Play 32, The Remorse of Judas
Play 32, THE REMORSE OF JUDAS: FOOTNOTES
Play 32, THE REMORSE OF JUDAS: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: AV: Authorized (“King James”) Version; Meditations: Meditations on the Life of Christ, trans. Ragusa and Green; MED: Middle English Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; RB: Richard Beadle, ed., York Plays; REED: Records of Early English Drama; YA: Davidson and O’Connor, York Art; York Breviary: Breviarium ad usum insignis ecclesie Eboracensis; York Missal: Missale ad usum insignis ecclesiae Eboracensis.
References to the Ordo paginarum are to REED: York, 1:16–27.
The 1415 description of the Remorse of Judas in the Ordo paginarum is too fragmentary to be useful except for the reference to the thirty coins as pieces of silver, as in the Conspiracy (Play 26, line 276) and in the biblical account. Thirty pennies, designated here in the playtext, would have been a small amount of money, by the end of the fifteenth century equivalent to perhaps a week’s wages, depending on one’s occupation.1 The biblical sources are the brief accounts in Matthew 27:3–10, which includes Judas’ suicide, and Acts 1:18–19. The pageant as we have it is a much expanded version of the story, again a new play or rewriting in the long alliterative line, mostly in eight-line or eleven-line stanzas and based on the elaboration of the narrative as found in the Northern Passion. The extant text likewise adds Pilate to the characters noted in the Ordo paginarum. While the second listing of pageants in the Memorandum Book A/Y additionally lists a Suspensio Jude pageant, also noted in 1432 as having Judas “burst in the middle,”2 this play is lost. The dramatic ending of Judas’ life in which a devil emerges from his bowels, though included elsewhere as at Coventry where a hook was purchased in 1578 for his hanging,3 was never added to Cooks and Waterleaders’ (or Watercarriers’) drama about his remorse. The selfishness and callousness of the priests and of Pilate are emphasized, culminating in what can only be described as theft of land by these bullies that will be the field of blood from the knight who only wants to mortgage it.
16 Nor no man to grath hym no gate. Purvis’ translation “Begin not to go on your gate” (York Cycle of Mystery Plays, p. 248) is speculative. The MED, citing this line, glosses “grath . . . gate” as “go away, set off, depart.”
23 golde wyre. Pilate’s self-flattery reveals at least that his hair color is blond.
26 prince prevyd undir palle. Here a generic secular gown distinguishing a man of authority, but it would have been sufficiently elaborate to identify Pilate’s high status.
75 faute in hym I fynde none. Pilate is rejecting as legal grounds for conviction the recital once more of allegations by Anna and Caiphas. Compare Luke 23:4. He will, however, give them a chance to confront Jesus again and to accuse him by summoning him back to court (the legal term is “racleyme,” in line 79).
85–87 on the raynebowe . . . oure dedis. Jesus has referred to the rainbow as a sign that appeared to Noah and that will again appear at the Last Day when he returns to judge the living and the dead “aftir oure dedis.”
90 wene ye be wiser than we. Here is highlighted the contrast between the view of Jesus that Pilate and the others have of him on the one hand, and the audience’s perception of him as both God and Man. The arrogance of his accusers undercuts audience sympathy for them and helps to focus attention on the suffering Savior. Note the use of the word “sauterell,” implying “babbler,” in relation to Jesus in line 93.
115–16 be Beliall bonis . . . of golde. Swearing by Belial’s bones, or relics. No bribe will be sufficient in this instance to effect Jesus’ release.
129 comaundis us to drynke. Embedded stage direction; they drink as Judas appears in order to recite his monologue prior to greeting Pilate and the chief priests in line 153.
130–52 Judas reveals his plan to return the thirty pence, which would be his only chance of redemption, but despairs about his own spiritual condition, for he has performed such a heinous deed as to betray his innocent (“Sakles,” line 142) master.
168 we bought hym. Caiphas insists that Jesus has been purchased like a piece of property and regards him like a slave who can be killed, if that is their wish. This is a violation of human rights as understood in the fifteenth century as clearly as today, for Judas had absolutely no legal right to sell him in the first place.
214–24 Judas’ trespass is beyond redemption because he is able only to express remorse and not to be truly repentant; as the Harleian manuscript of the Northern Passion states, “He thoght his wikkednes was so grete / That forgifnes might he none gete” (1:87, line 856a–b). His offer to serve Sir Pilate faithfully will only be greeted with derision. Judas is indeed a celebrity (see line 212), but only as one of the prize villains of history along with Cain.
270 Take it agayne that ye toke me. Embedded stage direction. Judas hands over the bag of coins to Anna, who will not accept it but will pass it back quickly to the traitor (line 274).
289 traytoure attaynte. Caiphas regards Judas as a convicted criminal; he has accepted the fact of his guilt, the equivalent of pleading guilty in the court. Legal terms, such as would have been recognized in fifteenth-century England, are used here and subsequently by Caiphas and Judas himself.
305–06 Me thare aske no mercy, for none mon I gete, / . . . schall fordo me. Judas shows himself to be in the depths of despair, which is the lack of the hope of salvation and expectation of hell as a just reward. This is of course presumption, theologically speaking, since no one is beyond salvation if one uses the means of penance and absolution available to all; see Snyder, “Left Hand of God,” p. 34, citing Origen, In Matt. 117. Despair without repentance is often depicted as leading to suicide, and is so depicted in numerous illustrations of the Vices, most famously in Giotto’s representation in fresco in the Arena Chapel at Padua; for further examples, see the list in Hourihane, Virtue and Vice, pp. 350–52. Judas’ death was particularly gruesome since his mouth had kissed Jesus and thus his soul could not leave him by that route with his last breath, as normally; instead, as the Northern Passion explains, his soul left “his wambe” and “ went out / And his entrailes so fell him fra” (1:87, Harleian manuscript, lines 861–62).
318 take me nowe unto my dede. The suicide will be offstage. As Judas leaves, he flings down the money bag (see line 324). Oddly, Pilate will be the one to say that the money shall not come into their corbonan (they use the Latin term from the Vulgate signifying “treasury” in Matthew 27:6 and also in the Harleian manuscript of the Northern Passion, 1:89, line 873).
347 A place . . . wolde I wedde sette. The knight’s wish is to mortgage his land, not to sell it (see line 352). In the Cornish Ordinalia, the man who arrives to offer sale of property, for “thek-warn-ugans [thirty] sterlyn [sterling],” is the Crozier Bearer (Ancient Cornish Drama, 1:346, line 1554), but it is a straightforward sale, not a dishonest one in which he is cheated.
349 fre be my fredome. He is a freeman, able to own property, and he holds legal title to the plot of land, called Calvary.
371 The Felde of Bloode. See Acts 1:19; Northern Passion, 1:91.
Play 32, THE REMORSE OF JUDAS: TEXTUAL NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: Bevington: David Bevington, ed., Medieval Drama (1975); Köbling: E. Köbling, “Beiträge zur Erklärung und Textkritik der York Plays”; LTS: Lucy Toulmin Smith, ed., The York Plays (1885); RB: Richard Beadle, ed., The York Plays (1972) (incorporating numerous emendations from other sources); RB2: Richard Beadle, “Corrections to The York Plays,” in Gerald Byron Kinneavy, A Concordance to the York Plays (1986), pp. xxxi–xxxii; s.d.: stage direction; Sykes: A. C. Cawley, ed., “The Sykes MS of the York Scriveners’ Play”; Towneley: Martin Stevens and A. C. Cawley, eds., The Towneley Plays.
The base text for this edition is London, British Library, MS. Add. 35290, called the “Register” in the York civic records and here identified by the abbreviation Reg. Some variations in lineation from the manuscript are not noted here; see RB and Beadle and Meredith’s The York Play: A Facsimile. In most cases the line numbering in the present text is consistent with RB. Lineation of alliterative verse throughout is based on Reg, with line numbering adjusted accordingly to account for half lines. Scribes are identified as follows: Scribe A; Scribe B: main scribe; JC: John Clerke; LH: later scribal hand (unidentified).
1 Pees. Reg: capital P sketched in (strapwork initial).
me. Deleted in Reg, retained by LTS, RB.
3 lowte me. So LTS, RB; Reg: lord me (me deleted).
27 to behold. At right in Reg, misplaced at line 25, addition by JC.
46 His. So LTS, RB; Reg: This.
73 not. So RB; Reg, LTS: nowe.
91 neven it. So LTS, RB; Reg: nevenist.
110 to hym. So RB; Reg, LTS omit hym.
111 land. Reg: entered at end of line by JC.
123–24 Lineation as in RB.
129 Reg: in right margin, by later hands: Hic caret; loquela de primo filio and et aliis.
149 bote myght be. So RB; Reg: myght be bote; LTS suggests loke howe beste that bote myght be.
154–55 Reg: in left margin, by LH: Hic caret loquela magna et diversa.
170 JUDAS. Added in Reg in LH.
231 worthi. So LTS, RB; Reg: wothi.
239 Following line is missing in Reg; LTS suggests I crye you sore.
Reg: notation at right: caret hic (canceled).
261 Line written at right in Reg at line 258, and also by JC at line 260 (deleted).
277 thus. So RB; Reg, LTS: thu.
282 Following line is missing in Reg; LTS suggests: Nor mercy none.
298 talke. In Reg, t and k are corrected (overwritten).
326 RB suggests a line might be missing here.
329 PILATUS. So RB here; LTS at line 333.
skill. So LTS, RB; Reg: skall.
339 Reg: at left by LH: Hic caret.
363 Reg: at right by a LH: Hic caret; JC has added loquela.
Play 32, THE REMORSE OF JUDAS: EXPLANATORY NOTE FOOTNOTES
Footnote 1 Dyer, Standards of Living, p. 215.
Footnote 2 REED: York, 1:48, trans. 2:733.
Footnote 3 REED: Coventry, p. 289.
The Cokis and Watirlederes
Go To Play 33, The Second Trial before Pilate