Second Book of Maccabees 7

SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES 7: EXPLANATORY NOTES


ABBREVIATIONSCA: Gower, Confessio AmantisCMCursor mundiCT: Chau­cer, Canterbury TalesDBTELA Dic­tionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, ed. Jeffrey; HS: Peter Comes­tor, Historia Scholastica, cited by book and chapter, followed by Patrologia Latina column in paren­theses; K: Kalén-Ohlander edition; MEDMiddle English DictionaryNOABNew Oxford Annotated BibleOEDOxford English DictionaryOFPOld French Paraphrase, British Library, MS Egerton 2710, cited by folio and column; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Pro­verbial PhrasesYorkYork Plays, ed. Beadle. For other abbreviations, see Textual Notes.

It is an open question whether the poet paraphrases so little of the books of Maccabees because he lacks the sources to do otherwise (that is, he had only fragments of the books to work with), or because he deliberately chooses to highlight these particular passages. The cohesive specificity of the stories he provides — the most best-known martyrdoms of the Old Testament and the death of the pagan emperor to blame for them — argues for the latter position, though it does not necessitate it. It is also worth observing the length he devotes to these subjects despite their brevity in the Bible. On some of the many implications of these Jewish stories for the poet’s presumably Christian audience, see the explanatory notes (especially that to lines 17761–62), below.

17750 in forme Faders is fayre to rede. The stories of the “Maccabean martyrs” — the martyrdom of the Jewish mother and her seven sons, told here, and that of the priest Eleazar, told subsequently — are “so powerful . . . that they served the church fathers as a paradigm for Christian martyrdom” (Patter­son, “‘Liv­ing Witnesses,’” p. 522, who cites Frend, Martyrdom, pp. 22–57); they thus appear, for example, in the writings of John Chrysostom, Am­brose of Milan, and Augustine. For a thorough discussion of the medieval reception and pro­pagation of these stories, see Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, “Mac­cabean Martyrs.”

17754 swylk marters may make uus mede. It is unclear whether the Paraphrase-poet here reinforces the principles of devotional reading or the doctrine of the intercession of saints — whether it is reading about the martyrs that will do his audience good or whether it is the martyrs themselves, called upon to intercede on the reader’s behalf.

17761–62 we sall sum marters nevyn / that wroyght with Moyses wyll all way. The poet’s statement that the Maccabean martyrs were Jews all way, though easily passed over, is nonetheless loaded with implications. Their story had capti­vated Christians from an early date (see note to line 17750), causing the martyrs to shift, as Joslyn-Siemiatkoski puts it, “from being liminal figures in late antiquity, whose Christian authenticity had to be proven, to being stan­dard elements of the medieval Christian narrative of biblical and salva­tion history” (“Mac­cabean Martyrs,” p. 10). Indeed, they became central enough to the life of the Church that they were eventually included in the calendar of the saints, with a feast day alongside the Christian martyrs. The fact of their Jewish faith, however, was a lingering concern. Bernard of Clair­vaux, for instance, dwells at some length on why, “alone of all the righ­teous men of the old Law,” these particular Jewish martyrs are so honored, espe­cially given that, as Jews, Christian doctrine dictated that they were denied heavenly reward upon the instant of their martyrdom (Evans, Bernard, p. 73). Bernard, among others, ultimately argues that they were “Christian in spirit from a carnal Israel,” a typological, supersessionist understanding of their tale that ultimately led Christian exegetes, Comes­tor among them, to argue “that the fullest meaning of their martyrdom is found by the light of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Thus the value of dying for the Law of Moses is superseded by the value of dying for the Gospel. In this way, Christian historical exegesis of 2 Maccabees 7 presents the Church as the true Israel in contrast to contemporary Judaism” (Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, “Mac­cabean Mar­tyrs,” pp. 10–11). For more on the Christian cult of the Maccabean mar­tyrs, see also Rouwhorst, “Cult.”

17763–64 Of aght then is yt ordand evyn / in Holy Chyrch to syng and say. Until the twen­tieth-century suppression of the feast, the Maccabean martyrs were cele­brated on the Roman Catholic calendar of the saints (1 August). The poet’s reference to their number as eight is technically accurate, insofar as he re­fers now specifically to the martyrdom of the seven brothers and their mo­ther in 2 Maccabees 7, though many Christian writings omit the mother in their reckoning, referring to them collectively as the “Seven Maccabees.” For many exegetes, this was particularly fitting given the fact that, as Caxton writes in his translation of Jacobus de Voragine’s Golden Legend, “the church maketh solemnities of the Maccabees, howbeit that they des­cen­ded into hell” (4.153). Among the other reasons Caxton provides to explain this dis­cre­pancy, he observes their association with “the represen­ta­tion of the mys­tery,” because “the number of seven is universal and gen­eral.” Thus, “in these seven is done reverence to them all. For as it is said by the number of seven is assigned an university.”

17801–03 How ye were bred in my body . . . God fosterd yow thore. The mother’s speech, which, like much in this discursive opening, has no biblical counterpart, here touches on a late medieval outgrowth of the Christian fascination with the Maccabean martyrs: “a typological connec­tion between the mother who witnesses the death of her sons and the Virgin Mary, who keeps watch at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion of her son Jesus Christ” (Joslyn-Siemiat­koski, “Mac­cabean Martyrs,” p. 11).

17804 in forme fre. The mother perhaps references the tradition that mankind is formed in God’s “noble” image (Genesis 1:26).

17888 with Hym to wun and wynly wake. While bodily resurrection is an evolving con­cept in the history of Judaism (see, too, the note to line 14501), it is firmly stated in the biblical passage here paraphrased (2 Maccabees 7:9), a fact that did not go unnoticed by Christian exegetes.

18240 thei have ther hame in Hevyn. The Paraphrase here stands against traditional exegetical understandings of the martyrs, which often place them, despite their sacrifices, in (at best) limbo. See the notes to lines 17761–62 and 17763–64, above.

18245–46 in ther blud thei were baptyst, / als Innocentes were sythyn seyn. The Paraphrase-poet, as is the case with many Christian exegetes, associates the dead chil­dren with the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem said in Matthew 2:16–18 to have been massacred by Herod the Great in his effort to kill the infant Jesus. Aside from the more ready and graphic meaning of baptism by blood, the poet’s focus on their blood in connection to the Innocents might have addi­tional meaning: Christian martyrs were often characterized by the manner of their deaths. Regarding the Christmas feasts of the martyrs — St. Ste­phen, St. John of Patmos, and the Holy Innocents, whose feast days im­mediately follow the Nativity — Jacobus de Voragine summed up the exe­getical position by observing that Stephen was a martyr by will and by blood (that is, he willingly shed his blood for Christ), John by will alone (he de­voted his life to Christ, but died a natural death), and the Innocents by blood alone (though they did not know it, they shed their blood for Christ).


SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES 7: TEXTUAL NOTES


ABBREVIATIONS: L: MS Longleat 257; H: Heuser edition (partial); K: Kalén-Ohlander edition; O: Ohlander’s corrigenda to K; P: Peck edition (partial); S: MS Selden Supra 52 (base text for this edition).

17749, 51 Lines indented to leave space for an initial capital; first letter of line 17749 writ­ten in the middle of the space.

17753 marters. So K. S, L: maters.

17754 marters. So K. S, L: maters.

17761 sone. So L, K. S: sene.
marters. So K. S, L: maters.


17770 his. So L, K. S: þies.

17771 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 163r): De matre cum vij pueris.

17772 that myght befall. So L, K. S: þat þei my3t fall.

17785 Ebrews. So L, K. S: Hebrew.

17792 Heven. So L, K. S: heue.

17798 be. So L, K. S: 3e.

17800 He. S: I he.

17804 and. So L, K. S omits.
in forme fre. S: inserted above yow iiij j in fere.


17808 gyfyn. So L, K. S: yfyn.

17812 corsus. S: inserted above cour sus.

17813 Yf. So K. S: þe. L: Thogh

17814 now. So L, K. S omits.

17825 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 163v): vij filii cum matre.
hestes. So L, K. S: hertes.


17829 the. So L, K. S: 3e.

17836 meyne. So L, K. S: weyne.

17841 ferd. So L, K. S: herd.

17853 dy. So L, K. S: day.

17866 make. S: ma l make.

17867 fare. S: ferre fare.

17881 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 164r): De matre et vij filiis.

17893 hym be. So L, K. S: be hym.

17899 then. S: corrected from them.

17900 bettes. So L, K. S: lettes.

17911 that. So L, K. S omits.

17914 bete. So L, K. S: bate.

17918 and. So L, K. S: he.

17938 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 164v): De matre et vij filiis.

17943 this. So L, K. S omits.

17961–64 S: these two pairs of lines (17961–62 and 17963–64) are trans­posed in S. Like K, I have followed the order in L.

17975 for. S: inserted above the line.

17989 then. S: corrected from them.

17993 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 165r): De vij pueris cum matre.

18001 before. So L, K. S: be forn.

18004 spech. So L, K. S omits.
sperd. So L, K. S: spred.


18017 thei. So L. S, L: the.

18032 sore. So L, K. S omits.

18042 S: inserted above canceled line 18044.

18043 boylyng. S: by boylyng.

18044 The. S: þus þe.

18046 as. So L, K. S: all as.

18047 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 165v): De vij pueris cum matre.

18059 us noyght. So L, K. S: noy3t vs.

18074 sore. S: sere sore.

18082 sakles. So L, K. S: slakly.

18085 in. So L, K. S omits.

18095 fro. So L, K. S: for.

18103 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 166r): De matre cum vij filiis.

18109 cursyd. So L, K. S: cursyd cursyd.

18113 ther. So L, K. S: þeþer.

18116 foyl. So K. S: foyb. L alters line.

18159 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 166v): no heading.

18160 that. So L, K. S omits.

18166 grove. So K. S, L: prove.

18174 assay: two canceled letters before.

18215 Marginalia in S (at top of fol. 167r): no heading.

18218 all yf. So K. S: al of. L: althogh.

18219 he. S: he þan.

18221 yowr highnes. So L, K. S: yow.

18232 lay. S: law lay.

18241 myrthes. So L, K. S: marters.

18250 in1. So L, K. S: & in.
 
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Second Book of Maccabees 7


DE MATRE CUM VII FILIIS.
On the mother with seven children
[CONCERNING JEWISH MARTYRS]
 


17750




17755




17760
 
1480.
Of farly fare, whoso wyll fynd,
   in forme Faders is fayre to rede.
Bot Crystyn folke suld carpe be kynd
   of Crystes laws, os kens our Crede,
And gud marters to have in mynd — 
   for swylk marters may make uus mede — 
How that thei were persewed and pynd
   and done to ded be dyverse dede.
Because thei Crist wold knaw,
   wore mony sakles slayn;
And sum for Moyses Law
   were ded with dyverse payn.
 

wondrous things; (t-note) 
Patristic writings; read; (see note)
Christian; speak naturally
Christ’s; as proclaimed by our Creed
martyrs; (t-note)
give us reward; (see note)(t-note)
pained
tortured to death in diverse ways

innocents


 
[SEVEN JEWISH BRETHREN AND THEIR MOTHER ARE BROUGHT BEFORE ANTIOCHUS (7:1)]
 





17765




17770


 
1481.
And sone we sall sum marters nevyn
   that wroyght with Moyses wyll all way.
Of aght then is yt ordand evyn
   in Holy Chyrch to syng and say,
How that the mother and hyr suns sevyn
   were done to ded all on a day,
All for thei stod with stabyll stevyn
   in mayntenance of Moyses Lay.
He bad, for herd or nesch,
   that his folke grett and small
Suld forbere swynyse flesch
   for oght that myght befall.
 

invoke; (see note)(t-note)
forever
(see note)


tortured to death; in a single day
because they stood with unyielding faith
Moses’ Law
for hard or soft [treatment] (i.e., come what may)
(t-note)
swine flesh (pork); (t-note)
(t-note)

 



17775




17780




 
1482. 
This woman with hyr chylder yyng
   wayted full warly, whore thei went,
To kepe and breke noyght his bydyng,
   therfor to be in bales bent.
Anthiocus, a cursed kyng,
   when he herd tell of ther entent,
To bare he bad men suld them bryng
   and sayd thei suld with sham be shent.
For he was paynym prowd,
   with mawmentes sere umsett,
Goddes Law both styll and lowd
   was his lykyng to lett,
 

young
were warily watchful, wherever
break not
in sorrow bound
Antiochus IV Epiphanes

To the court of justice
be destroyed
pagan; (see note)
various idols surrounded

stop; (see note)

 

17785




17790




17795

 
1483.
And all Ebrews that eftur yt wroyght.
   Therfor he charged men of myght
That the wyfe with hyr sevyn suns were soyght
   and sembled sone before his syght.
So unto barre sone were thei broyght
   with bedels and with brandes bryght;
Bot of that noyte nothyng thei roght,
   ther hertes ware hale to Heven on hyght.
The mother be manfull stevyn
   both with hert and hand
Comforthys hyr suns all sevyn
   and bad them stably stand:
 

(t-note)

sons
assembled quickly
court
beadles; swords
trouble
their hearts were ever focused; high; (t-note)
by powerful voice


bravely stand

 




17800




17805



 
1484. 
“For the luf of God to lyf and dy,
   suns, in my blyssyng loke bown ye be.
I sall yow say encheson why:
   none may yow help bot only He.
How ye were bred in my body,
   that was nothyng be myght of me.
God fosterd yow thore, and not I,
   and broyght yow furth in forme fre.
And, suns, He sall yow save
   yf ye ryght spend your space,
And all that ye here have
   is gyfyn of His grace.
 


you should be prepared; (t-note)

tell you the reason
(t-note)
grown

noble shape; (see note)(t-note)

rightly; time [on this earth]

(t-note)

 


17810




17815




17820
 
1485.
“I gaf yow nother lyfe ne lym,
   ne bones ne flesch to fest yow fast.
God gaf yow lyght when ye were dym,
   and your sawles in your corsus He cast.
Yf erthly payns bene grett and grym,
   loves now God and bees not agast,
Bot thynkes that ye sall have with Hym
   the joy and lyf that ever sall last.
Suns, yf ye suffer sore,
   that space sall sone be spend,
And ye sall have therfore
   the hele that sall have non ende.”
 

life nor limb
to bind you to

souls; bodies; (t-note)
pains are; (t-note)
(t-note)



time will soon be past

wholeness

 





17825




17830


 
1486. 
Thus comforth sho that cumpany,
   both ald and yyng, ever als thei yede.
The kyng spake full dyspytfully
   to make them have more dowt and dred.
He sayd, “Of your hestes herd have I
   who made yow bold forto forbede
The flesch that lele men suld lyf by,
   that ordand is the folke to fede.
Ye say the flesch of swyne
   suld men forsake sertayn.
Ye sall be putt to pyne
   tyll ye ete yt full fayn.”
 


from the eldest to the youngest; went


vows I have heard; (t-note)
which
noble
feed
pigs; (t-note)
certainly
pain
until you eat it utterly

 



17835




17840




 
1487.
Thei answerd ylkon als a man
   and sayd, “That syght sall never be seyne.
The lawes our formfaders began
   ever to maynteyne sall we meyne.”
The terrand toke the eldyst than
   and trayteyd hym them two betweyne,
And thynkes, yf he overcom hym can,
   then ere the other overcomyn cleyne.
With fayrnes fyrst he ferd
   and sythyn with noye new.
That eldyst ever answerd
   with stedfast trewth and trew.
 

each one
seen
forefathers
intend; (t-note)
tyrant
entreated

quickly
dealt with him; (t-note)
then with troubles


 
[THE ELDEST SON REFUSES TO LEAVE MOSES’ LAW (7:2)]
 

17845




17850




17855

 
1488. 
His hert ay unto Hevyn had he,
   and thus he carped unto the kyng,
“What sekes yow, ser, of us to se?
   What wyll ye lere of our lyfyng?
All Gods folke ow to be fre
   and honor Hym over all thyng.
His Law we wyll not leve for thee,
   ne for no bale that thou may bryng.
To dy is us wele lever
   then in that Lay forfeyt
That our faders used ever
   and sythyn tyll us yt seytt.”
 


said

learn
ought


sorrow
we would much prefer; (t-note)



 
[THE ELDEST SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:3–6)]
 




17860




17865



 
1489.
Then was the fend full fell of ire
   and manast hym with all his mayn.
He sayd, “Thou sall have thi desyre;
   with sorow sere thou sall be slayn.”
Be lyve he gart go make a fyre
   in myddes the place thor on the playn
And bryn hym up both bone and lyre.
   bot fyrst he sall fele feller payn,
That other so may be warre
   and make hym ther merrowr,
When thei se hym so fare
   to forsake ther errowr.
 

fiend
menaced; power


Quickly he caused [men to]
amidst; there
burn; flesh
feel crueler pain
be wary
their mirror; (t-note)
(t-note)

 


17870




17875




17880
 
1490. 
The fyr was bett at hys bydyng
   of bowes and of best byrnand geyre.
A led of brase then dyd he bryng,
   with pyke fulfylled, hym forto fere.
And when yt was wele at wellyng,
   his tong he bad thei suld out schere
And als a foyle for hethyng
   schave of his hede both hyde and heyre.
All this was done in dede,
   and wounder was to lythe:
Hys brether saw hym blede
   and bad he suld be blythe.
 

kindled
branches; burning materials
cauldron of brass
pitch filled; fear
thoroughly boiling
tongue; cut out
contempt
shave off his head; skin and hair
at once
observe
brothers
cheerful

 





17885




17890


 
1491.
And for he suld not chaunge his chere
   bot with trew hert the turmentes take — 
For God is of so grett power,
   of all myse may He mendes make — 
The mother sayd, “Sun, we ere here
   redy to suffer for Goddes sake; 
For He wyll foche us all in fere
   with Hym to wun and wynly wake.”
When the terrand herd tell
   nothyng myght make them tame,
He was more fers and fell
   and toyght to shape them shame.
 

mood; (t-note)
receive the torments

misdeeds; amends
are

fetch us all together
dwell and pleasantly awake; (see note)
tyrant heard

fierce and cruel

 



17895




17900




 
1492.
Ther myght no myrth to hym be mete
   when that he saw ther sad semlandes.
He sayd, “We sall sone gayr them grett.
   Tyte take this herlott thor he standes,
And cutt his tase of both his fete
   and his fyngurs of both his handes,
And haves hym then into yond hete,
   and bettes hym with your byrnand brandes.
And yf he langer last,
   lays hym ther in the led,
And make fyr under fast
   to boyle tyll he be ded.”
 

(t-note)
their steadfast faces
soon make them weep
Quickly; villain where
toes off; feet

heave; (t-note)
strike; burning swords; (t-note)
lasts longer
lay; [molten] lead


 

17905




17910




17915

 
1493. 
When all this dole was done and dyght,
   his mother, that was most hym nere,
And his sex brether saw this syght,
   how he sufferd thos sorows sere.
Thei heyved ther handes to Hevyn on hyght
   and loved God with full gud chere
And sayd that He suld se to ryght
   and reward all that worthy were.
He wyll abate all bandes
   and bete ylka byttur brayd
And solace His servandes,
   als Moyses sum tyme sayd.
 

tragedy

six brothers
various
heaved

justice; (t-note)

relieve all bondages
(t-note)


 
[THE SECOND SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:7–9)]
 




17920




17925



 
1494.
Thus when the fyrst had done his dett
   and sufferd ded be dyverse payn,
The secund sone was sesed and sett
   to se what he suld say certayn.
The kyng asked hym yf he wold ete
   swylk flesch os his folke were of fayn,
Or to be mesurd with that same mett
   lyke to his brother and so be slayn.
He answerd sone and sayd,
   “I am not ferd therfor.”
Then was the kyng yll payd,
   and sone he marred hym more.
 

duty
death; (t-note)
seized


his (i.e., Antiochus’) people enjoyed
weighed to that same effect


afraid


 


17930




17935




17940
 
1495.
Of his hed gart he scrape the skyn,
   and then to hym thus con he say,
“Wyll thou yett of thin errour blyn
   and mend thi myscheve whyls thou may,
And lere the law that we lyf in,
   or lose thi lyms and lyf for ay?”
That other bad, “Be lyve begyn,
   for, sertes, I dred nothyng that dray.
The lawes our faders fand
   to hald hertly I hete.”
And then the kyng cummand
   to cutt hym hand and fete.
 

He caused the skin to be scraped off his head

cease

accept
forever
Quickly
certainly; violence
founded
I heartily swear to hold; (t-note)


 





17945




17950


 
1496.
“And sett the fyre on ylka syde,
   sen he wyll byd no bettur bede;
And yf he may this bale abyde,
   boyle hym then tyll he be ded.”
Then was he turment in that tyd,
   and als thei stund hym in that stede,
Unto the kyng full lowd he cryd
   and sayd, “Thou wrech with wekyd red,
Be thi strenght thou dystroys
   oure erthly lyf in land.
Bot nedleys thou the noyys;
   our lyf sal be lastand.
 

each
since; have no better reward
sorrow survive; (t-note)

tormented at that time
tortured; place

wicked counsel


needlessly you commit this harm
everlasting

 



17955




17960




 
1497. 
“God that is Kyng of creatours
   and demer both of dedes and sawys,
Hys servandes sadly He socours
   that to His dome ther dedes drawys.
Yf we now stand thus strang in stours
   and lefe this lyf here for His lawys,
He sall us rayse with grett honours
   to endlese lyf that thou noyght knawys.”
And so he gaf the gast
   to God by cours of kynd.
The kyng was made allmast
   and moved all out of mynd.
 


judge; deeds and words
faithfully
judgment present their deeds
hardships
leave
resurrect
you [will] know not
gave [up] the ghost; (t-note)
by course of nature
almost crazy

 
[THE THIRD SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:10–12)]
 

17965




17970




17975

 
1498.
The thryd full throly then thei thrett
   that he suld be more stratly sted
Bot he bylyve wold drynke and ete
   swylke fode as the folke ware with fed.
The chyldes hert to Hevyn was sett,
   for that dray was he noyght adred.
Or he was auder bun or bett,
   his tong full boldly furth he bedd.
His handes so con he schew
   to byd that byttur brayd,
And his fete for to hewe;
   and on this wyse he sayd:
 

violently; threaten
painfully placed
Unless he at once



before; either bound or beaten
tongue; offered [to be cut out]

await; torment
feet to be cut off; (t-note)
in this way

 




17980




17985



 
1499.
“Of God fro Hevyn I had all thies
   purtrayd thrugh His power playn.
Now for His Law I them dyspyse
   and profers them to putt in payn.
For wele I wott that I sall ryse
   and that God sall gyfe me agayn
All new members and more of price.
   Therfor to lose thies I am fayn
For His sake that them sentt
   and mad them mete to me.
Yf thei now take turment,
   make them full hale may He.”
 

these
shaped; naked power

offer
well I know

body parts; worth
these; glad

suitable
completely whole

 


17990




17995




18000
 
1500.
The kyng then carped wordes kene,
   and to his counsayle fast he cryd.
Both he and thei were comberd clene
   of tayles ther were told that tyd.
Thei say swylke syght was never seyne,
   that a yong man in his most pride
Wyll no more of his manhed mene,
   bot be bown byttur bale to byde.
He royght noyght of ther red,
   ne of all the blyse in erthe.
So was he done to ded,
   and furth thei feytt the faurth.
 

spoke harsh words; (t-note)

confounded
speeches; time
such sights were; seen; (t-note)

consider
prepared; suffering to await
reckoned nothing; counsel

tortured to death
fetched

 
[THE FOURTH SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:13–14)]
 





18005




18010


 
1501.
The faurth was fett furth them before,
   and full fowly with hym thei ferd
And sayd, bot yf he wyser wore,
   his spech wold sone for hym be sperd.
Thei manast hym both lese and more,
   and when he all ther hethyng herd,
He had no lyst to lere ther lore,
   bot herdly thus he answerd
And to the kyng he sayd,
   “Thiself the soth sall se:
The payns thou hath purvayd
   sall make myrth unto me.
 

fetched
foully; treated
unless he were wiser
shut off
menaced; less
their scorn heard
desire to learn their ways
heartily

truth


 



18015




18020




 
1502.
“For God, my Mayster most of mayn,
   wyll meng His mercy ever omell
With His servandes that ere here slayn
   by terrandes that ere fers and fell,
That thei sall ryse and lyf agayn
   and at his lyst in lykyng dwell.
Bot of that fare be thou not fayn:
   thou sall never ryse, bot rest in Hell.
Thier harmes we have by thee
   with myrth sall be amend;
Thi body and sawle sall be
   in wo withoutyn end.” 
 

of most strength
mix; among
are
tyrants that are fierce and cruel
rise [from the dead]; (t-note)
desire; pleasure
glad

These
rejoined


 

18025




18030




18035

 
1503. 
Then toyght the kyng he lyfed to lang;
   his lyms he lythyd of fast in fere
And put hym sythyn to payns strang
   tyll he was ded with doles sere.
The mother melled hyr ever amang;
   with murnyng mad sho mery chere
And sayd that God suld gare them gang
   fro sorows sore to solace sere:
“Whoso wyll byd His bone,
   there bale full wele bese bett.”
Thus was the faurth fordone,
   and the fyft furth was fett.
 

he (the boy) lived too long
limbs he removed quickly together
then to terrible pains
until; various sorrows
spoke
though mourning she made
cause them to go
many solaces; (t-note)
Whoever; await; reward
their sorrows [will] be completely removed
destroyed
fetched

 
[THE FIFTH SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:15–17)]
 




18040




18045



 
1504.
The fyft full felly con thei fere,
   and ylkon thrett hym in ther thraw.
The kyng by all his goddes con swere,
   “Ther lurdans sall be layd full law!”
His fyngers fast he dyd of shere;
   both tong and tothe he bade owt draw
And then to boylyng fast hym bere.
   The chyld answerd withoutyn aw.
Unto the kyng he beheld
   in thies stoures as he stud,
And thus his tayle he teld
   with sembland sad and gud:
 

very cruelly did they [try to] frighten
each one threatened; their turn

These villains shall be laid low
shear off
tongue; tooth; draw out; (t-note)
carry; (t-note)
awe (fear); (t-note)

these sufferings; (t-note)
words he spoke; (t-note)
an expression firm

 


18050




18055




18060
 
1505.
“That thou is kyng in erth to kend,
   that shewes thou by thi werke allway.
Thou proves thi myght in erthly men
   with all the malyce that thou may.
Whatso thee lyst, and whore and when,
   that bus be done ever ylk day.
Bot thou suld wele avyse thee than
   to rewle thi dede in ryght aray.
All yf we thus be takyn
   and in thi pawsté pynyd,
God hath us noyght forsakyn,
   ne non ellys of our kynd.
 

command
you show
against

Whatever you desire
must; each single day
better govern yourself
rule your deeds
Even
power pained
(t-note)
nor others

 





18065




18070


 
1506.
“Bot suffer and thiself sall se
   in lytyll space full mekyll spede
How God sall be His grett pawsté
   merke unto ylk man His mede,
And how sere vengance sent sall be
   both on thiself and on thi sede.
Do furth thi maystry now with me,
   for of thi dome have I no dred.”
And so he leved his lyfe
   or he His Law wold lett.
Thus are thei fayryn all fyfe,
   and furth the sext was sett.
 

Wait patiently
quickly
by; power
provide; reward
various
seed (family)
mastery
judgment
left
before; leave
treated

 
[THE SIXTH SON TORTURED AND KILLED (7:18–19)]
 



18075




18080




 
1507.
The sext was fett and sesyd sone
   to suffer ded with sorows sore.
He wold abyd no bettur bone
   bot als his felows ferd before.
When thei had dyght and to hym done
   swylk marterdome and mekyll more,
He lyft his hede withoutyn hone
   and to the kyng thus sayd he thore,
“Thou cursed commawndour,
   that us all has sakles slayn,
Sese yytt of thin errour!
   Thou trayvels all in vayn.
 

sixth; fetched; seized quickly
death; (t-note)
await; reward
fared
taken

lifted his head; hesitation


innocent; (t-note)
Cease yet
travails

 

18085




18090




18095

 
1508.
“Thier payns that thou hath put us in
   aftur thi wyll and wekyd toyght,
We suffer them all for our syn
   that we agayn our Lord hath wroyght.
To geyte His grace forto begyn
   with sorowyng thus our syns bene soyght,
And so we sall to welthes wyn
   when all thi werke sall worth to noyght.
For be ye never so lathe
   to lose this erthly lyfe,
Thou sall not scape fro scath
   that agayns God wyll stryfe.”
 

These; (t-note)
wicked thought

against

are
wealth be rewarded
come to nothing
loath

escape from harm; (t-note)

 
[THE MOTHER’S WORTHINESS (7:20–23)]
 




18100




18105



 
1509.
And so he dyed be dyverse ded;
   he had no lenger wordes at weld.
Ther mother was worth mekyll mede;
   sho sayd ever God suld be ther beld.
When that sho saw hyr sex suns blede,
   the same ever in hyrselfe sho felyd.
Bot of the yongest had sho dred
   that he suld turn for tender eld.
Sho sayd ever thei suld ryse
   with ryghtwys men by raw
That here themself dyspyce
   for Goddes luf and Hys Law.
 

died; deeds
to wield (speak)
Their; much reward
comfort

she felt
(t-note)
convert because of his youth

in due time
despise

 
[THE YOUNGEST SON TORTURED (7:24–38)]
 


18110




18115




18120
 
1510.
That cursyd Kyng Antyocus
   for wo in wytt he was nere wode.
His knyghtes sayd, “Ser, tent to us,
   we con thee ken consayle full gode.
Sen ther trayturs have tened thee thus
   and no turment may turn ther mode,
Now with yond yongest boye thee bus
   with fayrnes fand to foyl that fode.
For men uses chylder yyng
   with wordes forto tyll,
And foyles with fayre hethyng
   forto werke what men wyll.”
 

(t-note)
wits; nearly mad
listen
give you counsel
these; injured; (t-note)
change their minds
must you deal
specious words try to foul that child; (t-note)
young children
seduce
fouls with fair contempt

 




18125




18130



 
1511.
The kyng was of this purpase payd
   and curtasly then carped he:
“Save now thiself, my sun,” he sayd,
   “for, sertes, ther sall non wytt bot we.
And for I wold not thou were flayd,
   ther sall none mell of my meneye.
Full rychly sall thou be arayd
   and have my helpe, that hete I thee.
Thou sall have toure and town
   with forestes fayr and fre,
And all bowand and bown
   at thi bedyng to be.
 

glad
courteously; said

certainly; know
would not [see that] you were flayed
speak [of it]; company

promise
tower

bowing and ready
bidding

 



18135




18140




 
1512.
“And thresour all withoutyn tale
   sall thou have in thi hurd to hyde;
And next myself, sun, sytt thou sall
   with solace sere on ylka syde.
Then in thi hele thou sall be hale
   and have maystry and mekyll pryd.
So is bettur then to be in bale,
   als thi brether have bene this tyd.
Sun, yf thou wyll acord
   with our fodes to be fede,
Thou sall lyf als a lord
   and by our lawys be led.”
 

treasure without reckoning
treasury
beside
many solaces on each
health; whole
power and much
suffering
brothers; time

food

laws

 

18145




18150




18155

 
1513. 
When the chyld herd all how he ment,
   he answerd evyn withoutyn aw
And sayd that he suld never assent
   to forfett in his Fader Law.
Then toyght the kyng hym shamly shent
   when the chyld sett nothyng by his saw;
Bot to the woman yyt he went
   with whyls hyr to his wyll at draw.
Sen other sex were slayn
   that wold no mercy crave,
He wend sho wold be fayn
   hyr yyngest sun to save.
 

heard; intended
without fear

forfeit
thought; he should be shamefully destroyed
advice
yet
wiles
Since the other six

thought; glad
youngest

 




18160




18165



 
1514.
He carped to hyr full curtasly,
   and under trayn all thus he told.
“Woman,” he sayd, “wonder have I
   how that thi hert may be so bold
To suffer thus thi suns to dy
   and has no mo apon this mold.
To take the yyngest to mercy,
   that were my wyll yytt and thou wold.
He is a proper page
   and may grove tyll a man.
Now in his tender age
   were tym that he began
 

spoke; courteously
deceitfully
(t-note)
your heart; (t-note)

more upon this earth

desire yet if you would [allow it]

grow into a noble man; (t-note)


 


18170




18175




18180
 
1515.
“To lere the law that ever sall last
   and in myster most mend hym may.
Bestes of gold I sall do cast
   to be his goddes full gud and gay.”
The woman mad hyr forward fast
   that sho suld so hyr sun assay,
And thynkes, when scho is from hym past,
   another poynt forto purvay.
To hyde hyr hert entent
   sho lowted unto hym law.
So to hyr sun sho went
   and sayd to hym this saw:
 

learn
need
Beasts

covenant
test; (t-note)


true intent
bowed to him low

these words

 





18185




18190


 
1516.
“A, sun, see to thi mother here!
   Bot thou be wyse, me is full wo.
Thynke, sun, thou lay my hert full nere
   neyn monethes and nyghtes mo;
And, sun, I sufferd sorow sere
   or tym that we were twynd in two.
I fed thee of my flesch thre yere
   or thou couth speke or graydly go.
Fro barnhed I thee broyght
   to tyme that we com hydder.
Dere sun, forsake me noyght!
   Lett us go all togeydder!
 


Unless you are wise
you lay very close to my heart
months
many sorrows
before the time; parted in two

before; walk properly
infancy; raised
until the time; here


 



18195




18200




 
1517.
“Behald, sun, to the Hevyn on hyght
   and to this werld that is full wyde,
To bestes and fysch and fowles in flyght,
   how erth and ayre ere ocupyed,
And how God mad all with His myght
   without substance o many syde.
And men He made of reson ryght
   ay in His blyse to beld and byd.
He aschys noyght ellys therfor,
   nawder in dede ne in saw,
Bot that men sall ever more
   luf Hym and luf His Law.
 



beasts
air are



dwell and live
asks nothing else
neither in deed nor in words
Except

 

18205




18210




18215

 
1518. 
“Thi brether in lytyll space ere sped,
   and for God sake wele sufferd thei.
With hevynly fode now ere thei fed
   and lendes in lyf that last ay.
Therfor, dere sun, be not adred
   of yond fals domysman with his dray,
Bot led thi lyf als thers is led,
   that we may wend all away.
Of Blys bede I no more
   bot the barns that I boyght so dere,
Sun, when I sall com thore,
   to fynd them fayr in fere.”
 

brothers; are dead

food
dwell; lasts forever

false judge; violence
lead; as theirs were

Bliss (Heaven) request
children
(t-note)
beautiful together

 




18220




18225



 
1519.
He assent to his mother saw
   full wysly all yf he were yyng.
Then carped he to them all on raw
   that sat in consayle with the kyng:
“Of yowr highnes have I non aw.
   Why tarry ye thus of this thyng?
I oblysche me here to my law
   bot noyght unto the kynges bedyng.”
Thei toyght them then begyled;
   the kyng was wel nere wode
To be chawfyd with a chyld
   and myght not turn his mode.
 

assented; mother’s words
even though he was young; (t-note)
spoke; in turn; (t-note)

no awe; (t-note)

pledge myself
bidding
thought
mad
chafed

 
[THE DEATH OF THE YOUNGEST SON AND HIS MOTHER (7:39–42)]
 


18230




18235




18240
 
1520.
Unto his turmenturs he bad
   all thar payns forto purvay:
“Lyth of the lyms of that lytyll lad
   and lere hym so to lake our lay.
And the mother, that has mad them mad,
   marre hyr more all that ye may!”
To go therto was sho full glad.
   So were thei ded all on a day
And under a domysman,
   the mother and hyr suns sevyn.
For thei so wyse were than,
   thei have ther hame in Hevyn.
 

ordered

Rip off the limbs
teach him thus to defy our law; (t-note)
made; mad
mar

in a single day
judge


their home; (see note)

 





18245




18250     


 
1521.
All myrthes on this mold thei myst
   the Laws of Moyses to maynteyn.
For luf of God yt was ther lyst
   to leve all erthly comforth clene;
And in ther blud thei were baptyst,
   als Innocentes were sythyn seyn;
And Holy Chyrch hath them cananyst
   als marters evermore forto be meyn.
God graunt us grace to trow
   in Hym and in all Hys,
And to His bydynges bow
   that we may byd in Blyse!
 

earth they forsook; (t-note)

desire
comforts
their [own] blood; baptized; (see note)
as was later seen with the [Holy] Innocents
canonized
as martyrs; remembered
believe
(t-note)
bidding submit
dwell

Go to Second Book of Maccabees 6 and 9