and from Satan's viewpoint, they can receive the hope of consolation that fills the gap of frustration in Satan's laments. The narrator exhorts listeners to "cerran pider" (216; turn thither), using a different verb for turning than hweorfan, the verb that describes the restless turning of the demons in hell and on earth. Satan's pictures of heaven are now revealed as previews of readers' own consolation, and the poem moves toward counter-empathy. By seeing heaven reflected first in the eyes of the demons as a desirable place, an empathizing audience would be moved to long for it themselves. Now they are reminded that they can possess it, if they will live and think rightly. Where Christ III restates the patristic doctrine that the torment of the condemned can reinforce the joy of the saved, Christ and Satan can give readers a taste of this joy by showing them Satan's despair and then causing them to realize the joy of their own hope by contrast. The images of heaven are repeated and reinforced as the poem moves forward into the Harrowing, where Christ interrupts the hopeless reveries of the devils to ferry his own people ham. In the terms of the mood-cue approach, this moment reads as a key shift in the emotional energies of the poem, dropping the generic cues of elegy to present those of homily, which marshals hope of reward and fear of punishment to encourage different affective alignments. Such a shift to homily is not uncommon for Old English poetry, notably appearing in the codas to The Wanderer and The Seafarer; its commonplace nature wraps Satan's subversive laments into one of the most conventional of Old English generic cues, signaling for the reader the need for appropriate, religiously sanctioned emotional response.
The final lament, a dramatic reenactment of the fall of the angels, punctuates this message of consolation. The demons begin with their longest description yet of heaven and the praises around the throne. Then, like a soloist in a liturgical chant, Satan takes up the lament, indicated in the text only by the switch from first-person plural to first-person singular: "Ongan ic pa steppan foro / ana wio englum, and to him eallum spraec" (247-48; I then began to step forth alone towards the angels, and spoke to them all). Alone before the angels, Satan foreshadows his later loneliness as an exile with his followers. Satan rehearses his incitement to rebellion in direct speech, in an inversion of the homiletic injunctions delivered only lines ago. But as the instigatory speech ends, he immediately recounts his expulsion "of pam deoran ham" (255; from the dear home), acknowledging the true locus of home to be heaven. Again he reviews the pains of hell, but notes this time that he is powerless to touch the soul who desires to ascend--that is, the soul who follows the homiletic narrator's exhortations. Satan ends his final lament by wondering whether God will ever give them another homeland--an uncertain ending to a speech that in terms of elegy should end with, if not hope, at least resignation. The poem moves on to another homiletic passage describing ways that readers can ascend to heaven and avoid Satan's fate. But it cannot completely leave aside the fall of the angels, reviewing the expulsion two more times in fitts VII and VIII before recounting the Harrowing. These final recapitulations seal Satan's fate from an authoritative external perspective; readers are increasingly distanced from Satan's viewpoint as the poem focuses on Christ and the possibility for humans to ascend with him to heaven, signaling a decisive change in mood.
The poem leads readers from sympathy to counter-empathy and critique not only through the series of smaller cues and miscues it provides, but also through its wider structural subversion of elegy's typical movement toward consolation or acceptance. Satan's laments sit uncomfortably in the elegiac dialectic between desire and consolation, structure and excess. By pointing to the contrasts that normally produce empathy but subverting them, the poem draws attention to how elegiac strategies influence the emotions of an audience. The imperative of biblical history already requires the laments to resist the elegiac modulation toward comfort. A reader with a basic knowledge of the fall of the angels narrative knows that Satan will never experience consolation; he is condemned to hell forever, and he acknowledges this repeatedly. In his first lament he declares, "ic in wite sceal / bidan in bendum, and me baettran ham / for oferhygdum aefre ne wene" (48b-50; I must in torment remain in bonds, and never hope for a better home for myself because of pride). In contrast, the final lines of The Wanderer pronounce "Wel bio bam be him are seceo, / frofre to faeder on heofonum, paer us eal seo faestnung stondeo" (114-15; It goes well for him who seeks favor for himself, comfort from the father in heaven, where all stability remains for us), and the conclusion of The Seafarer calls on readers to "hycgan hwaer we ham agen, / ond bonne gepencan hu we pider cumen" (117-18; consider where we possess a home, and then consider how we might come thither). These endings suggest that the pain of exile in this life can be replaced with a lasting home in heaven, if one is willing to pursue it. Even Deor, a less explicitly Christian elegy, reaches for the comfort that "paes ofereode, pisses swa maeg" (42; it passed away with respect to that, so may it with respect to this). But Satan has already ceded a heavenly home through his rebellion. Still, Satan questions the finality of his banishment, concluding in his last lament that he must wait to see whether God will give him another home (276-78). This suggests that either he does not understand or has not accepted his fate, contrary to elegiac speakers such as the Wanderer, who resigns himself to his unhappy condition with the hope of eternal consolation, or the narrator of Wulf and Eadwacer, who seems at least to take grim comfort in the uncoupling of "paette naefre gesomnad waes" (18; what was never joined). Satan's unstable mind, holding out for a revocation of exile that the Christian reader knows to be impossible, seems to swerve from the tradition of consolation. Yet it is at this moment that the poem enacts one of the formal strategies that Anne Klinck associates with Old English elegies: the repetition of key phrases extending to entire lines. (73) Elegies employ repetition in the act of remembering, which resummons the past to link it to a redemptive history in a quest for resolution. Satan's blinkered hope invokes a key structure of elegy, in his attempt to imagine a better future in a bleak situation. Yet, as readers know, this hope is vain, and although Satan can persist in his delusion through the structures of elegiac verse, critical readers are not fooled.
In fact, because consolation is impossible, the laments themselves become meaningless variations on a theme, producing the repetition of elegy to almost parodic extents and emptying the affective and salvific force of memory through misappropriation. (74) Satan rehearses the past events that have led him to this point, the darkness and torment of his present hellish home, and the joys of heaven that he will never experience again, shuttling between past, present, and future in an elegiac move inflated to ridiculous proportions. Harbus argues that memory is typically a recuperative force in elegies: "The past is brought to bear on the present and future through... rhetorically designed recollection, by which the present is reinterpreted more acceptably." (75) Yet for Satan, such repetition cannot lead to comfort, and its iterations only image the eternal nature of Satan's punishment. Many elegiac speakers attempt to reorient their perspective by considering eternity, expressing a longing to be free from the cyclical and painful present of elegy and caught up in the atemporality of heaven. The repetitive cycles of earthly time, although instituted by God, would come to a merciful end when, as Bede explained in De Temporum Ratione, God would "ipse labentibus temporum curriculis finem cum uoluerit imponet." (76) But Satan can never be free from these cycles; indeed, he can only convert the unceasing present of heavenly praise into a cyclical recollection of a state that he will never again experience, as he reflects on how he and his followers are "ungelice" what they were (149). This causes him to reinterpret his present and past less acceptably, declaring at one point that it is worse for him that he ever knew the sights and sounds of heaven (140-44). (77) Far from being a recuperative force, memory is a broken record leading only to greater pain, in contrast to the presence of heaven in which there can be no memory because there is no change.
Just as Satan's laments play with structures of longing and consolation and past and present, they also play with the tension between bondage or stasis and movement that occupies many of the elegies. Irving lists imagery of restraint as one of the key motifs in elegies; this binding can refer to external forces such as the weather but also to mental or emotional restraint. (78) References to wandering underscore perhaps the most painful confinement: that of being unable to return to one's homeland, whether this is the life of the hall or the favors of one's lord. Thus movement reflects confinement, while the mind that is restrained because of custom or loneliness is often free to roam in reflection and attempts to make meaning. However, Satan's bonds are not metaphors referring to the weather but literal chains of fire that torment him and impede his movement, or as he explains in the third lament, he "sceal nu bysne wites clom / beoran beornende in baece minum" (156-67; must bear burning on my back this chain of torment). Further, he is bound in a burning enclosure with his followers, "in fyrlocan feste gebunden" (58; in a fiery prison bound fast). This physical confinement is linked to his state as an exile, permanently ejected from the bounds of heaven and sent to a prison within which the demons move restlessly. Satan repeatedly refers to movement as one of his counter-elegiac themes, and some of his followers even carry their restless movement to earth to incite conflict among men (269). David Johnson has convincingly harmonized the contradictory images of Satan being both confined to hell and free to move by referring to the patristic corpus diaboli tradition, referring to the demons (some of whom are not confined to hell) as the body of Satan in a mirroring of the doctrine that Christians are the body of Christ. (79) Satan is thus confined physically but free to harm evil souls through his followers. And he is certainly not confined verbally by the mode of conduct that the Wanderer follows so that he may "his ferolocan faeste binde" (13; bind fast his mind's container); indeed, Satan's excess is most evident in the number of words he forces out exceeding decorum. His speech is described with the verbal phrases "wordum indraf" (80; drove in with words), "ut porhdraf" (162; drove through outward) and "saede / his earfooo ealle aetsomne" (125-26; recounted his afflictions all together), which list his sorrows point by point. His voice is even described as iron-like and his speech manifests visually as sparks to illustrate his tortured words. (80) Satan's violent movement and endless recapitulation of torment threaten to exceed the bounds set by elegy as a method of giving structure to grief, a reminder to the audience that if words can be redemptive they can also be meaningless. His grimly systematic wandering at the conclusion of the poem, condemned to measure hell as punishment for trying to tempt Christ, becomes a parodic imposition of order on his disorderly movement. (81)
This elegiac deconstruction has many implications for our reading of the poem. Johnson speculates that the composer of Christ and Satan may have employed elegiac topoi as "a holdover from heroic diction or an indication of the status and tastes of his own audience." (82) Yet as my analysis using the mood-cue approach suggests, these tropes have an even further-reaching and subversive end: by layering the language of elegy over the plaints of Satan, the poem also carefully manages readers' emotions, presenting cues that should invite empathy but ultimately steer it into the realm of counter-empathy. The structural, theological, and stylistic work of scholars such as Johnson adds to our inventory of cultural cues, but we must also be attentive to the complex ways a reader can interact with these shifting cues in responding affectively to a text. Christ and Satan is a case in point, frustrating readers from experiencing consolation by employing the cues of elegy only to turn them from their traditional end and replace them with a set of homiletic ones. In this way, the poem might inculcate a critical suspicion of the elegiac contract as a set of conventions that are affectively charged without conferring moral rectitude on the speaker who uses them. The empty elegiac forms in the first part of Christ and Satan have ramifications for our understanding of other Old English texts, underscoring the importance of considering the strategies that Old English religious texts use to influence readers' emotions in the service of moral reform. Where the Consolation of Philosophy depicts Lady Philosophy driving away the muses of poetry to help Boethius recuperate, (83) the author of Christ and Satan allows readers to listen to the muses long enough to realize how hollow their song can be when diverted to the wrong ends. In the ambition of its approach, the poem deserves artistic credit, while encouraging us to reevaluate where affective and heroic language in Old English poetry promotes more complex, even ambivalent, emotional responses.
I would like to thank Charles D. Wright, Renee R. Trilling, Kelly Williams, Anne Johnson, and the anonymous readers for their invaluable feedback. I would also like to thank the editors and staff of Philological Quarterly.
(1) For a recent summary of how scholars have approached the division of Christ and Satan, see Emily Thornbury's discussion in Becoming a Poet in Anglo-Saxon England (Cambridge U. Press, 2014), 162-63.
(2) See for example Charles R. Sleeth, Studies in Christ and Satan (U. of Toronto Press, 1982), 71-111; David F. Johnson, Studies in the Literary Career of the Fallen Angels: The Devil and His Body in Old English Literature (PhD diss., Cornell U., 1993), 82.
(3) All quotations of Christ and Satan are from The Junius Manuscript, ed. George Philip Krapp, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 1 (Columbia U. Press, 1931), and are cited parenthetically by line number. All translations are mine unless otherwise noted.
(4) For a description of the plaints of Satan tradition, see C. E. Abbetmeyer, Old English Poetical Motives Derived from the Doctrine of Sin (PhD diss., U. of Minnesota, 1900), 16-20; Merrel Dare Clubb, Christ and Satan: An Old English Poem (Yale U. Press, 1925), xxiv-xxxiii; Sleeth, Studies in Christ and Satan, 52-53. Tom Hill also suggests some passages from the Moralia in Job as a source for the plaints of Satan, particularly in Genesis B; see Hill, "Satan's Injured Innocence in Genesis B, 360-2, 390-2," English Studies 65 (July 1984): 289-90.
(5) Leonard Frey, "Exile and Elegy in Anglo-Saxon Christian Epic Poetry," The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 62 (April 1963): 293-302; Stanley Greenfield, "The Formulaic Expression of the Theme of 'Exile' in Anglo-Saxon Poetry," Speculum 30 (April 1955): 200-6.
(6) Frey, "Exile and Elegy," 301.
(7) Johnson, Studies in the Literary Career of the Fallen Angels, 88.
(8) M. G. McGeachy, Lonesome Words: The Vocal Poetics of the Old English Lament and the African-American Blues Song (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). McGeachy refers to these Old English elegies and elegiac passages as "laments" to sidestep contentions about the elegies as a genre.
(9) McGeachy, Lonesome Words, 13.
(10) Robert Hasenfratz, "The Theme of the 'Penitent Damned' and Its Relation to Beowulf and Christ and Satan," Leeds Studies in English 21 (1990): 45-69.
(11) Margaret Bridges, "The Heroic and Elegiac Contexts of Two Old English Laments of the Fallen Angel: Towards a Theory of Medieval Daemonization," SPELL: Swiss Papers in English Language and Literature 4 (1988): 117-32.
(12) Not all elegies are explicitly penitential. For a discussion of penitential elements in elegies, see E. G. Stanley, "Old English Poetic Diction and the Interpretation of The Wanderer, The Seafarer and The Penitent's Prayer," Anglia 73 (1955): 413-66.
(13) Karl F. Morrison, I Am You: The Hermeneutics of Empathy in Western Literature, Theology, and Art (Princeton U. Press, 1988), 69-97.
(14) Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (London: Routledge, 2002), 92.
(15) Greg M. Smith, Film Structure and the Emotion System (Cambridge U. Press, 2003). That genre is flexible is not a new observation; see for example Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Genres and Modes (Harvard U. Press, 1982).
(16) Smith, Film Structure and the Emotion System, 38-40. Smith's analysis focuses on film and so includes many elements that do not apply to narrative text (such as music, camera angles, etc.). However, his ideas about genre and style still bear application to narrative texts, which can further bring other strategies into play.
(17) As we shall see, however, there is good evidence to support an emic Germanic and Anglo-Saxon genre category that modern critics have identified fuzzily with the etic genre term "elegy."
(18) Mark Honigsberg,"The Politics of Empathy," The History of Emotions Blog, Queen Mary Centre for the History of the Emotions, December 3, 2012, https://emotionsblog.history.qmul.ac.uk/2012/12/the-politics-of-empathy/.
(19) For the early history of Schadenfreude see Wilco W. van Dijk and Jaap W. Ouwerkerk, "Introduction to Schadenfreude," in Schadenfreude: Understanding Pleasure at the Misfortune of Others (Cambridge U. Press, 2014), 1-14.
(20) Definitions of empathy vary widely among researchers; for one discussion of these differences, see Daniel C. Batson, "These Things Called Empathy: Eight Related but Distinct Phenomena," in The Social Neuroscience of Empathy, ed. Jean Decety and William Ickes (MIT Press, 2011 ), 3-16. I will use "empathy" to refer to a convergent emotional response between an observer and an object of empathy who may or may not be real.
(21) Richard H. Smith et al., "Exploring the When and Why of Schadenfreude," Social and Personality Compass 3 (2009): 530. These are certainly not the only types of misfortunes that elicit pleasure; for example, one might laugh at misfortune out of relief that it has not occurred to oneself.
(22) See Dorothy Haines, "Vacancies in Heaven: The Doctrine of Replacement and Genesis A," Notes and Queries 44 (1997): 150-54.
(23) AElfric's Catholic Homilies, the first Series, ed. Peter Clemoes, EETS ss 17 (Oxford U. Press, 1997), 368.
(24) Pope Gregory, Homilia in Evangelia, ed. R. Etaix, Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina 141 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), 405.
(25) The Exeter Book, ed. George Philip Krapp and Elliott Van Kirk Dobbie, The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records 3 (Columbia U. Press, 1936). All poems from the Exeter Book (including Christ III, Deor, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, The Wife's Lament, and Wulf and Eadwacer) are cited parenthetically by line number from this edition.
(26) Ungelice occurs in lines 898, 909, 1262, and 1362 of Christ III.
(27) T. D. Arner and P. D. Stegner, "'Of pam him aweaxeo wynsum gefea': The Voyeuristic Appeal of Christ III," Journal of English and Germanic Philology 106 (2007): 428-46.
(28) Morrison, I Am You, 69.
(29) Ibid., 82.
(30) Augustine, Contra Mendacium, ed. Joseph Zycha, Corpus Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Latinanum (CSEL) 41 (Vienna, 1900), 499; translation Sister Mary Muldowney et al., Treatises on Various Subjects, Fathers of the Church Volume 16 (Catholic U. of America Press, 2010), 152-53: "Quae si mendacia dixerimus, omnes etiam parabolae ac figurae significandarum quarumque rerum, quae non ad proprietatem accipiendae sunt, sed in eis aliud ex alio est intellegendum, dicentur esse mendacia: quod absit omnino. Nam qui hoc putat, tropicis etiam tam multis locutionibus omnibus potest hanc inportare calumniam, ita ut et ipsa quae appellatur metaphora, hoc est de re propria ad rem non propriam uerbi alicuius usurpata translatio, possit ista ratione mendacium nuncupari" (If we call it a lie, then all parables and figures for signifying anything which are not to be taken literally, but in which one thing must be understood for another, will be called lies. A deplorable consequence! He who thinks this can bring this charge against all figurative expressions, be they ever so many. In this way even what is named a metaphor, that is, the so-called transfer of some word from its own object to an object not its own, could be called a lie).
(31) See Morrison, I Am You, 74-78.
(32) See for example Vercelli 2, 20, and 21 in The Vercelli Homilies and Related Texts, ed. D. G. Scragg, Early English Text Society 300 (Oxford U. Press, 1992), and Napier 29 in Wulfstan: Sammlung der ihm zugeschriebenen Homilien nebst Untersuchungen uber ihre echtheit, ed. Arthur S. Napier (Berlin, 1883), 134-43.
(33) See for example Paul Battles's association of elegy with personal sharing of emotion in "Toward a Theory of Old English Poetic Genres: Epic, Elegy, Wisdom Poetry, and the 'Traditional Opening,'" Studies in Philology 111 (Winter 2014): 1-33.
(34) Patrick Colm Hogan, "The Epilogue of Suffering: Heroism, Empathy, Ethics," Substance 39 (2001): 119-43.
(35) For other critiques of Old English and/or Germanic elegy, see B. J. Timmer, "The Elegiac Mood in Old English Poetry," English Studies 24: 33-44; Maria Jose Mora, "The Invention of the Old English Elegy," English Studies 76 (1995): 129-39; and more recently Kathleen Davis, "Old English Lyrics: A Poetics of Experience," in The Cambridge History of Early Medieval English Literature, ed. Clare A. Lees (Cambridge U. Press, 2013), 332-56.
(36) Anne Klinck, The Old English Elegies: A Critical Edition and Genre Study (Montreal: McGill-Queen's U. Press, 1992), 244-45.
(37) Stanley Greenfield, "The Old English Elegies," in Hero and Exile: The Art of Old English Poetry, ed. George Hardin Brown (London: Hambledon, 1989), 93-124.
(38) Joseph Harris, "Elegy in Old English and Old Norse: A Problem in Literary History," in The Old English Elegies: New Essays in Criticism and Research, ed. Martin Green (Fairleigh Dickinson U. Press, 1983), 48.
(39) Anne Klinck, "The Old English Elegy as a Genre," English Studies in Canada 10 (June 1984): 130.
(40) Edward Irving, "Image and Meaning in the Elegies," in Old English Poetry: Fifteen Essays (Brown U. Press, 1967), 153-66; McGeachy, Lonesome Words, 61-98; Greenfield, "Formulaic Expression," 201. See also Paul Battles's recent, convincing discussion of generic characteristics of elegies and elegiac openings in "Toward a Theory of Old English Poetic Genres."
(41) Battles, "Toward a Theory of Old English Poetic Genres," 16-17, 30.
(42) Ibid., 20-23, 28-30.
(43) Greenfield, "The Old English Elegies," 94.
(44) Klinck, The Old English Elegies, 225.
(45) T. A. Shippey, Old English Verse (London: Hutchinson, 1972), 56.
(46) For further discussion of consolation in the elegies see Antonina Harbus, The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, Costerus New Series 143 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2002), 127-60, and Shippey, Old English Verse, 53-78. The Wife's Lament and The Ruin do not seem to fit this pattern, although The Ruin does contextualize the building's decay in the general failure of all things, and the narrator of The Wife's Lament does project into the future to imagine her husband (if not in a hopeful way).
(47) For scholars who identify sorrow as a prominent feature of the elegiac genre, see Paul Battles, "Toward a Theory of Old English Poetic Genres," 17, and others discussed below.
(48) Shippey, Old English Verse, 58.
(49) Harbus, The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, 138.
(50) See Peter Stockwell's discussion in Texture: A Cognitive Aesthetics of Reading (Edinburgh U. Press, 2012), esp. 87-105.
(51) As many critics have noted, elegies can be affectively charged without being empathetic or sympathetic. Not all critics, for example, find the narrator of Resignation B sympathetic, despite the poem's extensive employment of elegiac topoi. Nonetheless, Satan's quasi-sympathetic portrayal in Christ and Satan illustrates a strong tendency within the genre.
(52) Harbus, The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, 140.
(53) Mary K. Ramsay, "Dustsceawung: Texting the Dead in the Old English Elegies," in Laments for the Lost in Medieval Literature, ed. Jane Tolmie and M. J. Toswell (Turnout: Brepols, 2010), 47-48.
(54) See Antonina Harbus, Cognitive Approaches to OldEnglish Poetry, Anglo-Saxon Studies 18 (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2012), 170-73, for another reading of the emotional mechanics of this poem. Harbus argues that the complex cognitive work required to make sense of the allusive poem enforces a high degree of investment, so that readers come to "valorise the emotional quality of lived experience... in this fictional representation," 173.
(55) Bede's Ecclesiastical History, ed. Bertram Colgrave and R. A. B. Mynors (Oxford U. Press, 1969), 2.
(56) Battles, "Toward a Theory of Old English Poetic Genres," 17.
(57) See for example Vercelli 14, "for Adames gewyrhtum we waeron of oam eadilican setle neorxnawanges gefean utascofene 7 on pas wraec sende bysse worulde be we nu on lyfiao" (for Adam's sins we were shoved out of the joy of the blessed seat in paradise and sent in this exile to this world which we now live in).
(58) Greenfield, "The Formulaic Expression of Exile," 202.
(59) Cf. the narrator of The Wife's Lament, who is forced to make a home "in pam eoroscrasfe" (28; in that earthen pit) where "sindon dena dimme" (30; the dunes are dark).
(60) See Donald K. Fry, "The Cliff of Death in Old English Poetry," in Comparative Research on Oral Traditions: A Memorial for Milman Parry, ed. John Foley (Columbus: Slavica, 1987), 213-33.
(61) Genesis A 1010-51.
(62) Daniel 612-56.
(63) See for example Beowulf 154-62, 721, 1275, 1352. Although Grendel is frequently viewed as quasi sympathetic, Ben Reinhard argues from penitentials that the creature's unrepentant attitude would be more likely to inspire rejection than sympathy; see Reinhard, "Grendel and the Penitentials," English Studies 94 (2013): 371-85.
(64) For Satan's speech after being cast into hell, see Genesis B 356-441.
(65) Genesis A 1023-35.
(66) See J. E. Cross, "Ubi Sunt Passages in Old English--Sources and Relationships," Vetenskaps-Societeten I Lund Arsbok (1956): 23-44.
(67) Harbus, The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, 138.
(68) See Hugh Magennis's discussion of ironic images of heroic community in Images of Community in Old English Poetry (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 82-90. Magennis does not discuss Christ and Satan.
(69) In Genesis B 356-441, Satan attempts a similar redefinition, but using heroic rather than elegiac language.
(70) Nicholas Howe has also observed this; see Howe, "Falling into Place: Dislocation in the Junius Book," in Unlocking the Wordhord: Anglo-Saxon Studies in Memory of Edward B. Irving, Jr., ed. Mark C. Amodio and Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe (U. of Toronto Press, 2003), 14-37.
(71) See also Peter Sacks, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats (Johns Hopkins U. Press, 1985), for a similar argument on elegies in English more generally from a Freudian perspective.
(72) For the topos of hell as hot and cold, which likely derives from the apocryphal Book of Enoch, see Thomas D. Hill, "The Tropological Context of Heat and Cold Imagery in Anglo-Saxon Poetry," Neuphilologischen Mitteilungen 69 (1968): 522-32.
(73) Klinck, "The Old English Elegy as a Genre," 130.
(74) See also Renee R. Trilling's discussion of Satan's repetition "ad nauseam" (108) in The Aesthetics of Nostalgia (U. of Toronto Press, 2009), 108-14. Trilling reads this repetition as serving the poet's instructional purpose: "The narrative passages... serve as pretexts for vivid, if repetitive, descriptions of the torments of hell, which in turn serve as exempla for the passages of present tense, direct-address admonition to readers to learn from Satan's example," 110.
(75) Harbus, The Life of the Mind in Old English Poetry, 138.
(76) "when he sees fit, He himself shall decree an end to the unstable cycles of time"; De Temporum Ratione Liber, ed. C. W. Jones, Corpus Christianorum: Series Latina 122B (Turnhout: Brepols, 1977), 263; trans. by Faith Wallis as The Reckoning of Time (Liverpool U. Press, 1999), 3.
(77) Cf. Boethius: De Consolatione Philosophiae Opuscula Theologica, ed. Claudio Moreschini (Munich: K. G. Saur, 2005), 2.4.2, when Boethius tells Lady Philosophy, "nam in omni adversitate fortunae infelicissimum est genus infortunii fuisse felicem" (for in every adversity of fortune, the unhappiest kind of misfortune is to have been happy).
(78) Irving, "Image and Meaning in the Elegies," 160-61.
(79) Johnson, "The Literary Career of the Fallen Angels," 79-107. See also Peter Dendle's discussion of Satan's relationship to the demons in Satan Unbound: The Devil in Old English Narrative Literature (U. of Toronto Press, 2001), 87-114.
(80) For a discussion of the traditions behind this, see Robert Hasenfratz, "Eisegan Stefne (Christ and Satan 36a), the Visio Pauli, and Ferrea Vox (Aeneid 6, 626)," Modern Philology 86 (1989): 398-403; Thomas D. Hill, "Satan's Fiery Speech, 'Christ and Satan,' 78-79," Notes and Queries 217 (1972): 2-4; Hugh Keenan, "Satan Speaks in Sparks: 'Christ and Satan' 78-79a, 161b-162b, and the 'Life of St. Antony,'" Notes and Queries 219 (1974): 283-84.
(81) See Jill Fitzgerald, "Measuring Hell by Hand: Rogation Rituals in Christ and Satan," Review of English Studies 68 (2016): 1-22.
(82) Johnson, Studies in the Literary Career of the Fallen Angels, 91.
(83) Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae 1.1.7-12.
KATHERINE R. NORCROSS
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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