Long before Prince became the artist known by a symbol, English poets signed their work with a symbol. In fact, only two Old English poets are known by name, Cynewulf and Caedmon.
Old English differed greatly from the English of today, it basically resembled modern German. In the 7th Century, an unlearned cowherd, Caedmon wrote some of the first English poems, of which only 9 lines survived. The second known poet Cynewulf, of the 8th century, also signed his work with a symbol. Cynewulf used a kind of cypher, or anagram, made up of ancient figures called runes, an alphabet used by early Germanic tribes preceding the use of the Roman alphabet in England.
A line from a Cynewulf poem, recorded about 754 AD:
“Her Cured forferde, & Cyneheard onfeng biscepdome fter Hunfere on Wintanceastre;
& Cantwara burg forbrn y geare, & Sigebryht feng to Wesseaxna rice, & heold an gear.”
The artist previously known as Prince was born Prince Rogers Nelson on June 7, 1958 in Minneapolis. On his 35th birthday, he announced that he would change his name to an unpronounceable symbol. The glyph incorporates the male and female signs along with the alchemy symbol for soapstone. In May 2000, he announced that he is again to be known as “Prince.”