Skaldic Poetry of the Scandinavian Middle Ages

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Note to Anon Lil 39VII

[All]: This st. marks the beginning of a soliloquy by Lucifer which continues to the end of st. 43. It is based on the patristic idea that the Fall had given the devil juridical rights over the human race. The Incarnation was consequently regarded as a trap for the devil: the humanity of Jesus deceived Lucifer into thinking that he was a man like all others, whom he could dominate as he had all humans since the sin of Adam and Eve. The twofold danger for Lucifer in this assumption was that by unjustly attempting to punish a sinless man, he would lose his right to punish sinners, and that by attempting to devour the immortal Christ, he would be overcome and himself be consumed (see Aulén 1951, 47-55, and Wee 1974 on this topos). Paasche (1957, 535) and Schottmann (1973, 201) point out an analogue in an ON miracle story, three versions of which are printed in Mar 1871, 180-8; 473-81; 1147-9. The sources for the text are a miracle of S. Hugh recorded in Peter the Venerable’s De miraculis (Petrus Cluniacensis, cols 880-1) and a homily of Maximus of Turin (Maximus Taurinensis, Homilia XXXVII, cols 303-8). The analogue to Lucifer’s soliloquy comes from the homily of Maximus: Hverr er þessi maðr, er sva geck inn i heim þenna, at ek uissa eigi? Veit ek at hann er af konv fęddr ok upprvnninn, enn þat er mer blint, hvern veg hann er getinn ... Miøk er þessi lvtr vndarligr ok oheyðr fyrr i verolldu ‘Who is this man, who has come into the world in such a way that I did not know about it? I know that he is born of a woman and comes from her, but I am blind to how he was conceived ... This thing is very strange and until now unheard of in the world’ (Mar 1871, 186, 479). Cf. also the hymn Pange, lingua, gloriosi: Hoc opus nostrae salutis / ordo depoposcerat, / Multiformis proditoris / ars ut artem falleret... ‘Order demanded this work of our salvation, that artifice should bring down the artifice of the many-formed deceiver...’ (AH 2, 44)


  1. Bibliography
  2. AH = Dreves, G. M., C. Blume and H. M. Bannister, eds. 1886-1922. Analecta hymnica medii aeui. 55 vols. Leipzig: Reisland. Rpt. 1961. New York: Johnson.
  3. Aulén, Gustaf. 1951. Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement. Trans. A. G. Herbert. New York: Macmillan. Originally published 1931. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
  4. Schottmann, Hans. 1973. Die isländische Mariendichtung. Untersuchungen zur volkssprachigen Mariendichtung des Mittelalters. Münchner germanistische Beiträge 9. Munich: Fink.
  5. Wee, David L. 1974. ‘The Temptation of Christ and the Motif of Divine Duplicity in the Corpus Christi Cycle Drama’. MP 72, 1-16.
  6. Paasche, Fredrik. 1957. Norges og Islands litteratur indtil utgangen av middelalderen. 2nd, rev. edn by Anne Holtsmark. Oslo: Aschehoug.


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