C. Fee, ‘
and the Rhetoric of Heroism in Anglo-Saxon England’,
78(1997): 401, 405.
A.G. Litton, ‘The Heroine as Hero: Gender Reversal in the Anglo-Saxon
56 (1993): 42; P.A. Belanoff, ‘Judith: Sacred and Secular Heroine’, in H. Damicoand J. Leyerle (eds.),
Heroic Poetry in the Anglo-Saxon Period. Studies in Honor of Jess B. Bessinger, Jr.
(Kalamazoo, 1993), p. 252.
D. Chamberlain, ‘
: A Fragmentary and Political Poem’, in L.E. Nicholson and D.Warwick Frese (eds.),
Anglo-Saxon Poetry: Essays in Appreciation
(Notre Dame, 1975), p.144.
God’s Handiwork: Images of Women in Early Germanic Literature
(Westport, 1983), pp. 22-23.
The Web of Words
(Albany, 1970), p. 147.
., p. 157.and actions. For, while the setting of the poem may be stereotypically heroic, Judith’s heroismis portrayed as anything but stereotypically feminine or masculine.That the poet’s depiction of Judith defies efforts to pigeonhole her into a specific gender role can most clearly be seen in the conflicting opinions which her portrayal has generatedamong modern scholars. One viewpoint holds that the poet marginalizes Judith’s role in theHebrew victory over the Assyrians while emphasizing that of the male Hebrew warriors, thusallowing the heroism of men to eclipse that of a woman.
The opposing viewpoint asserts thatthe Old English poet centralizes Judith’s role in her people’s victory, but felt he could only dothis by masculinizing Judith and removing all importance from her femininity.
The singularity of the ideal of heroism portrayed in the Old English
is also evidenced by the wide variety of readings the poem can support. Some scholars see it as a politicallymotivated call to Anglo-Saxons to take up arms against Viking invaders.
Others see it as anallegorical tale of the triumph of the Church Militant,
the victory of Christian innocence over heathen bestiality,
or the defeat of the devil by faith.
Others simply see it as a call for virtuous