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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.

Ðā þæs on sumera on ðysum gēre tōfōr se here, sum on Ēastengle, sum on Norðhymbre.

  • ðā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- ...
  • þæs -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • sumera -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <sumor> summer -- summer
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • ðysum -- demonstrative article; dative singular neuter of <ðes, ðēos, ðis> this -- this
  • gēre -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <gēar> year -- year
  • tōfōr -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <tō-faran, tō-fōr, tō-fōron, tō-faren> disperse, separate -- dispersed
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> 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
  • Ēastengle -- proper noun, masculine plural; accusative of <Ēast-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
  • Norðhymbre -- proper noun, masculine plural; accusative of <Norð-hymbre> Northumbrians, Northumbria -- Northumbria

Ond þā þe feohlēase wǣron him þǣr scipu begēton, ond sūð ofer sǣ fōron tō Sigene.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- ...
  • þā -- demonstrative pronoun; nominative plural of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- those
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • feohlēase -- adjective; nominative plural of <feoh-lēas> moneyless, lit. without cattle -- without money
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; used as reflexive; dative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- themselves
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> there, where -- there
  • scipu -- noun, neuter; accusative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • begēton -- strong verb, class V; 3rd person plural preterite of <begietan, begeat, begēaton, begieten> get, acquire -- got
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • sūð -- adverb <sūð> south(wards) -- south
  • ofer -- preposition <ofer> over, across -- over
  • -- noun, feminine; accusative singular of <> sea, lake -- the sea
  • fōron -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <faran, fōr, fōron, faren> go, ride, travel -- went
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- to
  • Sigene -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Sigen> Seine -- the Seine

Næfde se here, Godes þonces, Angelcyn ealles forswīðe gebrocod, ac hīe wǣron micle swīþor gebrocede on þǣm þrim gēarum mid cēapes cwilde ond monna;

  • næfde -- adverb <ne> not + weak verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite <habban, hæfde, hæfd> have, possess -- had not
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> 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
  • þonces -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <ðanc> 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
  • forswīðe -- adverb <forswīðe> 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
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • micle -- adverb <micel> much, very -- much
  • swīþor -- adverb; comparative of <swīðe> 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
  • þǣm -- demonstrative article; dative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- those
  • þrim -- numeral; dative plural of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • gēarum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <gēar> year -- years
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- by
  • cēapes -- noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cēap> 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 swīþost mid þǣm þæt manige þāra sēlestena cynges þēna þe þǣr on londe wǣron forðfērdon on þǣm þrym gēarum.

  • ealles -- adjective; genitive singular of <eall> all -- of all
  • swīþost -- adverb; superlative of <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- most
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- among
  • þǣm -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- them
  • þæt -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- ...
  • manige -- adjective; nominative plural of <monig> many -- many
  • þāra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- (of) the
  • sēlestena -- adjective; comparative; genitive plural of <sēlla> better -- best
  • cynges -- strong noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cyning> king -- of the king's
  • þēna -- strong noun, masculine; nominative plural of <þegn> thane, warrior -- thanes
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- who
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> there, where -- there
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • londe -- strong noun, neuter; dative singular of <lond> land, realm, country -- the land
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • forðfērdon -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <forð-fēran, forð-fērde, forð-fēred> die, depart, lit. go forth -- died
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- within
  • þǣm -- demonstrative article; dative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> that -- those
  • þrym -- numeral; dative plural of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • gēarum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <gēar> year -- years

Þāra wæs sum Swīðulf biscop on Hrōfesceastre, ond Cēolmund ealdormon on Cent,

  • þāra -- demonstrative pronoun; genitive plural of <sē, sēo, ðæt> that -- of these
  • wæs -- 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
  • Swīðulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Swīðulf> Swithulf -- Swithulf
  • biscop -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <bisceop> bishop, prelate -- bishop
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Hrōfesceastre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Hrōfe-ceaster> Rochester -- Rochester
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Cēolmund -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Cēolmund> 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 Ēastseaxum, ond Wulfred ealdormon Hāmtūnscīre,

  • 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
  • Ēastseaxum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Ēast-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
  • Hāmtūnscīre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Hāmtūn-scīr> Hampshire -- (in) Hampshire

ond Ealhheard biscop æt Dorceceastre, ond Ēadulf cynges þegn on Sūðseaxum,

  • 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
  • æt -- preposition <æt> at, against -- at
  • Dorceceastre -- proper noun, feminine; dative singular of <Dorce-ceastre> Dorchester -- Dorchester
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Ēadulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ēadulf> Eadulf -- Eadulf
  • cynges -- strong noun, masculine; genitive singular of <cyning> king -- the king's
  • þegn -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <þegn> thane, warrior -- thane
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Sūðseaxum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Sūð-Seaxan> South Saxons, Sussex -- Sussex

ond Beornulf wīcgerēfa on Winteceastre, ond Ecgulf cynges horsþegn,

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • Beornulf -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Beornulf> Bernuff -- Bernuff
  • wīcgerēfa -- noun, masculine; nominative singular of <wīc-gerēfa> 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
  • horsþegn -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <hors-þegn> horse-thane -- horse-thane

ond manige ēac him, þēh ic ðā geðungnestan nemde.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • manige -- adjective; nominative plural of <monig> many -- many
  • ēac -- adverb <ēac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- with them
  • þēh -- adverbial conjunction <þēah> yet, though, however -- though
  • ic -- 1st person pronoun; nominative singular of <ic> I -- I
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • geðungnestan -- adjective used as substantive; superlative; accusative plural of <geðungen> grown, excellent, distinguished -- most distinguished
  • nemde -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <nemnan, nemde, nemed> name, call -- have named

Þȳ ilcan gēare drehton þā hergas on Ēastenglum ond on Norðhymbrum Westseaxna lond swīðe be þǣm sūðstæðe mid stælhergum, ealra swīþust mid ðǣm æscum þe hīe fela gēara ǣr timbredon.

  • þȳ -- definite article; instrumental singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- (in) the
  • ilcan -- adjective; instrumental singular neuter of <ilca> same -- same
  • gēare -- noun, neuter; instrumental singular of <gēar> year -- year
  • drehton -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <dreccan, drehte, dreht> afflict, harass -- harassed
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • hergas -- noun, masculine; nominative plural of <here> (enemy) army -- plunderers
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- in
  • Ēastenglum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Ēast-Engle> East Angles, East Anglia -- East Anglia
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- ...
  • Norðhymbrum -- proper noun, masculine plural; dative of <Norð-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
  • swīðe -- adverb <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- greatly
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- around
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • sūðstæðe -- noun, neuter; dative singular of <sūð-stæð> south shore -- southern shore
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • stælhergum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <stæl-here> marauding army -- marauding bands
  • ealra -- adjective; genitive plural masculine of <eall> all -- of all
  • swīþust -- adverb; superlative of <swīðe> very, exceedingly -- most
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • ðǣm -- definite article; dative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- ...
  • æscum -- noun, masculine; dative plural of <æsc> ash (tree), spear; boat, ship -- ships
  • þe -- relative particle <þe> that, which, who -- which
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • fela -- indeclinable adjective <fela> much, many -- many
  • gēara -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <gēar> year -- years
  • ǣr -- adverb <ǣr> ere, before, formerly -- before
  • timbredon -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person plural preterite of <timbran, timbrede, timbred> build, construct -- built

Þā hēt Ælfred cyng timbran lang scipu ongēn ðā æscas;

  • þā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- then
  • hēt -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <hātan, heht, hēton, hāten> call, name; order -- ordered
  • Ælfred -- proper noun, masculine; nominative singular of <Ælfred> 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
  • ongēn -- preposition <ongēan> against, back -- against
  • ðā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • æscas -- noun, masculine; accusative plural of <æsc> ash (tree), spear; boat, ship -- (Danish) ships

þā wǣron fulnēah tū swā lange swā þā ōðru;

  • þā -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- they
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • fulnēah -- adverb <fulnēah> almost, very nearly -- almost # "full nigh"
  • -- numeral; nominative plural neuter of <twēgen, twā, tū> twain, two -- twice
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • lange -- adjective; nominative plural of <lang> long -- long
  • swā -- adverb <swā> so, thus -- as
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • ōðru -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <ōðer> other, next, second -- others

sume hæfdon LX āra, sume mā;

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

þā wǣron ǣgðer ge swiftran ge unwealtran ge ēac hīerran þonne þā ōðru;

  • þā -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- they
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • ǣgðer -- conjunction <ǣg-hwæðer> 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
  • ēac -- adverb <ēac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • hīerran -- adjective; comparative; nominative plural of <hēah> high -- higher
  • þonne -- adverb <þonne> then, when -- than
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • ōðru -- adjective used as substantive; nominative plural of <ōðer> other, next, second -- others

nǣron nāwðer ne on Frēsisc gescæpene ne on Denisc, būton swā him selfum ðūhte þæt hīe nytwyrðoste bēon meahten.

  • nǣron -- contraction; adverb <ne> not + anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- (they) were # double negative, for emphasis
  • nāwðer -- conjunction <nā-hwæðer> neither...nor -- neither
  • ne -- adverb <ne> not -- ...
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • Frēsisc -- proper adjective; accusative singular of <Frēsisc> Frisian -- the Frisian
  • gescæpene -- strong verb, class VI; past participle; plural of <gescieppan, gescōp, gescōpon, 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)
  • būton -- conjunction <būton> unless; except (that) -- but
  • swā -- adverbial conjunction <swā> so, thus -- as
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative singular masculine of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- (to) he
  • selfum -- reflexive pronoun; dative singular of <self> self, same -- himself
  • ðūhte -- weak verb, class I; 3rd person singular preterite of <ðyncan, ðūhte, geðūht> seem, appear; think -- (it) seemed
  • þæt -- subordinating conjunction <þæt> that -- ...
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • nytwyrðoste -- adjective; superlative; nominative plural of <nyt-wyrðe> useful -- most useful
  • bēon -- anomalous verb; infinitive of <bēon> be, become, exist -- be
  • meahten -- modal (preterit-present) verb, class V; 3rd person plural preterite subjunctive of <magan, mæg, magon, meahte> may, be able to -- might

Þā æt sumum cirre þæs ilcan gēares cōmon þǣr sex scipu tō Wiht, ond þǣr mycel yfel gedydon, ǣgðer ge on Defenum ge wel hwǣr be ðǣm sǣriman.

  • þā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- ...
  • æt -- preposition <æt> 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
  • þæs -- definite article; genitive singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- (of) the
  • ilcan -- adjective; genitive singular neuter of <ilca> same -- same
  • gēares -- noun, neuter; genitive singular of <gēar> year -- year
  • cōmon -- strong verb, class IV; 3rd person plural preterite of <cuman, cwōm, cwōmon, cumen> come -- came
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> there, where -- there
  • sex -- numeral <siex> six -- six
  • scipu -- noun, neuter; nominative plural of <scip> ship -- ships # i.e., Danish Viking ships
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- to
  • Wiht -- proper noun, feminine; accusative singular of <Wiht> (Isle of) Wight -- (the Isle of) Wight
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þǣr -- adverb <þǣr> 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 <gedōn> act, do, bring to pass -- did
  • ǣgðer -- conjunction <ǣg-hwæðer> 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 hwǣr -- adverb <wel hwǣr> almost everywhere -- almost everywhere
  • be -- preposition <be> at, by, near -- near
  • ðǣm -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • sǣriman -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <sǣ-rima> seashore, seacoast -- seacoast

Þā hēt se cyng faran mid nigonum tō þāra nīwena scipa;

  • þā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- then
  • hēt -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person singular preterite of <hātan, heht, hēton, hāten> call, name; order -- ordered
  • se -- definite article; nominative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • cyng -- strong noun, masculine; nominative singular of <cyning> king -- king
  • faran -- strong verb, class VI; infinitive of <faran, fōr, fōron, faren> go, ride, travel -- to go
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • nigonum -- numeral; dative plural of <nigon> nine -- nine
  • -- preposition <> (in)to -- (of)
  • þāra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • nīwena -- adjective; genitive plural of <nīwe> new, fresh -- new
  • scipa -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <scip> ship -- ships

ond forfōran him þone mūðan foran on ūtermere.

  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • forfōran -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <for-faran, for-fōr, for-fōron, for-faren> obstruct, get in front of -- (they) blocked
  • him -- 3rd person pronoun; dative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- ... # the Danes' escape via...
  • þone -- definite article; accusative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mūðan -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <mūða> mouth of a river, estuary -- mouth of the river
  • foran -- adverb <foran> before, in front -- in front
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- (of)
  • ūtermere -- noun, masculine; accusative singular of <ūter-mere> outer sea, open sea -- the open sea

Þā fōron hīe mid þrim scipum ūt ongēn hīe, ond þrēo stōdon æt ufeweardum þǣm mūðan on drȳgum;

  • þā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- ...
  • fōron -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <faran, fōr, fōron, faren> go, ride, travel -- rode
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they # the Danes
  • mid -- preposition <mid> with -- with
  • þrim -- numeral; dative plural of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • scipum -- noun, neuter; dative plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • ūt -- adverb <ūt> out -- out
  • ongēn -- preposition <ongēan> against, back -- against
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; accusative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- them # Alfred's men
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þrēo -- numeral; nominative plural neuter of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • stōdon -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <standan, stōd, stōdon, standen> stand -- remained
  • æt -- preposition <æt> at, against -- ...
  • ufeweardum -- adjective; dative singular of <ufe-weard> upward -- upwards (of)
  • þǣm -- definite article; dative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mūðan -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mūða> mouth of a river, estuary -- river mouth
  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • drȳgum -- adjective; dative singular of <drȳge> dry -- dry (ground)

wǣron þā men uppe on londe of āgāne.

  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- (had)
  • þā -- definite article; nominative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> 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 -- ...
  • āgāne -- anomalous verb; past participle of <ā-gān> pass, occur, lit. away go -- gone away

Þā gefēngon hīe þāra þrēora scipa tū æt ðǣm mūðan ūteweardum, ond þā men ofslōgon, ond þæt ān oðwand;

  • þā -- adverb <þā> then, when -- ...
  • gefēngon -- strong verb, class VII; 3rd person plural preterite of <gefōn, gefēng, gefēngon, gefangen> take, seize -- took # gefangen or gefongen
  • hīe -- 3rd person pronoun; nominative plural of <hē, hēo, hit> he, she, it -- they
  • þāra -- definite article; genitive plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- of the
  • þrēora -- numeral; genitive plural of <þrīe, þrēo, þrēo> three -- three
  • scipa -- noun, neuter; genitive plural of <scip> ship -- ships
  • -- numeral; accusative plural neuter of <twēgen, twā, tū> twain, two -- two
  • æt -- preposition <æt> at, against -- at
  • ðǣm -- definite article; dative singular masculine of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • mūðan -- noun, masculine; dative singular of <mūða> mouth of a river, estuary -- river mouth
  • ūteweardum -- adjective; dative singular masculine of <ūte-weard> outward -- outer
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • men -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <monn> man, person -- men
  • ofslōgon -- strong verb, class VI; 3rd person plural preterite of <ofslean, ofslōh, ofslōgon, ofslægen> slay, destroy -- slew # ofslōh or ofslōg
  • ond -- conjunction <and> and -- and
  • þæt -- definite article; nominative singular neuter of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • ān -- indefinite article; nominative singular of <ān> a, an, one -- (other) one
  • oðwand -- strong verb, class III; 3rd person singular preterite of <oðwindan, oðwand, oðwundon, oðwunden> escape -- escaped

on þǣm wǣron ēac þā men ofslægene būton fīfum...

  • on -- preposition <on> on(to), upon -- on
  • þǣm -- demonstrative used as 3rd person pronoun; dative singular neuter of <sē, sēo, ðæt> he, she, it -- it
  • wǣron -- anomalous verb; 3rd person plural preterite indicative of <wesan> be, happen -- were
  • ēac -- adverb <ēac> also, even, moreover -- also
  • þā -- definite article; accusative plural of <se, sēo, ðæt> the -- the
  • men -- strong noun, masculine; accusative plural of <monn> man, person -- men
  • ofslægene -- strong verb, class VI; past participle of <ofslean, ofslōh, ofslōgon, ofslægen> slay, destroy -- slain
  • būton -- preposition <būton> without, except for -- except for
  • fīfum -- numeral; dative plural of <fīf> five -- five

Lesson Text

Ðā þæs on sumera on ðysum gēre tōfōr se here, sum on Ēastengle, sum on Norðhymbre. Ond þā þe feohlēase wǣron him þǣr scipu begēton, ond sūð ofer sǣ fōron tō Sigene.

Næfde se here, Godes þonces, Angelcyn ealles forswīðe gebrocod, ac hīe wǣron micle swīþor gebrocede on þǣm þrim gēarum mid cēapes cwilde ond monna; ealles swīþost mid þǣm þæt manige þāra sēlestena cynges þēna þe þǣr on londe wǣron forðfērdon on þǣm þrym gēarum. Þāra wæs sum Swīðulf biscop on Hrōfesceastre, ond Cēolmund ealdormon on Cent, ond Beorhtulf ealdormon on Ēastseaxum, ond Wulfred ealdormon Hāmtūnscīre, ond Ealhheard biscop æt Dorceceastre, ond Ēadulf cynges þegn on Sūðseaxum, ond Beornulf wīcgerēfa on Winteceastre, ond Ecgulf cynges horsþegn, ond manige ēac him, þēh ic ðā geðungnestan nemde.

Þȳ ilcan gēare drehton þā hergas on Ēastenglum ond on Norðhymbrum Westseaxna lond swīðe be þǣm sūðstæðe mid stælhergum, ealra swīþust mid ðǣm æscum þe hīe fela gēara ǣr timbredon. Þā hēt Ælfred cyng timbran lang scipu ongēn ðā æscas; þā wǣron fulnēah tū swā lange swā þā ōðru; sume hæfdon LX āra, sume mā; þā wǣron ǣgðer ge swiftran ge unwealtran ge ēac hīerran þonne þā ōðru; nǣron nāwðer ne on Frēsisc gescæpene ne on Denisc, būton swā him selfum ðūhte þæt hīe nytwyrðoste bēon meahten. Þā æt sumum cirre þæs ilcan gēares cōmon þǣr sex scipu tō Wiht, ond þǣr mycel yfel gedydon, ǣgðer ge on Defenum ge wel hwǣr be ðǣm sǣriman. Þā hēt se cyng faran mid nigonum tō þāra nīwena scipa; ond forfōran him þone mūðan foran on ūtermere. Þā fōron hīe mid þrim scipum ūt ongēn hīe, ond þrēo stōdon æt ufeweardum þǣm mūðan on drȳgum; wǣron þā men uppe on londe of āgāne. Þā gefēngon hīe þāra þrēora scipa tū æt ðǣm mūðan ūteweardum, ond þā men ofslōgon, ond þæt ān oðwand; on þǣm wǣron ēac þā men ofslægene būton fīfum...

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'   sēo, sīo   ðæt, tæt
Gen.   ðæs   ðǣre   ðæs
Dat.   ðǣm, ðām   ðǣre   ðǣm, ðām
Acc.   ðone   ðā   ðæt, tæt
Ins.   ðȳ, ðē, ðon   ðǣre   ðȳ, ðē, ðon

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.   ðā
Gen.   ðāra, ðǣra
Dat.   ðǣm, ðām
Acc.   ðā
Ins.   ðǣm, ðām

Alternative spellings are common, including of course ð rendered as þ.

The neuter form ðæt 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 .

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

Singular   Masculine   Feminine   Neuter
Nom.   ðes 'this'   ðēos   ðis
Gen.   ðis(s)es   ðisse, ðeosse   ðis(s)es
Dat.   ðis(s)um   ðisse, ðeosse   ðis(s)um
Acc.   ðisne   ðās   ðis
Ins.   ðȳs, ðīs   ---   ðȳs, ðīs

Again the plural forms do not indicate distinct gender:

Plural   M/F/N
Nom.   ðās 'these'
Gen.   ðissa, ðeossa
Dat.   ðis(s)um, ðeos(s)um
Acc.   ðās
Ins.   ðis(s)um, ðeos(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 ðēs.

22. The Numerals

The OE word for 'one', ān, 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 ānum in lessons 3 and 4), and combined with the negative particle ne (for example nān in lesson 4).

In theory the OE words for 'two' and 'three', twēgen, twā, tū and þrīe, þrēo, þrēo 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.   twēgen   twā   , twā
Gen.   twēgra   twēgra   twēgra
Dat.   twǣm   twǣm   twǣm
Acc.   twēgen   twā   , twā

Spelling Notes

The r in genitive twēgra is optional, or can be replaced by e; the dative can be spelled twām as in the lesson 4 text. The pronoun bēgen 'both' (not shown) is inflected like twēgen, twā, tū, but exhibits many variations.

'three'   Masc.   Fem.   Neut.
Nom.   þrīe   þrēo   þrēo
Gen.   þrēora   þrēora   þrēora
Dat.   þrīm   þrīm   þrīm
Acc.   þrīe   þrēo   þrēo

Spelling Notes

The dative þrīm can be spelled þrim, as in our lesson text; the long ē vowels can be long ī (þrīo, þrīora).

Higher-Order Numerals

Higher-order numerals (above 'three', e.g. fīf '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 =   (ān)   endlefan    
2 =   (twā)   twelf   twēntig
3 =   (þrēo)   þrēotīene   þrītig
4 =   fēower   fēowertīene   fēowertig
5 =   fīf   fīftīene   fīftig
6 =   siex   siextīene   siextig
7 =   seofon   seofontīene   seofontig
8 =   eahta   eahtatīene   eahtatig
9 =   nigon   nigontīene   nigontig
10 =   tīen       hund

Spelling Notes

The spelling of fēower can also be fīower; of siex, six or sex or syx; of seofon, siofon; of tīen, tȳn; of endlefan, endleofan or endlufan; of hund, hundred. The -tīene suffix is also spelled -tēne or -tȳne. 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.   tō maganne   tō nuganne
Imperative Sg.   mag   nug
Imperative Pl.   magað   nugað
Pres. Participle   magende   nugende
Past Participle   meahten   nohten
Gerund   magenne   nugenne
         
Present Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   mæg   neah
2 Sg.   magest   nugest
3 Sg.   mæg   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-, -ō-, -ō-, -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.   tō standanne   tō scieppanne   tō sleanne
Imperative Sg.   stand   sciepp   sleah
Imperative Pl.   standað   scieppað   sleað
Pres. Participle   standende   scieppende   ende
Past Participle   standen   sceapen, scepen   slagen, slægen
Gerund   standenne   scieppenne   enne
             
Present Indicative   1   2   3
1 Sg.   stande   scieppe   slege (?)
2 Sg.   standest   scieppest   slegest (?)
3 Sg.   standeð, stent, stynt   scieppeð   slegeð (?)
Plural   standað, stondað   scieppað   slegað (?)
             
Present Subjunctive   1   2   3
Singular   stande   scieppe   slege (?)
Plural   standen   scieppen   slegen (?)
             
Preterite Indicative   1   2   3
1 Sg.   stōd   scōp, scēop   slōh, slōg
2 Sg.   stōde   scōpe   slōge
3 Sg.   stōd   scōp, scēop   slōh, slōg
Plural   stōdon, stōdan   scōpon, scēopon   slōgon
             
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2   3
Singular   stōde   scōpe   slōge
Plural   stōden   scōpen   slōgen

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 -ē--preterite subclass with the pattern -, -ē-, -ē-, -; and
  • the -ēo--preterite subclass with the pattern -, -ēo-, -ēo-, -.

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 gefōn 'take, seize', formed from the prefix ge- plus the verb fōn '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   fōn 'seize'   feallan 'fall'
Inflected Infin.   tō fōnne   tō feallanne
Imperative Sg.   fōh   feall
Imperative Pl.   fōð   feallað
Pres. Participle   fōnde   feallende
Past Participle   fongen   feallen
Gerund   fōnne   feallenne
         
Present Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.     fealle
2 Sg.   fēhst   feallest
3 Sg.   fēhð   fealleð
Plural   fōð   feallað
         
Present Subjunctive   1   2
Singular     fealle
Plural   fōn   feallen
         
Preterite Indicative   1   2
1 Sg.   fēng   fēoll
2 Sg.   fēnge   fēolle
3 Sg.   fēng   fēoll
Plural   fēngon   fēollon
         
Preterite Subjunctive   1   2
Singular   fēnge   fēolle
Plural   fēngen   fēollen

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).