What questions can I ask of the Fontes database?
A few examples illustrating the variety of information you can discover from the database are given below. A question you may wish to ask of the database is followed by the route you should take in your search (an explanation of the search route follows the first of these examples below).
What is the source for the statement þæt gold getacnode urne geleafan & ure gode ingehyd, ðe we Gode offrian sceolon at lines 83-84 in Ælfric's Preface to Genesis come from?
The steps above outline the route you should take to answer the precise question asked above. However, you may also want to explore other headings that are highlighted and underlined as you proceed through the database, to discover further information about this text. For example, once you arrive at STEP 4 above, instead of selecting 'show records' you could try clicking on the title field (here you will find further information about the contributor, a note on the transmission of the sources used by Ælfric, source studies drawn on by the contributor, etc.). Or, you could click on 'show sources', which will give you a summary list of all the sources used by Ælfric in compiling his Preface. [NOTE: Remember you can always use the Netscape or Internet Explorer navigation buttons at the top of your screen to go backwards and forwards between screens and to navigate around your searches.]
Some more sample searches
Which texts did King Alfred draw on to compile book 3, which he added to his translation of Augustine's Soliloquia?
What sources does the anonymous Old English homilist draw on to compile the homily known as 'Napier homily 42'?
What sources did Bede draw on to compile his two lives of Cuthbert?
Was Ovid's Metamorphoses known to Anglo-Saxons? If so, in which Anglo-Saxon texts was it used?
Which texts by Vergil were known to the Anglo-Saxons?
Which Anglo-Saxon authors drew on these titles by Vergil?
How can I find out more details about the particular passage by Vergil used by the Anglo-Saxon author?
How was Genesis 1.26 quoted and interpreted by the Anglo-Saxons?
Which biblical commentaries were known to the Anglo-Saxons?
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Every source entry has a sigil indicating the status of that source in the view of the contributor.
The meaning of the sigla is as follows:
|M||multiple source (one of 2 or more direct sources cited for that passage)|
|MA||multiple antecedent source (one of 2 or more antecedent sources)|
|MX||multiple analogue (one of 2 or more analogues)|
|a||'and' (= combined with material from another source)|
|o||'or' (= alternative to another source)|
(i) The distinctions between 'certainty', 'probability' and 'possibility' expressed by the sigla apply only within each of the categories and not between categories. For example, S2 indicates that a source is probable, not that it is probably an immediate source rather than an antecedent. Cases of uncertainty between categories may be indicated briefly in the Comments section of the entry table. If, for instance, the contributor is uncertain whether a particular work was an immediate source of the text or itself drew on the immediate source (whatever that was) - i.e. whether the work in question is to be regarded as an immediate source or an analogue - the contributor is advised to adopt the type of sigil (S or SX in this example) which he thinks best and report in the Comments section of the entry table that the uncertainty about the category exists.
(ii) It is to be assumed that users of the Register will take for granted that there is an element of judgement in all allotment of sigla.
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The database contains three bibliographies, which can be browsed: Primary, Anglo-Saxon Texts and Secondary. The main function of the bibliographies is to provide fuller details of the abbreviated works cited in the database. The bibliography of Anglo-Saxon texts includes details of all the Anglo-Saxon works that have been sourced to date. The primary bibliography contains details of any texts cited as sources or analogues and the secondary bibliography records details of source-studies cited by contributors. Since source-studies may take the form of an introduction, apparatus or notes to an edition and the Anglo-Saxon works being sourced may also have been used as sources or analogues, there is, inevitably, some overlap between the three bibliographies.
A search on the bibliography of Anglo-Saxon Texts ordered by 'author' produces a result giving the name of the Anglo-Saxon author, titles by him (listed alphabetically) and the abbreviated edition information used in the database. To discover the full publication details of the edition, you should click on 'show' next to the relevant text.
The secondary bibliography simply supplies the full publication details for the abbreviated form of the reference used by contributors for secondary works cited in the 'bibliography' fields of the database.
The bibliography of Primary texts begins with a list of commonly used abbreviations of series of texts, such as CCSL, EETS, MGH, used in citing the source editions and this is followed by a full listing of the source editions themselves. Like the bibliography of Anglo-Saxon texts, a search on the bibliography of Primary texts, ordered by author, title or edition, results in a list giving the author's name, title and the abbreviated edition information cited in the database. To discover the full publication details and the reference system used to cite a particular source edition, you should click on 'show' next to the relevant text. For example, if you wish to find out what the source location 70.3.1-3 signifies for the passage from ABBO.FLOR., Pass.Eadmund., Winterbottom 1972, 65-87, you should click on the highlighted 'show' in the 'more details' field. The 'location example' indicates what form the 'source location' takes and the 'reference comments' provides an explanation for the system used. Thus, 70.3.1-3 refers to page 70, section 3, lines 1 to 3.
Though the main function of the bibliography of Primary texts is to provide the fuller publication details for source editions, it can also be used to get a quick look at the range of particular types of sources that were known to Anglo-Saxons. For instance, if you wish to know which Biblical commentaries were known to the Anglo-Saxons, you would request that the Primary bibliography be ordered by title and then browse through the titles beginning 'Comm.', 'Exp.' and 'Expos.'.
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Source texts are identified by their author, title and edition. In identifying authors we have tried to keep abreast of modern re-attributions and identifications. But since these are constantly changing users should be prepared to look for other possibilities (e.g. by consulting Clavis Patrum Latinorum for patristic texts). You may also check our preliminary list of 'Re-attributions and new identifications of source texts'.
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Page created 24 May 2001