19. The Scourging
Play 19, THE SCOURGING: FOOTNOTES
1 Here begins the scourging
2 Peace at my bidding, you creatures under my command!
3 Lines 64–65: And if they (his miraculous deeds) were not dearly bought, / believe me no more
4 And he will lean the cross toward his mother
5 Here ends the scourging
Play 19, THE SCOURGING: EXPLANATORY NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: Chester: The Chester Mystery Cycle, ed. Lumiansky and Mills (1974); CT: The Canterbury Tales, ed. Benson (1987); DSL: Dictionary of the Scots Language; Elliott: The Apocryphal New Testament, ed. Elliott; EP: The Towneley plays, ed. England and Pollard (1897); MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (“the Towneley manuscript”); N-Town: The N-Town Plays, ed. Sugano (2007); OED: Oxford English Dictionary; REED: Records of Early English Drama; SC: The Towneley Plays, eds. Stevens and Cawley (1994); s.d.: stage direction; Whiting: Whiting, Proverbs, Sentences, and Proverbial Phrases; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).
With its highly varied stanza forms, changes in diction, and more, the Scourging shows evidence of much editing and revision from a variety of sources. Nearly two-thirds of the play, including the trial before Pilate and the scourging itself, is written in 13-line stanzas, including the 'bob and wheel' stanza (but unusually in this case written in the MS as 13- line rather than 9-line stanzas) as well as some metrical variations. While the torturers repeat here many of the same charges against Jesus leveled in the previous two plays, they also describe miracles that are not represented in any extant English plays (including in lines 196–98 the wedding at Cana, the subject of a play at York that was never copied into the official Register). Much of the final portion of the play, largely in 10-line stanzas, is likely a later addition, evidently adapted from the York Shearmen’s play representing the Road to Calvary or from an earlier version of that play. This may well include a section that is missing from the York text due to a lost page; see the note to lines 352–471, below.
Before 1 John (the Apostle) [character]. At his first appearance in this play, at line 352, the MS speech rubrics designate this character as Johannes Apostolus (“John the Apostle”), although thereafter he is just called Johannes (“John”).
7 bradyng of batels. While the MED (breidinge (ger.), sense c) cites this phrase alone as meaning “delivering blows; ?assaulting” (stretching the meaning of “battle”), EP’s gloss of bradyng as “onset” (p. 398) is likely closer, given that the verb normally refers to sudden or rushing movement (see MED breiden (v.1)), here the charge into or rush of battle.
13 Os Malleatoris. Sister Nicholas Maltman convincingly argues that this is the correct reading for what in the MS reads As mali actoris — arguably translatable as “as evil doer,” but nonsensical given the use of the genitive case (“Pilate — Os Malleatoris”). The manuscript reading appears to be a corruption or mistranscription of the phrase Os Malleatoris, meaning “mouthpiece of the devil” (literally “mouth of the hammerer”); this phrase, which also informs line 14, was explicitly used by several scriptural commentators (the “clergy” of line 12) to designate Pilate.
14 as on both sydys the iren the hamer makith playn. That is, the hammer beats both sides of a piece of iron in order to flatten and mould it. As explained in the lines that follow, Pilate is an unjust judge who serves whichever side of a dispute will give him the greatest reward.
23–26 All fals endytars . . . . Ar welcom to me. These lines repeat almost verbatim 17.36–39 (see note), in the same position within another 13-line “bob and wheel” stanza, and are echoed again in 27.270–71.
28 Crist thay call hym. Although the torturers explicitly refer to him by name as Jesus (see lines 155, 246, 284), Pilate will later ask him his name (line 257), effectively asking him to lay claim to being the Christ, the Messiah.
46–47 it is most lefe / The shedyng of Cristen bloode and that all Jury knawes. Pilate’s assertion of a fondness for shedding Christian blood is of course anachronistic, but aligned here less with any historical persecution of Christians by the Romans than, through mention of “all Jewry,” with an anti-Semitic implication of blood libel — the idea that Jews shed Christian blood for ritual use.
54 From Syr Herode oure kyng. The trial before Herod, based on Luke 23:7–12, is dramatized in York and Chester and in the N-Town Passion, but not in Towneley; see also lines 120–23 and note. It is possible that this play, or the source of this portion of it, was once part of a Passion sequence quite different from the selection of plays collected here.
75 Do draw hym forward. As this and line 79 indicate, Jesus is being pulled by a rope held by Torturer 3 (see line 92); however, lines 89–91 (see note, below) suggest that the rope is at this point either around his neck or his waist, rather than binding his hands; see note to 18.1.
81 I shall spytt in his face. See Matthew 26:67–68 and Mark 14:65; see also 21.101.
89–91 With this band . . . . on his bak. Jesus’ hands are apparently not tied at the beginning of the play, although he is bound in some way by a rope; tying his hands behind his back, particularly at this point, may be intended to force Jesus to enter Pilate’s court backward — the opposite of courtly etiquette, in which one does not turn one’s back to the sovereign, even if it means walking backward. In the second part of Sir David Lindsay’s Satyre of The Thrie Estaitis, characters representing the three estates enter “gangand backwart, led be thair vyces” (lines 2322–23), but by choice, not by force.
109–10 Nather in dede . . . with no wrang. See Luke 23:4.
120–23 Herode . . . . to any syn. See Luke 23:15 and note to line 54 above.
141–47 Thou knowes . . . . in persons thre. See John 19:10–11 (which follows the scourging). Jesus’ lines here are the only ones he speaks to Pilate, unlike in John’s gospel.
148–56 Certys . . . . ye dam this day. For the freeing of Barabbas, see John 18:39–40 (also Matthew 27:15–26, Mark 15:6–15, and Luke 23:17–25).
157–58 looke . . . His cloysse ye spoyll hym fro. In Matthew 27:26–31, Jesus is scourged before he is stripped and mocked, and dressed again in his own clothing prior to the crucifixion. Here care is taken to keep his clothing undamaged prior to the scourging, in apparent reference to the legend of his seamless robe — the subject of the Towneley play of the Dice (see the headnote to play 21).
163 How iudicare comys in crede. The word iudicare, “to judge,” is from a line in the creed; to “teach the creed” is to teach a lesson, in this case with physical punishment (see 20.55, also 12.332 and note). However, the victim here is the very judge to whom the relevant line of the Nicene creed refers: et iterum venturus est cum gloria iudicare vivos et mortuos (“and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead”).
166 Have bynd to this pyllar. The pillar to which Jesus is bound for the scourging is frequently represented as freestanding and solitary — that is, a whipping post, rather than an architectural support. Stage properties listed in a 1490 Coventry record include “iiij Scorges and a piller” (four scourges and a pillar; REED: Coventry, p. 74; see also the note to 21.131).
171 flap. To flap is to strike a blow (also called a flap — see line 181) with something loose, such as a lash or scourge. See MED flappen (v.), sense a, which cites this line.
176 rub on the rust. To “rub off the rust” can be used metaphorically to refer to eliminating corruption through punishment (see MED rubben (v.), sense 3b, and rust (n.), sense d), yet Jesus embodies the opposite of moral or spiritual corruption; the line might also allude to Matthew 6:19–20 with its contrast between the treasures of heaven and those of earth, “where the rust, and moth consume.”
196–98 feste of Architreclyn . . . . water into wyn. That is, the wedding at Cana, site of Jesus’ first public miracle. Used here as a name, the Latin term architriclinus means “master of the feast” — see John 2:8–9.
202–08 The see . . . . hym obeyng tyll. The reference is to Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee; see John 6:16–21 and Matthew 14:25–33 (and the note to 17.742).
209–21 A lepir cam . . . . lowfyd hym oft-sythe. These two miracles are related in succession in Matthew 8:2–13. However, it is not a centurion’s son as it is here (line 218) who is healed, but his servant (and possible lover; the Vulgate refers to him as his puer, that is, boy).
222–34 Sirs . . . . of all yll. The healing of blind Bartimaeus is told in Mark 10:46–52.
239–40 Oure Sabbot day in his wyrkyng / He lettys not to hele the seke. That is, he does not desist on the Sabbath — a day of rest — from working to heal the sick.
254 the Jues. Here Pilate differentiates between himself and “the Jews” who seek the death of Jesus, whereas he is most often treated implicitly or explicitly as one of them; compare line 6 of his opening speech (see also line 47 and note). Jesus and his followers, on the other hand, regularly (even insistently) and anachronistically refer to “the Jews” as other (see lines 357, 451, 456, and 460 of this same play).
257 Say, what is thy name. See line 28 and note.
265 He cals hym a kyng in every place. The second Counselor repeats the same charge as the first — see lines 133–39.
276 Hym that is youre lege lordyng. See John 19:15.
285–86 Or to Syr Cesar we trus / And make thy frenship cold. That is, or we will go to Sir Caesar and end our friendship with you. See John 19:12.
289–90 Both my handys in expres / Weshen sall be. Here Pilate washes his hands, as in Matthew 27:24.
293–95 We pray it fall endles . . . . With wrake. The claim of eternal responsibility for the death of Christ based on Matthew 27:25 — “His blood be upon us and upon our children” — has long been used to justify Christian anti- Semitism. Note the oppositional references to “thise Jues” by the (Jewish) women in lines 450–61.
313 here a crowne of thorne. This scene is based on Matthew 27:28–29 and Mark 15:17–18, but without explicit mention of the scarlet (or royal purple) robe that they mockingly put on Jesus in those accounts, a common feature in visual representations; however, having earlier stripped him of his garments (see line 158), the torturers may well put a robe on him here nonetheless.
339–51 This cros up . . . . thee this day. This final 13-line stanza preceding a series of 10-line stanzas from York (see headnote and below, passim) effectively summarizes the action that follows, though not originally part of the same play. The original play may have ended shortly after this stanza; see also the notes to lines 482–85 and 564–72.
352–71 Alas . . . fast therfor. The first two stanzas of John’s opening speech very closely parallel the first and third stanzas of the parallel speech in the York Road to Calvary play; see York 34.106–15 and 126–35. The last portion of a fourth stanza in York, along with much else, is lost due to a missing page; some of the missing dialogue may be preserved here, in lines 372–433 (which are followed by a series of 8-line stanzas). The non-biblical scene of John meeting the Marys prior to the crucifixion is not dramatized in any other English plays.
363 My moder and hir syster also. Mary Salome, mother to the disciples John and James, does not appear in this play, although she is named as a witness to the crucifixion in Mark 15:40 and Matthew 27:56, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary Jacobi (mother to Joseph and the other disciple named James) — the two other Marys here along with Mary, mother of Jesus. John 19:25 alone states that Mary, mother of Jesus, was present, along with Mary Magdalene and Mary Cleophas (see headnote to play 24, the Pilgrims), the latter thus being commonly identified with Mary Jacobi. As is explicit in N-Town 36.25–28, both Mary Jacobi/Cleophas and Mary Salome were traditionally identified as sisters to the mother of Jesus. Perhaps, as Davidson suggests in his edition of the York text (p. 468n127), “mi moder” here refers not to John’s biological mother but to the mother of Jesus, anachronistically prior to her being designated as John’s mother at the crucifixion (see 20.524), “hir syster” here being Mary Jacobi. In York itself, on the other hand, such a reading is unnecessary, given both the reference in York 34.127 to her “sisteres” (a term that in Towneley’s line 410 includes the non-related Mary Magdalene), and the designation in that text of those who accompany the mother of Jesus simply as II Maria and III Maria (as here, no names are mentioned in the dialogue), which allows the two to stand in for any and all other “sisters” in mourning, including Mary Salome.
385–86 How he with pyne shuld pas us fro, / And efte shuld com us to. See for example John 14:3, 18.
398 tell unto us two. That is, Mary Jacobi and Mary Magdalene, who have taken John aside to speak “prevaly” (line 392), in hopes of sparing Jesus’ mother grief.
406 And kepe hym as he shall be kend. That is, seek after or meet him on the road along which he is to be led or directed (MED kennen (v.1), sense 1c) by the soldiers.
416 he commes us even agayn. That is, ahead of us, from the opposite direction that we are walking. The scene of Jesus meeting his mother on the via crucis (way of the cross) is not biblical (although it takes its cue from the mention of mourning women in Luke 23:27), but was important to later medieval devotional practices and frequently represented in both art and literature.
443–44 On cros . . . on the thryd day. See Matthew 16:21 and 17:21–22.
466–81 Ye doghters of Jerusalem . . . . thay will not spare. See Luke 23:28–29. This speech ends a section written in 8-line stanzas, and clearly not from York; for the equivalent speech, see York 34.160–79.
482–85 Walk on . . . . thay can red. This quatrain shares a rhyme scheme with lines 564–67 (see note below) and may originally have belonged to that (final) stanza.
486–95 Say, wherto . . . . cam thou here. This stanza again closely parallels the York text (York 34.190–99).
489 Go home, thou casbald with that clowte. The MED defines casbalde (attested only here and in the parallel line in York 34.193) as “a term of reproach; ?baldhead” (MED casbald (n.1)). Mary Magdalene has evidently removed a veil (thus uncovering either her head or her neck and breast, hence the reproach) and, taking the place of the legendary Saint Veronica, has used it to wipe the face of Jesus. According to tradition, “this thyng” (line 492) miraculously imprinted with an image of his face — known as the vernicle (from “Veronica” which means “true image”) — became a famous relic, and is the subject of many artistic representations.
496–97 Let all this bargan be, / Syn all oure toyles ar before. Leave all this business — that is, conversing with the mourners — since our work lies ahead of us. This is the opening of an irregular 8-line stanza (or two separate quatrains) not in York.
504–63 That shall we . . . . before with cros. These six stanzas closely parallel York 34.230–49 and 34.260–99; the intervening stanza in York (34.250–59) is a speech by Simon, further explaining that he cannot stop to help.
524 hoyn. York 34.260 has the less obscure “wone” (“live, or stay”) in place of “hone” (“delay”).
564–72 Now, by Mahound . . . . the chace. This final portion of the play appears to be a 13-line stanza missing the initial quatrain — perhaps what are now lines 482–85 (see note above); this stanza may well have originally followed line 351, ending the original play. Note that this would also preserve the normal (but not absolute) 1-2-3 speaking order for the torturers, lines 339–51 being attributed to Torturer 1, and the stray quatrain to Torturer 2, and Torturer 3 being the speaker at lines 564–58.
567–68 furth hym lede / A trace. While trace commonly refers to a way or path taken, “to lead a trace” means to dance a measure (MED trace (n.1), sense 3a).
Play 19, THE SCOURGING: TEXTUAL NOTES
ABBREVIATIONS: EP: The Towneley Plays, ed. England and Pollard (EETS, 1897); Facs: The Towneley Cycle: A Facsimile of Huntington MS HM 1, ed. Cawley and Stevens; MED: Middle English Dictionary; MS: Huntington MS HM 1 (base text); SC: The Towneley Plays, ed. Stevens and Cawley (EETS, 1994); s.d.: stage direction; Surtees: The Towneley Mysteries, ed. Raine; York: The York Corpus Christi Plays, ed. Davidson (2011).
Before 1 MS: after the title another hand has written õylde.
13 Os Malleatoris. MS: As mali actoris. See Explanatory Note.
44 Therfor . . . suffre. MS: for is written above the line in the hand of the main scribe, and the long s of suffre is written as an f.
87 No lak. MS has k and part of another letter between these words.
120–40 Herode truly as . . . . felow com nere. MS: to the left of these lines, in the top corner of the page, is a large ornamented capital D, partly boxed in with red lines, and unconnected to the extant text. This could have been intended as the first page of the Buffeting, which starts notably earlier in the manuscript (fol. 73v as opposed to fol. 80r) but with a decorated capital D.
145 thus with. MS: another word between these has been erased.
161 This. So EP, SC: Þis. MS: yis (y for þ).
180 thou. So EP, SC: þou. MS: you (y for þ).
236 Thre. EP: fower. SC, MS: iiij. As EP point out, this is an apparent error for iij — three separate actions being mentioned in the lines that follow, including defiling the Sabbath by healing the sick on that day (see lines 238–42).
242 thre. So EP. MS: iij.
260 thou skap. So EP, SC. MS: skap, preceded by an erasure (possibly of thou).
345–46 But for thy . . . thou salbe slone. MS: these lines have been written in a loose scrawl in a space left blank by the main scribe.
389 therfore. So EP. SC: therfor. MS: therfor with a flourish indicating final e.
455 Dyd never yll. MS: Dyd never none yll, with none crossed out in red and black dots above.
510 with lytyll. MS: another word between these has been erased.
512 that wold. MS: another word between these has been erased.
530 therfore. EP, SC: therfor. MS: therfor with a flourish indicating final e.
564 oure. MS: oure oure.
569 Com on thou. MS: Com thou on thou with the first thou crossed out in red.