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A Hebrew boy, God of the blessed Gods,
The same account is given by Suidas (see note on 11. 178– 179), and a similar one by Cedrenus ; Nicephorus Callistus quotes Malalas.
In the V. T. after the statue has been made (cf. note on 1. 313), Augustus consults the Sibyl as to whether he should be worshiped, and she replies (11. 48944 ff.):
Ce seroit grant derision,
Qui descendra d'une pucelle, etc.
Que une femme fut tant prudente,
De ce faire. 352–375. This prophecy is evidently not taken from the Erythrean Sibyl prophecy, as quoted in Martinus. There is nothing very distinctive about it, and it is probably original, substituted for Martinus' version, perhaps because the author wished to avoid the difficult task of translating into English acrostics; see Introduction, p. xxii.
In the V. T. the Sibyl is more accurately informed. When she first appears she is praying to “Dieu en trinité," and she tells the two courtiers who overhear her that it is sinful to worship Venus and Mercury, and that God is about to be born of a virgin. 358. V. T., 11. 49032-3:
Octavien: Ne sçait on point quant ce sera ?
Sibille: Nenny, le terme est incertain. 392–409. A similar complaint to that of the Towneley shepherds ; cf. T. IV, 12-36.
427. 'Ascendit autem et Ioseph a Galilea de civitate Nazareth in Judeam in civitatem David, que vocatur Bethlem.' (H). Luke 2. 4.
432–455. Pseudo-Matt. 13: “Cum ergo Ioseph et Maria irent per viam quæ ducit Bethleem, dixit Maria ad Ioseph: Duos populos video ante me, unum flentem et alium gaudentem ... Tunc apparuit puer speciosus ... et dixit: ... Populum enim ludæorum flentem vidit, quia recessit a deo suo, et populum gentium gaudentem, quia accessit et prope factus est ad dominum, secundum quod promisit patribus ...' Cf. also Protev. 17.
456–463. Apparently based entirely on the clause in Luke 2. 7: 'quia non erat locus in diversorio.' The accounts in the Apocryphal Gospels are quite different. In both Pseudo-Matt. and Protev. they stop on the road outside of Bethlehem, because Mary's time has come; the stable is merely a cave by the roadside. The influence of the liturgical drama probably survives here; for in mediæval painting the scene is often a cave (cf. Giotto's fresco of the Nativity, in Padua).
464-468. Protev. 17: “And Mary said, “Take me down from the ass, for my burden urgeth me to be delivered.” And he took her down.'
473. Protev, 19: “And I saw a woman coming- ... and I said, “I am seeking a Hebrew midwife.”' Pseudo-Matt. 13 : * lam enim dudum Ioseph perrexerat ad quærendas obstetrices.'
504 ff. In the Apocryphal Gospels, as in C., the child is born while Joseph is seeking midwives. In the Old French Miracle de la Nativité, ed. G. Paris in Miracles de Nostre Dame vol. 1 (abbreviated hereafter as Mir. d. l. Nat.), Zebel, the midwife, guides them to the stable, and is present at the birth.
528–566. The account of the midwives in this play is not nearly so close to the Apocryphal Gospels as is C. IV, 217–308; see notes on those lines. There is no particular reason for assuming that the author of Ch. followed any one of the Apocryphal accounts instead of another, whereas C. clearly follows Pseudo-Matt. It is quite possible that Ch. follows the lost Apocryphal Gospel of Bartholomew; see note on Ch. I, 568.
528. I am not able to account for the name Tebell, except by supposing that this, too, comes from the lost Gospel of Bartholomew; see preceding note. In Pseudo-Matt. and in
the Protev., the name is Zelomi, as it is in C. Zebel appears in the Golden Legend and in the Old French Mistère de la Nativité, ed. Jubinal, Mystères Inédits du XV siècle, vol. 2 (abbreviated hereafter as Myst. d. l. Nat.). Tebel appears in an early Middle English poem on the Nativity, published in Horstmann's Altenglische Legenden, ed. 1875, 1. 618.
568. Probably referring to the (now lost) Apocryphal Gospel of St. Bartholomew, which is mentioned by Jerome (Migne, Patr. Lat. 26. 17) and Gelasius (Migne, Patr. Lat. 59. 162). The Golden Legend (chap. 5) refers twice to frater Bariholomæus: Abbé Roze in his edition interprets the first reference as referring to the Saint, and the second as referring to Bartholomew of Sion. As the reference here is to the miracle wrought on Salome, mentioned in both Pseudo-Matt. and Protev., it seems probable that it is the lost Gospel that is referred to.
575-620. The earliest extant description of this temple is by the Greek Cosmas in the 8th century; see Mai, Spicilegium Romanum 2. 2. 221 : “They say the Capitol at Rome is a building great in extent, having in it many images, and each image is for a sign. For each image has a bell hanging from its hand, and there is an image for every tribe, and they say that when any nation is unfriendly its image gives the sign with its bell.'
Another early account, falsely ascribed to Bede, the author and date of which is unknown, adds the fact that each image had the name of its nation inscribed on its breast (Giles, Works of Bede 4. 10). Other mediæval accounts are contained in a Wessobrunn MS. of the 8th century (Massmann, Kaiserchronik 3. 426). A mention of it is made by an anonymous writer of Salerno in the 10th century (Muratori, Script. Rer. Ital. 2. 2. 72), and in an 11th century Vatican MS. (Græsse, Beiträge zur Lit. und Sage des Mittelalters, p. 10).
One of the fullest accounts, and to us the most important, as the probable source of this play, is by the Englishman Alexander Neckam (born 1158), in his De Naturis Rerum, chap. 174, where he relates one of the mediæval Virgil myths: Romæ item construxit nobile palatium, in quo cujuslibet regionis imago lignea campanam manu tenebat. Quotiens vero aliqua regio majestati Romani imperii insidias moliri ausa est, incontinenti proditricis icona campanulam pulsare ccèpit. Miles vero aeneus, equo insidiens aeneo, in summitate fastigii prædicti palatii hastam vibrans, in illam se vertit partem quæ regionem illam respiciebat. Præparavit igitur expedite se felix embola Romana juventus a senatoribus et patribus conscriptis in hostes imperii Romani directa, ut non solum fraudes præparatus declinaret, sed etiam in auctores temeritatis animadverteret. Quæsitus autem vates gloriosus, quamdiu a diis conservandum esset illud nobile ædificium, respondere consuevit : “Stabit usque dum virgo pariat.” Hoc autem audientes philosopho applaudentes dicebant: "Igitur in æternum stabit.” In nativitate autem Salvatoris, fertur dicta, domus inclita subitam fecisse ruina (sic).'
In the Mirabilia Romæ a statue of the Persian kingdom in the temple of Jupiter on the Capitol, by ringing a bell, warns Agrippa of imminent war (ed. Parthey, § 40).
Comparetti, in his Virgil in the Middle Ages, gives a very full account of the development of this myth. There are one or two rather significant versions that he omits, however. One of these is the Historia Septem Sapientium (ed. Buchner, p. 42). In this account Virgil is again the artificer; the building, however, is no longer the Capitol, but a tower. In this account the image turns its face to the hostile province. Another exceedingly significant version, as suggestive of the origin of the myth, is given by Washington Irving in his Alhambra, in the Legend of the Arabian Astrologer. The presence of a bronze man on horseback, in this version, is striking. Another bit of evidence of Spanish or Moorish origin is found in a 16th century English romance on the life of Virgil. Here it is casually mentioned that he was educated at Toledo, and that while there he saw the devil, and made a bargain with him.
Higden, in the Polychronicon 3. 44, quotes Neckam as his source for the legend. Before finding this reference in Higden, I had decided that Neckam was the source of this version. Higden's quotation tends to confirm this decision; for it shows at least that Neckam was known in Chester, and probably in the monastery where our author resided at the time when this play was written. See note on 11. 304-375.
585. Neckam omits the bells. The Mirabilia and pseudoBede describe the bells as hanging from the neck, as here. Cosmas has them hanging from the wrist. Cf. note on 1. 587.
587. Pseudo-Bede is the only one that mentions the name inscribed on the breast. As this is probably an English production, it is quite possible that the author was acquainted with it, as well as with the Neckam version. Cf. note on l. 585.
620. The Temple of Peace is probably merely an appropriate name for such a temple as our author is describing, and he does not mean to refer to any particular temple. As we have seen, in all the early myths the temple is the Capitol, or Temple of Jupiter ; in this play the God of Rome' is worshiped in it. It is barely possible that the author is referring to the Temple of Janus, whose gates were closed in time of peace and open in time of war. They were closed for the third time at the birth of Christ. Janus was peculiarly the God of Rome,' and at times was called deus divom, an appellation often applied to Jupiter, so that the two gods may have become confused. Moreover, according to the play the Roman youth are called to arms from the Temple of Peace, and according to Virgil (Aeneid 7. 607) the consul called to arms from the Temple of Janus.
Tunison, Master Virgil, suggests that the Theatre of Pompey, with its statues of all the conquered nations, may have suggested the so-called Temple of Peace.
Martinus (see note on 11. 304–375) refers to the Temple of Peace built by Vespasian! He also mentions a Palatium Pacis, huilt by Romulus, in which he placed a golden image of himself, which should stand until a virgin bore a child, and which fell when Christ was born.
This multitude of different temples is evidence enough of the confusion and inaccuracy of the mediæval knowledge of ancient Roman topography.