Barrow Exegesis: Quotation, Chorography, and Felix's Life of St. Guthlac
Felix's Vita sancti Guthlaci was commissioned by Ælfwald, King of the East Angles, c.730-740. Notwithstanding its dedication to Ælfwald, the Life paints an especially flattering portrait of the much stronger, neighbouring Mercian ruler Æthelbald. Felix may have used the hagiography of the Mercian hermit Guthlac less as a means of furthering Ælfwald's appropriation of Mercian cultural property than as a model of pious renunciation that Ælfwald could imitate. His quotations in chapter 34 of the Vita show Felix thinking exegetically, borrowing from Vergil, Evagrius of Antioch, and the Psalms to intimate to his royal patron that powerlessness on earth can be counterbalanced by empowerment in Heaven.