Printer Friendly

From many lives a single play: the case of Saint Margaret and the Dragon.

Antoine DuVerdier's 1585 Bibliotheque includes the first modern reference to a mystery play dedicated to Saint Margaret of Antioch, with this notice: "La Vie de sainte MARGUERITE, Vierge & Martyre, fille de Theodosien, a quarante-quatre Personnages; imprimee a Paris, in-80, par Alain Lotrian" (The life of saint MARGARET, virgin and martyr, daughter of Theodosian, with 44 Roles; printed in Paris, in-80, by Alain Lotrian). (1) Pierre-Francois Godard de Beauchampss Recherches sur les theatres en France also refers to the same edition. (2) Unfortunately, the Lotrian volume appears to have gone missing after that citation because subsequent cataloguers either did not include it or could not find it. Fortunately, a nineteenth-century scholar, Aristide Joly, did locate such a text, the Vie de madame sainte Marguerite, vierge et martyre par personnages. (3) It survives in a single printed copy in the Rare Books collection of the Bibliotheque nationale de France (BnF Res. YF 4690). It is not the Lotrian edition identified by DuVerdier, which is presumed to have been published in 1540, but a second edition without a frontispiece, publisher, or date. (4)

While this is the only known performance remnant that references Saint Margaret in French medieval theater, the Vie par personnages issues from a long hagiographic tradition in which the saints martyrdom was venerated and popularized in various formats. According to that tradition, Margaret is born to pagan parents but left with a nurse who raises her in the Christian faith. Watching sheep one day, she is observed by Olybrius, a pagan prefect who desires her. Brought before him, Margaret declares her faith in Jesus, refusing to adore pagan gods and to submit to Olybrius. After being tortured, she is cast into prison, where a dragon swallows her. Margaret uses her cross to free herself only to face a black devil in the shape of a man. Belzebub wants to know how she has managed to kill his brother, the dragon Ruffon. Margaret grasps the devil, standing on his neck until he explains who he is and admits defeat. A dove descends from heaven to assure Margaret of her place there. With that assurance, Margaret continues to rebuke Olybrius despite being beaten bloody, burned, placed in a vat of boiling water, and hung by her hair. Finally, she is beheaded at Olybrius's orders and her soul is carried to heaven by angels. An observer, a priest named Theotimus, vows to write her story.

Margaret's legend originated in ninth-century Greece, then traveled to Europe where Latin and vernacular versions ensured its subsequent success as her relics appeared in Italy, and churches were dedicated to her in Liege, Bath, and Montefiascone, among other sites. Saint Margaret would become one of the most iconic legends embraced by Catholic believers, despite the fact that medieval Church leaders and religious writers, including the Legenda aurea's author Jacques de Voragine, doubted the veracity of the Saint Margaret legend, citing its apocryphal or fantastic elements. (5) Ultimately, while Saint Margaret was venerated in liturgies, hagiographic literature, and iconography from the Middle Ages until the modern era, the Roman Catholic Church deleted Saint Margaret's feast day from its calendars in 1969, citing the likelihood that she had probably never existed. (6) The intention of the present study is to illustrate how the Vie parpersonnages conforms to and differs from hagiographic texts dedicated to Saint Margaret. Specifically, this analysis will underscore the fact that the performance remnant relied on authoritative texts structurally while contemporizing and humanizing its martyred heroine in support of a performance event for a fifteenth-century audience.

The Mystery Play Tradition

While the Vie par personnages is the only known copy of a French mystery play featuring Saint Margaret, it survives as part of a dynamic cultural phenomenon from late medieval France. (7) Mystery plays were sponsored and performed by municipalities, guilds, and clerics in order to commemorate or restore communities, as Alan Knight has so convincingly argued. (8) Those communities hired poets or clerics to compile a performance script based on an authoritative text. In the case of hagiographic plays, for example, guild members may have referenced the legend of their patron saint or saints. Play organizers hired carpenters, painters, and blacksmiths to create an arena or staging platform in a private or public venue. City leaders, merchants, priests, and clerics practiced their roles then performed for colleagues, their families, or the paying public. Some mystery plays were produced for a single event after which the performance text was recopied for commemorative ends; other plays were part of an annual celebration based on a traditional text that was recycled for years or even decades.

In the case of the Vie par personnages, Joly maintained that while the surviving performance remnant of the Vie de sainte Marguerite was printed in the latter part of the sixteenth century, the mystery play text contained therein dated from the late fifteenth or the early sixteenth century. (9) Since we know that editors purchased post-performance copies for publication and profit, it is possible that a confraternity or clerical group performed the play as part of its celebrations before the text of that performance found its way to a publisher, perhaps Alain Lotrian, in the mid-sixteenth century. (10) The lost performance text on which the edition is based would likely have been a manuscript copy that included textual emendations meant to enhance the narrative's visual scope and dramatic appeal. (11) The edition, on the other hand, would have reproduced the performance artifact either as a commemorative or as a devotional text, with or without staging instructions.

Because their stated intention was religious edification and their medium was popular entertainment, mystery plays conform to a number of conventions. Among their textual conventions are:

1. The use of octosyllabic couplets as the spoken text's foundational format;

2. An opening prologue that presents the play's topic and asks for silence from spectators; (12)

3. A speech-then-action performance style that moves the narrative through a series of visualized sequences (and decors); (13)

4. Inter-textual staging directions and musical interludes ("pauses");

5. The inclusion of both Paradise and Hell sequences;

6. Comic sequences involving stereotypical characters;

7. And the division of the text into performance sessions.

The Vie par personnages conforms to most of these conventions. It is composed in octosyllabic couplets that rarely break into longer or shorter verse. The play has no prologue, but that is likely the result of its having survived as an edition rather than as a performance remnant. (14) There is no division into performance sessions, but at just under 4,700 spoken lines, Vie par personnages could have been performed in a single prolonged session; (15) or, the editor may have deleted any notes from the performance copy that divided it for that purpose. The play's structure is generally lateral as characters move about a series of decors. (16) These decors, as in other mystery play productions, would have been placed between a raised Paradise decor and a Hell mouth or tower. (17) There are 54 intertextual didascalias in Vie par personnages that direct the players by shifting attention from one sequence to the next, as in: "Adonc il la meine en la chartre et adonc Marguerite fait le signe de la croix" (Then he leads her to the prison and then Margaret makes the sign of the cross). (18) This is a typical number of stage directions for a production of this length. (19) In addition, while most of these intertextual notations are directive like the one cited above, a few are actually subtitles unrelated to performance, such as "Comment madame sainte Marguerite fut decollete" (How Mistress Saint Margaret was beheaded; 152 [154]). This type of intrusion into the performance artifact is likely due to the editor. Lastly, Vie par personnages includes one musical interlude played by minstrels (136), and, in addition to the "Te Deum" that concludes the performance, angels sing "Veni, creator spriritus" several times as they travel back and forth from Paradise. (20)

Significantly, nearly 2,000 of Vie par personnages's 4,646 lines constitute content that is not elaborated in the Saint Margaret legend, but that was an essential part of the mystery play tradition: a drunken messenger twice encounters a beleaguered laborer who outsmarts him (10-12, 114-17); Saint Michael and Leviathan argue over who will walk away with the souls of the dead (141-42 [143-44]); and blood-soaked torturers lament how hard they are working, including Vivant who complains: "J'en suis tout lasse, et vain" (I am completely worn out and useless; 44). Likewise, the action turns to Paradise six times as Margaret prays for guidance, prompting intercession on her behalf. In one such sequence, Margaret looks to the heavens to pray while she is being tortured. At the end of her prayer, the scene shifts to Paradise, where God decides to send a dove to console her. As the dove descends, the torturers fall to the ground unconscious. This staging device, which is not included in the traditional narrative, makes it possible for Margaret and Colombe (the dove) to have a conversation in relative peace. Afterward, as the dove returns to Paradise, the henchmen awaken unaware of what has taken place (40). Likewise, disputes and disagreements in Hell comprise 570 lines of text as Lucifer reacts to his unruly lot of devils. For instance, when Belzebub returns to Hell after his unsuccessful encounter with Margaret, Satan minces no words:
   Je suis de rage tout noirci,
   Ja n'en auray misericorde:
   Leviathan, qu'il ne nous morde
   Lions-le a ceste attache.
   Lions-le ainsi qu'une vache,
   Ou un thoreau qu'on veut chastrer,
   De grands coups luy faudra donner
   Mais qu'il soit lie, sans nous faindre.

   (Satan: I am beside myself with rage / And will have no compassion
   for him: / Leviathan, lets tie him to this stake / So that he can't
   bite us. / Leviathan: Let's tie him up like a cow / Or like a bull
   you're about to castrate. / We'll have to beat him with awful
   blows; / Once he's tied up, that is; 80)

In addition to extending narrative sequences or inventing them whole cloth, the Vie par personnages compiler multiplies encounters that enhance the play's emotional impact. Groups of "piteux" and "convertis" who speak but once or twice in the Saint Margaret legend are each given the opportunity to speak their minds multiple times as they react to Margaret's steadfastness and to Olybrius's interrogations. For example, eight "convertis" each give speeches that total 679 lines before they are taken to the gallows by pairs and summarily beheaded. (21) They do so in five interlocked interludes woven into the traditional legend itself. The compiler of Vie par personnages has added these performance conventions to a production that transitions from the sublime to the ridiculous and from the fantastic to the fervent, varying the tone and the focus of the traditional narrative. In so doing, the Vie par personnages compiler demonstrates both the imagination and the structural skill that would have provided his spectators with an impressive array of sights and sounds.

The Poetic Tradition

Of course, a narrative tradition was in place long before the Vie par personnages was performed. That tradition began with a lost Greek original of the legend, referred to as the Passio a Theotimo, and in which the protagonist is called Marina. The Passio a Theotimo served as the model for a ninth-century narrative composed by Methodio, a scholar who had immigrated to Rome from Constantinople. (22) This highly developed piece of monastic writing became the model for early Greek and Latin versions of the Saint Margaret story, including the martyrology composed by Mauro. (23) Eventually, as Tammi has maintained, the Saint Margaret story flourished more widely and more prolifically in the West. (24) The Biblioteca Hagiographica Latina, for instance, catalogues a succession of Latin versions that were composed between the ninth and the eleventh centuries. One of these texts, called the Mombritius version after its editor, was highly influential since a tenth-century version of it (BHL no. 5303) survives in numerous manuscripts across Europe. (25) According to Clayton and Magennis, that text reads as "a definitive product of monastic civilization, celebrating the receiving of Margaret into the community of the saints venerated by the church, and itself hymnally expressing that veneration." (26) That same version also served as the primary source for many of the vernacular adaptations of the Saint Margaret Passion that were written in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, first in Anglo-Saxon, then in French, German, Italian, and Provencal. (27) The large number of these vernacular versions and their reach across Western Europe attest to Margarets growing popularity as part and parcel of significant cultural shifts that were underway. Scholars cite the conquest of Constantinople in 1204, the rise of courtly literature, and the focus on women's education as possible explanations for interest in this martyred virgin. Elizabeth Francis suggests that regional and propagandistic motivations might also explain the rise of her cult in northern France. (28)

The earliest French cleric to produce a poetic version of the Saint Margaret legend in that period was the poet Wace, who is better known for having composed the Roman de Ron and the Roman de Brut. (29) Tammi lists fourteen French poetic versions as well as eighteen prose versions of the legend with surviving copies dating from the thirteenth through the sixteenth centuries. (30) Roughly half of the poems, including Wace's work, were modeled on the Mombritius text. (31) A second version, however, identified by its first two lines ("Apres la sainte Passion / Jhesucrist a l'Ascencion"), was clearly more popular since it is extant in as many as one hundred copies worldwide. (32) These poems, including Wace's early version, were written in octosyllabic couplets for easy transmission and recitation. While they were initially translated directly from the Latin sources, after the thirteenth century new poems were adapted instead from other French copies. (33) Thus, Wace's incorporation of women in labor to the list of those groups whom Saint Margaret protected became a standard feature of the more popular "Apres la sainte passion" tradition in late medieval France. (34) The vernacular poems tend to be shorter than their Latin sources, with the Saint Margaret poems ranging in length from under 100 lines to 800 lines. (35) One impact of this abridgement was that many of the Saint Margaret poems mute the graphic nature of the multiple torture sequences that characterized the Latin sources. These adaptations were typical of the ways in which the poems mirror instead their contemporary courtly counterparts, as Keller has argued. (36)

This poetic tradition would have been known to the poet-compiler who composed the Vie par personnages mystery play, whether through the immensely popular "Apres la sainte passion" narrative or through contact with other versions. (37) In order to determine any possible textual relationship between Vie par personnages and the poetic tradition, a set of three representative poems will be compared to the mystery play remnant. The Wace poem, though not contemporary to the play, was translated directly from the Latin sources and was influential on later poets, as already noted. It will therefore provide a foundation text for comparison purposes, based on Elizabeth Francis's modern edition of Bibliotheque de l'Arsenal ms. 3516. (38) Next, a late fifteenth-century manuscript copy from the "Apres la sainte passion" tradition, BnF ms. fr. 24863, will stand in for the verse account that dominated the later medieval period. This particular copy has been selected because it dates from the era in which Joly estimated that the play may have been performed. (39) Gianni Tammi's modern edition of a third text from the poetic tradition, BnF ms. n.a.f. 6352, will round out this comparative set. This fifteenth-century version, which begins "Escoutez tuit par tel convent," has been reproduced with nineteen simple miniatures. (40)

The three poems, hereafter referred to as Wace (Arsenal ms. 3516), Sainte Passion (BnF ms. fr. 24863), and Escoutez tuit (BnF ms. n.a.f. 6352) are fairly similar in length, although Sainte Passion (622 lines) and Wace (714 lines) are both somewhat shorter than Escoutez tuit's 786 lines. All three poems are composed in octosyllabic couplets, like the much longer Vie par personnages. Neither Wace nor Escoutez tuit includes the antiphon and prayer associated with devotional practices that can be found at the end of the Sainte Passion copy and at the end of the mystery play.

Next, the Saint Margaret legend can be divided into seven elemental episodes that will serve as the basis for a comparison of these texts:

1. A prologue introducing Margaret's martyrdom as an example of faith;

2. Margarets pagan family and her childhood with a Christian nurse;

3. Olibirus observing Margaret and sending his soldiers to bring her to him;

4. Margarets defiance and torture;

5. The appearance of a dragon and a devil in Margarets prison cell;

6. Divine intercession and Margarets martyrdom;

7. Theotimus commemorating Margaret as a martyred saint.

All of these episodes are present and similarly sequenced in all four versions of the legend with the exception of Vie par personnages's missing prologue. (41) The three poems feature thematically divergent prologues that vary in length from Wace's 18 lines to Escoutez tuit's 86 lines. The "Apres la sainte Passion" version tells of an era after the apostles and the martyrs when people heard the story of a young, courageous girl who turned against her pagan parents and "En Dieu si tout son cur a mis" (placed her heart in God's hands). (42) Wace focuses instead on Margaret's nature, stating that she was like a precious gem because of her physical and spiritual qualities. (43) Escoutez tuit's narrator begins with a reference to Theotimus (Theodimus) as eye witness and recorder of Margaret's faith, admonishing his audience, and specifically women--"Et vous plus especialment / Dames, qui Dame Dieu amez" (And especially you / Ladies who love God's Lady)--to listen to Margaret's example. (44) He then borrows the introduction to Margaret's courage directly from the Sainte Passion prologue.

The poems' treatment of Margaret's family and childhood are more or less parallel, but the Sainte Passion version states that Theodisien hated his daughter without explaining why this was the case, (45) while in Wace Theodosius hates Margaret because she believed in and adored God. (46) In Escoutez tuit as well, her father (Theodosimus) hates her for her faith in Christ. (47) Vie par personnages adds a more self-interested reason for her father's anger: Margaret is not a male who "eust gouverne nostre terre" (would have ruled our land; 3). Only the Escoutez tuit version names Margaret's mother (Salomone), but both Sainte Passion and Escoutez tuit reiterate, as does Vie par personnages, how much she loved her daughter. (48) Similarly, only Escoutez tuit and Vie par personnages state that Margarets parents die when she is very young. (49) In all versions, it is her nurse who "ly aprist la creance / Et la loy de cristiente" (teaches her the beliefs / and doctrines of Christianity), as Escoutez tuit states. (50)

Of the four versions in this comparison, only Escoutez tuit adds an episode in which Olybrius first hears about a beautiful Christian maid before he sees her guarding sheep while on his way to Antioch. In the other works, including Vie par personnages, Olybrius sends messengers to interrogate Margaret only after first seeing her as she keeps her sheep. Vie par personnages, as expected, greatly expands the most central episodes of the legend. The sequence recounting Margaret's defiance before Olybrius occupies about 30 lines in Sainte Passion and in Escoutez tuit, where it precedes the only torture sequence. In the conversation that takes place between the saint and the prefect, Olybrius asks: "Qui estes vous et de quel gent? / Et qui sont li vostre parent?" (Who are you and from what people do you come? / And who are your parents?) (51) This general questioning leads to an offer of marriage, followed by the threat of death if she does not comply. Margaret's reaction is to tell the prefect that she seeks no other companion "que Ihesucrist est [son] espous" (because Jesus Christ is [her] husband). (52) She then launches into a fiery tirade, calling him a false and rabid dog. (53) The same tone and content are repeated in Vie par personnages, but the initial 92-line conversation between the virgin martyr and her nemesis is the first of six such encounters that are linked to the play's multiple torture sequences. While a second, and final, encounter in the poems does express the pity that the henchmen, the observers, and even Olybrius are feeling for the tortured saint, Vie par personnages omits any such reaction on Olybrius's part. In fact, the prefect is stunned by the torturers' generous attitude ("Comment, vous avez pitie d'elle?" [What? You feel sorry for her?]; 55). Instead, the performance text brings the acrimony and frustration that both protagonists express to a fever pitch in over 300 lines that are dispersed throughout much of the play. In this battle of wills, Margaret argues for an omnipotent God and against the worthless wooden statues that Olybrius worships while he counters with accusations against Christ and in favor of his pagan idols. In their last such encounter, Margaret tells Olybrius that he is crazy to expect her to believe in his false gods. He ripostes that she is "une garce enchanteresse" (a bewitching tramp; 148 [150]).

Interestingly, the Wace poem is more similar in this regard to the performance text than it is to Sainte Passion and Escoutez tuit. In multiple conversations in that poem, Margaret battles verbally with Olybrius before and after being subjected to multiple tortures. (54) However, Wace does confirm that when Olybrius (Olimbrius) and the others witness Margaret's torment they "esgarder ne le pooient" (couldn't bear to look at her). (55) Despite this distinction, Wace's poem, like Vie par personnages, specifies the variety of agonies to which she was subjected. Wace even attempts to explain how Margaret was suspended while being burned in one such sequence. (56) As already noted, the Vie par personnages text also applies a multiplication strategy to the sequences involving the "piteux" and "convertis" who observe Margaret's martyrdom. In one detail, however, the staging of those sequences requires the reverse adaptation: in Vie par personnages, there are exactly eight of these converts; in Sainte Passion, there are 3,000 converts; in Wace and Escoutez tuit, they number 5,000. (57)

The most recognized episode in the Saint Margaret legend is her encounter with the dragon and black devil who threaten her resoluteness. Imprisoned for her defiance, Margaret prays for guidance only to face a dragon who emerges from a corner of the cell. This sequence, which occupies 30 to 40 lines in the three poems, begins with a description of the frightening beast: large and ugly, with long ears, shining eyes, fire-breathing nostrils, bad teeth, a golden beard, and a horrible smell. To that litany, Escoutez tuit, like Vie par personnages, adds that he had a snake on his head. (58) The dragon unfurls a long tongue and swallows Margaret, who is afraid to move:
   [m]ais la crois dont elle est garnie
   Li est ou cors creue tant
   Que parmi creva le serpent.

   (But the cross that she wore / Pierced his body so much / That it
   split him in two). (59)

Variations on the details of this sequence permeate various versions of the legend as authors wrestled with its verisimilitude. Wace states that the dragon opened his mouth to swallow her but Margaret's cross, which she was holding in front of her, split him open. (60) In any case, she emerges from that incident only to face a devil in the shape of a man. This sequence occupies 59 lines in Escoutez tuit and 81 lines in Sainte Passion, but 165 lines in Wace and 176 lines in Vie par personnages. In all three poems and in the play, Margaret engages the devil by asking who he is. His explanation, that he wants to know who killed his brother and that he works to deceive good people, prompts Margaret to grab him by the hair, throw him to the ground, and step on his neck: "Se tu de ci te veuls lever / Garde que mais ne me grever" (If you want up from here / You'll promise to never harm me). (61) In return for his promise, she lifts her foot and he disappears. Both Wace and Vie par personnages expand this sequence so that Belzebub might explain not only the devils' role in corrupting humans but also how Lucifer and his followers fell from God's grace. In addition to expressing his bewilderment at how a virgin could have defeated the devil's brother Ruffon, the Vie par personnages and Wace versions further expand on Lucifer's history, including a passage explaining how the devils were locked in a ship by Salomon but set the vessel afire and were released by sailors seeking treasure (72). In both versions, the devil also asks for his freedom "car je voy Dieu autour de toy" (because I see God around you) before Margaret allows him to return to Satan (72).

In Sainte Passion and Escoutez tuit, after Margaret thanks God for helping her conquer her fear of the dragon an earthquake occurs, at which point "il vint du ciel un coulons blans / Qui aportoit une couronne" (From heaven a white dove came down / Who was carrying a crown). (62) Wace states that there is great thunder clap before the dove descends from heaven. (63) Her message is that God is with Margaret in her suffering and that He will welcome her to heaven at her death. When Colombe reappears after Margarets final prayer on behalf of other sinners, she assures Margaret that God will fulfill her requests. In a parallel sequence in Vie par personnages, Colombe reiterates the details of Margarets wishes:
   Et en tous lieux oil tes reliques
   Seront posees, ou ta vie,
   Dieu ne les oubliera mye.

   (And all the places where your relics / And your Passion will be
   safeguarded / Will never be forsaken by God; 154 [156]).

In the performance remnant and in Wace, however, God sends Colombe to console Margaret three times: between the appearances of the dragon and the devil, after the fire and water torture sequences, and before she is executed. Her appearances occur at moments when spectators might expect Margaret to succumb. Each time, Colombe reminds Margaret that she will wear a crown in heaven worthy of her uncompromising faith.

Finally, the role of Theotimus, the supposed writer of the original legend, is treated differently in these four texts. In Vie par personnages, Theotimus (Theotinus) is the priest who baptizes Marguerite early in the performance and who brings bread and water to her in prison accompanied by her nurse. At the end of the play, Theotimus also converts the pagan soldiers, pronounces services for the saint and prepares her reliquary: "Pour envoyer du pays hors / Aux eglises tout seurement" (for sending [it] beyond this region / To all churches, assuredly; 179). In Sainte Passion, on the other hand, the same character, called alternatively Theotimus, Teothing, or Theodoras in various copies, only appears at the end of the narration, where it is said that he brought bread and water to Margaret while she was in prison, that he buried her, and that he wrote her story, sending "le martire qu'ele souffroit / Et les proieres que disoit / Par Eglises" (the martyrdom she suffered / and the prayers she said / around to churches). (64) Escoutez tuit had already introduced Theotimus in its prologue. After the converts are beheaded he returns, this time as Theodumus, to visit Margaret in prison so that he might write about the martyrdom and pain that she endured. (65) After Margaret's death, he returns again (as Theodimus) in the same role that he plays in Saint Passion. The Wace poem omits Theotimus from the narrative entirely, even stating that the nurse goes alone to visit Margaret in prison. (66)

These final episodes also differ in another way: Margarets burial is given short shrift in Vie par personnages, where Theotimus calls for an alabaster casket and white shroud in order to provide a reliquary for her remains. (67) Sainte Passion elaborates on the sequence by citing a group of Christians who come together the evening of Margaret's death to collect her blood in a white cloth then "rassemblerent a son cors / Son chief qui coupes estoit hors" (joined to her body / her severed head), (68) which they anoint with a precious ointment. Her remains are then enveloped and laid in a casket and services are held. (69) This activity is repeated nearly verbatim in Escoutez tuit, including references to the many who hear of Margaret's martyrdom and who come to the site where her body was laid to be healed of their afflictions. (70) Wace notes only that at Margaret's death angels surround her to sing "Sanctus, sanctus." (71)

Thus, while all four poetic versions of the Saint Margaret legend repeat the essential episodes in the same sequence, the oldest poem is closer to Vie par personnages structurally: both Wace and the play feature multiple sequences between Olybrius and Margaret, multiple torture scenes, and a similar focus on the devil sequence. In a side-by-side analysis, with few exceptions, and extracting the added performance conventions, the Wace poem and Vie par personnages are similar in terms of their organization and content. There is, nonetheless, a striking difference between them. The play's compiler activates Theotimus, making him a key figure in Margaret's story, while Wace omits him completely, relying instead on a historical approach that explains the broader context to a modern audience:
   A cel tans que nos vos lisons
   Estoit grans persecusions
   De martirs de par le pais.

   (At the time we're reading to you about / There were many
   persecutions / Of martyrs throughout the land.) (72)

The Sainte Passion poem does include Theotimus, but not to the same degree as does Vie par personnages. It also reduces the number of encounters between Olybrius and Margaret, the number of torture sequences, and the number of divine intercessions. Escoutez tuit is closest to Sainte Passion in terms of its content, which it often copies, but it does add material from another, unknown source. From this comparison, it appears that the mystery plays tendency to multiply sequences is due in part to the fact that it parallels an actual translation of the legend rather than relying on a later, condensed version. However, Vie par personnages could not have relied exclusively on Wace, since the latter work discards Theotimus and omits details about Margarets burial. As a result, it is necessary to examine the other narrative tradition that emanated directly from the Latin sources in order to better contextualize the play compiler s choices.

The Prose Tradition

As noted in the previous section, the Latin tradition of the Saint Margaret legend developed in the tenth century and continued into the thirteenth century, as evidenced by the number of surviving manuscript copies. (73) Subsequently translated into French prose, they were not destined for popular consumption but, as Paul Meyer asserted, for lay persons who possessed a certain level of sophistication and the desire to learn. (74) Beginning in the thirteenth century, most of these French prose copies were destined for legendiers that were arranged according to the liturgical calendar. Organized hierarchically, from Jesus and Mary to the apostles, martyrs, confessors, and then various virgins, these copies were considered to have more credibility because they remained closer to the Latin sources than did the poetic tradition. Most were illuminated manuscripts on vellum, but only one of these prose traditions became omnipresent in the later Middle Ages, surviving in more than 1,000 manuscript copies and 91 early printed editions, as Brenda Dunn-Lardeau has shown. (75)

Three prose texts will further contextualize Vie par personnages's relationship to Saint Margaret's hagiographic tradition. Among the oldest copies of the Mombritius text in the Bibliotheque nationale de France is ms. lat. 5574 (Passio), which was edited by Mary Clayton and Hugh Magennis in 1994. (76) The inclusion of a Latin text will provide a foundational base for comparison with the French prose translations and with Vie par personnages. Next, a fifteenth-century French prose translation from a legendier (BnF ms. fr. 413) will contemporize this comparison. This compiled text includes some 100 lives from Jesus Christ to the Anti-Christ. Characteristic of this tradition, Legendier is an illuminated copy with color miniatures and capitals for each entry, including Saint Margaret standing over a defeated dragon. (77) Finally, a fifteenth-century copy of Jacques de Voragines Legenda aurea will provide yet another dimension to this comparison. More than a simple legendier, according to Jacques Le Goff, Voragine fulfilled his Dominican mission by compiling his text so as to:
      montrer comment seul le christianisme a su structurer et
   sacraliser le temps de la vie humaine pour amener l'humanite
   au salut.

   (demonstrate how only Christianity had been able to structure /
   and to hold as sacred the passage of human life in order to lead
   humanity / toward salvation). (78)

The Legenda aurea was translated into vernacular languages very early after its compilation in the thirteenth century. The present study will use a text based on two manuscript copies of Jean de Vignay's fourteenth-century translations of the text and on a Latin source, abbreviated as Voragine. Jean Batallier printed this copy in Lyon in 1476. (79) As the texts modern editor observes, Voragine favored utilitarian, abbreviated versions of the longer hagiographic texts for use by parish preachers and Church schools. (80)

Although differences in language, print size, page composition, spacing, and manuscript hand make it difficult to find a convenient way to compare the three prose texts in terms of length, with 90 modern print lines Voragine is clearly much shorter than Legendiers 527 manuscript lines. Passio is comprised of 24 paragraphs or 367 print lines in the modern edition. It too is much longer than Voragine. All three are more concise than Vie par personnages even after subtracting the nearly 2,000 octosyllabic lines in the play that do not directly relate the Saint Margaret legend. As might also be expected, given that the two French narratives are translations of the Latin source, all three prose versions include the seven essential episodes of the legend. Differences, however, are notable. While their prologues are of similar length, they vary significantly in content and point of view. Passio begins with a short summary describing how early Christians overcame their torturers while the "devil held people in its grip, so that they worshipped deaf, dumb and blind idols." (81) Its second paragraph is a first-person introduction of the supposed author of the original Greek legend, Iheotimus, who implores his readers to listen carefully to the story he tells. Legendier repeats both the introduction to early martyrs and to Theotimus (Theodimus), although with less detail. Voragine, on the other hand, includes only the image also retained in Wace that compares Margaret to a precious stone to describe her virtue: "Aussi, la benoite Marguerite fut blanche par virginite, petite par humilite et vertueuse par euvre de miracles" (Thus, blessed Marguerite was white because of her virginity, small because of her humility, and virtuous because of her miraculous feats). (82)

In comparing the central episodes of the three prose versions, it is evident that Voragine reduces the legend to its basic elements without popularizing it as the poems had, and with comparable prudence with regard to the graphic details of the Latin narrative. Legendier, in contrast, follows the Latin source quite closely while abbreviating episodes and dialogues. This does not mean that there are not commonalities between the two French prose versions. For instance, in both Legendier and Voragine, Margarets father hates her because of her Christian faith. (83) The Latin source is more nuanced in this regard, noting that she was "hateful to her father, for she was beloved by the Lord Jesus Christ." (84) Unlike Vie par personnages, none of the three prose texts narrates Margaret's father's death, but Legendier notes that her mothers death was the reason she was sent to a nurse to be raised. (85) For Passio and Vie par personnages, Margaret was sent to a nurse at birth. (86) Both Passio and Legendier also state that when Margaret learned about the martyrdom suffered by other believers, she "se donna toute a dieu" (gave herself over to God). (87) This sentiment is not found in Vie par personnages, which, like Voragine, erases the historical context from its narrative. Moreover, all three of the prose texts state that Margaret was fifteen when Olybrius changed her destiny, but Vie par personnages again omits any reference to her age.

While the sequencing of the multiple exchanges between Olybrius and Margaret, like the multiple torture scenes, is parallel in all three prose versions, Legendier completely omits the "convertis" sequence(s), whether accidentally or intentionally, while Voragine and Passio cite 5,000 conversions. (88) Furthermore, as in Vie par personnages, both Passio and Legendier include the sequence in which Theotimus and the nurse visit Margaret in prison to give her bread and water, whereas Voragine overlooks this detail. (89) Legendier even repeats Theotimus's acts at the end of the narrative. (90) Again, Voragine excludes any mention of how Margarets body was treated after her death, and does not name Theotimus at the end of the text, noting only that a saintly man stated that in her "ne fut riens trouve contraire a la religion crestienne" (nothing was found that was contrary to the Christian faith). (91) Legendier and Passio both describe the angels singing "Sanctus, Sanctus" as well as Margaret's burial in a stone reliquary and the miracles that occurred there. (92) Passio adds that the reliquary was then placed in the house of a noble lady in Antioch; this is yet another historical detail that Vie par personnages excludes. (93)

Voragine is particularly uncomfortable with the dragon sequence in Margaret's legend, offering two versions in just four lines of text. The first, and preferred, rendering is that as the dragon attempted to devour her she made the sign of the cross and "il se esvanouit" (he collapses). (94) Then Voragine adds that there is another version of this event in which the dragon swallows Margaret whole but by virtue of the cross the dragon bursts and the virgin is released unharmed. (95) Legendiers dragon carries a shining sword and lights the room with the flames that blow from its nostrils. Terrified, Margaret prays before being swallowed. It is "la force de la croix dont la vierge seignie s'estoit" (the power of the cross with which the virgin had signed herself) that saves her. (96) With eighteen lines, the devil's encounter with Margaret earns more credibility in the Voragine version of the legend, where he explains his mission and complains about Margaret's heavy foot on his head. That narrative also includes the reference to the fallen devils being trapped in Salomon's boat until sailors who thought there must be treasure in the burning boat broke into it, and in so doing freed the devils to take to the air. (97) In all of the details of this episode Voragine, like Legendier and Vie par personnages, follow Passio very closely.

From this brief comparison it is evident that the two French prose translations of the Saint Margaret legend have in mind different audiences and purposes. Voragine provides the basic elements of the legend but is not concerned with its origins or with popularizing its apocryphal details. It is closest to Vie par personnages only when it borrows directly from the Latin source. The Legendier text, on the other hand, follows the Latin source while reveling in the apocryphal material and on the text's origins. It appears that Vie par personnages is closer in content to Passio and Legendier, although it omits historical context that can be found in those narratives. Therefore, like Wace, the mystery play shares more features with the Latin tradition that was their common source than it does with the abbreviated texts of its own era.

A Common Source

The most significant feature that further confirms the links to be drawn between Vie par personnages and Saint Margaret's hagiographic tradition is one that reaches across all of the central episodes in the legend. Margaret's prayers are fundamental to the legend's didacticism and to the reader/spectator's understanding of Margaret's saintly posture. In two of the poems, Sainte Passion and Escoutez tuit, three prayers with similar content are interspersed at identical junctures. Margaret's first prayer, which occurs when she is in prison, is but 13 lines long in Sainte Passion and 16 lines in Escoutez tuit. Margaret asks God to advise her and to enable her to see her real enemy face to face because she does not know what "mal que je lui aye fait" (wrong [she] has done him). (98) Margaret's second prayer in these versions occurs after the only torture sequence and after the devil flees her cell. It is analogous in Sainte Passion (43 lines) and Escoutez tuit (28 lines) since the latter poem is clearly borrowing from the more prevalent "Apres la sainte passion" tradition, repeating many of the same lines. This prayer focuses on Gods creation of the earths bounty and on Margarets gratitude for Gods intercession on her behalf. In this prayer Margaret also announces that she is prepared to die: "Du siecle vorroie partir" (I would like to leave this sphere). (99) Margarets final prayer in these two poems occurs immediately before her death. It is the most critical speech in the legend since in it Margaret is concerned only for those who will survive her. It is also their longest prayer, comprising 64 lines in Sainte Passion and 58 lines in Escoutez tuit. After giving herself up to God's mercy, Margaret elaborates the list of those whose sins should be pardoned when they invoke her martyrdom. The lists are fairly consistent across these two poems: those who write, recite, or read her Passion; women in labor who see her Passion or have it laid upon them; pregnant women who say her prayer or hear her Passion in a church dedicated to her; those being judged in court who invoke her; those who light a candle in her name; and those who live in places where her Passion is written, or even in places where her Passion is safeguarded. (100)

One of the prose narratives in this comparative study somewhat mirrors this construction of Margarets prayers. In Voragine, the prayer uttered in prison is mentioned ("elle se mist en oraison"; she begins to pray), but Margarets words are not recorded. (101) Neither is the second prayer outlining Gods bounty included in this abbreviated narrative. The final prayer in Voragine calls for sins to be pardoned for those who "feroient memoyre d'elle et la reclameroient devotement" (would keep her memory alive and call on her in devotion); that is, women in labor who called on her name so that they might have healthy children and enjoy good health themselves. (102) These prayers are common not only to these two poems and to the Legenda aurea but to all of the texts in this comparison. However, since Wace and Legendier are both closer to Passio, the foundation text that they had adapted into French, they also include more of the prayers that are found in the original Latin sources. Both Wace and Legendier feature nine of the eleven prayers from the Latin Passio. All nine of those prayers, including those featured in Voragine and the two later poems, parallel their placement in that authoritative text: from Margaret's apprehension by Olybrius's soldiers, to the moment when she first sees the dragon, to her prayers during the various torture sessions, to her relief at having escaped the devil, and to the final moments before she is killed.

What characterizes the prayers in the Mombritius version of the Margaret legend is their reliance on Scripture, with entire lines or simple expressions pulled directly from the Psalms, (103) for example, to give the prayers the authority--and the conformity--that would have fulfilled the hagiographic intention of the text. (104) Expectedly, Clayton and Magennis's analysis of the prayers in the Passio a Theotimus underlines their formal tone and structure. From the first such occurrence, the prayers do not focus on the emotions of a young heroine; instead, they place Margaret "on a higher plane than that of the ordinary mortal." (105) The prayers are part of a public and imperative discourse in which Margaret exercises control throughout the narrative. (106) Nevertheless, while there are direct borrowings on the phrase level as well as thematic consistencies related to the narratives overall coherence, the French poems clearly served a different purpose than did their source; that difference is reflected in their adaptations of the prayers as well. (107) In his comparison of Passio and Wace, for example, Keller contends that Wace's prayers only follow Passio's general structures. (108) The poet combines two prayers and omits another, adding balance and structure to his narrative. (109) In the final prayer in Passio, Margaret lays out a formal petition with "overtones of legal language" in support of those who venerate her. (110) That petition includes the litany of groups whom Margaret as martyred saint intends to protect. It does not, however, include women in labor, the primary group with whom she would be identified in the late Middle Ages. Wace does insert that detail and later poems such as Legendier repeat it since Saint Margarets popularity was increasingly linked to that particular group of believers. (111)

The Vie par personnages's poet-compiler follows the layout of Margaret's prayers in Passio and in the two other texts that have been translated and adapted directly from Latin, with one exception: it increases the number of prayers to twelve. As the following table illustrates, Vie par personnages follows Passio very closely in terms of structuring the prayers within the narrative. At the beginning of the performance, however, it adds two short prayers and combines two of Passio's prayers into one, as does Wace. (112)
Sequence When Prayer Occurs     Passio            Vie par personnages

While guarding sheep            X                 Prayer 1 (12 lines)
Apprehended by soldiers         Prayer 1          Prayer 2 (40 lines)
After conversation with         X                 Prayer 3 (8 lines)
After beatings with switches    Prayers 2 and 3   Prayer 4 (20 lines)
After beatings while hung       Prayer 4          Prayer 5 (32 lines)
  in air
In prison                       Prayer 5          Prayer 6 (30 lines)
Upon seeing the dragon          Prayer 6          Prayer 7 (26 lines)
After escaping dragon           Prayer 7          Prayer 8 (38 lines)
After the devil flees           X                 X
During torture by fire          Prayer 8          Prayer 9 (18 lines)
During torture by water         Prayer 9          Prayer 10 (20 lines)
For those who call on           Prayer 10         Prayer 11 (37 lines)
  her name
For forgiveness                 Prayer 11         Prayer 12 (22 lines)

The two additions must have been made to set the tone early in the play and to balance the content of the performance. In so doing, the prayers' placement throughout the play begins after Margaret encounters Olybrius's soldiers, 342 lines into the 4,646-line text. In this first prayer, which is only 12 lines long, Margaret simply asks God to guide her in the faith (16). In the other original prayer, after Margaret has encountered her nemesis, she turns heavenward: "Au nom de toy veux souffrir mort / je ne crains tourmen tant soit fort" (In your name I want to endure death, / I do not fear torment however harsh it may be). (113) The remaining prayers mirror those in Passio with two distinctions: first, while maintaining the theme of each prayer the compiler seems to contemporize some of the content; and second, in key instances, the compiler uses the prayers as theatrical devices. In the first case, Vie par personnages's prayers repeat lines and imagery found in Passio, such as the use of Ecclesiastes 38:7 ("dolor meus requiescat") (114) in Prayer 4's and Prayer 5's references to being surrounded by dogs. (115) In both texts, Margaret seeks guidance and comfort as she faces her enemies. In Passio, however, she does so with authority and steadfastness. In Vie par personnages, alternatively, Margaret is more human, growing in strength and authority throughout the performance rather than demonstrating her authority from the onset. For instance, Vie par personnages makes use of the image of Margaret as an orphan more often than does Passio, which is logical since the mystery play stages the deaths of both of Margarets parents while the Latin source does not do so. In Prayer 6, Margaret expresses her fear but also her desire to see her enemy face to face; reiterating her orphaned status and predicting that the evil one with whom she is battling is a dragon:
   Et me donne force et vertu
   Que le traistre et malostru,
   Le faux dragon puisse mater.

   (And give me strength and virtue / So that the treacherous and evil
   / False dragon I might vanquish; 59).

In addition, both Passio and Vie par personnages package the virgin martyrs travails in terms of a battle, but Vie par personnages directly references Olybrius and his soldiers, personalizing the events. In the initial prayer, for example, Margaret asks for protection against bodily harm and against sin, but when Passio calls out an anonymous prefect, Vie par personnages specifies: "Delivre-moy a mon honneur / D'Olibrius executeur" (Deliver me honorably / From Olybrius the perpetrator; 25). Margaret's eleventh prayer in Vie par personnages parallels Passio in that it reaffirms God's role in creating the earth and elaborates the groups of individuals whose sins will be forgiven by invoking Margaret's martyrdom. In the play, though, Margaret's request is less formal and more empathetic. The list of those who may call on her name for forgiveness of their sins parallels those already named in the hagiographic narratives but in more general terms: those who remember her Passion, those who light candles in her name, those who read and recite her Passion, pregnant women who speak about her, and those in prison or in court who call upon her for aid. (116)

The second set of changes that Vie par personnages makes to the prayers is related to its performance mandate. In prayer 8, uttered after the saint is released unharmed by the dragon, Margaret describes what has happened to the bisected animal as if she is explaining to an audience the simulated action that they are witnessing: "II est creve en deux perties, / Des deux costez sont esparties" (He has collapsed in two parts / Both sides have fallen apart; 64). Next, the poet-compiler adapts the prose narrative by having Margaret describe the devil that she suddenly sees sitting in the window of her prison cell:
   Moult est noir son corps et vilz
   Tres hydeux, et deffigure
   A ces genoulx le voy lie.

   (His body is very black and vile, / Really ugly and disfigured; / I
   can see that he's tied at his knees; 65)

In these examples, Margaret serves as the liaison between what is happening on the staging platform and the spectators, pointing out what they should be looking at in that moment and illustrating the narrative as iconography. In another instance, Margarets direct appeal to those who are witnessing her martyrdom in Passio is transformed by Vie par personnages into a prayer that benefits those present at the performance. In the final prayer of the mystery play, Margaret recommends to God: "mes peres / mes bonnes soeurs et mes bons freres" ([her] fathers / [her] sisters in faith and [her] brothers in faith) who will celebrate her feast (154 [156]). Her speech could as easily be directed to spectators as to performers.

Thus, Vie par personnages is relying structurally on authoritative texts from the Latin tradition rather than solely on the popularized French poems or even on Voragine's abbreviated narrative. It does so, however, while magnifying some of the legends key episodes, while including a more contemporary focus on devotion, while humanizing its heroine, and while adding more than 2,000 octosyllabic lines that transform the legend into a compelling performance event. The play's sponsors clearly valued the legend's traditional sources, relying on a combination of appropriate narratives and images in commissioning this performance text. They also understood their audience. We do not know whether Margaret's last prayer in support of her brothers and sisters was a contemporary reference to the play's sponsors, to audience members, or to both groups, but it is likely that the production benefitted from some level of clerical participation and endorsement. Lastly, in the play's final speech, Theotimus, the supposed author of the legend, baptizes the repentant torturers and calls on everyone "grans et menus" (eminent and humble) to leave the venue singing "Te Deum Laudamus" (186 [188]). As in other mystery plays of the era, he may be calling on the spectators to join the players in a ceremonial transition from the reenactment back into their daily lives or perhaps even to participate in a procession to a nearby church to celebrate a mass in honor of Saint Margaret. (117) This detail too must underscore the status that was afforded the only French medieval performance text to emanate from the rich hagiographic tradition of Saint Margaret of Antioch.

Western Washington University


(1) Rigolay de Juvigny, ed., Bibliotheques francoises de la Croix du Maine et de du Verdier, sieur de Vauprivas (Paris: Saillant, Nyon et Lambert, 1772-73), 5:89. Translation mine.

(2) Pierre-Francois Godard de Beauchamps, Recherches sur les theatres en France (Paris, 1735; Geneva: Slatkine, 1968), 102n1.

(3) Aristide Joly, ed., La vie de sainte Marguerite, poeme inedit de Wace, precede de l'histoire de ses transformations et suivi de divers textes inedits et autres et de Vanalyse detaillee du Mystere de saint Marguerite (Paris: Vieweg, 1879), 31-32. Joly cites the Freres Parfait, the Duke of Valliere, and Douhet as bibliographers who were unable to locate the Lotrian edition or who omitted it from their catalogues.

Vie de madame sainte Marguerite, vierge et martyre par personnages is the title that Joly gave to the play. One modern scholar has questioned the spelling of 'martyre'; see Hans-Elich Keller, ed., Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite: edition, avec introduction et glossaire (Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1990), 12. Joly may have been channeling DuVerdier's reference to the Lotrian title, but the "explicit" at the end of the play states: "Cy finist la vie de madame saincte Marguerite, vierge et martyre" (Here ends the life of Mistress Saint Margaret, virgin and martyr), Vie de sainte Marguerite par personnages, (BnF Res. YF 4690), 187 [189], Hereafter I refer to the play as Vie par personnages. Pagination is irregular in the edition: corrected page numbers are in brackets after the printed page number. Translation mine.

(4) Joly guesses that the surviving edition was published in 1579 (48). In 1592, the book's owner, Francois Dommaige, signed and dated it (Vie par personnages, 190), but the edition had to have been printed before Du Verdier's catalogue, which was published seven years earlier.

(5) Guido Tammi, ed., Due versioni della leggenda di s. Margherita d'Antiochia in versi francesi del medioevo (Piacenze: Scuolar artigiana del libre, 1958), 9-10.

(6) Jean Blacker, Glyn S. Burgess, and Amy V. Ogdon, Wace, The Hagiographical Works: The Conception Nostre Dame and the Lives of St. Margaret and St. Nicholas (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 159.

(7) An Italian Saint Margaret play has also survived. See A. D'Ancona, Sacre rappresentazioni dei secoli XIV, XV et XVI raccolte e illustrate (Firenze: Le Monnier, 1872), 2:123-39.

(8) Alan E. Knight, Aspects of Genre in Late Medieval French Drama (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983), 17.

(9) Joly, La vie de sainte Marguerite, 30.

(10) In a previous study, I suggested that the play's linear structure mirrored the types of productions that were sponsored by confraternities and clerics. See Vicki L. Hamblin, Saints at Play: The Performance Features of French Flagiographic Mystery Plays (Kalamazoo: Medieval Institute Publications, 2012), 170.

(11) Graham A. Runnalls, "Medieval Actors and the Invention of Printing in Late Medieval France," Early Drama, Art, and Music Review 22 (2000): 59-80 (64).

(12) Only half of existing French mystery plays actually include a prologue but that fact is a result of how manuscript and print editions of plays were produced and preserved. Performances themselves generally did include spoken prologues. See Hamblin, Saints at Play, 17.

(13) Ibid., 167.

(14) Ibid., 165.

(15) Ibid., 166.

(16) The simultaneous nature of staging meant that all decors were visible to the spectators at all times. Performers vocalized their movements from one decor to another to facilitate the play's action and the spectators' engagement with the performance.

(17) Vie par personnages boasts eight staging decors, including Paradise and Hell. The text tells us that the gallows was a raised platform (Vie par personnages, 126, 149).

(18) Vie par personnages, 58. Hereafter cited in text. Translations mine.

(19) Other mystery plays of about 4,000-5,000 lines also average between 30 and 60 didascalias. See Hamblin, Saints at Play, 36.

(20) The three times that the angels sing "Veni, creator" they are descending from the Paradise decor (Vie par personnages, 41, 137 [139], 157 [159]). On two other occasions the angels sing as they return to Paradise, but no hymn is specified (Vie par personnages, 143 [145], 144 [146]).

(21) The two "piteux" appear three times in the play; the eight "convertis" appear in five different interludes.

(22) Tammi, Due versioni, 32. The Methodius text is Bibliotheca Hagiographica Graeca no. 1165, which was edited by Hermann Usener from a ninth-century copy that is located in the Bibliotheque nationale de France (ms. gr. 1470).

(23) Mary Clayton and Hugh Magennis, eds., The Old English Lives of St. Margaret (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 6.

(24) Tammi, Due versioni, 57.

(25) Clayton and Magennis, Old English Lives, 7.

(26) Ibid., 25.

(27) Saint Margaret's cult developed early in England and flourished there more than on the continent. See Keller, Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, 12.

(28) Elizabeth Francis, ed., Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite (Paris: Edouard Champion, 1932), xix.

(29) Blacker, Burgess, and Ogden, Wace: The Hagiographical Works, 182.

(30) That list, based on research by Francis and Tammi, remains authoritative, despite the rediscovery of several additional copies of these versions since 1958. Scholars continue to reproduce the earlier lists. See Keller, Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, 13-17.

(31) Tammi, Due versioni, 104.

(32) Blacker, Burgess, and Ogden, Wace: The Hagiographical Works, 165. The Wace poem survives in just three copies from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

(33) Wace's poem is based directly on Latin sources: Mombritius and a second source, from which he borrowed the reference to women in labor. See Francis, Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, xiii.

(34) Francis traces Wace's poem's influence on later vernacular poems in France (ibid., xii).

(35) In my survey of BnF copies, the shortest was BnF ms. fr. 1801, a 73-line verse summary of the legend, and the longest was BnF ms. fr. 6352, with 786 lines. Most of the poetic versions surveyed ranged from 400 to 600 lines. Blacker, Burgess, and Ogden confirm an average of 500-700 lines for the Saint Margaret poems (Wace: The Hagiographical Works, 166).

(36) Keller, La vie de sainte Marguerite, 42.

(37) Many of the other French prose and verse versions survive as single copies from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

(38) Francis's edition (Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, 1932) is comparative in nature: she presents her reading of the Tours ms. (Bibl. Mun. 927), which had previously been published by Joly, opposite her composite reading of Arsenal ms. 3516 and Troyes Bibl. Mun. 1905, in addition to her reading of the primary Latin source for the Wace poem, BnF ms. lat. 17002. The same French copies have been edited more recently by Keller.

(39) Among the French manuscript copies of the "Apres la sainte passion" version in France are: BnF mss. fr. 1555, 2162, 1809, 2466, 24863, 19526, 24956; Arsenal ms. 3643. Among the print copies of the same version in France are: BnF Res. YE 814-823, YE 1350, YF 119, YE 822, P YE 492, YE 1350, 8 NFA 38(3), P YE 299, P B 22(3), P H 14, H 1765; Arsenal Mag. 8-T-2553(3); Ste.-Genevieve Res. D-64654. BnF ms. fr. 24863 will serve as the primary text for this comparison, but examples will also be drawn from other manuscripts (ms. fr. 1555) and print (YE 1350) copies of the "Apres la sainte passion" version. BnF ms. fr. 1555 is an early fifteenth- century source for later copies of "Apres la sainte passion," according to Francis (Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, xi). BnF Res. YE 1350 was published by Jean le Coq in 1540, the year in which the missing Lotrian edition was also published.

(40) Tammi, Due versioni, 143.

(41) BnF ms. fr. 24863 is different only because its copyist omitted the end of the prologue, Margaret's childhood, and the first part of the episode in which Olybrius sees Margaret with her sheep.

(42) "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," in La vie de sainte Marguerite, ed. Joly, 99. Translations mine.

(43) "A l'onor Deu et a sale," in Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, ed. Francis, 3.

(44) "Escoutez tuit par tel convent, " in Due versioni della leggenda di s. Margherita d'Antiochia in versi francesi del medioevo, ed. Tammi, 143. Translations mine.

(45) Characteristically, BnF ms. fr. 1555, the source for Sainte Passion, states only that "Li peres la heoit forment" (Her father hated her very much). Translation mine. See "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 100.

(46) "A l'onor Dieu et a sale," ed. Francis, 5.

(47) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 145.

(48) Ibid.; "Sainte Passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 100.

(49) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 145; Vie par personnages, 8-9, 17-19.

(50) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 146.

(51) "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 103.

(52) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 150.

(53) Ibid.

(54) Despite Francis's contention that in Wace Olybrius and Margaret have only one encounter early in the poem (viiin2), they speak in fact four times: "A l'onor Deu et a sale," ed. Francis, 11, 15, 19-20, 39.

(55) "A l'onor Deu et a sale," ed. Francis, 19. Translations mine.

(56) Keller, La vie de sainte Marguerite, 46.

(57) In BnF Res. YE 1350 (7a) these converts number 100,000.

(58) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 153; Vie parpersonnages, 29 [61].

(59) "Apres la sainte passion," (BnF ms. fr. 24863), lines 302-4. Translations mine.

(60) "A l'onor Deu et a s'aie," ed. Francis, 25.

(61) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 155.

(62) "Apres la sainte passion," (BnF ms. Fr. 24863), lines 430-31. In BnF Res. YE 1350 an angel delivers the crown, and a voice from heaven assures Margaret that her requests will be granted (7b).

(63) "A l'onor Deu et a s'aie," ed. Francis, 43.

(64) "Apres la sainte Passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 117.

(65) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 158.

(66) "A l'onor Deu et a s'aie," ed. Francis, 23.

(67) Vie par personnages, 186 [188]. BnF Res. YE 1350 includes a similar treatment (8a).

(68) "Apres la sainte passion," (BnF ms. fr. 24863), lines 561-62; "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 116.

(69) "Apres la sainte passion," (BnF ms. fr. 24863), lines 561-70; "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 116.

(70) "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 162-63.

(71) "L'onor Deu et a s'aie," ed. Francis, 55.

(72) Ibid., 7.

(73) These manuscripts are found throughout Europe. Among those in the Bibliotheque nationale de France are: BnF mss. lat. 17002, 8995, 10970, 11705, 11753, 11756, 11758, 12614, 16734, 17005, and 18309.

(74) Paul Meyer, Histoire litteraire de la France, commencee par des religieux benedictins de la congregation de Saint-Maur et continue par des membres de I'lnstitut, vol. 33 (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1906), 378.

(75) Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, ed., La legende doree, edition critique, dans la revision de 1476 par Jean Batallier, d'apresla traduction de Jean de Vignay (1333-1348) de la Legenda aurea (c. 1261-1266) (Paris: Flonore Champion, 1997), 41.

(76) See Clayton and Magennis, Old English Lives, 191-223.

(77) This Legendier (BnF ms. fr. 413) remains unedited in modern times. The Saint Margaret entry is found on folios 412r-415r. I am using my own transcription, adding only diacritical marks that affect meaning.

(78) Jacques Le Goff, A la recherche du temps sacre: Jacques de Voragine et la 'Legende doree' (Paris: Perrin, 2011), 12. Translation mine.

(79) Dunn-Lardeau, La legende doree, 11.

(80) Ibid., 9.

(81) "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Mary Clayton and Hugh Magennis, in The Old English Lives of St. Margaret, 195. 1 am using the editors' English translation from Latin to compare with the texts in French.

(82) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Brenda Dunn-Lardeau, in La legende doree, edition critique, 605. Translations mine.

(83) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 607; Legendier, fol. 412v.

(84) "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 195.

(85) Legendier, fol. 412r.

(86) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 195; Vie par personnages, 4.

(87) Legendier, fol. 412v; "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 197. Translations mine.

(88) "Legende de sainte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 608; "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 213.

(89) "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 205; Legendier, fol. 413v.

(90) Legendier, fol. 415r.

(91) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 609.

(92) Legendier, fol. 415r.

(93) "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 217.

(94) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 607.

(95) Ibid.

(96) Legendier, fol. 413v.

(97) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 608; "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 211.

(98) "Apres la sainte passion," (BnF ms. fr. 24863), line 212.

(99) "Apres la sainte passion (ms. 1555)," ed. Joly, 111; "Apres la sainte passion" (BnF ms. fr. 24863), lines 321-61; "Escoutez tuit," ed. Tammi, 156.

(100) In print versions, these categories become even more general. BnF Res. YE 1350 lists only those who call upon Saint Margaret in adversity, those who remember her martyrdom, and women in labor who hear her Passion (7b).

(101) "Legende de saincte Marguerite," ed. Dunn-Lardeau, 607.

(102) Ibid., 608.

(103) Frances M. Mack, Seinte Marherete, pe Meiden ant Martyr: Re-edited from ms. Bodley 34, Oxford and ms. Royal 17A XXVII, Brit. Museum (Oxford: Oxford University, 1934; Rochester, NY: Boydell and Brewer, 2001), xxvi.

(104) According to Francis, the Passio's prayers are not the text's best feature, explaining why Wace chose to edit them (Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, ix).

(105) Clayton and Magennis, Old English Lives, 32.

(106) Ibid., 37.

(107) "A l'onor Dieu et a s'aie," ed. Francis, 9. Francis also provides a lengthy analysis of the ways in which Wace's poem follows the Latin sources that he translated. See Francis, Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, vii-xii.

(108) Keller, La vie de sainte Marguerite, 42. His assessment differs from that of Francis (see note 107).

(109) Ibid.

(110) Clayton and Magennis, Old English Lives, 38.

(111) Francis, Wace: La vie de sainte Marguerite, xiii.

(112) Wace's poem places the two short prayers directly after one another ("A l'onor Deu et s'aie," ed. Francis, 15); Passio separates them with a simple phrase announcing that Margaret continues to pray ("Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 200).

(113) Vie par personnages, 35. This prayer is but 8 lines long.

(114) "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 200. This line is translated as "Allege-moy ma misere" (Relieve me of my agony) in Vie par personnages, 39. Translation mine.

(115) "Voyez les chiens qui m'environnent," (Vie par personnages, 53); "Circumdederunt me canes multi" ("Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 200).

(116) Passio includes on this list those who read, hear, write, or carry her Passion, those who build basilicas in her name, and children (so that they aren't born lame or blind or dumb). See "Passio S. Margaretae," ed. Clayton and Magennis, 212.

(117) Hamblin, Saints at Play, 90.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Comparative Drama
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Hamblin, Vicki L.
Publication:Comparative Drama
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 22, 2016
Previous Article:Caesar as comic antichrist: Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and the Medieval English Stage Tyrant.
Next Article:Stage prayer in Marlowe and Jonson.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters