Two Ælfric Texts: "The Twelve Abuses" and "The Vices and Virtues"

Two Ælfric Texts: "The Twelve Abuses" and "The Vices and Virtues"

An Edition and Translation of Ælfric's Old English Versions of De duodecim abusivis and De octo vitiis et de duodecim abusivis

Translated by Mary Clayton

Edited by Mary Clayton





Text with facing translation of two important Old English texts.
The texts edited in this volume are Ælfric's vernacular versions of two highly influential early medieval ethical treatises. The first, De duodecim abusiuis, is his Old English version of a seventh-century Hiberno-Latin tract dealing with the twelve abuses of the world. The second, De octo uitiis et de duodecim abusiuis, is a composite text; it combines a treatment of the eight vices and the complementary eight virtues, also found as the last part of Ælfric's Lives of Saints XVI, with the twelve abuses. The main source for the virtues and vices is Alcuin's ninth-century De uirtutibus et uitiis. Both texts were composed in Ælfric's hallmark rhythmical, alliterative prose.
This new edition provides, for the first time, critical editions of both texts, with a facing translation, presented with full apparatus; it also includes an extensive discussion of the sources and how they are treated.

Mary Clayton is Professor of Old and Middle English, University College Dublin.


December 2013
212 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Anglo-Saxon Texts
ISBN: 9781843843603
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
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Table of Contents

Editorial Conventions
The Old English Manuscripts and the Transmission of the Texts
The Two Versions of the Old English Text: Authorship and Dates
De duodecim abusiuis
The Vices and Virtues
Editorial Introduction to De duodecim abusiuis
De duodecim abusiuis
Notes to De duodecim abusiuis
Editorial Introduction to De octo uitiis et de duodecim abusiuis gradus
De octo uitiis et de duodecim abusiuis gradus
Notes to De octo uitiis et de duodecim abusiuis
Appendix: Latin De duodecim abusiuis (Oxford, Jesus College, MS 3)


This is a valuable book, not only for its presentation and reanalysis of an overlooked pair of texts, but for its exceptionally careful consideration of the Latin texts on which Ælfric relied, which are discussed here in almost as much depth as the vernacular texts themselves. Two Ælfric Texts is an excellent addition to the growing body of work on this important figure. THE MEDIEVAL REVIEW

These two tracts had been underserved in previous scholarship, a deficit that Clayton amply remedies in the present volume. Clayton provides an edition of each tract alongside a parallel translation; a substantial introduction with details on the manuscripts, a useful account of the traditions, and extensive tracing of the sources; and an edition of the Latin De duodecim abusiuis as an appendix, drawn from a single twelfth-century English manuscript that preserves a text like that which served Ælfric as his source. SPECULUM

Will no doubt be the standard edition of these two texts for many years. CHOICE

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