Examining the complex imbrication of Roman and legendary Germanic history in the Old English poem The Ruin, this essay addresses the notion of medieval medievalisms: the processes by which identities subsequently defined as medieval were conceived within the medieval period itself. The argument deploys grammatical analysis to demonstrate the blurring of linear time in the text, which invites readers to think about the past in terms not only of what has been lost but also of what might be gained, or regained, in the future. This split perspective on history is shown to be symptomatic of Anglo-Saxon attitudes to Rome, a city that inspired both hope and horror in early English minds. Legendary Germanic identity is thus identified as an early medieval production and as a means of understanding history that encompasses both different times and different cultures.

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