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Old English Online

Lesson 5

Jonathan Slocum

In the year 897, King Alfred the Great decided to deal with marauding bands of Danish Vikings, who would raid coastal areas all around the southern part of England. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle relates his activities that year, and the generally satisfactory outcome.

Reading and Textual Analysis

The Chronicle story is generally self-explanatory. After setting the stage, it notes the events that followed Alfred's construction of new warships to counter the Vikings. He dispatches nine of them on a mission. Six pirate ships are spotted beached on a riverbank near the sea, with guards posted, while raiders plunder inland. When the guards spy Alfred's vessels, they launch three of their ships to engage the English.

Our selection includes lines 159-193, found on p. 37 in: Charles T. Onions, ed. (1959), Sweet's Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse, 14th edition, Oxford: Clarendon.

s on sumera on ysum gre tfr se here, sum on astengle, sum on Norhymbre.

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- ...
  • s -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <s, so, t> that -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumera -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <sumor> summer -- summer
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • ysum -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <es, os, is> this -- this
  • gre -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <gar> year -- year
  • tfr -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <t-faran, t-fr, t-fron, t-faren> disperse, separate -- dispersed
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • here -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <here> (enemy) army -- enemy # the Danish army: the Vikings
  • sum -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- into
  • astengle -- proper noun, masculine plural; accusative of <ast-Engle> East Angles, East Anglia -- East Anglia
  • sum -- adjective; nominative singular masculine of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- into
  • Norhymbre -- proper noun, masculine plural; accusative of <Nor-hymbre> Northumbrians, Northumbria -- Northumbria

Ond e feohlase wron him r scipu begton, ond s ofer s fron t Sigene.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative plural of <s, so, t> that -- those
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- who
  • feohlase -- adjective; nominative plural of <feoh-las> moneyless, lit. without cattle -- without money
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; used as reflexive; dative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- themselves
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • scipu -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • begton -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person plural preterite of <begietan, begeat, begaton, begieten> get, acquire -- got
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • s -- adverb <s> south(wards) -- south
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • s -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <s> sea, lake -- the sea
  • fron -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <faran, fr, fron, faren> go, ride, travel -- went
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- to
  • Sigene -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Sigen> Seine -- the Seine

Nfde se here, Godes onces, Angelcyn ealles forswe gebrocod, ac he wron micle swor gebrocede on m rim garum mid capes cwilde ond monna;

  • nfde -- adverb <ne> not + weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite <habban, hfde, hfd> have, possess -- had not
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • here -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <here> (enemy) army -- enemy # the Danes
  • Godes -- proper noun, masculine; genitive singular of <God> God, Deity -- of God
  • onces -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <anc> thanks, grace, mercy -- (by) the mercy # adverbial genitive
  • Angelcyn -- proper noun, neuter; accusative singular of <Angel-cynn> English, lit. Angle kin -- the English
  • ealles -- adjective; genitive singular of <eall> all -- altogether # adverbial genitive
  • forswe -- adverb <forswe> utterly, excessively -- entirely
  • gebrocod -- weak verb, class II; past participle of <gebrocian, gebrocede, gebroced> crush; hurt, afflict -- crushed
  • ac -- conjunction <ac> and, but, however -- but
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • micle -- adverb <micel> much, very -- much
  • swor -- adverb; comparative of <swe> very, exceedingly -- more
  • gebrocede -- weak verb, class II; past participle; nominative plural of <gebrocian, gebrocede, gebroced> crush; hurt, afflict -- afflicted
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • m -- demonstrative article; dative plural of <se, so, t> that -- those
  • rim -- numeral; dative plural of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • garum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <gar> year -- years
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- by
  • capes -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cap> cattle -- of cattle
  • cwilde -- noun, masc/fem/neut; dative singular of <cwild> disease, plague, pestilence -- pestilence
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • monna -- strong noun, masculine; genitive plural of <monn> man, person -- of men

ealles swost mid m t manige ra slestena cynges na e r on londe wron forfrdon on m rym garum.

  • ealles -- adjective; genitive singular of <eall> all -- of all
  • swost -- adverb; superlative of <swe> very, exceedingly -- most
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- among
  • m -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- them
  • t -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- ...
  • manige -- adjective; nominative plural of <monig> many -- many
  • ra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, so, t> the -- (of) the
  • slestena -- adjective; comparative; genitive plural of <slla> better -- best
  • cynges -- strong noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cyning> king -- of the king's
  • na -- strong noun, masculine; nominative plural of <egn> thane, warrior -- thanes
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- who
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • londe -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • forfrdon -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <for-fran, for-frde, for-fred> die, depart, lit. go forth -- died
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- within
  • m -- demonstrative article; dative plural of <se, so, t> that -- those
  • rym -- numeral; dative plural of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • garum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <gar> year -- years

ra ws sum Swulf biscop on Hrfesceastre, ond Colmund ealdormon on Cent,

  • ra -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural of <s, so, t> that -- of these
  • ws -- anomalous verb; 3rd person singular preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- was
  • sum -- adjective used as substantive; nominative singular masculine of <sum> some, a certain -- one
  • Swulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Swulf> Swithulf -- Swithulf
  • biscop -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bisceop> bishop, prelate -- bishop
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Hrfesceastre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Hrfe-ceaster> Rochester -- Rochester
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Colmund -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Colmund> Ceolmund -- Ceolmund
  • ealdormon -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ealdor-monn> nobleman, lit. older man -- (a) nobleman
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Cent -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Cent> Kent -- Kent

ond Beorhtulf ealdormon on astseaxum, ond Wulfred ealdormon Hmtnscre,

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Beorhtulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Beorhtulf> Bertulf -- Bertulf
  • ealdormon -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ealdor-monn> nobleman, lit. older man -- (a) nobleman
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • astseaxum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <ast-Seaxan> East Saxons, Essex -- Essex
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Wulfred -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Wulfred> Wulfred -- Wulfred
  • ealdormon -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <ealdor-monn> nobleman, lit. older man -- (a) nobleman
  • Hmtnscre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Hmtn-scr> Hampshire -- (in) Hampshire

ond Ealhheard biscop t Dorceceastre, ond adulf cynges egn on Sseaxum,

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Ealhheard -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ealhheard> Elhard -- Elhard
  • biscop -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bisceop> bishop, prelate -- bishop
  • t -- preposition <t> at, against -- at
  • Dorceceastre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Dorce-ceastre> Dorchester -- Dorchester
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • adulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <adulf> Eadulf -- Eadulf
  • cynges -- strong noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cyning> king -- the king's
  • egn -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <egn> thane, warrior -- thane
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Sseaxum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <S-Seaxan> South Saxons, Sussex -- Sussex

ond Beornulf wcgerfa on Winteceastre, ond Ecgulf cynges horsegn,

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Beornulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Beornulf> Bernuff -- Bernuff
  • wcgerfa -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <wc-gerfa> lit. wick-reeve -- governor
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Winteceastre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Winte-ceastre> Winchester -- Winchester
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Ecgulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ecgulf> Egulf -- Egulf
  • cynges -- strong noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cyning> king -- the king's
  • horsegn -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <hors-egn> horse-thane -- horse-thane

ond manige ac him, h ic geungnestan nemde.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • manige -- adjective; nominative plural of <monig> many -- many
  • ac -- adverb <ac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- with them
  • h -- adverbial conjunction <ah> yet, though, however -- though
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • geungnestan -- adjective used as substantive; superlative; accusative plural of <geungen> grown, excellent, distinguished -- most distinguished
  • nemde -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <nemnan, nemde, nemed> name, call -- have named

ilcan gare drehton hergas on astenglum ond on Norhymbrum Westseaxna lond swe be m sste mid stlhergum, ealra swust mid m scum e he fela gara r timbredon.

  • -- definite article; instrumental singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- (in) the
  • ilcan -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter of <ilca> same -- same
  • gare -- noun, neuter; instrumental singular of <gar> year -- year
  • drehton -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <dreccan, drehte, dreht> afflict, harass -- harassed
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • hergas -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <here> (enemy) army -- plunderers
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • astenglum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <ast-Engle> East Angles, East Anglia -- East Anglia
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- ...
  • Norhymbrum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Nor-hymbre> Northumbrians, Northumbria -- Northumbria
  • Westseaxna -- proper noun, masculine plural; genitive of <West-Seaxan> West Saxons, Wessex -- of the West Saxons
  • lond -- strong noun, neuter; accusative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • swe -- adverb <swe> very, exceedingly -- greatly
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- around
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • sste -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <s-st> south shore -- southern shore
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • stlhergum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <stl-here> marauding army -- marauding bands
  • ealra -- adjective; genitive plural masculine of <eall> all -- of all
  • swust -- adverb; superlative of <swe> very, exceedingly -- most
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • m -- definite article; dative plural of <se, so, t> the -- ...
  • scum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <sc> ash (tree), spear; boat, ship -- ships
  • e -- relative particle <e> that, which, who -- which
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • fela -- indeclinable adjective <fela> much, many -- many
  • gara -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <gar> year -- years
  • r -- adverb <r> ere, before, formerly -- before
  • timbredon -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <timbran, timbrede, timbred> build, construct -- built

ht lfred cyng timbran lang scipu ongn scas;

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- then
  • ht -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <htan, heht, hton, hten> call, name; order -- ordered
  • lfred -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <lfred> Alfred -- Alfred
  • cyng -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <cyning> king -- King
  • timbran -- weak verb, class I; infinitive of <timbran, timbrede, timbred> build, construct -- (his men) to build # subject understood
  • lang -- adjective; accusative plural of <lang> long -- long
  • scipu -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • ongn -- preposition <ongan> against, back -- against
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • scas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <sc> ash (tree), spear; boat, ship -- (Danish) ships

wron fulnah t sw lange sw ru;

  • -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- they
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • fulnah -- adverb <fulnah> almost, very nearly -- almost # "full nigh"
  • t -- numeral; nominative plural neuter of <twgen, tw, t> twain, two -- twice
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • lange -- adjective; nominative plural of <lang> long -- long
  • sw -- adverb <sw> so, thus -- as
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • ru -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <er> other, next, second -- others

sume hfdon LX ra, sume m;

  • sume -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • hfdon -- weak verb, class III; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <habban, hfde, hfd> have, possess -- had
  • LX -- numeral <siextig> sixty -- 60
  • ra -- noun, feminine; genitive plural of <r> oar -- (of) oars
  • sume -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <sum> some, a certain -- some
  • m -- adjective; anomalous comparative of <micel> much, great -- more

wron ger ge swiftran ge unwealtran ge ac herran onne ru;

  • -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- they
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • ger -- conjunction <g-hwer> both...and -- both
  • ge -- conjunction <ge> both...and, either...or -- ...
  • swiftran -- adjective; comparative; nominative plural of <swift> swift -- swifter
  • ge -- conjunction <ge> both...and, either...or -- and
  • unwealtran -- adjective; comparative; nominative plural of <unwealt> steady -- steadier
  • ge -- conjunction <ge> both...and, either...or -- and
  • ac -- adverb <ac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • herran -- adjective; comparative; nominative plural of <hah> high -- higher
  • onne -- adverb <onne> then, when -- than
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • ru -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <er> other, next, second -- others

nron nwer ne on Frsisc gescpene ne on Denisc, bton sw him selfum hte t he nytwyroste bon meahten.

  • nron -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- (they) were # double negative, for emphasis
  • nwer -- conjunction <n-hwer> neither...nor -- neither
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • Frsisc -- proper adjective; accusative singular of <Frsisc> Frisian -- the Frisian
  • gescpene -- strong verb, class VI; past participle; plural of <gescieppan, gescp, gescpon, gesceapen> shape, create -- shaped
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- nor
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • Denisc -- proper adjective; accusative singular of <Denisc> Danish -- the Danish (model)
  • bton -- conjunction <bton> unless; except (that) -- but
  • sw -- adverbial conjunction <sw> so, thus -- as
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- (to) he
  • selfum -- reflexive pronoun; dative singular of <self> self, same -- himself
  • hte -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <yncan, hte, geht> seem, appear; think -- (it) seemed
  • t -- subordinating conjunction <t> that -- ...
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • nytwyroste -- adjective; superlative; nominative plural of <nyt-wyre> useful -- most useful
  • bon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bon> be, become, exist -- be
  • meahten -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person plural preterite subjunctive of <magan, mg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might

t sumum cirre s ilcan gares cmon r sex scipu t Wiht, ond r mycel yfel gedydon, ger ge on Defenum ge wel hwr be m sriman.

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- ...
  • t -- preposition <t> at, against -- at
  • sumum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <sum> some, a certain -- a certain
  • cirre -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <cierr> occasion, time, turn -- time
  • s -- definite article; genitive singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- (of) the
  • ilcan -- adjective; genitive singular neuter of <ilca> same -- same
  • gares -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <gar> year -- year
  • cmon -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person plural preterite of <cuman, cwm, cwmon, cumen> come -- came
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • sex -- numeral <siex> six -- six
  • scipu -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <scip> ship -- ships # i.e., Danish Viking ships
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- to
  • Wiht -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Wiht> (Isle of) Wight -- (the Isle of) Wight
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • r -- adverb <r> there, where -- there
  • mycel -- adjective; accusative singular neuter of <micel> much, great -- much
  • yfel -- noun, neuter; accusative singular of <yfel> evil, mischief, wickedness -- mischief
  • gedydon -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <gedn> act, do, bring to pass -- did
  • ger -- conjunction <g-hwer> both...and -- both
  • ge -- conjunction <ge> both...and, either...or -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Defenum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Defenas> Devonians, Devonshire -- Devonshire
  • ge -- conjunction <ge> both...and, either...or -- and
  • wel hwr -- adverb <wel hwr> almost everywhere -- almost everywhere
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- near
  • m -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • sriman -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <s-rima> seashore, seacoast -- seacoast

ht se cyng faran mid nigonum t ra nwena scipa;

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- then
  • ht -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <htan, heht, hton, hten> call, name; order -- ordered
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • cyng -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <cyning> king -- king
  • faran -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <faran, fr, fron, faren> go, ride, travel -- to go
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • nigonum -- numeral; dative plural of <nigon> nine -- nine
  • t -- preposition <t> (in)to -- (of)
  • ra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • nwena -- adjective; genitive plural of <nwe> new, fresh -- new
  • scipa -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <scip> ship -- ships

ond forfran him one man foran on termere.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • forfran -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <for-faran, for-fr, for-fron, for-faren> obstruct, get in front of -- (they) blocked
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- ... # the Danes' escape via...
  • one -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • man -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ma> mouth of a river, estuary -- mouth of the river
  • foran -- adverb <foran> before, in front -- in front
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- (of)
  • termere -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ter-mere> outer sea, open sea -- the open sea

fron he mid rim scipum t ongn he, ond ro stdon t ufeweardum m man on drgum;

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- ...
  • fron -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <faran, fr, fron, faren> go, ride, travel -- rode
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they # the Danes
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • rim -- numeral; dative plural of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • scipum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • t -- adverb <t> out -- out
  • ongn -- preposition <ongan> against, back -- against
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- them # Alfred's men
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • ro -- numeral; nominative plural neuter of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • stdon -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <standan, std, stdon, standen> stand -- remained
  • t -- preposition <t> at, against -- ...
  • ufeweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <ufe-weard> upward -- upwards (of)
  • m -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • man -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <ma> mouth of a river, estuary -- river mouth
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • drgum -- adjective; dative singular of <drge> dry -- dry (ground)

wron men uppe on londe of gne.

  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- (had)
  • -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • men -- strong noun, masculine; nominative plural of <monn> man, person -- men # the missing Danes
  • uppe -- adverb <uppe> up, above -- up
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in-
  • londe -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- land
  • of -- preposition <of> from, of -- ...
  • gne -- anomalous verb; past participle of <-gn> pass, occur, lit. away go -- gone away

gefngon he ra rora scipa t t m man teweardum, ond men ofslgon, ond t n owand;

  • -- adverb <> then, when -- ...
  • gefngon -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person plural preterite of <gefn, gefng, gefngon, gefangen> take, seize -- took # gefangen or gefongen
  • he -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <h, ho, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • ra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, so, t> the -- of the
  • rora -- numeral; genitive plural of <re, ro, ro> three -- three
  • scipa -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • t -- numeral; accusative plural neuter of <twgen, tw, t> twain, two -- two
  • t -- preposition <t> at, against -- at
  • m -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • man -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <ma> mouth of a river, estuary -- river mouth
  • teweardum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <te-weard> outward -- outer
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • men -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <monn> man, person -- men
  • ofslgon -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <ofslean, ofslh, ofslgon, ofslgen> slay, destroy -- slew # ofslh or ofslg
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • t -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • n -- indefinite article; nominative singular of <n> a, an, one -- (other) one
  • owand -- strong verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <owindan, owand, owundon, owunden> escape -- escaped

on m wron ac men ofslgene bton ffum...

  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • m -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; dative singular neuter of <s, so, t> he, she, it -- it
  • wron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • ac -- adverb <ac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, so, t> the -- the
  • men -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <monn> man, person -- men
  • ofslgene -- strong verb, class VI; past participle of <ofslean, ofslh, ofslgon, ofslgen> slay, destroy -- slain
  • bton -- preposition <bton> without, except for -- except for
  • ffum -- numeral; dative plural of <ff> five -- five

Lesson Text

s on sumera on ysum gre tfr se here, sum on astengle, sum on Norhymbre. Ond e feohlase wron him r scipu begton, ond s ofer s fron t Sigene.

Nfde se here, Godes onces, Angelcyn ealles forswe gebrocod, ac he wron micle swor gebrocede on m rim garum mid capes cwilde ond monna; ealles swost mid m t manige ra slestena cynges na e r on londe wron forfrdon on m rym garum. ra ws sum Swulf biscop on Hrfesceastre, ond Colmund ealdormon on Cent, ond Beorhtulf ealdormon on astseaxum, ond Wulfred ealdormon Hmtnscre, ond Ealhheard biscop t Dorceceastre, ond adulf cynges egn on Sseaxum, ond Beornulf wcgerfa on Winteceastre, ond Ecgulf cynges horsegn, ond manige ac him, h ic geungnestan nemde.

ilcan gare drehton hergas on astenglum ond on Norhymbrum Westseaxna lond swe be m sste mid stlhergum, ealra swust mid m scum e he fela gara r timbredon. ht lfred cyng timbran lang scipu ongn scas; wron fulnah t sw lange sw ru; sume hfdon LX ra, sume m; wron ger ge swiftran ge unwealtran ge ac herran onne ru; nron nwer ne on Frsisc gescpene ne on Denisc, bton sw him selfum hte t he nytwyroste bon meahten. t sumum cirre s ilcan gares cmon r sex scipu t Wiht, ond r mycel yfel gedydon, ger ge on Defenum ge wel hwr be m sriman. ht se cyng faran mid nigonum t ra nwena scipa; ond forfran him one man foran on termere. fron he mid rim scipum t ongn he, ond ro stdon t ufeweardum m man on drgum; wron men uppe on londe of gne. gefngon he ra rora scipa t t m man teweardum, ond men ofslgon, ond t n owand; on m wron ac men ofslgene bton ffum...

Translation

In summer in this year the enemy dispersed, some into East Anglia, some into Northumbria. Those who were without money got themselves ships there, and went south over the sea to the Seine.
The enemy had not, by the mercy of God, entirely crushed the English altogether, but they were afflicted much more in those three years by pestilence of cattle and of men; most of all among them many of the best of the king's thanes who were there in the land died within those three years. One of these was Swithulf, bishop in Rochester, and Ceolmund, a nobleman in Kent, and Bertulf, a nobleman in Essex, and Wulfred, a nobleman in Hampshire, and Elhard, bishop at Dorchester, and Eadulf, the king's thane in Sussex, and Bernuff, governor in Winchester, Egulf, the king's horse-thane, and many also with them, though I have named (only) the most distinguished.
In the same year the plunderers in East Anglia and Northumbria greatly harassed the land of the West Saxons around the southern shore with marauding bands, most of all with ships which they built many years before. Then King Alfred ordered (his men) to build long ships (to be used) against the (Danish) ships; they were almost twice as long as the others; some had 60 oars, some more. They were both swifter and steadier and also higher than the others; they were shaped neither on the Frisian nor on the Danish (model), but as it seemed -- to he himself -- they might be most useful. At a certain time of the same year there came six ships to (the Isle of) Wight, and did much mischief there, both in Devonshire and almost everywhere near the seacoast. Then the King ordered (his men) to go (out) with nine of the new ships; and they blocked the mouth of the river in front of the open sea. They rode out against them with three ships, and three (others) remained upwards of the river mouth on dry (ground); the men had gone away, up inland. They took two of the three ships at the outer river mouth, and slew the men, and the (other) one escaped; the men on it were also slain, except for five...

Grammar

21. Definite/Demonstrative Articles/Pronouns

The definite articles may as well be considered suppletive, as they are difficult to predict. There are two numbers (singular, plural), three genders in the singular (masculine, feminine, neuter), and five cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental).

Singular   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
Nom.   se 'the'   so, so   t, tt
Gen.   s   re   s
Dat.   m, m   re   m, m
Acc.   one     t, tt
Ins.   , , on   re   , , on

The plural forms do not exhibit gender; or, alternately, one might say that all three genders have the same form in each case:

Plural   M/F/N
Nom.  
Gen.   ra, ra
Dat.   m, m
Acc.  
Ins.   m, m

Alternative spellings are common, including of course rendered as .

The neuter form t looks familiar to a modern English speaker because it survived as the demonstrative article/pronoun 'that'. In Old English, the definite article above also served as the demonstrative article/pronoun 'that, those', with the difference that the pronoun was stressed and the masculine nominative form is therefore usually spelled s.

Corresponding to 'that, those', modern English has the demonstrative 'this, these', which is derived from the Old English neuter demonstrative form is:

Singular   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
Nom.   es 'this'   os   is
Gen.   is(s)es   isse, eosse   is(s)es
Dat.   is(s)um   isse, eosse   is(s)um
Acc.   isne   s   is
Ins.   s, s   ---   s, s

Again the plural forms do not indicate distinct gender:

Plural   M/F/N
Nom.   s 'these'
Gen.   issa, eossa
Dat.   is(s)um, eos(s)um
Acc.   s
Ins.   is(s)um, eos(s)um

In some forms an s might be doubled or singled, as indicated; other variant spellings are also shown.

Again, when used as a demonstrative pronoun, stress was applied and is therefore usually indicated by spelling the masculine nominative form as s.

22. The Numerals

The OE word for 'one', n, was not well distinguished as it served also in the role of indefinite article (for example, in this lesson text); as such it could be inflected (for example, the [inherently singular] dative num in lessons 3 and 4), and combined with the negative particle ne (for example nn in lesson 4).

In theory the OE words for 'two' and 'three', twgen, tw, t and re, ro, ro respectively, reflect gender -- like pronouns -- depending on what the forms referred to (i.e., what they were counting), but only the nominative/accusative forms show distinct gender. When nominal referents have different genders, the neuter form is normal. In practice the use of relevant gender forms is inconsistent. Grammatical number is, of course, inherently plural. The inflected forms for 'two' and 'three' are shown in the following tables.

'two'   Masc.   Fem.   Neut.
Nom.   twgen   tw   t, tw
Gen.   twgra   twgra   twgra
Dat.   twm   twm   twm
Acc.   twgen   tw   t, tw

Spelling Notes

The r in genitive twgra is optional, or can be replaced by e; the dative can be spelled twm as in the lesson 4 text. The pronoun bgen 'both' (not shown) is inflected like twgen, tw, t, but exhibits many variations.

'three'   Masc.   Fem.   Neut.
Nom.   re   ro   ro
Gen.   rora   rora   rora
Dat.   rm   rm   rm
Acc.   re   ro   ro

Spelling Notes

The dative rm can be spelled rim, as in our lesson text; the long vowels can be long (ro, rora).

Higher-Order Numerals

Higher-order numerals (above 'three', e.g. ff 'five' and nigon 'nine' in this lesson) may also be inflected for case, but they identify no gender; however, inflection is normally absent when the numeral is used adjectivally to modify a noun. The inflectional case endings, when used, were nominative/accusative -e, genitive -a, and dative -um. Some uninflected cardinal forms are listed in the following table:

Cardinals   0 + ...   10 + ...   10 * ...
1 =   (n)   endlefan    
2 =   (tw)   twelf   twntig
3 =   (ro)   rotene   rtig
4 =   fower   fowertene   fowertig
5 =   ff   fftene   fftig
6 =   siex   siextene   siextig
7 =   seofon   seofontene   seofontig
8 =   eahta   eahtatene   eahtatig
9 =   nigon   nigontene   nigontig
10 =   ten       hund

Spelling Notes

The spelling of fower can also be fower; of siex, six or sex or syx; of seofon, siofon; of ten, tn; of endlefan, endleofan or endlufan; of hund, hundred. The -tene suffix is also spelled -tne or -tne. Roman numerals might also be used, as for example LX in our lesson text.

23. Preterite-Present Verbs in Class V

Preterite-Present verbs were introduced and described in lesson 3, §15. Our text in this lesson, as well as texts in other lessons, contains the preterite-present verb magan 'may, be able to', which evolved into modern English may and might; we illustrate Class V with magan and another preterite-present verb, nugan 'suffice'.

Pret-Pres. V   1   2
Infinitive   magan   nugan
Inflected Infin.   t maganne   t nuganne
Imperative Sg.   mag   nug
Imperative Pl.   maga   nuga
Pres. Participle   magende   nugende
Past Participle   meahten   nohten
Gerund   magenne   nugenne
         
Present Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   mg   neah
2 Sg.   magest   nugest
3 Sg.   mg   neah
Plural   magon   nugon
         
Present Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   mage   nuge
Plural   magen   nugen
         
Preterite Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   meahte   nohte
2 Sg.   meahtest   nohtest
3 Sg.   meahte   nohte
Plural   meahton   nohton
         
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   meahte   nohte
Plural   meahten   nohten
24. Strong Verbs in Class VI

The nominal four-vowel ablaut pattern is -a-, --, --, -a-; ancient sound changes resulted in variations that we illustrate with 3 example conjugations.

Our text in this lesson (and others) contains the verbs standan 'stand', and gescieppan 'shape, create' formed from the prefix ge- (discussed elsewhere) plus the verb scieppan 'create'; the text in lesson 3 contains the verb ofslean 'slay, destroy', formed from the prefix of- plus the verb slean 'strike'. We conjugate these three to illustrate the strong verbs in Class VI, which as usual exhibit spelling variations (not all listed here) due to sound changes including dialectal differences.

Strong VI   1   2   3
Infinitive   standan, stondan 'stand'   scieppan, scyppan 'create'   slean 'strike'
Inflected Infin.   t standanne   t scieppanne   t sleanne
Imperative Sg.   stand   sciepp   sleah
Imperative Pl.   standa   scieppa   slea
Pres. Participle   standende   scieppende   ende
Past Participle   standen   sceapen, scepen   slagen, slgen
Gerund   standenne   scieppenne   enne
             
Present Indicative   1   2   3
1 Sg.   stande   scieppe   slege (?)
2 Sg.   standest   scieppest   slegest (?)
3 Sg.   stande, stent, stynt   scieppe   slege (?)
Plural   standa, stonda   scieppa   slega (?)
             
Present Subjunctive   1   2   3
Singular   stande   scieppe   slege (?)
Plural   standen   scieppen   slegen (?)
             
Preterite Indicative   1   2   3
1 Sg.   std   scp, scop   slh, slg
2 Sg.   stde   scpe   slge
3 Sg.   std   scp, scop   slh, slg
Plural   stdon, stdan   scpon, scopon   slgon
             
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3
Singular   stde   scpe   slge
Plural   stden   scpen   slgen

A sampling of modern English verbs descended from other OE Strong VI verbs in our lesson texts includes wade, withstand.

25. Strong Verbs in Class VII

Strong Class VII is the "dumping ground" for the otherwise unclassified strong verbs in Old English. The four-vowel ablaut patterns are quite variable, except that the two preterite vowels generally distribute the patterns into 2 subclasses:

  • the ---preterite subclass with the pattern -, --, --, -; and
  • the -o--preterite subclass with the pattern -, -o-, -o-, -.

In these patterns, the fourth ablaut vowel is generally the same as the first. (Naturally, our example from this lesson violates that principle! Aside from being unusual in other ways.)

Our text in this lesson contains the verb gefn 'take, seize', formed from the prefix ge- plus the verb fn 'take, seize'; the text in lesson 4 contains feallan 'fall, flow'. We conjugate these two to illustrate the strong verbs in Class VII.

Strong VII   1   2
Infinitive   fn 'seize'   feallan 'fall'
Inflected Infin.   t fnne   t feallanne
Imperative Sg.   fh   feall
Imperative Pl.   f   fealla
Pres. Participle   fnde   feallende
Past Participle   fongen   feallen
Gerund   fnne   feallenne
         
Present Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   f   fealle
2 Sg.   fhst   feallest
3 Sg.   fh   fealle
Plural   f   fealla
         
Present Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   f   fealle
Plural   fn   feallen
         
Preterite Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   fng   foll
2 Sg.   fnge   folle
3 Sg.   fng   foll
Plural   fngon   follon
         
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   fnge   folle
Plural   fngen   follen

A sampling of modern English verbs descended from other OE Strong VII verbs in our lesson texts includes beat, hang, hold, sleep, and wax (grow).