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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).>br>Volume I. From the Beginnings to the Cycles of Romance.

IV. Old English Christian Poetry

§ 5. Crist and Satan

Three Minor poems, originally thought to be one, and by Grein called Crist and Satan, should be mentioned here, since, by reason of their being transmitted in the codex MS. Bodl. XI, they, together with the three more important poems just discussed, have been attributed to Caedmon. The first of them deals with the subject of the Fall of the Angels, the second with Christ’s Harrowing of Hell and His resurrection, together with a brief account of His ascension and coming to judgement, the third with Christ’s Temptation. Only the first is complete. All three, probably, belong to the end of the ninth century and all have a homiletic tendency. The second has been compared with the Crist of Cynewulf with which it is linked by virture of theme as well as by style. The description of the last judgement suggests the more impressive picture of that event contained in Crist, and the Harrowing of Hell recalls, and can sustain comparison with, examples of later more elaborate treatment of the same subject. By their religious fervour, and by their apparently ruder form, it is possible that these poems are nearer to the original body of Caedmon’s work than the poems previously discussed.

The finest of all the poems erroneously attributed to Caedmon is the fragment entitled Judith. As there seems to be ground for supposing that this beautiful fragment, worthy of the skill of a scop whose Christianity had not sufficed to quell his martial instincts, his pride in battle and his manly prowess, is of later date than has been thought by certain historians, it is dealt with in a later chapter of the present volume.