Is it possible to reach a deeper understanding of early medieval science through poetry of the period? This article examines how Anglo-Saxon scientia was performed in a practical way, as a kind of craft, in the Old English metrical charms and poetic dialogues of Solomon and Saturn. In the process, the article challenges modern readers to discard casual assumptions about benighted inhabitants of the “Dark Ages” and to engage with the nuances of Anglo-Saxon cognitive modes. This reassessment of the Old English texts aims to break down barriers to understanding created by terms like “superstition” and thus to extend scientific knowledge into the early Middle Ages, long before the much-lauded achievements of the “Renaissance” and “Enlightenment.” From this vantage point, Anglo-Saxon ways of perceiving and knowing do not mirror or anticipate modern mental habits that split science and poetry apart; rather, the powers of science and poetry are fused together to create an impact in the world.
Magic That Works: Performing Scientia in the Old English Metrical Charms and Poetic Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn
James Paz; Magic That Works: Performing Scientia in the Old English Metrical Charms and Poetic Dialogues of Solomon and Saturn. Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 1 May 2015; 45 (2): 219–243. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10829636-2880875
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