Well, I enjoyed St Eadmund so much that I think it deserves to be a weekly feature. Humourous Hagiography will be published on the Naked Philologist on Wednesdays or Thursdays for the next month or so, and next semester will be published likewise on the day of or the day after my AS class for the week.
Next week: St AEthelthryth- a lesson in the power of NO.
In the meantime, some interesting side facts about St Eadmund:
- Ari, the author of the Islendingabok, and scrupulous collector of historical materials, dates the settlement of Iceland by the year in which Edmund died. He gets the year wrong, which we know by comparision with the other date he gives, the reign of Harold the Fair Haired in Norway, but it’s by Ari’s testimony that we know Hinguar was Ivarr, son of Ragnar Lothborok. What source Ari had for his information on Edmund is an interesting question- there was a Latin life circulating, by Abbo of Fleury, and upon which AElfric based this tale which I have just bastardised. However- and I only have the word of the Bocera on this- there have been found Anglo-Saxon manuscripts in Iceland, particularly saints lives, and it’s not impossible that the Norse, great lovers of etymology, could translate if not read directly from the Anglo-Saxon.
- Moving on a handful of centuries, pause for a second over C.S. Lewis. Medievalist and devout Anglican, don’t think he picked the name for his sacrificial character, later ruling as “the Just”, simply because he liked the sound of “Edmund”. The story is far from parrallel- in fact, in places it’s a complete inversion. Lewis must have known he was doing it, though. The Bocera, who accuses me of ‘not paying enough attention to etymology’ (by which you can tell that he really loves etymology), points out that ‘Eadmund’ means ‘noble mouth’- Our Eadmund lives up to his name, but there might be a deliberate irony there in the case of young Edmund Pevensie.