Studies in Philology
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Although the Anglo-Saxon compound anhaga (appearing in Beowulf, The Wanderer, Andreas, Elene, Phoenix, Maxims II, and Riddle 5 of the Exeter Book) is often translated as “loner” or “solitary one,” such paraphrases seem to ignore half of the compound (an: “one” or “lone”) at the expense of the other (haga: “hedge” or “haw”). A survey of various -haga compounds (gemærhaga, swinhaga, turfhaga, wighaga, cumbolhaga, bordhaga, and færhaga) underscores the importance of both elements and suggests that modern translators place more emphasis upon the “hedge” half of anhaga as well. Since haga may describe the Anglo-Saxon shield-wall formation composed of individual shield-bearers arranged in a tight formation akin to that of a horticultural hedgerow, we suggest a translation of anhaga as “lone hedge warrior” or “solitary shield-bearer,” a designation akin to those of shield-bearing Greek hoplites (named for their unit’s defining defensive armament, the hoplon) and American G.I.s (named for their common “general issue” or “government issue” military equipment). Yet unlike these soldiers, to be named anhaga identified the Germanic warrior as a particularly solitary figure, one separated from the wighaga (battle-hedge), and thus a soldier without support: a “lone hedge warrior.”
Massey, Jeff Ph.D. and DeGruy, Karma, "Riddling Meaning from OE - haga compounds" (2015). Faculty Works: English. 2.