Ormís admonitions

The following passages from the Ormulum show us Orm in his rare moments as a social critic (rather than an exegete), seeking to address the ills of contemporary society. In particular the first three passages should be read with the atrocities of the Anarchy (1137–1154) in mind. Orm may well have started work on his homilies during the Anarchy, or at any rate shortly after. The final selection (ĎEnvoií) contains Ormís petition for the readerís prayer.

In these passages, the representation of the text has been somewhat simplified in that all hyphens have been omitted, and no changes in the text are shown. The translations are only intended as a guide to the reader who is not familiar with Ormís variety of English.

The text passages are illustrated by photographs of replicas of the Lewis chessmen. These chessmen, now in the British Museum, London, and the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland, Edinburgh, were carved in Trondheim at roughly the same time as Orm was working on his homilies (the second half of the twelfth century). The pawn, which here illustrates the passage on victims of persecution, has the shape of a tombstone, in itself a comment on the hardships suffered by the common people in times of conflict.

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Andersen, Håkon A. 1997. Kunsthåndverket i middelalderen: fra Trondheims skattkammer. Oslo: Huitfeldt.

Stratford, Neil. 1997. The Lewis Chessmen and the enigma of the hoard. London: British Museum Press.
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