The apothegms of Maxims I present a number of female archetypes. Among those gnomes, the laconic episode of the frysan wyf welcoming her husband (ll. 94b-99) still deserves further attention. Critics have generally read frysan as “Frisian”, yet Ettmüller he derives it from the adjective frise (frese) and translates it with the Latin crispus, comatus. The purpose of this paper is to expand on Ettmüller’s reading by examining whether the theme of a woman’s hair – as to her conduct, social status, and relationship with her spouse – might also be relevant with regard to the frame of mind of the Anglo-Saxons. If one places the episode of the frysan wyf in a Christian context, the whole passage surely acquires a new perspective. This essay aims at reconsidering Maxims I 94b-99 and its likely relationship with the views on women and their hairstyle held by the Church Fathers – whose veiled sway was certainly present in any scriptorium where Maxims I was either compiled or copied. Hence, the laconic passage of the frysan wyf could be part of a larger cluster of lines, and Maxims I 94b-106 stand as a unique warning for the conduct of Anglo-Saxon women.

(2015). A reconsideration of the frysian wyf episode in Maxims I 94b-100 . Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10446/151423

A reconsideration of the frysian wyf episode in Maxims I 94b-100

Cocco, Gabriele
2015

Abstract

The apothegms of Maxims I present a number of female archetypes. Among those gnomes, the laconic episode of the frysan wyf welcoming her husband (ll. 94b-99) still deserves further attention. Critics have generally read frysan as “Frisian”, yet Ettmüller he derives it from the adjective frise (frese) and translates it with the Latin crispus, comatus. The purpose of this paper is to expand on Ettmüller’s reading by examining whether the theme of a woman’s hair – as to her conduct, social status, and relationship with her spouse – might also be relevant with regard to the frame of mind of the Anglo-Saxons. If one places the episode of the frysan wyf in a Christian context, the whole passage surely acquires a new perspective. This essay aims at reconsidering Maxims I 94b-99 and its likely relationship with the views on women and their hairstyle held by the Church Fathers – whose veiled sway was certainly present in any scriptorium where Maxims I was either compiled or copied. Hence, the laconic passage of the frysan wyf could be part of a larger cluster of lines, and Maxims I 94b-106 stand as a unique warning for the conduct of Anglo-Saxon women.
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