Page images

this account alone, expanding it considerably, but not using the more elaborate Apocryphal accounts which form the basis of the Coventry, York, and Towneley Joseph plays. These introduce the virgin companions of Mary, and a long dispute between Mary and Joseph and the maidens concerning the paternity of the child. We do find, however, in this play reminiscences of the Apocryphal account of the marriage of Joseph and Mary, in those lines where Joseph urges the unsuitability of an old man's marrying a maiden. In Protev. 9 Joseph says: 'Let us not become ridiculous to the children of Israel. I have sons, and am old ; she is but a girl. All the rest, however, is merely the expansion of the idea of Joseph's just nature, as we find it in Matt. 1. Cf. C. II, 25 ff., and note; Y. II, 92 ff.

128. H quotes Matt. 1. 18; see note on ll. 123–176.

129. The author again follows the Scriptural instead of the Apocryphal account; cf. note on l. 116. Pseudo-Matt. 10:

ubi moratus est si. e. Joseph in Capernaum) mensibus novem.' Protev. 13: “And her sixth month came and Joseph returned.'

132. H, without any reason, inserts here Matt. 1. 19, first part.

136. H inserts Matt. 1. 19, last part.
145–152. A common theme in Y. and T.
152. H quotes Matt. 1. 20; see note on 11. 123–176.

164. “Joseph, fili dauid, ne metuas adjungere Mariam uxorem tuam; nam quod in illa conceptus est.' (H). Matt. 1, 20.

168. 'a spiritu sancto profectum est.' (H). Matt. 1. 20. The reference to the fulfillment of prophecy is evidence that the Scriptural and not the Apocryphal account is the basis of this play, for in Matthew the angel says that Christ shall be born to fulfill prophecy, and the Apocryphal Gospels, which follow Matt. 1. closely up to this point, make no mention of prophecies.

178–179. The popular mediæval legends of Octavian and the Sibyl are fully discussed in Piper, Mythologie der Christlichen Kunst, 1. 472–507. In their earliest form the Sibyl was priestess of Apollo. The earliest extant version is by Malalas (7th cent.), to be found in Migne, Patr. Gr. 97. 357 (see note on 11. 348 ff.). Next in order chronologically is Suidas (fl. 950), who discusses it in his Lexicon under the title Augustus; then comes a version by Cedrenus (circ. 1100): Migne, Palr. Gr. 121. 357; and finally a version by Nicephorus Callistus (circ. 1350): Migne, Patr. Gr. 145. 681. See following notes.

185 ff. This boastful speech of Octavian's is merely one of the popular“Herod speeches" put into his mouth. It would be profitless to record the many parallels; I refer the reader to the following plays : Ch. 8, 157–204; 10, 1-20; C. 17, 1-16; Y. 16, 1-22; T. 14, 1–48.

188. “Lucæ Cap. 2. Exit dictum e Cesare Augusto ut censeretur totus orbis' (H).

199 f. Cf. Ch. 10, (Innocents Play) 5-6:

Herode: Say no man any thing is his,

but onely at my device.

201–208. Cf. note on 11. 304–375; Martinus : 'tantæ prosperitatis et pacis quod totum mundum sibi tributarium fecerat.'

209–224. This speech in Old French is introduced to give local color, French being still the language of the English court; see Introduction, p. xxvi. The many scribes, through whose hands the text has passed in the 250 years between its composition and the earliest extant manuscript, have left little that is intelligible. Professor Henry R. Lang of Yale University has kindly verified my belief that in general the text is so corrupt as to defy interpretation. The first stanza is the only one that is really intelligible, although the general meaning of the others may be grasped. Octavian begins by saying: 'Lords, all assembled, from my own estates, I can cause you to be tearful or joyful, and put you in grief.' Notice that the last line is in Italian, because a rime for Emperoure is necessary. He then apparently goes on to warn them not to oppose him in any way, for he is a powerful, rich, and wise emperor, and there is none like unto him.

For other speeches in French, all by kings and governors, see Ch. 8, 65–72, 145–152 ; 16 (p. 39 of Pt. 2. in Wright's edition), and 19 (2. 84).

225-247. These lines are largely a repetition of Octavian's opening speech.

229. Cf. T. 9 (Cæsar Augustus), 1–3.

Be styll, beshers; I commawnd yow
That no man speke a word here now

But I myself alon. 232 ff. Cf. T. 9, 13 ff.

ffor all is myn that up standys,
Castels, towers, townys, and landys;

To me homage thay bringe.
232-239. Cf. 11. 189-196.
240–245. Cf. 11. 201-208.

252 ff. Cf. note to 188. These · Herodian’ speeches are entirely opposed to Augustus' traditionally modest character, which rather inconsistently appears a little later in the play.

258–261. The common belief in the Middle Ages that Jerusalem was at the middle of the world, the mediæval Greenwich,' is based on Ezek. 5.5: Thus saith the Lord God: This is Jerusalem. I have set it in the midst of the nations.' The idea is familiar to Dante, who places the mountain of Purgatory at the antipodes of Jerusalem. Cf. Dante, Purg. 2. 1-6; Inf. 34. 116.

281. The boy' swears by Mohammed some 600 years before that prophet was born. After the wars with the Saracens,' says Wright, this became a common name in W. Europe for any idol or false god.' It is a favorite oath of Herod's in all the cycles.

286. I have emended Boughton to read Broughton, as the latter was a suburb of Chester, according to Magna Britannia, Antiqua et Nova, London, 1720. I do not feel sure, however, that this emendation should stand, for there is an old Lancashire proverb about Oldham rough-heads, Boughton trotters, and Heywood monkeys. Heywood and Oldham are near together in S. E. Lancashire, but Boughton I have been unable to discover. The fact that the author of Ch. II shows himself familiar with Lancashire (see notes on Ch. II, 117 and 120) adds weight to the theory that a Lancashire town is referred to.

304–375. This legend is taken from Martinus Polonus, a Dominican of the 13th century, also quoted by Higden in

the Polychronicon as his authority for the same tale. The fact that Martinus is quoted by at least a contemporary of the author of our play, and that his version is the closest to ours of all the many mediæval versions, is very strong evidence as to our source. Martinus writes in his Supputationes under De Octaviano Imperatore: ‘Hunc populi Romani videntes esse tantæ pulchritudinis quod nemo in oculis eius intueri poterat, et tantæ prosperitatis et pacis quod totum mundum sibi tributarium fecerat, dicebant ei: Te volumus adorare, quia Deus est in te; si hic non esset, non tibi omnia tam prospere succederent. Quia renuens, inducias postulavit, et ad se Sibyllam Tiburtinam sapientem vocavit: cui quod Senatores sibi dixerant, recitavit. Quæ spatium trium dierum petiit in quibus arctum ieiunium operata est. Post tertium diem respondit Imperatori hoc modo:

Iudicii signum tellus sudore madescet.
E celo Rex adveniet qui per secula futurus est

et cetera quæ sequuntur.' For the rest of Martinus' account see note on Ch. I, 646—701. The lapse of three days does not occur in the play, but there is an intermission in the Octavian story from 1. 375-1. 646, where the play again follows Martinus.

Martinus seems to draw his material, sometimes verbatim, from the Mirabilia Romæ (ed. Parthey, $ 37), written in the 12th century. This also contains an account similar to that in 11. 575-620; see note.

313. In the Old French Mistère du Viel Testament, ed. Société des Anciens Textes Français, vol. 6, pp. 180 ff. (abbreviated hereafter as V. T.) in discussing affairs of state, the Provost suggests to Augustus that a statue of him should be erected in Rome, to be worshiped. Augustus offers no objection. After the statue is made, however, he consults with the Sibyl as to whether it should be worshiped.

330–331. As a matter of fact, Augustus was at this time 63 years old.

340. In the early versions Octavian does not ask the oracle if he shall be deified (cf. note on 11. 348 ff.). This was a later interpretation of the story, due probably to the confusion among churchmen of the terms dominus and deus. The ultimate source of the legend is doubtless in the prohibition issued by Augustus against applying to him the title dominum; cf. Suetonius, Divus Augustus, $ 53: ‘Domini appellationem ut maledictum et opprobrium exhorruit. Cum spectante eo ludos, pronuntiatum esset in mimo, “O dominum æquum et bonum," et universi quasi de ipso dictum exultantes comprobassent, statim manu vultuque indecoras adulationes repressit.' Even so late as Innocent III (cf. note on 11. 647–701) we find it a question of dominum, not deum. Peter Comestor, however, writes in 1178: `Cæsar præceperat ne quis eum divum vocaret' (Hist. Evang. 5.), and in the Mirabilia Romæ of the 12th century (see note on II. 304 ff.), and the Golden Legend, we find deum, and not dominum. The Golden Legend, however, quotes Innocent as its source, showing the interpretation of dominum as deum.

For the introduction of the Sibyl into the V. T., see note on 1. 640.

348. Which Sibyl this is is not specified. Martinus calls her the Tiburtine Sibyl, but puts in her mouth the prophecy of the Erythrean Sibyl; its omission here is significant (cf. T. I, 50, and note). The V. T. calls her the Tiburtine Sibyl, and gives her a prophecy similar to the one here. Originally she was the Delphic Sibyl (see note following). Higden follows Martinus.

348 ff. Notice that Augustus does not ask the Sibyl whether he should be deified, but whether there shall ever be a greater king than he. This takes us back to the earliest form of the legend, found in Malalas' Chronographia of the 7th century, written in Greek (Migne, Patr. Gr. 97. 357). He writes: 'Augustus Cæsar in the fifth year of his reign, in the month of October, ... went to consult the oracle, and, after sacrificing a hecatomb, inquired: “Who after me shall rule over the Roman state ? " but there was no answer from the Pythian priestess. And again he sacrificed, and inquired why he received no answer, and why the oracle was silent. Then at length he received this response:

« PreviousContinue »