Aelfric on Lent 1 and Exeter’s Vainglory

The more I consider Aelfric’s sermon on Lent 1 (CH I.11), the more I’m struck by its similarities to Vainglory from the Exeter Book.

  • We have two characters in both that are identified as sons of the Devil and God. (Well, ok, the devil isn’t his own son so that doesn’t quite work…)
  • The Devil is confused as to Jesus’ identity precisely because he is not a gluttony, drunkard, nor luster.
  • The boasting behavior of the drunkard in Vainglory is highlighted just as boasting is a major feature of the second temptation in Aelfric’s homily.
  • The boaster, due to his ofermod is explicitly connected with the Devil and his army who tried to overthrow God in a fit of ofermod.
  • The chief attribute of the opposing character in Vainglory is his humility for which he gains the title of God’s own son; likewise, humility (as the preeminent monastic virtue) is Christ’s chief characteristic for Aelfric.

I’m not positing dependence, of course, (and I need to read the intro to the Rule of Chrodegang…) it’s just fascinating how the connections come together.

I must remember to do a lit search to see what others have written on this connection…


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