Solomon and Saturn






…but they began to worship various giants,

 and men for their gods which were mighty

 in worldly dignity, and terrible in life,

 although foully they lived…..



One man was dwelling in the island Crete,

 named Saturn, powerful and ferocious,

 so that he eat his children when they were born,

 and unfatherlike made their flesh his food.





He left nevertheless one alive ;

 although he had devoured his brothers before ;

 he was called Jove, hostile and mighty ;

 he expelled his father from the aforesaid island,

 and would have slain him could he have come to him.



This Jove was so lascivious that he married his sister,

 who was named Juno, a very lofty goddess.


 Their daughters were Diana and Venus, *

 whom the father debauched both foully,

 and many of his female relatives  criminally defiled.


These guilty men were the mightiest gods

 which the heathen worshiped

 and made unto themselves for gods, but the son was nevertheless

 more honoured than the father was in their foul custom.

  [* The MS. reads ‘Minerua’ and ‘Uenus,’]



This Jove is the most venerable of all the gods

 whom the heathen had in their error, and he was called Thor

 among certain nations, whom the Danish people love the most.


His son was called Mars who made ever contests, and wrath and mischief

 he would ever stir up ; him the heathen honoured as a lofty god,

 and as often as they warred or would to battle,

 then offered they their sacrifice beforehand to this god ;

 they believed that he could much aid them

 in battle, since he loved battle.






A man there was called Mercury during life who was very fraudulent

 and deceitful in deeds, and eke loved thefts and deception :

 him the heathen made a powerful god, and by the road-side

 made him offerings, and on high hills brought him sacrifice.

 This god was honourable among all the heathen, and he is called O?

 by another name in Danish.





A woman was named Venus she was Jove’s daughter,

 so bold in lust that her father had her, and eke her brother,

 and others besides after the fashion of a whore :

 but her the heathen honour as a lofty goddess,

 and as the daughter of their god.







Many other gods there were variously invented,

 and goddesses too in mighty repute throughout the world,

 for the ruin of mankind ; but these are the greatest

 though they foully lived.



The ambushed devil that besets mankind with lies

 brought the heathen to this deep error, that they such foul men

 should invent for gods, who loved the sins that please the devil,

 and their worshipers also loved their shame,

 and became estranged from almighty God

 who hateth sins and loveth purity.


They appointed also to the sun and moon

 and to the other gods, to each his day ; first to the sun

 the sunday, then to the moon he monday,

 and the third day they submitted to Mars

 their battle god for their support.



The fourth day they gave for their advantage

to the aforesaid Mercury their great god ;

 the fifth day they solemnly devoted

 to Jove’s honour, the greatest god ;

 the sixth day they appointed

 to the shameless goddess called Venus,

 and Fricg in Danish.



The seventh day they gave to Saturn, Image

 the grandfather of the gods for their own comfort,

 yet last of all though he the eldest were.






They would yet honour their gods more highly

 and they gave them stars, to have power over them,

 the seven constellations, sun and moon

 and the five others that go for ever

 against the firmament toward the east,

 but still the heaven turns them ever back.

 But yet the stars shone in heaven  at the creation of the world

 before the guilty gods were born, or chosen to be gods.


SATURN spake.

 Lo ! of all the islands

 I the books have tasted, [the letters, have thoroughly turned over

 the lore-craft have unlocked of Lybia and Greece, also the history

of the Indian realm. Me the expounders well directed in the great books,

 * * ** *Image *

 which I never in all the ancient writings might find truly collected.

 I sought yet what were in respect of mood or majesty, of power or

 in any respect of activity, the palm -twigged Pater Noster.

 I will give thee all, O Son of David, King of Israel, thirty pounds


 of coined gold and my twelve sons, if thou wilt bring me

 that I may be touched, through the word of the canticle,

 by Christ’s line; if thou truly reconcilest me,

 and I depart in safety, if I turn at my will upon the water’s back,

 over the Coferflood to seek Chaldsea.




 SALOMON spake.Image

 Wretched is he on earth useless in life,

 devoid of wisdom, like the neat he wandereth

 that move over the plain, the witless cattle,

 who through the canticle cannot honour Christ. [pause,

 He shall inhabit the void ex- the devil shall cast him down

 in the day of doom, the fearful dragon, contemptuously

 from the bright Balance with iron strength.

 All grown over shall he be by the heads of the waves

 of scorn ; [him then will it be better liked by

than all this bright creation filled from the very abyss

 with gold and silver, in all its regions full

 of treasure, if he ever of the organ

 anything had known : hostile shall he then be and

 strange to Almighty God,

 unlike the angels, he shall wander alone.



 SATURN spake.

 But who may easiest of all creatures

 the holy door of heaven’s kingdom bright unclose in succession ?




SALOMON spake.

 The palm-twigged Pater Noster

 openeth the heavens, so blesseth the holy,

 maketh mild the Lord, putteth down murder,

 quencheth the devil’s fire kindleth the Lord’s :

 thus mayst thouwith the bright prayer

 heat the blood of the devil’s wizard, [rise

 so that in him the drops shall 

hurried with blood in the thoughts of his breast,

 more full of terror than the brazen cauldron

 when it for twelve generations of men

 in the embrace of flames most greedily bubbleth.



Therefore hath the canticle over all Christ’s books

 the greatest repute : it teacheth the scriptures,

 with voice it directeth, and its place it holdeth,

 heaven-kingdom’s arms it wieldeth



 SATURN spake.

 But how like is the organ in the mind

 to be conceived, by him who would his spirit

 melt against murder, make merry out of sorrow,

 separate from guilt ?

 No doubt the Creator gave it wondrous beauty !

 About this in the world full oft



 SALOMON spake.

Golden is the word of God, stoned with gems,

it hath silver leaves ; each one can

through spiritual grace a gospel relate :

 it is wisdom of the breast and honey of the soul ;

 milk of the mind, most blessed of glories ;

 it may the soul from eternal night

 fetch back under the earth; never so deep let the fiend

 with fetters have fastened it, though he with fifty

 bonds enclose it, yet breaketh it the craft,

 and all the device steareth asunder :

 hunger it despoileth, hell it destroyeth,

 fire it casteth asunder, glory it buildeth up.


MorImagee courageous is it than this world,

stronger in its position than the gripe of all the rocks.

 It is the leech of the lame, the light of the blind,

 it is also the door of the deaf, the tongue of the dumb,

 the shield of the guilty, the dwelling of the Creator ;

 the bringer of the flood, the saviour of the people,

 the heir of the waves of the poor fishes,

 and the defence of the worms, the refuge- wood of beasts,


a guardian in the wilderness, the garden of worship :Image

 and he that will earnestly this God’s-word

 sing in sooth, and him will ever

 ove without crime, he may the hated spirit,

 the fighting fiend bring to flight.



Extract from the remarkable work cited as:-



 images wiki commons

 [following synopsis redacted from wiki]


Solomon and Saturn is the generic name given to four Old English works, which present a dialogue of riddles between Solomon, the king of Israel, and Saturn, identified in two of the poems as a prince of the Chaldeans. They are considered some of the most enigmatic and difficult poems of the Old English corpus.

Solomon and Saturn I, Solomon and Saturn II, and the Pater Noster Solomon and Saturn) in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge MS 422 are often compared to the Vafþrúðnismál and Alvíssmál and other similar poems in the Poetic Edda.

The poetic versions are cited as an example of orientalism that suggest anxieties about the cultural identity of the English people. England was beset by anxieties about the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge, the stability of the kingdom and the efficacy of religious faith. It is argued that by displacing ignorance, political instability and lack of faith onto the Eastern and pagan Chaldean people as represented by Saturn, English people were encouraged to identify with ideals and behaviours of the Christianised figure of Solomon. This is cited as an example of bolstering English Christian culture through degrading the east.

As with most Old English poetry, the Solomon and Saturn poems have proven notoriously difficult to date, possibly during the reign of King Alfred in the ninth century, or the early tenth-century cultural milieu of Dunstan’s Glastonbury.

The Solomon and Saturn texts are often considered the earliest forms of a wider European literary tradition that comprises similar works such as the dialogue between Solomon and Marcolf.

Along with the Pater Noster Solomon and Saturn, Solomon and Saturn I contains runes as a sort of riddling shorthand in which runic characters stand for the words in Old English that name them. From this, we know some of the names for the extended set of runes used to write Old English. The prose version has as one of its riddles: “Who invented letters? Mercurius the giant”, who is Woden (known in Old Norse as Óðinnr, and as Odin). The Anglo-Saxons routinely identified Mercury with Woden; both rule Wednesday (which takes its name from Woden in English).

Solomon and Saturn II include two obscure passages in Old English literature: the weallande Wulf and Vasa Mortis riddles.

Saturn’s first riddle describes a dragon slayer named Wulf and the wasteland that arises after his death. The weallende Wulf passage ultimately stems from ancient Hebrew legends regarding Nimrod and the builders of the Tower of Babel. Wulf is the Babylonian idol Bel, sharing further similarities between Wulf and Beowulf.

The riddle describes a mysterious bird [Vasa Mortis] bound by Soloman until Doomsday. Solomon’s struggles with demons are at the heart of the Old English riddle; Vasa Mortis is identified with the demon Asmodeus. There are also  parallels between the Vasa Mortis and the description of Fame in Virgil’s Aeneid, as well as the nocturnal monster in the Anglo-Saxon Liber monstrorum and the griffin in the Wonders of the East.


~ by meanderingsofthemuse on June 3, 2014.

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