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Cynewulf and Cyneheard

Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old English with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old English Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old English language and its speakers' culture.

Cynewulf and Cyneheard

Ond þā ongeat se cyning þæt, ond hē on þā duru ēode, ond þā unhēanlīce hine werede oþ hē on þone æþeling lōcude, ond þā ūt rǣsde on hine ond hine miclum gewundode; ond hīe alle on þone cyning wǣrun feohtende oþ þæt hīe hine ofslægenne hæfdon. Ond þā on þæs wīfes gebǣrum onfundon þæs cyninges þegnas þā unstilnesse, ond þā þider urnon swā hwelc swā þonne gearo wearþ, ond radost. Ond hiera se æþeling gehwelcum feoh ond feorh gebēad, ond hiera nǣnig hit geþicgean nolde; ac hīe simle feohtende wǣran oþ hīe alle lǣgon būtan ānum Bryttiscum gīsle, ond sē swīþe gewundad wæs.

Þā on morgenne gehīerdun þæt þæs cyninges þegnas, þe him beæftan wǣrun, þæt se cyning ofslægen wæs, þā ridon hīe þider, ond his aldormon Ōsrīc, ond Wīferþ his þegn, ond þā men þe hē beæftan him lǣfde ǣr, ond þone æþeling on þǣre byrig mētton þǣr se cyning ofslægen læg — ond þā gatu him tō belocen hæfdon — ond þā þǣrtō ēodon. Ond þā gebēad hē him hiera āgenne dōm fēos ond londes, gif hīe him þæs rīces ūþon; ond him cȳþdon þæt hiera mǣgas him mid wǣron, þā þe him from noldon. Ond þā cuǣdon hīe þæt him nǣnig mǣg lēofra nǣre þonne hiera hlāford, ond hīe nǣfre his banan folgian noldon. Ond þā budon hīe hiera mǣgum þæt hīe gesunde from ēodon; ond hīe cuǣdon þæt tæt ilce hiera gefērum geboden wǣre þe ǣr mid þām cyninge wǣrun. Þā cuǣdon hīe þæt hīe hīe þæs ne onmunden 'þon mā þe ēowre gefēran þe mid þām cyninge ofslægene wǣrun.' Ond hīe þā ymb þā gatu feohtende wǣron oþ þæt hīe þǣrinne fulgon ond þone æþeling ofslōgon; ond þā men þe him mid wǣrun, alle būtan ānum, sē wæs þæs aldormonnes godsunu; ond hē his feorh generede, ond þēah hē wæs oft gewundad.


When the king grasped this, he went to the door and nobly protected himself until he looked upon the prince, and then rushed out to him and severely wounded him; then they all were fighting against the king, until they had slain him. Then, upon his lady's outcries, the king's attendants discovered the disturbance, and ran there, whoever got ready the quickest. The prince offered each one of them money and life, but not one of them would accept it; and they went on fighting until they all lay dead except for one British hostage, and he was severely wounded.
When in the morning the king's thanes, who were behind him, heard that the king was slain, they rode thither, with his nobleman Osric, and Wiferth his thane, and the men who he previously left behind him; they met the prince at the stonghold where the king lay slain -- they had locked the gates against them -- and they went there. Then he offered to them their own choice of money and land, if they granted the kingdom to him; they revealed to them that their kinsmen were with them, they who wouldn't (go) away from them. But they said that no kinsman was more dear to them than their lord, and they never would follow his slayer. Then they offered to their kinsmen, that they could walk away unharmed; but they said that the same thing would be offered to their comrades which were before, with the king. Then they said that they did not think themselves worthy of this "any more than your companions who were slain with the king." And then they were fighting at the gates until they penetrated therein and slew the prince, and the men who were with him, all but one, who was his nobleman's godson; and he saved his life, though he was much wounded.

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