'Cofgod' (plural Cofgodas ("cove-gods")) was an Old English term for a household god[1] in Anglo-Saxon paganism.

The Classicist Ken Dowden opined that the cofgodas were the equivalent of the Penates found in Ancient Rome.[2] Dowden also compared them to the Kobolds of later German folklore, arguing that they had both originated from the kofewalt, a spirit that had power over a room.[2] If it is true that such beings were known to the early English, later legendary beings such as the English hob and Anglo-Celtic brownie would be the modern survival of the cofgod.[3] However, the only instance of the word cofgodas in Old English is as a gloss (an explanatory definition) to the Latin word penates.[4] As in other instances where an Old English term only appears glossing a Latin word, this may mean that the term was invented to explain a foreign Latin concept, rather than that it serves as definitive evidence that the concept existed among the English of the period.

References

  1. ^ Joseph Bosworth (1838). A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman. p. 80.
  2. ^ a b Dowden, Ken (2000). European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. London and New York: Routledge. p. 229. ISBN 0-415-12034-9.
  3. ^ "Cove-Gods", An Other Dictionary.
  4. ^ Dictionary of Old English Corpus s.v. cofgodas.