, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 149–164 | Cite as

The Land of Mermedonia in the Old English Andreas



In the Old English poem Andreas, God sends St. Andrew on a mission of mercy to the land of the cannibalistic Mermedonians. Compared to its Greek, Latin, and Old English prose analogues, Andreas elaborates the monstrous customs of the Mermedonians and the geography of their land so as to systematically heighten the otherworldliness of Mermedonia. This emphatic distance between Mermedonia and the rest of humankind develops through the Andreas-poet’s use of␣repetition, of intertextual echoes, and of episodic parallelism within the poem␣itself. Not only does the otherworldliness of Mermedonia heighten the impact of the country’s eventual conversion to Christianity; paradoxically, it also turns Mermedonia into a theological microcosm of the whole world, undergoing its own abbreviated history of salvation.


Andreas Beowulf Cannibalism Christianity Elðeodig Exile Geography Harne stan Landscape Mermedonia Miracles Otherworldly places 


  1. Bjork, R. E. (1985). The Old English verse Saints’ lives: A study in direct discourse and the iconography of style. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  2. Blatt, F. (Ed.) (1930). Die lateinischen Bearbeitungen der Acta Andreæ et Matthiæ apud anthropophagos. Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche, Beiheft 12 (1930), 1–197.Google Scholar
  3. Boenig, R. (Ed. and Transl.) (1991). The acts of Andrew in the Country of the Cannibals. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc.Google Scholar
  4. Brooks, K. R. (Ed.) (1961). Andreas and the fates of the Apostles. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cassidy, F. G., & Ringler, R. N. (Eds.). (1971) The acts of Matthew and Andrew in the city of the Cannibals. In Bright’s Old English grammar and reader (pp. 203–219). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Google Scholar
  6. Casteen, J. (1978). Andreas: Mermedonian cannibalism and figural narration. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 75, 74–78.Google Scholar
  7. Cooke, W. (2003). Two notes on Beowulf (with glances at Vafþrúðnismál, Blickling Homily 16, and Andreas, lines 839–846). Medium Ævum, 72(2), 297–301.Google Scholar
  8. “Elþeodig.” In Dictionary of Old English in electronic form A – F (1996). Antonette diPaolo Healey (Ed.) Available via UofT Libraries: WinFrame Server. Cited 24 July 2007.
  9. “Elþeodig” (simple fragmentary search: “lTeod”). In Dictionary of Old English Corpus on the World Wide Web. Antonette diPaolo Healey (Ed.) Cited 24 July 2007.
  10. Gelling, M. (2002). The landscape of Beowulf. Anglo-Saxon England, 31, 7–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Grosz, O. J. H. (1970). The island of exiles: A note on Andreas 15. English Language Notes, 7(4), 240.Google Scholar
  12. Hall, J. R. (1987). Two dark Old English compounds: ælmyrcan (Andreas 432a) and guðmyrce (Exodus 59a). Journal of English Linguistics, 20(1), 38–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Howe, N. (2002). The landscape of Anglo-Saxon England: inherited, invented, imagined. In J. Howe & M. Wolfe (Eds.), Inventing medieval landscapes: Senses of place in western Europe (pp. 91–112). Gainesville: University Press of Florida.Google Scholar
  14. Kabir, A. J. (2001). Paradise, death, and doomsday in Anglo-Saxon literature. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Klaeber, Fr. (Ed.) (1950). Beowulf and the fight at Finnsburg (3rd ed., with 1st and 2d supplements). Boston: D. C. Heath and Company.Google Scholar
  16. Krapp, G. P. (1905). Notes on the Andreas. Medieval Philology, 2, 400.Google Scholar
  17. Krapp, G. P. K., & Dobbie, E. V. K. (Eds.). (1936). Guthlac A and B. In The Exeter Book. The Anglo-Saxon Poetic Records, Vol. 3. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Morris, R. (Ed.) (1874–80, repr. 1967). The blickling homilies. Early English Text Series o.s. 58, 63, 73. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Orchard, A. (2003). A critical companion to Beowulf. Woodbridge, UK; Rochester, NY: D.S. Brewer.Google Scholar
  20. Powell, A. M. (2002). Verbal parallels in Andreas and its relationship to Beowulf and Cynewulf. Dissertation, University of Cambridge.Google Scholar
  21. Riedinger, A. R. (1995). ‹Home’ in Old English poetry. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 96, 51–59.Google Scholar
  22. Sharma, M. (2002). A reconsideration of Guthlac A: The extremes of saintliness. Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 101, 185–200.Google Scholar
  23. Skeat, W. V. (Ed.) (1881–1900, repr. 1966). Ælfric’s Lives of Saints. Early English Text Series o.s. 76, 82, 94, 114. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Swisher, M. (2002). Beyond the hoar stone. Neophilologus, 86(1), 133–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. The Holy Bible: Douay-Rheims Version (New Testament first published at Rheims, 1582; repr. 1914). Translated from the Latin Vulgate. New York: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, Printers to the Holy See.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Centre for Medieval StudiesUniversity of TorontoTorontoOntario

Personalised recommendations