Anonymous: The Heliand

(592 words)
  • Hugh Magennis (Queen's University Belfast)

The Heliand (the word means 'Saviour'), a verse retelling of the life of Christ, is the only substantial poetic text surviving in Old Saxon. It consists of 5938 alliterative lines (and is incomplete). We also have fragments of an Old Saxon Genesis poem, which was also reworked in an Old English version, the latter referred to as Genesis B (also fragmentary), but the Genesis material amounts to only a fraction of that of the Heliand. The text of the poem has been preserved in two major manuscripts, Munich Cgm 25 (ninth century) and British Library, Cotton Caligula A. vii (tenth century), and in two other fragmentary witnesses. The Cotton manuscript is thought to have been written in England.

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Magennis, Hugh. "The Heliand". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 April 2003
[, accessed 29 September 2016.]