Translating Felix’s Vita sancti Guthlaci into Old English

The lexical domains of beauty and aesthetic pleasure and their figurative dimensions in the Old English prose Life of Saint Guthlac


Keywords: Old English, Latin, Beauty, Aesthetic Pleasure, Aesthetic Emotions, Metaphor


Based on some of the most recent studies on aesthetic emotions, the purpose of this paper is to examine how aesthetic concepts and aesthetic experience are translated and adapted from Felix’s Vita sancti Guthlaci into Old English prose. Looking into the Old English terms from the lexical domains of beauty and aesthetic pleasure, this paper highlights very specific translation practices on the part of, especially, an Old English author, who implements an additional aesthetic dimension that is not generally found in the Latin source. This paper highlights an apparent hybridity between the cognitive and the sensory in these literary texts, and it also stresses how one of these authors in particular frequently uses sensory evaluations to describe the complex and abstract ideas that are typical of the hagiographical genre.


Download data is not yet available.


Anlezark, D. (2019). “Stand Firm”: The Descent to Hell in Felix’s Life of Saint Guthlac. In R. Wehlau (Ed.), Darkness, Depression, and Descent in Anglo-Saxon England (pp. 255–276). Berlin: Medieval Institute Publications.

Armstrong, T. & Detweiler-Bedell, B. (2008). Beauty as an Emotion: The Exhilarating Prospect of Mastering a Challenging World. Review of General Psychology, 12(4), 305–329.

BWT = Bosworth, J., Toller, T. N., Crist, S., Tichy, O. (Compilers). 2013. Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online Edition. Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. Available from [last accessed 30 January 2020].

Brooks, B. E. (2019). Restoring Creation: The Natural World in the Anglo-Saxon Saints’ Lives of Cuthbert and Guthlac. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Carruthers, M. (2013). The Experience of Beauty in the Middle Ages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Colgrave, B. (1956). Felix’s Life of Saint Guthlac. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Díaz-Vera, J. E. (2016). Coming to Past Senses: Vision, Touch and their Metaphors in Anglo-Saxon Language and Culture. In A. Kern-Stähler, B. Busse and W. de Boer (Eds.). The Five Senses in Medieval and Early Modern England (pp. 36–68). Leiden: Brill.

DOE = Cameron, A., Crandel A., A., di Paolo H., A., Liuzza, R., and Momma, H. (Eds.). 2018. Dictionary of Old English: A to I online. Toronto: Dictionary of Old English Project. [last accessed 30 Jan 2021]

Fingerhut, J. & Prinz, J. 2020. Aesthetic Emotions Reconsidered. The Monist, 103(2), 223–239.

Harbus, A. (2012). Cognitive Approaches to Old English poetry. Cambridge: Brewer.

Juslin, P. N. (2013). From Everyday Emotions to Aesthetic Amotions: Toward a Unified Theory of Musical Emotions. Physics of Life Reviews, 10(3), 235–266.

Kramer, J., Magennis, H., & Norris, R. (2020). Anonymous Old English Lives of Saints. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lakoff, G. & Johnson, M. (1980). Metaphors we Live by. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Lakoff, G., Espenson, J. & Schwarts, A. (1991). Master Metaphor List. University of California at Berkley. Available from: [last accessed 30 January 2021].

Lewis, C. T., & Short, C. (1879). A Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Lockett, L. (2011). Anglo-Saxon Psychologies in the Vernacular and Latin Tradition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Schindler, I., Hanich, J., Jacobsen, T. and Koelsch, S. (2019). What are Aesthetic Emotions. Psychological Review, 126(2), 171–195.

Ramey, P. (2017). The Riddle of Beauty: The Aesthetics of Wrætlic in Old English Verse. Modern Philology, 114(3), 457–481.

Rauer, C. (2013). The Old English Martyrology: Edition, translation and commentary. Cambridge: D. S. Brewer.

Roberts, J. (1970). An Inventory of Early Guthlac Materials. Mediaeval Studies, 32, 193–233.

Scherer, K. R. (2005). What are Emotions? And How Can They be Measured. Social Science Information, 44(4), 695–729.

Wehlau, R. (1997). The Riddle of Creation: Metaphor Structures in Old English Poetry. Bern: Peter Lang.

Waugh, R. (2009). The Blindness Curse and Nonmiracles in the Old English Prose Life of Saint Guthlac. Modern Philology, 106(3), 399–426.

How to Cite
Minaya Gómez, F. J. (2023). Translating Felix’s Vita sancti Guthlaci into Old English: The lexical domains of beauty and aesthetic pleasure and their figurative dimensions in the Old English prose Life of Saint Guthlac. International Journal of English Studies, 23(1), 107–125.