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Play 40, The Travelers to Emmaus


1 For all the sweat that he perspired with whips (blows) that they directed [at] him

2 He being without sin, thus they honored his spirit

3 They shook him and jerked him until his limbs were all asunder

4 On account of the right order (progression) of plays that press on urgently


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 play is assigned to the Woolpackers and Woolbrokers in the Ordo paginarum, which gives the names of the disciples as Luke and Cleophas. Confusingly the running title over the pageant in the Register lists the Winedrawers, and at the head of the first page the Sledmen are noted in a later hand. In the shorter list in the Memorandum Book A/Y, the “Wolpakkers” are given the “Apparicio Christi peregrinis.”1 The play is based on the Gospel reading, Luke 24:13–35, for the Monday after Easter.2 It also follows roughly the structure of the liturgical Peregrinus,3 a form that was documented in England in an example from Lichfield that is contained in the Shrewsbury Fragments, which were somehow related to the York plays.4 The pageant’s relevance to the feast of Corpus Christi, a celebration of the Eucharist, is obvious, since the central event of the pageant was the revelation of Jesus in the breaking of the bread, unfortunately imperfectly preserved in the York manuscript. F. C. Gardiner perceptively comments concerning the structure of this play, on account of what had been seen in previous pageants and will be seen in the subsequent ones, that it “assures the audience of a universe in which pilgrimage will evolve along the successive stages of an achieved transcendence.”5 The long alliterative line appears in eight-line stanzas in the first 152 lines in the York play, while in the final section the verse adopts quatrains without abandoning alliteration.

9–10 The pageant has begun with a short speech by Luke, who is now joined by Cleophas. The text demands that they should be walking, as pilgrims. The most usual marks of a pilgrim are a staff, a distinctive hat, and a scallop shell. An early fifteenth-century set of panels in York Minster Chapter House shows them also with bare feet (YA, p. 97). For discussion see C. Davidson, From Creation to Doom, pp. 158–60.

14 Emax, this castell. Emmaus, identified as a castellum in the Vulgate (Luke 24:13), a mistaken translation of the Greek text, which specifies a village.

67–69 What are thes mervailes . . . wayes? Jesus, pretending ignorance, joins the two disciples, who are led to believe that he is a pilgrim returning from Jerusalem. The disciples will avoid towns for good reason, for they know that, on account of their relationship to Jesus, their lives may be in danger.

112 nowe is this the thirde daye. Identifying the day as Sunday, Easter day. The second disciple, Cleophas, will report that news has come of a remarkable sight; this has been relayed by the holy women who have witnessed the empty tomb and the angel messenger who “tolde thame ther Lorde was alyve” (line 120).

134–36 And also to Moyses gan he saie . . . and teched. See Luke 24:27: “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures, the things that were concerning him.”

154 her is a sege. Jesus will be seated for a meal. Depictions in the visual arts conventionally show his seat to be the place of honor. The table may already be outfitted with bread and other food and drink, or these are brought on by a servant without any delay.

157–58 Nowe blisse I this brede . . . you to feede. Jesus will bless the bread in a manner reminiscent of the ceremonial way in which it is done in the canon of the Mass, and will ask the disciples to eat “faithfully,” again phrasing that suggests offering the Eucharistic bread in Communion. The missing segment of text at line 159 unfortunately occurs at the point when they recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread — and the point at which he disappears. Butterworth comments on the equivalent scenes in the Chester and Towneley plays, and indicates the importance of the disappearance happening like an instantaneous vanishing act to preserve the illusion (Magic, pp. 75–76).

185 Menskfully in mynde thes materes now merkis. The sight of Jesus at the blessing of the bread has left a mark on their minds. The concept needs to be understood by means of late medieval theory of vision, which, following the classic philosophers, involved impressions on the memory. The memory is like wax upon which images are imprinted or marked. See Plato, Theaetetus (191c), in Collected Dialogues, p. 897, and the discussion in Carruthers, Book of Memory, pp. 21–22.


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 PERIGRINUS. So throughout in Reg.
That. In Reg, letter T is sketched in as strapwork initial enclosing outline of a face.

4 Reg: at right in margin by JC: hic de novo facto.

6 Reg: Hic caret in right margin (deleted).

9 Reg: at right, in margin: Hic de novo facto.

11 Reg: at right, in margin: De novo facto.

11–12 Lineation as in LTS.

12 brothere. So LTS, RB; Reg: brothe.

18 tales. Reg: letter s added by different scribe.

20 bales. Reg: letter s added by a different scribe.

83 Forthy. So RB; LTS: For-thy; Reg: For they.

85 of. Reg: of of.

87–88 Reg gives lines to I Perigrinus; LTS, RB reassign to II Perigrinus.

92 takkid. So LTS, RB; Reg: talkid.

96 Reg: thei putte hym appears at end of line; rearranged by LTS.

107 bolned. Letter l added by LH.

109 we. Reg has w written over h.

111 Israell. So LTS, RB; Reg: Iraell.

132 Reg: line 134 mistakenly entered here (deleted).

136–37 Lines reversed in Reg.

151 dowte. So RB; Reg, LTS: dowe.

156 Two lines following are missing in Reg.

159–60 Lines reversed in Reg. LTS suggests adding to beginning of line 159: To feed theron unterly.

181 wais. Reg: letter i interlined by LH.

186 preche. Altered from prechid in Reg.
it. Interlined in Reg.

193 bringe. RB queries whether us or you should follow this word.


Footnote 1 For discussion, see RB, pp. 456–57.

Footnote 2 York Missal, 1:128.

Footnote 3 Young, Drama of the Medieval Church, 1:471–76.

Footnote 4 Davis, ed., Non-Cycle Plays, pp. 4–7; see also the brief discussion in C. Davidson, Festivals and Plays, pp. 31–32.

Footnote 5 Gardiner, Pilgrimage of Desire, p. 147.

[The Woolpackers and Woolbrokers]






































I PERIGRINUS   That Lorde that me lente this liffe for to lede,
In my wayes thou me wisse thus will of wone;
Qwen othir men halfe moste mirthe to ther mede,
Thanne als a mornand manne make I my mone,
For douteles nowe may we drede us.
Allas, thei have refte us oure rede,
With doole have thei dight hym to dede,
That Lorde that was leeffe for to lede us.

II PERIGRINUS   He ledde us full lelly, that Lorde, nowe allas
Mi Lorde for his lewté his liffe has he lorne.

I PERIGRINUS   Saye, who comes there claterand?

II PERIGRINUS                                     Sir, I, Cleophas.
Abide, my leffe brothere, to bale am I borne,
But telle me whedir thou bounes?

I PERIGRINUS   To Emax, this castell beside us;
Ther may we bothe herber and hyde us;
Therfore late we tarie at no townes.

II PERIGRINUS   Atte townes for to tarie take we no tent,
But take us tome at this tyme to talke of sume tales
And jangle of the Jewes and of Jesu so gente,
Howe thei bette that body was bote of all bales.
With buffettis thei bete hym full barely;
In Sir Cayphas hall garte thei hym call
And hym before Sir Pilate in his hall,
On the morne than aftir, full arely.

I PERIGRINUS   Full arely the juggemen demed hym to dye.
Both prestis and prelatis to Pilate made preysing,
And alls cursid caytiffis and kene on Criste gan thei crie
And on that lele Lorde made many a lesyng.
Thei spitte in his face to dispise hym,
To spoile hym nothyng thei spared hym,
But natheles baynly thei bared hym,
With scourges smertly goyng thei smote hym.

II PERIGRINUS   Thei smotte hym full smertely that the bloode oute braste,
That all his hyde in hurth was hastely hidde.
A croune of thorne on his heede full thraly thei thraste,
Itt is grete dole for to deme the dedis thei hym dide.
With byndyng unbaynly and betyng,
Thane on his bakke bare he thame by
A crosse unto Calvery,
That swettyng was swemyd for swetyng.

I PERIGRINUS   For all the swette that he swete with swyngis thei hym swang,1
And raffe hym full rewfully with rapes on a rode,
Than hevyd thei hym highly on hight for to hang;
Withouten misse of this man, thus mensked thai his mode2
That evere has bene trewest in trastyng.
Methynkith myn herte is boune for to breke
Of his pitefull paynes when we here speke,
So frendfull we fonde hym in fraistyng.

II PERIGRINUS   In fraisting we fonde hym full faithfull and free,
And his mynde mente he nevere mysse to no man.
Itt was a sorowe, forsoth, in sight for to see
Whanne that a spetyffull spere unto his harte ranne.
In baill thus his body was beltid,
Into his harte thraly thei thraste;
Whan his piteffull paynes were paste,
That swett thyng full swiftely he sweltid.

I PERIGRINUS   He sweltid full swithe in swonyng, that swette.
Allas, for that luffely that laide is so lowe,
With granyng full grissely on grounde may we grette,
For so comely a corse canne I none knowe.
With dole unto dede thei did hym
For his wise werkis that he wroght thame,
Thes false folke whan thei bethoughte thame,
That grette unkyndynesse thei kidde hym.

II PERIGRINUS   Unkyndynesse thei kidde hym, tho caistiffis so kene,
And als unwitty wightis wrought thei hym wreke.

JESUS   What are thes mervailes that ye of mene
And thus mekill mournyng in mynde that ye make,
Walkyng thus wille by thes wayes?

II PERIGRINUS   Why, arte thou a pilgryme and haste bene
At Jerusalem, and haste thou noght sene
What dole has ben done in thes daies?

JESUS   In ther daies, dere sir, what dole was ther done?
Of that werke wolde I witte, and youre will were,
And therfore I pray you telle me now sone.
Was ther any hurlyng in hande? Nowe late me here.

I PERIGRINUS   Why herde thou no carpyng nor crying
Att Jerusalem ther thou haste bene
Whenne Jesu of Nazarene
Was doulfully dight to the dying?

II PERIGRINUS   To the dying thei dight hym that defte was and dere,
Thurgh prokering of princes that were ther in prees.
Forthy as wightis that are will thus walke we in were,
For pechyng als pilgrymes that putte are to pees.
For mornyng of oure maistir thus morne wee
As wightis that are wilsome thus walke we,
Of Jesus in telling thus talke we;
Fro townes for takyng thus turne we.

I PERIGRINUS   Thus turne we fro townes, but take we entent
How thei mourthered that man that we of mene;
Full rewfully with ropis on rode thei hym rente
And takkid hym thertill full tyte in a tene,
Upperightis full rudely thei raised hym.
Thanne myghtely to noye hym withall,
In a mortaise faste lete hym fall,
To pynne hym thei putte hym and peysed hym.

II PERIGRINUS   Thei peysed hym to pynne hym, that pereles of pese,
Thus on that wight that was wise wroght thei grete wondir,
Yitt with that sorowe wolde thei noght sesse;
They schogged hym and schotte hym his lymes all in sondir,3
His braynes thus brake thei and braste hym.
A blynde knyght, such was his happe,
Inne with a spere poynte atte the pappe
To the harte full thraly he thraste hym.

I PERIGRINUS   Thei thraste hym full thraly, than was ther no threpyng;
Thus with dole was that dere unto dede dight.
His bak and his body was bolned for betyng:
Itt was, I saie thee forsoth, a sorowfull sight.
But oftesithes have we herde saie,
And we trowe as we herde telle,
That he was to rawsoune Israell;
But nowe is this the thirde daye.

II PERIGRINUS   Thes dayes newe owre wittis are waxen in were,
For some of oure women for certayne thei saide
That thai sawe in ther sightis solas full seere,
Howe all was lemand light wher he was laide.
Thei called us, as ever myght thei thriffe,
For certayne thei saugh it in sight,
A visioune of aungellis bright,
And tolde thame ther Lorde was alyve.

I PERIGRINUS   On lyve tolde thei that Lorde leved hir in lande,
Thez women come lightly to warne, I wene.
Some of oure folke hyed forthe and faste thei it fande
That all was soth that thei saide that sight had thei sene.
For lely thei loked ther he laye,
Thei wende ther that foode to have fonne.
Thanne was his toumbe tome as a tonne;
Thanne wiste thei that wight was away.

II PERIGRINUS   Awaye is that wight that wonte was us for to wisse.

JESUS   A, fooles, that are fauty and failes of youre feithe,
This bale bud hym bide and belde thame in blisse;
But ye be lele of youre laye, youre liffe holde I laith.
To prophetis he proved it and preched,
And also to Moyses gan he saie
That he muste nedis die on a day,
And Moyses forth talde it and teched,

And talde it and teched it many tymes than.

I PERIGRINUS   A, more of this talking we pray you to telle us.

II PERIGRINUS   Ya, sir, be youre carping full kyndely we kenne,
Ye meene of oure maistir of whome that we melle us.

I PERIGRINUS   Ya, goode sir, see what I saie you,
See ye this castell beside her?
All nyght we thynke for to bide here.
Bide with us, sir pilgrime, we praye you,

We praye you, sir pilgrime, ye presse noght to passe.

JESUS   Yis, sir, me bus nede.

I PERIGRINUS                     Naye, sir, the nyght is over nere.

JESUS   And I have ferre for to founde.

II PERIGRINUS                           I hope wele thou has.

I PERIGRINUS   We praye thee, sir, hartely, all nyght holde thee here.

JESUS   I thanke youe of this kyndinesse ye kydde me.

I PERIGRINUS   Go in, sir, sadly and sone.

II PERIGRINUS   Sir, daunger dowte noght, have done.

JESUS   Sir, I muste nedis do as ye bid me:

Ye bidde me so baynly I bide for the beste.

I PERIGRINUS   Lo, her is a sege, goode sir, I saie you.

II PERIGRINUS   With such goode as we have glad we oure geste.

I PERIGRINUS   Sir, of this poure pitaunce take parte now, we pray yow.
. . .
JESUS   Nowe blisse I this brede that brought is on the borde;
Fraste theron faithfully, my frendis, you to feede.

I PERIGRINUS   . . . unterly have we tane entent.
Ow, I trowe some torfoyr is betidde us.
Saie, wher is this man.

II PERIGRINUS                Away is he wente,
Right now satte he beside us.

I PERIGRINUS   Beside us we both sawe him sitte,
And by no poynte couthe I parceyve hym passe.

II PERIGRINUS   Nay, be the werkis that he wrought full wele myght we witte
Itt was Jesus hymselffe, I wiste who it was.

I PERIGRINUS   Itt was Jesus thus wisely that wrought,
That raised was and rewfully rente on the rode;
Of bale and of bittirnesse has he us boght,
Boune was and betyn that all braste on bloode.

II PERIGRINUS   All braste on bloode, so sore was he bette
With ther wickid Jewes that wrethfull was evere,
With scourges and scharpe thornes on his heede sette,
Suche torfoyr and torment of telle herde I nevere.

I PERIGRINUS   Of telle herde I nevere of so pitefull peynes
As suffered oure soverayne, hyngand on highte.
Nowe is he resen with myght and with mayne;
I telle for sikir, we saugh hym in sight.

II PERIGRINUS   We saugh hym in sight, nowe take we entent,
Be the brede that he brake us so baynly betwene,
Such wondirfull wais as we have wente
Of Jesus the gente was nevere none seene.

I PERIGRINUS   Sene was ther nevere so wondirfull werkes,
Be see ne be sande, in this worlde so wide,
Menskfully in mynde thes materes now merkis,
And preche we it prestly on every ilke side.

II PERIGRINUS   On every ilke side prestely prechis we;
Go we to Jerusaleme thes tydingis to telle;
Oure felawes fro fandyng nowe fraste we.
More of this mater her may we not melle.

I PERIGRINUS   Here may we notte melle more at this tyde,
For prossesse of plaies that precis in plight;4
He bringe to his blisse on every ilke side,
That sofferayne Lorde that moste is of myght.
direct; [being] distraught
When; have; reward
mourning; moan; (t-note)
may we dread
taken away; counselor; (t-note)
dole; put; death

truly; (see note); (t-note)

chattering; (t-note)

dear; carried; (t-note)
wither; are going

Emmaus; (see note)

let us

time; (i.e., reminisce); (t-note)
beat; remedy; sorrows; (t-note)
to the extreme

afterward; early

as; maliciously; to cry
true; lie

despoil (strip)
nonetheless readily; stripped
in movement

injury (wounds)
violently; thrust
sorrow; judge; deeds
cruelly; beating

beloved one; overcome; sweating (toil)

pulled him apart; ropes; cross

trusting (faith)

loyal (loving); [his] trial (testing)

sin (hostility)

cruel spear
custody; enclosed

sweet; was overcome (died)

quickly; swooning
loved one
lamenting; sorrowfully; weep


showed, cruel
unwise men; violence

(see note)



if it is your wish

violence; let; hear


sorrowfully put to death

provoking (plotting); assembly
distraught; confusion; (t-note)
fear of accusation; made to be quiet
mourning; mourn; (t-note)
confused (bewildered)
[possibility of] capture


fastened; (i.e., in an angry fit); (t-note)

nail; pushed; pressed him down; (t-note)





swollen from; (t-note)

oftentimes; (t-note)
ransom; (t-note)
(see note)



quickly; believe
hurried; found
man; found
empty; barrel

man; teach

fallible; faith
pain must he abide; support
Unless your story is true; loath; (t-note)

(see note)


mean (speak); associated ourselves

[us] here

beg; pass [on]

must [go on]

far to go


solemnly; soon

doubt not; (t-note)

seat; (see note)

entertain; guest

[two lines missing, see note]
board; (see note)

?entirely; (t-note)
calamity; happen (to)


sorrowfully torn; cross
Bound; beaten; ?splattered with


hanging high

bread; broke; readily
ways; traveled; (t-note)

By sea nor by
Fittingly remembers these matters; (see note)
without delay; each and every; (t-note)

temptation; urge
be concerned

mingle; time


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