Old World Monstrosity

Anglo-Saxon monstrosity was very different by modern standards. Grotesque appearance or murderous hunger did not play a crucial role when determining what was monstrous. Based on “Libre Monstrorum”, “Christ and Satan”, and “The Passion of Saint Christopher” Anglo-Saxon monstrosity was founded upon the Christian morality and what was alien in form to the European people. In addition, it was a moral spectrum between good and evil, not simply one sided. “Christ and Satan” demonstrates one side of the scale that religion had a tendency to depict those of sin or corruption as a monstrosity. One of these more recognized creatures of lore was Satan, who was described as “the hideous monster, [who] spoke out of hell” (91). He was transformed from an angel into a devil in the lore because he was “guilty towards God,” (90) and because of that his “shackles of punishment [were] bound tight” (90). This makes him unredeemable, unlike Adam and Eve, who performed a monstrous act, but were not monsters. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the “The Passion of Saint Christopher”. This portrayed the Saint as being great in height as “an iron bench…equal in height to the man’s stature…was twelve fathoms tall” (3). He worked to convert the “true” monsters of the tale, the pagans. Despite his monstrous size, Christopher is described as “saintly” three times within the narrative God, though he died, he was still able to “[journey] to God” (9). Size is a facet of monstrosity as evident in the “Libre Monstrorum” in which “there are monsters of an amazing size, like King Hygelac” (1.2). Overall, alien in form is characterized as a person that is not of Christian Angelo-Saxon descent, which is obvious when they discover the “Ethiopians who are black in their whole body” (1.9). It is important to note that geographical location, like “the river Nile…produces all kinds monsters,” (2.21) and shows evidence that the further away from the European culture to travel the more the landscape produced monstrosities.

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